August 25, 2022
WNBA announces Rookie of the Year, All-Rookie Team
Rhyne Howard becomes the first top overall pick to win ROY since 2018
Rhyne Howard was named the 2022 WNBA Rookie of the Year, the league announced Thursday. She received 53 of 56 votes from the panel of national writers and broadcasters; Shakira Austin received two votes and NaLyssa Smith received one. The top overall pick in the 2022 WNBA Draft by the Atlanta Dream, Howard led all rookies in scoring (16.2), assists (2.8), steals (1.6) and minutes per game (31.4). She also shot 34.3% from three and 36.1% from the field overall.
Though the Dream finished one game out of the final playoff spot, Howard helped lead an overall improvement in Atlanta following the team’s 8-24 season in 2021. Howard becomes the first top overall pick to win the award since A’ja Wilson in 2018 and the second member of the Dream, after Angel McCoughtry in 2009.
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In addition to Howard, the league also announced the other four members of the 2022 WNBA All-Rookie Team:
NaLyssa Smith, Indiana Fever
The second overall pick out of Baylor, Smith led all rookies in rebounding, hauling in 7.9 per game. She was also second behind Howard in scoring with 13.5 points per game and finished the year with eight double-doubles.
One of seven rookies playing for the Indiana Fever, Smith stood out on a team that struggled to a last-place finish in the league.
Shakira Austin, Washington Mystics
The rookie out of Mississippi joins the 2022 All-Rookie Team following her strong contributions to a Mystics team that finished fifth overall in the league. Austin averaged 8.7 points per game and 6.5 rebounds per game as a starter for head coach Mike Thibault.
Though the Mystics’ 2022 playoff appearance was abruptly cut short with a two-game sweep against Seattle, Austin provided a bright spot. In the first game of the series, she scored 12 points on 6-for-10 shooting with seven rebounds.
Rebekah Gardner, Chicago Sky
The most unlikely name to join this list, Rebekah Gardner gains this recognition more than a decade after going undrafted out of UCLA. After signing a training camp deal with the Sky this February, she finished her first WNBA season fourth among qualified rookies in scoring (8.6) while shooting 35.7% from beyond the arc and 80.0% from the free throw line.
A key contributor off the bench for the defending champions, Gardner looks to help the Sky advance to a second straight WNBA Finals as the team prepares to take on the Connecticut Sun in the semifinals beginning on Sunday.
Queen Egbo, Indiana Fever
Queen Egbo rounds out the 2022 WNBA All-Rookie Team following her strong contributions to a Fever team that otherwise struggled to only five wins in the regular season. The tenth overall pick in the draft, Egbo finished fifth in scoring among qualified rookies with 7.2 points per game and third in rebounding (6.3). She joins her teammate Smith on the list, as Indiana looks to continue its rebuild in 2023.
Written by Eric Rynston-Lobel
Eric Rynston-Lobel has been a contributor to The Next since August 2022. He covered Northwestern women's basketball extensively in his four years as a student there for WNUR and now works as a sports reporter for the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire.