UConn injuries: Ducharme close to return, Fudd further out
UConn has struggled with injuries all season.
June is in the WNBA rearview mirror, and with it came highlights aplenty. From triple-double records to 35-point games to overtime battles, the stars of the league showed out.
Each month through the end of the regular season, Just Women’s Sports will select five starters and five reserves making up the team of the month.
As teams fight for playoff position, records become extra important. When making my selections for June’s lineup, team success was a key component in the evaluation process. There will always be outliers who can’t be ignored, but overall if a player is putting up big numbers but not necessarily propelling their team to victory, they have a lower chance of making the team of the month.
Here’s who made the cut for June.
Though she’s a four-time All-Star, the Chicago Sky guard often performs in the background for her team. Vandersloot is elite at running the show and setting up her teammates, which is always her focus as a traditional point guard. Her numbers reflect that, with Vandersloot averaging 11 points, 6.3 assists and 3.9 rebounds a game this season.
But the veteran player is also a skilled scorer when she wants to be. In June, Vandersloot led the Sky in scoring in three straight games, with 25, 15 and then 18 points. She also recorded a 20-point, 10-assist double-double to help the Sky close out an 88-86 win over the Liberty on June 12. The Sky were 9-2 in June, with Vandersloot leading the team in assists in six of those contests.
May was a month to forget for the Liberty, as the team went 1-7 to open the season. The New York squad greatly improved in June, going 7-4 and inching closer to a winning record. A big part of the successful month was Ionescu, who averaged 20.3 points per game in June and led the Liberty in scoring in six of their 11 contests.
Ionescu’s triple-double on June 12 was a highlight, but it was also indicative of the well-rounded play she brought all month. She led the Liberty in at least one category in all 11 games, led in two categories in four games and led in three categories twice.
The Sky were the best team in the WNBA in June, recording just two losses, so it makes sense to have two players on this list. Joining Vandersloot is fellow All-Star Meesseman, who has been a key contributor to the reigning champions in her first season in Chicago. Meesseman averaged 14.4 points per game in June and had her biggest performances in close contests.
After leading the Sky with 20 points and 11 boards in an 88-86 win over the Liberty on June 12, she added 17 points and 12 rebounds in a 106-100 overtime victory over the Dream five days later. Meesseman was also efficient with her opportunities, shooting 57 percent from the field over the nine games.
The reigning WNBA MVP is having another stellar season, averaging 14.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per game for Connecticut. Jones was particularly strong in June, recording five double-doubles in 11 contests. She led the Sun in points seven times and in rebounding seven times, and there were four games in which she led in both categories.
Jones got her team off to a hot start in June, recording 20, 24, 25 and 16 points in the Sun’s first four games (all wins). Her efforts have helped Connecticut stay in fourth place in the league standings, just two games behind the first-place Sky.
I promised the occasional outlier in choosing the WNBA Team of the Month, and here it is. The Sparks went 2-5 in June, but Ogwumike was a noticeable bright spot. She led her team in scoring in every contest, averaging 18.6 points, while also recording two double-doubles. Ogwumike has been the most consistent piece on a rocky Sparks squad, and her play in June was particularly indicative of the seven-time All-Star’s individual dominance this season.
Skylar Diggins-Smith, G, Phoenix Mercury
The 10-15 Mercury are struggling, but Diggins-Smith is not. The guard leads the league in minutes played and is third in points. She had 25 points or more in four games in June.
Kelsey Plum, G, Las Vegas Aces
Plum could easily be a part of this month’s starting five. The All-Star Game MVP is in the midst of a breakout season and averaged 23 points per game in the month of June.
A’ja Wilson, F, Las Vegas Aces
Wilson, averaging 18.7 points and 10.3 rebounds per game this season, had five double-doubles in June alone. Her month included a 35-point performance in an 89-72 win over the Sparks, tying her career-high.
Breanna Stewart, F, Seattle Storm
Stewart averaged 22 points a game in June, leading the Storm in scoring six times. Stewart was also efficient with the ball, turning it over just nine times all month as she helped the 16-8 Storm hold onto third place in the standings.
Alyssa Thomas, F, Connecticut Sun
While Jones continues to put up huge numbers for the Sun, Thomas has had a hand in every victory, contributing in multiple ways. She led her team in rebounding four times and in assists 10 times. The highlight of her month was a double-double in a win over the Storm, with 11 rebounds and 12 assists.
Eden Laase is a Staff Writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @eden_laase.
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