Monday, July 28, 2008

A Little Breakout?

If you're not reading the Rethinking Basketball blog, why the heck not? You're missing out on the most thought-provoking WNBA analysis the Interweb has to offer. Today, Q offers an interesting post looking at breakout players, spotlighting Sacramento's Crystal Kelly and the Storm's own Camille Little.

During the Storm's 3-2 stretch without Lauren Jackson, Little came up huge (groan), averaging 11.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game while shooting 24-of-44 (54.5 percent), so she's earned the attention.

I'm not surprised the numbers didn't portend a breakout for Little. She played too many minutes last season for San Antonio, emerging as the top frontcourt reserve for the Silver Stars after Erin Buescher's torn ACL. Little was hugely valauble for San Antonio, making the All-Rookie Team. Plus, the strength of her game - the defensive end of the floor - eludes the numbers to some extent.

Where Little became a diamond in the rough was in Atlanta, where she never quite fit in. Though Little got regular playing time, she was not as productive as she had been as a rookie. Enter Storm Head Coach Brian Agler, who knew Little could fit into his system after coaching her as an assistant with the Silver Stars last season.

So when the Storm acquired Little last month, I was excited, and not just because of the obvious headline pun possibilities. Still, I couldn't have imagined Little playing as well as she has in the last five games. In particular, what has stood out in that stretch has been Little's finishing ability at the bucket. 1150 AM KKNW play-by-play broadcaster Dick Fain pointed this out before last night's game and it's absolutely right.

Little is very creative in traffic, showing off reverses and scoring with her off hand. The ability to convert down low is very important in this league, especially for an undersized post player like Little. Last year in San Antonio, Little shot 41.2 percent and she was at 42.0 percent in Atlanta, so we'll see if she can keep up her 50-plus percent shooting with the Storm. One thing that should help in that regard is that Little is playing virtually exclusively at power forward for the Storm, having played more on the wing in her last two stops.

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