Around the WNBA: Chennedy Carter takes early lead in ROY race

Atlanta Dream guard Chennedy Carter, left, and forward Monique Billings congratulate each other after a WNBA basketball game against the Dallas Wings. (Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP)

Three things are certain in life: death, taxes, and a healthy Seattle Storm being the team to beat in the WNBA. That said, with the 5-2 Las Vegas Aces on the Storm’s tail, the Breanna Stewart vs. A’ja Wilson MVP race is only the beginning of the mayhem happening in the “wubble.”

Rookie of the Year Race

While the Rookie of the Year race initially appeared over before it started, nobody knew what would come next after Sabrina Ionescu left game three with an ankle sprain. For anyone curious as to what happens when the baby GOAT (who possibly could have gone for both ROY and MVP) goes down, there are two words: Chennedy. Carter.

Carter forwent her senior season at Texas A&M to play in the WNBA, where she was drafted third overall by the Atlanta Dream, and her bold move paid off when she became the youngest player ever to drop 30-plus points in a single game in a nail-biting 93–92 loss to Seattle. Carter’s 35 points were also a Dream franchise record for most points in a game by a rookie.

Overshadowed in her NCAA days by the Oregon duo of Ionescu and Satou Sabally, who were drafted first and second overall, Carter has shown that the chip on her shoulder from never getting the so-called “hype” just fuels her to be a better player.

Downfall of the Champs

Week two in the wubble was forgiving to absolutely nobody — least of all the 2019 champion Washington Mystics. The team that entered the week with one loss is now .429 on the season.

With three straight losses, including giving the New York Liberty their only victory of the season on Friday night, the Mystics are currently tied for seventh in the league. (Lucky for them, though, they play in the East alongside both of the WNBA’s 1-6 teams. If they resided in the Western Conference, they would now sit in last place.)

Reigning WNBA Finals MVP Emma Meesseman, Aerial Powers and Myisha Hines-Allen have been attempting to fill the talent gap left with the absence of Elena Delle Donne, Natasha Cloud and Tina Charles, but have scored an average of 16 points per game fewer than when they started their wubble campaign 3-0.

Phoenix vs. Everybody

The Suns aren’t the only basketball team out of Phoenix to be making headlines over the past week. Mercury guard Diana Taurasi first made a splash when she exchanged words with Allie Quigley during Phoenix’s 96–86 win over the Sky on Thursday, and backed up her chatter by tallying 22 points, six assists and four rebounds.

Taurasi, however, went down with a hip injury after dropping 14 points, five assists and six rebounds in the Mercury’s ensuing loss to the Storm. An MRI confirmed that the injury was not related to the back surgery Taurasi underwent during the 2019 season, but many are still worried as Taurasi had voiced concerns about playing this year.

The Mercury also got into it with the Lynx, but this time on the internet. Minnesota tweeted a photo of Lynx guard Lexie Brown alongside the infamous post-game-celebration shot of Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, and Phoenix had some not-so-nice things to say about the comparison.

The Mercury and Lynx don’t play until Aug. 21, but tensions will be high — at least between social media teams.

Chicago is Here to Play

Quigley’s spat with Taurasi wasn’t just all talk – the guard received what was a seemingly unfair technical foul after the verbal exchange in a game that Sky head coach and GM James Wade called one of the most poorly refereed matches he’d ever seen.

The loss didn’t derail Chicago’s overall trend, though, and both Quigley and Kaleah Cooper dropped 20-plus points on the Connecticut Sun to give the Sky three wins in their last four. The Sky, who sit first in the Eastern Conference, play their next matchup against the Storm, which will help determine for the moment who deserves best-in-class status IMG Academy campus this summer.

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