The major league baseball All-Star game is this week, but there’s another All-Star game on the horizon that holds special interest for Delaware basketball fans – it’s the WNBA All-Star game on July 27 and right now former Blue Hen Elena Delle Donne has received more votes than any other player even though she’s just a rookie who has played in only 14 games as a professional.
If you’ve paid attention at all, you know that Delle Donne has taken the WNBA by storm. She’s the fourth-leading scorer in the league at 19.1 points per game and she’s scored more than 20 points in seven of the 14 games her team has played. Even more impressively, Delle Donne has turned a bad team into a good one — last season, the Chicago Sky finished 14-20 and so far this season they’re 10-4.
There’s no question that Delle Donne, the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft, has been the WNBA’s best rookie. She’s put up better numbers and won more games than the No. 1 overall pick, center Brittany Griner of the Phoenix Mercury, who is averaging 14.9 points per game for an eight-win team. Griner is also averaging 6.4 rebounds, which is only about one more rebound per game than Delle Donne.
Plus, to nobody’s surprise, Delle Donne leads the WNBA in free throw percentage, making 95.5 percent of her attempts. To put that into perspective, the best free-throw shooter in the NBA last season, All-Star Kevin Durant, made 90.5 percent.
Delle Donne has been named the Eastern Conference player of the week twice. And perhaps the key to it all has been something that was a concern when she began her pro career – her durability. Delle Donne missed considerable time at Delaware as she battled the effects of Lyme disease and there were some doubts as how well she would hold up in the faster-paced WNBA. Well, Delle Donne has started all 14 games for the Sky and she’s averaging 32.2 out of a possible 40 minutes per game.
That’s why it probably shouldn’t be a surprise that Delle Donne is leading the WNBA All-Star voting, even though no rookie has even been the top vote-getter. The last time the league released its ballot numbers, Delle Donne had 16,761 votes, which put her aead of the best player in the WNBA, forward Candace Parker of the Los Angeles Sparks, who had 15,623 votes.
The All-Star starters will be named during the Mercury-Sparks game on July 18 and even if Delle Donne doesn’t get the most votes there’s no question she’ll get enough to be on the starting five.
Delle Donne’s career got off to a flying start when she outplayed Griner in the nationally-televised debut for both players and now she’s proven that she wasn’t a one-shot wonder. She’s played well consistently and her team is winning and people everywhere are noticing.
Contact Kevin Noonan at firstname.lastname@example.org.