Last night, there was no mistaking it. The noise of from the rabid crowd at the Target Center. Every time she touched the ball, it was the same, an audible gasp. Not again. Then swish. The Lynx fans knew it, Sugar Rodgers was on fire. And with less than a minute to go in regulation, when Tanisha Wright found her out on the wing for a potential game-tying three, everyone knew what was going to happen before the ball even left her hand.
In her fourth season out of Georgetown, Rodgers has not only become one of the most improved players in the WNBA, but also one of the most prolific threats from beyond the arc.
Acquired from Minnesota in exchange for the right to swap third round picks in 2015, Rodgers has seen a major boost in playing time since arriving in the Big Apple. She came into this season averaging fewer than six points per game for her career, but now with a permanent spot in the Liberty starting lineup, her numbers have soared and her impact has been profound.
SUGAR RODGERS 2016 SEASON HIGHLIGHTS
Rodgers has scored in double-figures 13 times this season, while leading the league with 48 3-pointers, and ranking sixth shooting .440 from beyond the arc.
Rodgers’ scoring average has risen every year since entering the league and already twice this season has surpassed her career high for points in a game. The latest personal best performance came in New York’s comeback overtime victory over last night against the reigning champion Minnesota Lynx.
New York was charged to play without MVP candidate Tina Charles, who was missing the game due to a procedure on her fractured nose. Rodgers stepped up in her absence knocking down a franchise-tying seven threes on her way to scoring 30 points; the last of which came with 1:33 remaining in overtime serving as the final dagger putting the game at 92-87.
As good as her 3-point shooting is, her ability to develop other aspects of her game as well lend themselves to making her a complete threat on both ends of the court.
Originally the Liberty liked her abilities as a defender, she is unquestionably one of the most underrated on-ball defenders in the league, and is a critical component to the Liberty routinely posting the best team defensive numbers in the league.
Through an intense offseason training regimen with Director of Player Development Teresa Weatherspoon, Rodgers has also worked on her mid-range game and ability to drive to the basket, as evidence by her 40 makes at the stripe, and she is 27th in the league in free throw percentage.
She dishes the ball, handing out 2.3 assists per game, and also averages just north of one steal every night while playing 32.5 minutes per game.
The Liberty will continue to rely on Rodgers and her ability to knock down long-range shots, as she and Tina Charles have become one of the most lethal inside-out threats throughout the entire league.
New York will be back in action tomorrow night as their west coast road trip continues at Phoenix. Tip-off is scheduled for 10 p.m. ET on MSG.