Rhyne Howard’s hot start, Las Vegas Aces’ new offense

This week on Above the Break, we’ll be looking at it Ryan HowardHot start, new Las Vegas Aces attack, Jessica Shepard hack and more.

Welcome back to Above The Break. The 2022 WNBA season has been around for a week and although some trends are emerging, things are still in a state of flux. Not every player has an external obligation. Teams we thought would be bad look good. Teams we thought would be good looking are bad.

It’s too early to draw any comprehensive conclusions about the league, but we do have some notes on what happened during the first week of the season.

Ryan Howard really looks like a star

Rhyne Howard was the No. 1 consensus pick in the draft throughout the draft process. So far, she’s explaining why.

Across two games, Howard averages 18.5 points per game with 5.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.5 steals, and 2.5 blocks on shot with a 40.9% of 3.

Per Synergy, Howard has scored 1,214 points per possession on the spot this year, which is good for the 85th percentile. She shoots 39.1 percent overall in jump shots.

The big thing working for Howard right now is her confidence. See the shot above. She brings the ball. She chooses her place. She crosses her cannons up to create space. It’s one of those plays where Howard knows what she wants to do and then, because she’s such an amazing talent, she does it.

The big concern of people heading into the draft was Howard’s drive. Having watched it a bit in college, I didn’t necessarily see this problem. I think it’s a combination of two things: the way she looked effortless on the ground due to the accessibility of things and the fact that she played below par (compared to other SEC schools) and was often asked to do so often.

Because, like… watch this play and tell me there’s a problem with the effort:

Howard has been a threat to both parties and is a big reason why the dream looks so much better than expected. Her defensive intensity was particularly fascinating to watch, mainly because when I think of the Kentucky Howard, I think of taking on the offensive burden of a wildcat. Now, she has a greater chance of appearing on the other end of the earth.

New Las Vegas Ice Crime Restrictions

Aces have a new boss. Maybe we don’t need to recast the differences that were expected from this team Becky HammonBecause all you have to do is log on to Twitter during an Aces match and see all the tweets like “OMG THE ACES ARE TAKING THREES” and you’ll understand how things have changed.

After scoring 106 points in the opening win over Mercury, this new system was universally praised. Vegas shot 11 to 21 from the depths of this victory. Two nights later, the team shot 11 for 34 of 3 in a win over Seattle.

Read more: Michaela Onen was talking about basketball in NYC and getting girls into the game

Then in the loss to Washington, the team was 6 for 17 of 3. It was a good percentage at 35.3, but the volume wasn’t as present as it was in the first two games.

That potential limitation with this Vegas team in attack is that while the new coaching staff wants them to shoot with a triple, the people of this team are still very much members of the Bill Limeber era. You can shoot more, but where do those shots come from?

In the loss to Washington, the team demonstrated a problem that had existed in the past: long-range shooting was too focused between two players. Kelsey Bloom And Theresa Plaisance They are the only players to score 3 in the game.

That could be a problem. Jacky Young is a shooting career with a 29.3 percent rate of 3. Chelsea Gray She had 38.5 percent of her career, but even in Los Angeles, she wasn’t taking enough. In her final year as a Spark, her 3-point average of .214 was pretty low in the rankings. In fact, of the players that the Basketball Reference categorizes as guards, only nine players scored an average of 3 points lower than Gray – and one of those was Jackie Young.

Derica Hampi Playing as a stretch 4 provided some nice divergence, but Hampi’s shooting fell off a cliff in 2021, going from 47.4 percent of the previous year’s depth to 25.0 percent. She’s hitting a quarter of her duets this year, too. How long will Vegas be able to take advantage of its spaces?

If the way to carry out this crime is that Plaisance has to shoot out of its depth within 20 minutes of sitting on the bench every night, then… Vegas will sometimes run into some trouble. get Regona Williams Going back will help, but what will help most is if Hamby can rediscover her shooting form or if Gray can be more willing to fire around 3 seconds later.

I was already planning to write about Jessica Shepherd when she sent this tweet:

But the number of people who responded with Shepherd’s name was a good confirmation of that decision.

Lynx are 0-3. The team has issues with depth and at some point needs to address the fact that they don’t have a reliable point of protection on the list.

There was a bright spot though and it was a Shepherd.

After being drafted into the second round in 2019, Shepherd played six games as a starter before tearing up the AFC Champions League. She didn’t play in 2020, then averaged 10.5 minutes per game last year.

but with Nafisa Collier pregant and Damiris Dantas Unavailable, the short-handed Lynx had to elevate Shepard to a bigger role this year. You responded in a great way.

Shepard averages 11.7 points per game on 43.8 percent shooting, as well as adding 11.3 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game. When you don’t have a reliable one, you have to find someone else to be the playmaker, and Lynx gets that from an unexpected place. It’s not that Shepherd is running into the break and starting the offense, but she is constantly making smart passes and has reduced her turnover by a huge margin compared to last season, down from 26.1 percent to 16.8 percent.

In terms of her goalscoring, Shepherd is suddenly very difficult to defend:

This play begins as a pick with Shepard and Rachel Benhambut the fever forward Nalissa Smith She does a good job sticking with the Shepherd to keep her from getting an easy shot.

But don’t worry – I put it on the floor. Dripping in paint. It’s about Smith. He gets a layup. As someone who saw a lot of NaLyssa Smith in college, seeing Shepard able to do so is quite a surprise.

Will you continue to play this major role? we will see. Being healthy now is a big factor, but we’re also seeing someone who’s performing higher than I ever did in the WNBA, so I’m not quite ready to say that this current showing from Shepard is a sign of what to do coming. Her photography has improved so much from last year that I’m concerned that it’s not sustainable, although her bounce rate is pretty much in line with what it was last year and her rate of use is actually lower than during her short career in 2019.

The odds and the end of the WNBA

Some other quick notes:

  • Fever’s tiny little team is fun! Not good, but fun.
  • Liberty has a few things to discover. The team’s first game was a win over The Sun where everything went well. Their second match was a blast loss to the sky. The team needs to find out the spare ball handler issues and may need to stagger Sabrina Unescu And Petnia Lani more. Transitions are still an issue like last year.
  • There were a lot of questions about how to do this Nika Ogomec And Liz Campage They will match each other. There are still questions about Cambage’s end, but Nneka is averaging 16.3 points on 54.3 percent of shots with 10.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.0 steals and 0.7 cuts per game.
  • The Mystics 3-0. Includes winning with Elena Delle Donne Sitting, which was probably my biggest concern with this team: Can they survive when EDD wastes time. So far, they are 1-0 without her. A small sample, but the rest of the talent on the team advanced.