Aliyah Boston as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft was a foregone conclusion. Aliyah Boston as the WNBA’s Rookie of the Year could be the same.
So far this season, Boston isn’t just the best among her rookie class — she’s putting together one of the best rookie seasons ever.
On Aug. 6, Boston became just the fourth rookie in WNBA history to have a 25-point, 10-rebound, four-steal game. Through 33 games, Boston’s averages not only lead WNBA rookies in nearly every category but also rank among the league’s best. She is contributing 14.7 points per game (23rd overall) and 8.2 rebounds per game (ninth overall) for the Indiana Fever. She also leads the entire league in field-goal percentage at 59.9%.
“You wouldn’t know that she’s a rookie. She’s polished in everything that she does. She’s a professional,” All-Star guard and Fever teammate Kelsey Mitchell told Andscape last month. “She’s a great post player, obviously. More importantly, she’s got the professional look already and she’s just getting started. I’m proud of her.”
In her debut season, Boston became the first player in WNBA history to average 15 points per game on 60% shooting through 20 career games. The former South Carolina star is also the sixth player in the last two decades to have 300 points and 150 rebounds through 20 games, joining the likes of A’ja Wilson, Breanna Stewart and Candace Parker.
Go Aliyah, Go Aliyah 💃With this bucket, @aa_boston is now 1st all-time in @IndianaFever rookie history in FGM, passing Tamika Catchings📺 @iontv pic.twitter.com/GXaW84bp77— WNBA (@WNBA) August 18, 2023
Go Aliyah, Go Aliyah 💃With this bucket, @aa_boston is now 1st all-time in @IndianaFever rookie history in FGM, passing Tamika Catchings📺 @iontv pic.twitter.com/GXaW84bp77
“I knew she was special, but she’s exceeded it,” first-year Fever coach Christy Sides told reporters in July. “You just don’t know until you get into this league how you’re going to respond. It’s the different levels, size, speed, quickness, strength — she hadn’t faced that night in and night out. She takes everything in, she talks to every coach, she watches video with every coach, she asks the best questions.”
The 21-year-old forward was named Rookie of the Month in May and June, and in July she became the youngest player to start in a WNBA All-Star Game. Only two other players — Sue Bird and Chamique Holdsclaw — started in an All-Star Game before turning 22, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
“I don’t want to sound like I’m being cocky, but I expect greatness,” Boston told reporters shortly after being named the eighth rookie All-Star Game starter in WNBA history.
“Greatness is just being true to who you are but also working hard to accomplish the goals,” Boston later told Andscape. “Every time I step on the court, I expect to be dominant. I go out there every game and I’m just going to be who I am.”
And the praise being heaped on Boston doesn’t end with her own teammates and coaches.
“She’s going to be a great one,” Las Vegas Aces coach Becky Hammon said of Boston following the All-Star Game. “Already what I think Coach Sides has done in Indiana, the culture and everything that she’s trying to build there, and they have a centerpiece. Literally, a centerpiece.”