The IX: Basketball Wednesday with Howard Megdal, August 19, 2020
From the parking lot — Must-click women's basketball links — Jordin Canada interview
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From the parking lot
For Minnesota Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve, the ability of Crystal Dangerfield to take long threes wasn’t just an interesting note about her game. It was a prime selling point of it.
“That was one of the most valuable things about Crystal,” Reeve said of the rookie point guard she selected 16th overall in the 2020 draft, yet stands a good chance of winning the Rookie of the Year honors. “At her position, particular for her size, that she’s able to shoot the darn thing. And that makes her special.”
But it is more than just the three-pointer that separates Dangerfield’s game. She is seventeenth in three-point attempts so far this year, so absolutely among the league’s most prolific at the shot. But she is seventh in long threes — that is, attempts from 25-29 feet out.
“That’s a shocking number,” Dangerfield said when I revealed it to her. “I think that was one of the reasons I was brought to the team, but I obviously don’t want to live in that area. Those percentages definitely go up moving closer. But that is one of my strengths and that’s something I want to be able to do not just take the shots but make the shots.”
Her percentage doesn’t actually go down that much — 32.6 overall from three, 29.6 from 25-29 feet out — and it reflects a part of her game that dates back to UConn. Seeing her stretch the floor like that in college is part of why I projected her as a clear WNBA contributor.
It’s indisputably where the league is going, too. Already, 17 players have at least 20 attempts from 25-29 feet out, in half of what is a shortened season. For reference: in 2015, over a FULL season, a total of nine players attempted 20 or more shots from 25-29 feet out.
I have previously written about how the league ought to move the three-point line back once again, a move that will only improve offensive flow. It also reflects the ever-increased skills of this ridiculously talented league. Did you see in there that Breanna Stewart is shooting 48.3 percent from 25-29 feet out? 48.3 percent!
In the meantime, though, teams across the league are taking advantage of the longer threes to create hyper-spacing on the offensive end. The Lynx are actually posting a higher on/off net rating so far this year with Dangerfield than they are with Sylvia Fowles. Small sample size caveat and all that, this is especially important data for a point guard.
So if you find yourself enjoying the WNBA more this year, certainly it is due to the league being bigger, faster, stronger than ever. But don’t overlook the range of the league’s shooters, either.
They can shoot it from the parking lot. And they are.
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Tweet of the week
Five at The IX: Jordin Canada, Seattle Storm
I spoke to Jordin about a variety of subjects concerning the first-place Seattle Storm. Click on her photo to listen!