This piece does not reflect the views of the Minnesota Lynx front office.
Kaila Charles: 6’1, G, University of Maryland
College Stats in 2019-20:
32 games, 28.5 MPG, 14.3 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 2.2 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.6 BPG, 50.0 FG%, 30.0 3P% (only 10 attempts), 69.5 FT%
Where she’ll go:
Charles is expected to be a late second-round pick.
Though her scoring average was down from her sophomore and junior seasons, Charles was the leader of the Big Ten Conference champions and the No. 4-ranked team in the nation (based on the final AP Top 25 rankings). That has to count for something.
She wasn’t scoring at the same level as she was prior seasons, but Charles was still a daunting assignment for most defenders she faced. Her 6’1 height mixed with her physical talents were too much for defenses to handle in Maryland’s uptempo offense.
Charles didn’t just excel in transition offense, either. She shot 48.6% from the field or better every season, largely due to her quick first step which allowed her to create space for a mid-range jump shot or fly by a defender while attacking the rim.
She also led the Terrapins in rebounding her senior season and just about recorded as many offensive rebounds (112) as defensive rebounds (120). You don’t see that often.
But the biggest stain on Charles’ career is her lack of a perimeter presence.
Despite primarily serving as a shooting guard, Charles was just 10-for-45 from 3-point range in her four-year college career and never averaged more than 0.5 3PAs per game a single season. Charles was named the Big 10’s Preseason Player of the Year in October, and ESPN’s preseason mock draft predicted she’d be a late first-round pick if she could add a 3-point shot to her artillery. Charles may have prioritized her three-point shooting more if she had been on a team that attempted more than 574 total 3s in the entire 2019-20 season, but she never made strides in that area which hurts her draft stock.
If you want to add to the skepticism, look at Charles’ drop in free-throw shooting percentage from her junior to senior season. The guard made 136 of her 165 free-throw attempts (80.5%) as a junior, averaging just under five attempts per game, to shooting 73-for-105 (69.5%) as a senior and averaging just over three attempts per game. It could just be a nitpick of her game, or it could signal that her shot could use some work before she does anything in the pros.
Charles still has a lot to offer the league, but if her shot doesn’t improve, it might keep her from building a lasting career in the league.