In the next 10 minutes, she had six points and three assists.When Bevilaqua replaced January with about seven minutes left in the second, the Fever led 32-16.So when January found out she wouldn't start for the second straight game, she didn't mind.She came in midway through the first quarter with the Fever leading 12-11.
And January had the comparative advantage of having publicly stated confidence of coach Lin Dunn…enough to earn a starting position in her first game as a pro. However, whether it be figuring out how to make plays for teammates or moving from starter to bench player, among the most impressive things about January has been her ability to adjust to flow of the WNBA almost seamlessly.
Not saying that they’re perfect – statistics often tell convenient half-truths (not necessarily lies).
And obviously, the choices I make about which metrics are important illustrate my own biases.
January is not merely adjusting, but she’s having a major impact.
Mark Dent of the Indianapolis Star nicely summarized her ability to adjust and have an impact on the Fever’s impressive 73-61 victory over the LA Sparks last Friday: This rookie likes coming off the bench. It gives her time to gauge the opponent and the challenge to increase her team's energy level."That's what I want to do," she said.
It’s difficult for me to ignore that in the WNBA’s first rookie rankings of the 2009 season, the top 3 point guards on draft day – Kristi Toliver (#3), Renee Montgomery (#4), and Briann January (#6) – are ranked in reverse order of their draft position.
Of course, it’s still early, so we can only make tentative claims about which of these rookie point guards is actually the “best”.
And of course, I have to qualify my use of the word “best” by saying that so much of that depends on the fit of the player within the system and chemistry with teammates.
But there is a big difference between January, Montgomery, and Toliver. She doesn’t look anything like a rookie on the court. That’s certainly not to say that this debate is finished – obviously Montgomery and Toliver might just be on different developmental timelines.
On her first play off the bench, January had an assist to Jessica Moore.
On her second play she was fouled on a three and made all three free throws. She would have had another assist two plays later had Tamika Catchings made a three-point attempt.