Lynx forward Napheesa Collier wins WNBA Rookie of the Year

Napheesa Collier #24 of the Minnesota Lynx shoots against Allie Quigley #14 of the Chicago Sky during their game at Target Center on May 25, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Lynx defeated the Sky 89-71. (Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images)

Minnesota Lynx forward Napheesa Collier has been named WNBA Rookie of the Year after starting every game during the 2019 season. 

Collier is the fourth Lynx player to earn WNBA Rookie of the Year honors, and first since Maya Moore in 2011. She 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. She was named on 29 of 43 ballots.

Lynx coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve said her team was better with Collier on the court. 

"She recorded one of the best rookie seasons ever, boasting an incredibly efficient stat line every time she played,” Reeve said in a statement. “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.”

The former University of Connecticut forward was the No. 6 overall pick in the 2019 WNBA draft. She is the third No. 6 overall pick to win Rookie of the Year and the lowest draft selection since 2005 to win the award. 

Collier didn’t need much time to make an impact with the Lynx. She scored a season and career-high 27 points in her debut at Target Center in a victory over the Chicago Sky. In 33 game minutes, she shot 8-of-11 from the field, including 3-of-4 from three-point range.

Collier scored in double figures in 25 of Minnesota’s 34 games, including 15 straight to end the season. She scored at least 20 points in three of those 25 games.

She saw an increased role early in the season after Jessica Shepard went down with a season-ending knee injury, and Seimoine Augustus missed the first 22 games of the season after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery before the season.

Collier joins Moore in 2011, Augustus in 2006 and Betty Lennox in 2000 as other Lynx players to win the WNBA Rookie of the Year Award. She was the fifth rookie in Lynx franchise history to start every game.

For the season, she averaged 13.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.9 steals per game. Collier finished in the top 40 overall in the WNBA in nine major statistical categories. Her 13.1 points per game were third on the Lynx behind Sylvia Fowles (13.6) and Odyssey Sims (14.5).

Collier played in the WNBA All-Star Game as an injury replacement, won WNBA Rookie of the Month in July and earned Western Conference Player of the Week honors once.