By Kobe Mosley
The Indiana Fever set 2022 as a year to improve. Led by one of the league’s greatest scorers in Kelsey Mitchell and a slew of rookies, the right pieces seem in place heading to the 2023 season and beyond. Indiana had a record-breaking draft, drafting four players in the first round alone. With another pick in the second round and acquisitions throughout the season, the Fever now have seven rookies on the roster — the most of any WNBA team.
With this weekend marking the end of the regular season, three of those rookies — Emily Engstler, Queen Egbo and Destanni Henderson, along with Rookie-of-the-Year candidate NaLyssa Smith – put a stamp on what may be an All-Rookie caliber season. Here is the case for each of these Fever rookies to earn league honors.
Taken with the Fever’s fourth pick in the draft, former Louisville Cardinal Emily Engstler has been a do-it-all player for Indiana. Making her presence known especially on the defensive side of the ball, Engstler is top five among rookies this season in total rebounds (fourth), steals (fifth) and blocks (second).
Engstler’s length has been on display all season to combat opposing frontcourt players, but also has the speed to stay in front of smaller players in the backcourt. This combination has been and will continue to be a problem for the opposition.
While rebounding has also been a strong suit for fellow rookies NaLyssa Smith and Queen Egbo, Engstler has found a niche for crashing the offensive boards. Not only does the New York City native rank fourth in total offensive rebounds throughout the entire league, but she is only the third Fever rookie to ever snag at least 70 offensive boards.
10th overall pick Queen Egbo has been an anchor for the Fever all year. Defending the paint against the best centers in the WNBA is not an easy task, but Egbo is first in blocks per game among rookies and her 39 blocks this season rank fifth in the league.
Similar to Engstler, Egbo’s game is not one-dimensional. Among rookies, Egbo is fifth in points per game, second in rebounds per game, fifth in field goal percentage and fourth in steals per game.
As time goes on, fans can expect Egbo to only get better with her offensive post moves. Shooting 44.1 percent from the field, Egbo is already off a great start and will continue to become more accurate with her shot.
A fan-favorite at the University of South Carolina, Fever and Gamecock fans alike make sure to come out and see Destanni Henderson. Sharing minutes this season with veteran point guard Danielle Robinson, the Fort, Myers, Fla. native has been able to learn and adjust all season.
Right out the gate, Henderson seemingly could not miss from beyond the arc, leading the league in three-point percentage in the opening weeks of the season. Henderson is still first among rookies in three-point percentage this season.
Not only has she been effective shooting the ball this season, but ‘Henny’ has been effective at finding her teammates as well. Henderson is third among rookies in assists per game and her 80 assists so far this season are the fourth-most by a rookie in franchise history.