Minnesota Lynx guard Crystal Dangerfield entered her rookie season in similar fashion to how she entered the 2020 WNBA Draft — overlooked and overshadowed by media darling Sabrina Ionescu (New York Liberty) and the “Hollywood” airs of Chennedy Carter (Atlanta Dream).
While Ionescu flashed signs of her triple-double greatness before being stopped by an ankle injury in her third pro outing, and Carter missing several games with an ankle injury, Dangerfield has steadily compiled a strong case for the 2020 WNBA Rookie of the Year (ROY) award, emphasized by her being named the Rookie of the Month for August.
In August, Dangerfield scored 20 or more points in six games, the most of any rookie, and helped the Lynx to a 9-4 record with averages of 18.1 points, 3.5 assists and 2.0 rebounds per game.
If @crystald2_ keeps playing like this, we might have another ROY on our hands.
23 PTS / 2 REB / 2 AST / +11 pic.twitter.com/xtSylz6IyL
— Minnesota Lynx (@minnesotalynx) August 29, 2020
Her scoring average includes a blistering 29 points against the Los Angeles Sparks on August 9 in which all but five points came in the second half — the most for points scored in a half by a Lynx rookie since Seimone Augustus did it in 2006.
Against the Dallas Wings on August 19, Dangerfield made five of her seven shot attempts from 3-point range, becoming just the fourth Lynx rookie to make five shots from deep in a game since Betty Lennox, who did it twice in 2000, Monica Wright (2010) and Maya Moore, who did it three times in 2011.
Starting all but two games this season, Dangerfield is shooting 46.1 percent from the field, 34.5 percent from beyond the arc and 90.7 percent from the free-throw line.
Also in the ROY race …
If there is a battle to be had for the ROY — as was the case between Napheesa Collier (Dangerfield’s Lynx and former UConn Huskies teammate) and Arike Ogunbowale (Dallas Wings) in 2019 — it will be the Dream’s Carter who poses the greatest threat.
Carter ranks above Dangerfield across the box score, so if season award voters go by stats alone, Carter should come out on top. However, Carter’s outstanding contributions have not turned into wins — the Dream have a 3-13 record and are eleventh in the standings, while Dangerfield has helped the Lynx to an 11-5 record, fourth place in the standings and an all-but-inevitable trip to the postseason.
That Dangerfield and the Lynx have generated this level of success without the stalwart paint presence of Sylvia Fowles (calf/out indefinitely), provides further reason to marvel at Dangerfield’s and the Lynx’s accomplishments heading into this final stretch of the 2020 regular season.