Top 20: Angel McCoughtry, no. 7
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. 7 – Angel McCoughtry
But, let’s back up a little bit.
After being selected as the no.1 overall pick in the 2009 WNBA Draft, McCoughtry wasted little time making an impact on the young Atlanta Dream franchise. She averaged 13 ppg in just 21 minutes of play as a rookie and helped lead the Dream to its first-ever playoff birth that same season. We really started to see glimpses of how brilliant a player McCoughtry would be towards the end of the 2009 season and into the playoffs. She left Dream fans everywhere pumped to see how the limitless potential in McCoughtry would manifest in 2010.
She certainly didn’t disappoint.
Quite simply, Angel McCoughtry evolved into one of the best all-around players in the entire league in 2010. She averaged 21 ppg (3rd in the league), 5 rpg, and 3 apg on 41 percent shooting from the floor while also being named to the WNBA All-Defensive Team. For a young player just out of college, those type of accolades are phenomenal.
There’s a tenacity and and toughness McCoughtry possesses that rivals the best in the game. Frankly, with the way she gets to the basket (and the foul line), there are few players I’d rather have taking a last-second shot in the clutch for my team. Much of this came from an increased confidence in her game starting with a fantastic season overseas after the 2009 season and continued throughout all of 2010.
The mark of a great player can be defined by their performance when the game is truly on the line. For McCoughtry, she played her best basketball of 2010 in the playoffs where she, essentially, carried the Dream to the WNBA Finals. McCoughtry averaged 26.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.3 apg, shot 46 percent from the field, and an amazing 46 percent beyond the arc during the post-season. Perhaps her most memorable game came against the New York Liberty in game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals where she tallied an impressive 42 points, 5 steals, 4 assists, 3 rebounds, in 36 minutes of play on 12-20 shooting in a Dream victory. She nearly matched those numbers in game 3 of the WNBA Finals where she scored 35 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists in 36 minutes of play on 13-23 shooting in the loss.
On a personal note, McCoughtry is one of my favorite players to watch in the league today. I have an amazing amount of respect for how she carries herself on and off the court. More poignantly, however, McCoughtry plays the game on both ends of the floor the way it should be played.
It’s exciting to think of the type of numbers McCoughtry could notch in 2011. She’s having another remarkable year overseas playing for Fenerbahce and there’s no reason to think that won’t continue throughout the rest of the year in the WNBA.