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  • Writer's pictureKate Stiger

WNBA Players Making Their Impact Known

The 2024 WNBA season has been one of the most highly anticipated seasons in league history. Along with the stars and superteams that are getting talked about, these are some of the players who have been positive surprises and impact players for their teams early on this season.


Alanna Smith - Minnesota Lynx

After getting drafted by the Phoenix Mercury in 2019, Alana Smith has made stops with the Indiana Fever and Chicago Sky and now seems to have found a home with the Minnesota Lynx. 


So far throughout the 2024 season, Smith is averaging career-highs in points per game (12.5), assists (3.2), and blocks (2.0). Having earned a spot in the starting lineup, Smith has also seen her playing time increase compared to previous seasons.

Head coach Cheryl Reeve has a history of developing talented bigs with the Lynx such as Sylvia Fowles and Rebekka Brunson, who both won multiple championships in Minnesota. When asked about Reeve, Smith shared “She trusts me and my feel for the game and so it’s been really good for me to just be able to play a lot more free.”


That trust is paying off, as Smith is having her most productive season in the WNBA and has helped lead her team to first place in the Western Conference and the Commissioners Cup title.


Kate Martin - Las Vegas Aces

Kate Martin getting drafted into the WNBA was an exciting surprise for many. Then she successfully made the Las Vegas Aces roster. Now she finds herself in a position that very few people saw coming - playing and contributing significant minutes for the back-to-back champs. 


After playing with superstar teammate Caitlin Clark at Iowa, Martin is used to being a part of a supporting cast and has done just that with a loaded Aces roster. Head coach Becky Hammon has said she wants Martin to learn from 11-year WNBA veteran Alysha Clark, who has spent much of her career as a defensive-minded, supporting player. 


Through the first month of play, Martin is averaging just over 18 minutes per game and has a career-high 13 points, with most of her focus being on the defensive end. She has been offering the Aces a great defensive presence and has found herself on the court at times in high-pressure situations, demonstrating that Hammon has lots of trust in the rookie. 


The absence of Chelsea Gray may be contributing to the significant minutes for Martin, but she is making a great case for herself to be a contributing member of the Aces even when Gray returns.


Dearica Hamby - Los Angeles Sparks

After a surprising trade from Las Vegas to Los Angeles before the 2023 season, former two-time Sixth Player of the Year Dearica Hamby has made herself a focal point of the Sparks this season. Although the team may be struggling to win games, Hamby has increased nearly all of her statistical categories this season. 


Dearica Hamby playing in a game for the Los Angeles Sparks. Photo courtesy @la_sparks / Instagram

Most notably, her scoring has increased significantly going from 8.9 points per game in 2023 to 19 this season. Her exceptional play has made her the center of the Sparks offense as she leads the team in scoring, rebounds (11.1), assists (3.6), and steals (1.6). Hamby is only one of two players averaging double-digit scoring alongside rookie Rikea Jackson.


In addition to her play on the court, Hamby has been a leader for Los Angeles as well. As a mom of two children, Hamby’s teammates have also referred to her as a mom of the team, especially rookie Cameron Brink. Brink has shared that Hamby has been someone that she can go to for any questions or issues that come with being a new player in the league. Having that type of relationship between veteran and rookie players is something that will be key to their success moving forward. 


Los Angeles has struggled as a team the past few seasons, but Hamby is showing that she can be one of the key pieces that could bring the team back to their winning ways. 


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