After winning Rookie of the Month for the second time, it is a no-brainer that Allisha Gray should easily win the WNBA Rookie of the Year award.
Before the 2017 WNBA season started, if you had asked anyone who the Rookie of the Year was going to be you almost certainly would have gotten the same answer: Kelsey Plum. The guard out of Washington was the runaway favorite to win the award and it was an easy choice. Plum had dazzled everyone during her collegiate career and there was no sign that it would be any different once she joined the San Antonio Stars.
However, the reality is that Plum has had a very forgettable rookie season. Between an ankle injury and having trouble finding a role in Vickie Johnson‘s scheme, Plum’s first year as a pro has been something of a disaster.
Normally that would mean the race to win Rookie of the Year would be wide open. With so much talent in the 2017 WNBA Draft, it should have been a close race to see who would take the honor.
But that was before guard Allisha Gray of the Dallas Wings put so much distance between herself and the rest of the rookie class.
This week the WNBA announced that Gray was named the WNBA Rookie of the Month for June, the second time she has received that honor. During June Gray averaged 11.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game, first among all rookies. She also averaged two assists and one block, which was good enough for second among first-year players.
On the season, Gray is averaging 12.5 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists, playing over 27 minutes a game. She has been a starter in all 18 games the Wings have played in this season and is a huge part of the reason Dallas is looking at a possible playoff spot this year, something most fans thought was near impossible with the amount of new, young talent joining the team.
Gray was chosen fourth overall by the Wings after helping lead the South Carolina Gamecocks to a national championship, the first one ever won by the school. If Gray does win Rookie of the Year, it will be the first time ever someone not chosen in the top three in the draft to win the award.
The only player currently even close to taking the award away from Gray is Brittney Sykes of the Atlanta Dream. She is averaging 8.5 points and 3.3 rebounds, but that is coming off the bench. By contrast, Gray has had to not only start, but serve as a leader on the court, which is why the Wings are having such a solid season.
Right now, the Rookie of the Year award is Gray’s to lose. If she can remain injury free and the Wings continue to play at such a high level, Dallas making the postseason would be a perfect ending to an amazing rookie season.
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But even if Gray doesn’t win, it seems all but certain that other awards will be coming down the pike for the talented 22-year-old.
The Wings next face the Dream in the second of a home and home series at McCamish Pavilion on July 9.