Just how good is Breanna Stewart? She was the National Player of the Year in high school. She then became the most decorated player in the history of the NCAA. The WNBA was drooling over the prospect of adding her to its ranks, and in April the Seattle Storm used the No. 1 pick in the draft to add her to the list of legendary players who have dawned the green and gold.
Stewart wasted no time demonstrating that while she was great in college she could very well be even better as a pro. Having been named to the Olympic team prior to the start of the her rookie campaign, the then-21-year-old scored 26 points in her pro debut. Making it even more impressive was the fact she did it while matching up with Candace Parker. Her next two games were back-to-back 14-point, 13-rebound performances coming against the last two WNBA champions, the Minnesota Lynx and Phoenix Mercury. Not bad for her first week on the job.
On the season, her individual numbers are staggering. She finished sixth in the WNBA in scoring (18.3 PPG), second in rebounding (9.3 RPG) and third in blocks (1.8 BPG). She also led the WNBA in defensive rebounding and minutes played.
Her career-high marks are just as remarkable. She nearly had a triple-double as she scored 14 points, pulled down 10 rebounds and dished out a career-high nine assists in a victory over the Mercury on June 3. She pulled down 17 rebounds despite going against the overwhelming size of the New York Liberty’s frontcourt just two days later. It was the first of three 15+ rebound games for her on the season. She scored 38 points in a win over Seattle’s first-round playoff opponent, Atlanta, on June 28, the first of two 30+ point performances in under two weeks. She had back-to-back 22-point, five-block contests on July 17 and July 20.
As if all of that wasn’t impressive enough, she matched a career-high four steals in the very last game of the season against the Chicago Sky, while also recording her 12th double-double of the season and breaking the single-season record for defensive rebounds — formerly held by Hall of Famer Lisa Leslie since 2004 — by grabbing 277.
She stacks up with some of the all-time greatest in the history of the WNBA. When compared to three of the other top rookie performers of all time — Lauren Jackson, Candace Parker and Elena Delle Donne — she’s at or above where all of them were after their rookie campaigns:
Along with equaling or besting three of the players she is most often compared to, Stewart also ranks high in several categories. She is second all-time for blocks per game, third all-time for points per game and fourth all-time for assists and rebounds per game among rookies.
Now, as her and the rest of the red-hot Seattle Storm head into the playoffs, she has a chance to do something else that has never been done before: win an NCAA championship, Olympic gold medal and WNBA title all in the same year.
It seems impossible, but for Breanna Stewart the impossible is ordinary.