How will the Sparks move forward after Cameron Brink's injury? WNBA rookie rankings (2024)

NEW YORK — Amid a stretch of nine games in 18 days, the Los Angeles Sparks were dealt a crushing blow. In the first quarter of Tuesday night’s contest against the Connecticut Sun, Cameron Brink, the No. 2 pick in the 2024 WNBA Draft, sustained a non-contact injury later revealed to be a season-ending torn ACL.


Brink, named to the USA 3×3 Olympic team after winning MVP and a gold medal at the 3×3 World Cup in 2023, was enjoying a stellar start to her professional season. “She was a sponge,” coach Curt Miller said. “She was remarkable in being able to be very conscious that she needed to learn more and was willing to grow.”

On an almost game-to-game basis, Brink’s growth was palpable. She was already one of the WNBA’s top shot-blockers (her 2.3 blocks per game are third in the league). If she didn’t make contact on opposing attempts, she routinely altered them. “It can’t be understated the potential she shows on that end,” Miller said.

Her offensive repertoire showed more depth in the WNBA than in college, too. But beyond any stats — Brink averaged 7.5 points and 5.3 rebounds in 22 minutes per game — Miller said the Sparks will have to go without the 22-year-old rookie’s energy.

“Cam’s presence on the floor is one thing, but Cam has a positive vibe and a presence about her on a daily basis that brings joy and uplifts our team and certainly is something we will miss,” Miller said.

The Sparks will look to lean on another rookie even more in Brink’s absence (more on that below). But other first-year players continue to impress, too.

As in past editions, this week’s rookie rankings do not reflect what my current Rookie of the Year ballot would look like but are a gauge of how different rookies have performed in the past week. Because of the injury, Brink isn’t ranked.



Angel Reese




Caitlin Clark




Kamilla Cardoso




Rickea Jackson

Los Angeles



Aaliyah Edwards



1. Angel Reese, Chicago Sky
12.1 PPG | 10.2 RPG | 37.1 FG%

If a Sky opponent is to miss a shot with Reese on the floor, it’s a safe bet the 6-foot-3 forward is going to corral it. Reese has been active on the glass throughout the season but has been her most effective over the last week. In her last three games, Reese has a defensive rebound percentage of 49.2 percent, the highest mark in the WNBA. Her 9.7 defensive rebounds per game and 15.0 rebounds overall lead the WNBA.


Thursday, Sky guard Marina Mabrey cited Reese’s confidence, her ability to continue fighting for position and the constant energy she brings as keys to her success. Chicago coach Teresa Weatherspoon has been effusive in her praise of Reese’s motor throughout the year.

Thursday’s 83-72 victory over the Dallas Wings was a particularly significant example of Reese’s impact. With a 16-point, 18-rebound performance, she became the first rookie in the WNBA to record seven consecutive double-doubles. She also joined Yolanda Griffith and Tina Charles as the only rookies ever to put up 15-plus points, 10-plus defensive rebounds and eight-plus offensive rebounds in a single game, according to Across the Timeline.

How do you spell Angel Reese? “D-A-W-G”

A RECORD SETTING performance for @Reese10Angel ‼️

— Chicago Sky (@chicagosky) June 20, 2024

“A lot of great rookies have been in this league — Sylvia (Fowles), Candace (Parker), Elena Delle Donne — (and) to be named with some of the great players that have come before me is amazing,” Reese said.

2. Caitlin Clark, Indiana Fever
16.3 PPG | 6.2 APG | 5.5 RPG

The Fever’s recent victories over the Sky have garnered headlines because of the game’s star power, but the implications of Indiana’s two victories over Chicago go beyond any individuals. Indiana has won four of its last five games and each of its last three. It’s now back in the top eight of the league standings.

Clark continues to be a driving force, averaging 16.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists in the most recent three wins. Key to her success is the development of how she pairs with star center Aliyah Boston. Boston was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week for June 10-16, recording three double-doubles and averaging 20.0 points, 13.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.0 blocks per game.


After some early season growing pains, Clark has now assisted Boston on 30 baskets, according to PBP Stats, the seventh-most of any pairing. Nineteen of those assists have come for Boston baskets at the rim, where last year’s Rookie of the Year is especially effective.

Clark has also been important around the basket. Not only does she get downhill for shots — 26.5 of her field goal attempts have been around the rim, according to Synergy Sports — but she contributes on the glass too, where she averages 5.5 rebounds per game. “I think we’re really good when I can get it off the rim and push in transition, so I take a lot of pride in trying to chase it down off the rim and then really go,” Clark said.

3. Kamilla Cardoso, Chicago Sky
8.4 PPG | 6.3 RPG | 48.9 FG%

Cardoso has played in only eight games, starting five of them, but she is continuing to develop chemistry with her fellow rookie. The two have exhibited more post-to-post passing of late. “It’s so easy to throw to 6-foot-7,” Reese said. And like Cardoso did in college, she does a good job of sprinting up the floor to establish early position.

Cardoso, too, has been impactful on the boards. This season, of players who average at least 10 minutes per game, Cardoso is second in the WNBA in second-chance points percentage, recording 35.6 percent of her points off misses, according to PBP Stats.

Thursday, with Reese’s 18 rebounds and Cardoso’s career-high 11 boards, the duo became the first pair of rookie teammates to have multiple games in which they recorded 10-plus rebounds in the same game since Tina Charles and Kelsey Griffin did it for the Connecticut Sun in 2010, according to Across the Timeline. What’s even more impressive about that is that Cardoso and Reese did so in consecutive games.

4. Rickea Jackson, Los Angeles Sparks
10.0 PPG | 3.4 RPG | 47.2 FG%

As the Sparks have processed the news of Brink’s injury, Miller said he has discussed the “unintended consequences” that her injury might have. Center Li Yueru stands to benefit from a bigger role, as does Jackson, the No. 4 pick in April’s draft.

Miller said Jackson is due to receive more touches and extended minutes while playing both the 3 and the 4. “She’s going to be learning a lot and being able to go back and forth,” Miller said.


Without much practice time, Jackson will continue to do most of her learning through game reps. “These guys’ laboratory, these guys’ classroom this year is in games,” he said. Like he did for Brink, Miller described Jackson as a “sponge” in her ability to take in information.

Miller has also been impressed with Jackson’s ability to compete on defense. He cited her energy and effort against Sun forward DeWanna Bonner, the WNBA’s fifth all-time leading scorer, on Tuesday. But Jackson, more often, has drawn deserving praise for her offensive game, where she has already shown her varied repertoire and ability to create her shot. As of the start of this week, she was 13th overall among forwards in field-goal percentage.

“She shoots the 3 better than I thought. She’s got a good midrange. She gets to the rim. She’s an athlete. She hits the boards,” Liberty coach Sandy Brondello said. “They’re (a) great two picks for L.A., and a really good two players that they can build around.”

5. Aaliyah Edwards, Washington Mystics
8.8 PPG | 6.3 RPG | 50 FG%

Throw out Wednesday’s seven-point loss to the Fever as an anomaly for Edwards, as she made only one of her six field goal attempts. Edwards has otherwise been efficient, and effective, on offense. Her 53.8 field goal percentage over the last week leads all rookies. Her 50 percent season-long average is also first among rookies and 17th league-wide.

Teammates laud her work ethic and her high basketball IQ. It’s translated to defensive success as well. Since June 13, Edwards has a 97.1 defensive rating, second-most of any first-year player who has averaged at least 20 minutes per game.

Also considered: Leonie Fiebich (Liberty), Julie Vanloo (Mystics), Kate Martin (Aces)

(Photo of Cameron Brink being assisted off the court by Sparks forward Dearica Hamby on Tuesday night: M. Anthony Nesmith / Icon Sportswire via Associated Press)

How will the Sparks move forward after Cameron Brink's injury? WNBA rookie rankings (6)How will the Sparks move forward after Cameron Brink's injury? WNBA rookie rankings (7)

Ben Pickman is a staff writer for The Athletic covering the WNBA and women’s college basketball. Previously, he was a writer at Sports Illustrated where he primarily covered women’s basketball and the NBA. He has also worked at CNN Sports and the Wisconsin Center for Journalism Ethics. Follow Ben on Twitter @benpickman

How will the Sparks move forward after Cameron Brink's injury? WNBA rookie rankings (2024)
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