Is Caitlin Clark or Angel Reese the top newcomer so far? WNBA rookie rankings

Even in a game where Angel Reese was ejected, her impact was undeniable. The Chicago Sky rookie was tossed for picking up a second technical with just over two minutes remaining in Tuesday’s loss to the New York Liberty. Her second foul was rescinded a day later by the WNBA.

Nevertheless, Reese had already logged 13 points and 10 rebounds, recording her second double-double. It is the kind of statline Chicago has already come to expect from the No. 7 pick in April’s draft. Reese has been a consistent contributor over the first month of the WNBA season, but she isn’t alone among members of her rookie class.

From their final college seasons through the WNBA Draft to the start of their pro careers, these rookies have brought new star power and a fascinating dynamic to the league. They’re working out the kinks as they adjust to a higher level, but there’s no doubt they are delivering in meaningful ways.

Though it feels like the year has just started, somehow, someway, some franchises have already crossed the quarter mark of the season. With that, here’s our look at the five best rookies the first month of the season.

15.6 PPG | 6.4 APG | 5.1 RPG

Clark has been the center of attention during her first month in the WNBA, especially last week. But amid some struggles, she still has found ways to produce. She is aggressive attacking the basket, already attempting 48 free throws, which are the seventh most in the WNBA. She’s also impacted Indiana’s offense despite not hitting 3-pointers at nearly the same clip as she did at Iowa. Reese certainly has made a case for the No. 1 spot, but Clark also shoulders significantly more defensive pressure than any rookie. Her 25.8 percent usage rate is more than WNBA stars like Skylar Diggins-Smith, Breanna Stewart, Kelsey Plum and Sabrina Ionescu. She’s shown growing pains and reasons for optimism. A focus in June should be cutting down on turnovers, as Clark leads the league (56) and has 21 more than Phoenix Mercury guard Natasha Cloud, who is second.



Has Caitlin Clark lived up to the hype so far in her WNBA rookie season? Experts debate

2. Angel Reese, Chicago Sky

10.8 PPG | 9.0 RPG | 5.0 ORPG

At LSU, Reese recorded double-doubles on a near nightly basis. Thus far, she’s been pretty close to that. Entering Thursday night’s matchup against the Washington Mystics, Reese had recorded at least 8 points and 8 rebounds in six of her eight games..

Reese’s impact on Chicago has been tangible. She leads all rookies with 9 rebounds per game and leads all WNBA players with her average of 5 offensive rebounds per game. Sky coach Teresa Weatherspoon, a Naismith Hall of Fame player, has taken a liking to what Reese provides, especially on the glass.

“It’s a knack,” Weatherspoon said two weeks ago. “She’s just relentless. She does a relentless pursuit for the ball and that’s who she is, that’s what she’s about.”

Reese frequently establishes high-quality rebounding position and is aggressive in attacking the rim if she isn’t boxed out by opposing bigs. On offense, she also has already shown she’s unafraid of contact, attempting at least six free throws in six separate games.

Reese’s impact has been evident despite other limitations in her game, making her first month especially impressive.

So far, almost all of her offense has come around the rim. She’s attempted only nine jump shots this season, according to Synergy Sports, making just one. Even around the basket, she has struggled, shooting 29.9 percent. Yet, minimizing Reese’s importance is a focus for Sky opponents.

Improving her perimeter shooting and ability to finish around the hoop will be paramount to her growth. Chicago guard Marina Mabrey has also assisted Reese on only six baskets, an indication there is room for improvement in Chicago’s pick-and-roll action. But if this is Reese’s floor, the Sky have plenty of reasons to be optimistic about their future.

8.0 PPG | 5.4 RPG | 2.6 BPG

Brink, like Reese and Clark, has shown flashes of the skills that made her a star at Stanford. Although the Sparks are just 2-7, Brink scored a career-high 21 points in 23 minutes against the Dallas Wings on May 26, and she tallied at least 5 rebounds six times. Coach Curt Miller hasn’t stretched the No. 2 pick’s usage. Brink has yet to play more than 30 minutes in a game but she’s displayed her offensive repertoire. She’s been solid on catch-and-shoot opportunities and looks comfortable around the rim, shooting 63 percent from the field, according to Synergy Sports. Though Brink developed a reputation as a vaunted shot-blocker in college (and is averaging 2.6 blocks per game so far), some opposing bigs have succeeded going up against her. Brink allows bigs she’s guarding to shoot 43.9 percent.

Despite rather limited minutes, Rickea Jackson’s 3-point shooting and rebounding have stood out. (Ronald Martinez / Getty Images)

9.1 PPG | 3.0 RPG | 46.7 FG

Jackson has played the fewest minutes (208) of anyone in my current top five, but she’s taken advantage of her opportunities. She’s tied for the third most 3-pointers (seven) by rookies, but she’s shooting the second-best percentage of any rookie with at least 10 attempts (only Alissa Pili is better). She’s been a solid rebounder (3.0 per game) and proven she can score in different facets. Sometimes that has taken the form of being aggressive in transition, other times from behind the arc or slashing to the rim. She’s made at least 50 percent of her shot attempts in five of nine games, though done so only once since being inserted into the starting lineup on May 28.

6.6 PPG | 5.0 APG | 2.6 RPG

Uzun is making her WNBA debut this summer, but she is no stranger to playing with — and against — some of the world’s best competition. The 26-year-old guard spent last winter playing for EuroLeague champion Turkish club Fenerbahçe, where she played alongside notables like Napheesa Collier, Kayla McBride, Natasha Howard, Nina Milic and Emma Meesseman. Uzun made the Wings’ opening night roster after signing a training camp contract and was thrust into the franchise’s starting lineup.

Right away, she’s been trusted to draw the best out of a team with top-four aspirations. Uzun is averaging 31.3 minutes per game, the second most on the roster and the second most among rookies behind Clark. Though she’s continuing to figure out how to play alongside Arike Ogunbowale, the early returns are positive. Twelve of Uzun’s 40 assists have been to Ogunbowale, and she has also found Dallas bigs Teaira McCowan and Monique Billings on multiple occasions. In addition to her offensive playmaking, the 5-foot-10 Uzun has been an excellent defender so far, with opponents shooting only 28.6 percent on shots she’s guarding, according to Synergy Sports.

She plays with fearlessness on both ends. Exhibit A: It didn’t go down, but she nearly made the shot of the year when she threw an inbounds off Sun center Brionna Jones with less than 10 seconds remaining in a one-point game, collected her own pass, and shot it.

Others considered: Julie Vanloo ( Mystics), Pili (Lynx), Aaliyah Edwards (Mystics), Kate Martin (Las Vegas Aces)

(Top photos of Caitlin Clark, left, and Angel Reese: Jeff Haynes / NBAE via Getty Images)