@AtlantaDream

On Tuesday, it was Vote Warnock and Vote Carter. The Atlanta Dream — and numerous other teams — made a statement with their t-shirts. Chennedy Carter made a statement with her play.

In just her fifth game in the league, Carter came away with a career-high 26 points. A score-first guard from her three years at Texas A&M, where she averaged over 19 field goal attempts per game, Carter has reached double digits in all five of her WNBA games. This time, however, she also knocked down 11-of-21 shots, marking her second straight game shooting above 50%.

Heading into the game, the rookie had the second highest usage rate in the league — 31.6% — and she only saw that number increase. Down the stretch in a tight game, Carter was the go-to option for the Dream. Going right at Diana Taurasi with under five minutes left in the fourth quarter, Carter went high off the glass unfazed. About two minutes later, she coolly answered Taurasi’s 3-pointer with one of her own.

Carter’s game looked smooth and clean. It is clear that she has improved, even from her final college game in March. The end result is a rookie who’s making it look unusually easy.

In her first professional game, Carter dropped 18 points, with 8 assists and 5 rebounds — and the Dream won. Although Carter has not reached that number of assists since, she still has the eighth most among all players, including four against Phoenix.

And even with the eighth most field goal attempts in the WNBA, Carter still ranks 34th in the league in efficiency, though granted it’s a small sample size.

Carter’s name was mentioned in the now-infamous Instagram Live “A Touch More” episode in which Taurasi and Sue Bird debated which rookie would have the best career. Carter’s Tuesday rival, Taurasi, chose Sabrina Ionescu. On the other hand, Bird picked the No. 4 draft pick — Carter.

Ionescu will miss significant time with a sprain of her left ankle. Before her injury, Ionescu was the only rookie averaging more points per game than Carter. Compared to the entire league, Carter’s 17.4 point per game stacks up at 11th. And while she likely won’t get a chance to match up with Ionescu again, Carter’s play so far has proven the league has a lot to look forward to as the 2020 draft class continues to grow.

In the end, Atlanta wasn’t able to pull out the win against a Phoenix team. While expected for a young team with almost all new faces, 23 turnovers was too much to overcome. Carter committed five of those turnovers, which surprisingly did not even lead the team — Elizabeth Williams had six.

Still, things are looking up. Coming off an eight-win season, the Dream already have their first two of 2020. The ceiling for this team is wherever Carter will take them. As such, fans might want to buckle up now, because this rookie looks ready for lift-off.