Top 20: Crystal Langhorne, no. 19
The definitive ranking of the WNBA’s best players.
By Ben York / @bjyork
Some of you won’t care, and we’re about 99 percent positive we’ll get a few of the traditional “what is the WNBA?” comments we usually do. But this is long overdue – SLAMonline’s first ever in-depth player rankings for the WNBA.
Why just the top 20 and not the top 50? Simple. There are 18 fewer teams in the WNBA than the NBA and roster sizes are limited to 11 players. Thus, the NBA has hundreds of more players than the WNBA does – and this list needs and deserves to be competitive.
This list is based solely on projected performance in the 2011 season. Traditional player statistics are taken into account but being a successful and effective player in The W is so much more than that. It’s what each player means to the team – in terms of responsibility, leadership, management and all-around game.
We know you’ll see players you think should be on the list but aren’t. Conversely, you’ll also see players on the list that you’ll vehemently disagree with. Maybe you agree with the entire top 20. Just be sure to let us know in the comment section. – Ed.
No. 19 – Crystal Langhorne
Back in February of this year, we picked Lang to be one of the top 5 breakout stars of the 2010 WNBA season…and we couldn’t have been more on the money.
It’s become somewhat of a cliché to say that a player increased her statistical total in multiple categories. Writers can use that phrase as an exaggeration when the player might have only improved in a couple areas.
With Crystal Langhorne, this certainly isn’t the case.
Lang, literally, increased her totals in every category. Every. Single. One.
Her ppg increased from 12.0 in 2009 to 16.3 in 2010. Rebounds? 7.9 rpg in 2009 to 9.7 in 2010. She had a better free-throw percentage, field-goal percentage, three-point percentage, and finished with a sick efficiency rating of +20.12 – good for 8th best in the league.
Maybe more significant is the way she led the Washington Mystics team to an improbable No.1 seed in the Eastern Conference after news that all-star Alana Beard would miss the entire season. Many people (including myself) weren’t sure if the Mystics would be able to recover from the loss. Instead, they posted a 22-12 record with a renewed emphasis on defense; Washington went on to allow a league-best 73.3 ppg defensively.
Truth be told, I could’ve written almost an exact same recap two years ago; Langhorne won the Most Improved Player in the 2009 WNBA season after posting similar increases from the 2008 season. In fact, I felt she was more than deserving enough to win it again in 2009. Improving like this on a yearly basis with such significance is almost unprecedented.
Langhorne was selected as a reserve to the 2010 WNBA all-star team and went on to receive WNBA All-Second Team honors. Will she be an all-star starter in 2011? Make the WNBA All-First Team? Could we see averages of 20 and 10 each night?
If her improvements season to season are any indication, it shouldn’t surprise anyone.