Top 20: Sophia Young, no. 15
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.
Also, check out Ben’s weekly podcast at WNBA.com.– Ed.
No. 15 – Sophia Young
“Consistent and durable, ” I said to a friend. She had asked me to describe, in two words, the no.15 player on SLAMonline’s Top 20 WNBA players list – Sophia Young.
Truthfully, I can think of no better way to characterize the Baylor graduate. Over her five-year career Young has averaged 15.9 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.5 spg, and 47 percent from the field. Additionally, she has only missed a total of three games in her career.
Her best season probably came in 2008 when the San Antonio Silver Stars made it all the way to the WNBA Finals against the Detroit Shock. Although the Silver Stars lost in three games to the Shock, it was the franchise’s first-ever trip to the WNBA Finals. Young averaged 18 points and 5 rebounds per game during the regular season and an almost identical 18 points and 6 rebounds in 36 minutes of play throughout the playoffs.
Young has always been a staple of consistency for the Silver Stars and forms a stellar duo with point guard Becky Hammon. Since Hammon joined Young on the Silver Stars in 2007, the two have combined for averages of 36 ppg, about 40 percent of the Silver Stars total points, and seven playoff victories – the team had just two total playoff victories prior to the arrival of Young and Hammon and both were in 2002 before the team relocated to San Antonio from Utah in 2003.
Perhaps the third-best adjective to describe Young is versatile. She can create her own shot both in the paint and from the outside, crashes the offensive glass, and causes frequent match-up problems for defenses. She is also able to run the floor in an uptempo system and be equally effective in a methodical, inside-out philosophy.
When she isn’t playing basketball, Young is one of the most active WNBA players in the community. She is frequently making appearances at events and has previously sponsored shopping events for girls who were victims of abuse and neglect. In fact, Young has made it well known that she would like to open a shelter someday for girls with similar adversities.
As long as Sophia Young and Becky Hammon are together in San Antonio, they remain a legitimate threat in the Western Conference.