|MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL – The WNBA today announced that Minnesota Lynx forward Napheesa Collier has been selected as the 2019 Rookie of the Year by a national panel of sportswriters and broadcasters. Collier, named on 29 of 43 ballots, is the third No. 6 overall pick to win Rookie of the Year (Temeka Johnson 2005, Betty Lennox 2000) and the lowest draft selection since Johnson in 2005 to win the award.
“We are so proud that Napheesa was named the 2019 WNBA Rookie of the Year,” said Lynx Head Coach and General Manager Cheryl Reeve. “She recorded one of the best rookie seasons ever, boasting an incredibly efficient stat line every time she played. She was not only one of the most efficient scorers in the league, her defensive performance ranked near the top of the entire league and was one of the best seasons ever for a rookie. Napheesa’s rookie campaign was a model of consistency rarely demonstrated by first-year players and simply put, we were a better team with her on the court.”
Collier, the fourth Lynx player to earn Rookie of the Year honors (Maya Moore 2011, Seimone Augustus 2006, Lennox 2000), wrapped up her debut season in the WNBA as the fifth rookie in franchise history to start every game (Nicky Anosike, Augustus, Moore, Nicole Ohlde), averaging 13.1 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 2.6 apg, 1.91 spg and 0.94 bpg while leading the league in minutes played (33.3 mpg). Collier finished her rookie campaign shooting 49.0% from the field, 36.1% from three-point range and 79.2% from the free throw line and ranked among the league’s top 40 overall in all nine major statistical categories.
The 6-1 forward became the fourth player in WNBA history to finish a season with at least 400 points, 200 rebounds, 75 assists, 50 steals, 25 blocks and 25 made three-pointers, joining Moore, Tamika Catchings and Sheryl Swoopes. Collier was chosen as the WNBA’s Rookie of the Month in July as well as earning Western Conference Player of the Week honors for Aug. 19-25, becoming the second Lynx rookie to garner the latter award (Augustus, 2006). She earned a nod in this year’s All-Star Game as an injury replacement, becoming the fifth first-year player to represent Minnesota at the league’s midsummer classic, a list that also includes Tonya Edwards (1999), Lennox (2000), Augustus (2006) and Moore (2011).
“It’s such an honor to be named this year’s Rookie of the Year,” said Collier. “So many great players have won this award in the past and I’m excited to join that list. I’ve been lucky to be put in such a great situation here in Minnesota and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”
The University of Connecticut product ended the year by scoring 10+ points in each of her final 15 games, the third-longest rookie double-figure scoring streak in Lynx history (Augustus 24, Candice Wiggins 21). Over the course of those 15, she posted four double-doubles and averaged 15.7 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 2.9 apg and 1.93 spg while shooting 53.8% (91-for-169) from the field and 42.9% (15-for-35) from beyond the arc.
Highlights from Collier’s 2019 season include a season-high 27 points May 25 vs. Chicago, the second-highest total ever for any player in her WNBA debut (Candace Parker, 34 at Phoenix, May 17, 2008). She led the Lynx across the board with 22 points, 11 rebounds and five assists Aug. 6 in Atlanta, becoming the fourth player in team history to register a 20/10/5 effort (Moore 9, Sylvia Fowles 3, Rebekkah Brunson).