Just a month away from the end of the 2017 WNBA regular season, catch up on how our Aussies are faring at the Phoenix Mercury and New York Liberty.
NEW YORK LIBERTY (12-11)
Rebecca Allen- Since mid-July, Allen has found some form with the Liberty, equaling her season-high with eight points per game on three occasions while increasing her overall average of three points per contest to 5.2 over her last six outings.
Her eight points against Chicago on July 30 came on 2-2 three-point shooting, improving her mark from long-range to 38% while she also sits fifth in her team for blocks.
The Liberty currently sit sixth on the ladder and are doing enough to maintain a playoff position but they are only two games clear inside the top eight.
With their next two clashes coming against teams below them, New York will be aiming to take advantage and further solidify their finals hopes over the next week.
PHOENIX MERCURY (13-10)
Cayla George- Following her debut WNBA season in 2016, George’s numbers have remained steady across the board aside from her shooting percentage which has dropped to 35%, in turn lowering her point production to 3.2 per game.
She exploded for one of her best games of her career though last week, tallying 14 points, 14 rebounds and three steals (all season-highs) in a win over Chicago.
It also helped snap a four-game losing streak for Phoenix and place them back inside the top five while George now sits third for the club in steals.
Leilani Mitchell- Coming off the bench behind Danielle Robinson, Mitchell is still playing over 21 minutes while recording 8.1 points and 3.7 assists per contest (her highest averages since 2010).
Since Mitchell scored in double-figures in seven of her first eight games, she has only reached that feat once out of her past six but having a player of her calibre in the second unit is a major boost for coach Sandy Brondello’s team and her experience is something which the side will lean on as they head towards a fifth consecutive playoff appearance.
However, Phoenix’s 1-5 record against the current top four teams is cause for concern.
Steph Talbot- Starting all but one game in her rookie season, Talbot continues to shine as one of the league’s rising stars.
Playing 19.5 minutes per game, she sits fourth in the Mercury for steals and fifth for assists while her 4.7 points are coming at 42% shooting from the field and 38% from deep.
If she can knock down a few more triple’s, Talbot will move into the top 15 in the league for three-point percentage. Phoenix’s recent losing streak coincided with a lean patch for the guard although her perimeter defence remains impressive and is helping the Mercury to own the fifth-best defence overall.
OTHER WNBL TALENT
Aside from the Australians to watch in 2017, there is a bevy of talent that has come over after playing in the most recent WNBL season.
Sami Whitcomb’s Seattle Storm are battling for playoff position, currently sitting ninth, but she continues to star at the offensive end in limited minutes as she sits 12th in the competition for three-point percentage (37.8%) while averaging 5.1 points per game.
Notching double-figures for the second time this season on July 6, Whitcomb has also drilled 92.3% from the free-throw line to prove her shooting stroke.
Natasha Cloud is doing a bit of everything for Washington, averaging 4.8 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists with her Mystics sitting comfortable in fourth position.
She is playing alongside Asia Taylor, who is receiving small minutes but was announced last night as returning to the Sydney Uni Flames for their 2017/18 season WNBL title defence.
Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe is at New York with Bec Allen, averaging 3.5 points per game but is making the most of her opportunities, bumping that average to 5.5 when she plays over ten minutes.
Rounding out the WNBL talent, Jazmon Gwathmey has hit a purple patch over the past fortnight, collecting nine points, 1.3 steals and one block across her past four games.
Indiana Fever only sit at 8-6 though, dropping nine of their past ten and 2.5 games outside a finals position, those post-season hopes are quickly fading.