Top 20: Sylvia Fowles, no. 8
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. 8 – Sylvia Fowles
That’s all the Chicago Sky need to do and good things will happen.
After struggling with injuries in 2008 and 2009, Fowles emerged as one of the most dominant players in the league in 2010. She posted career-high numbers in almost every statistical category including points (17.9), rebounds (9.9), blocks (2.6), minutes played (32.0), and efficiency (+24.38).
More importantly, her shot-attempts doubled in 2010 to 392 from just 172 in 2009. This was largely due to her being healthy but also because she no longer had to share possessions (or the scoring load) with Candice Dupree who was traded to Phoenix in the 2009 off-season.
Prior to the start of the 2010 season, like Dwight Howard in the NBA, Fowles worked extremely hard on her footwork in the paint along with expanding her already stellar post game. The results spoke for themselves. Fowles had an increased confidence in being the go-to player for the Sky and had assumed the leadership role for the team.
Fowles is a career 57 percent shooter from the field and is amongst the league-leaders in efficiency. But as much as she gets recognized for her offensive prowess, Fowles is equally as valuable on the defensive end. Like Dwight Howard, Fowles causes match-up problems for opponents and continually forces the offensive to alter their shots.
We really began to see the type of controlled aggression from Fowles in 2010 that we all observed during her time at Louisiana State University. Fowles was, literally, unstoppable in college and we saw that same confident demeanor in the 2010 season and throughout the World Championships on Team USA.
Now with Pokey Chatman at the helm for the Sky, Fowles enters the 2011 season with familiarity. Chatman coached Fowles for the Euroleague powerhouse Spartak Moscow Region. Chatman has always managed to get the most out of Fowles and this undoubtedly has Sky fans excited.
Don’t be surprised to see Fowles put up 20 and 10 for the Sky on a nightly basis in 2011.