Atlanta Dream guard Rhyne Howard has been named 2022 WNBA Rookie of the Year, the league announced on Thursday. Howard is the first Dream player to earn the honor since Angel McCoughtry in 2009, and the 13th No. 1 overall pick to do so. Howard received 53 of 56 first-place votes from a national panel of media members. Washington Mystics forward Shakira Austin received two votes and Indiana Fever forward NaLyssa Smith received one vote.
After getting the No. 3 pick in the draft lottery last winter, the Dream swung a blockbuster trade with the Washington Mystics, acquiring the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 WNBA Draft in exchange for the the Nos. 3 and 14 overall picks in 2022 and the swap rights to a 2023 first-rounder that the Dream had via the Los Angeles Sparks. The price was more than worth it, though, as the Dream were able to draft Howard.
Right from her first game, when she put up 16 points, three rebounds, four assists and two steals, it was clear Howard was ready for the professional level. She became the first rookie to make the All-Star Game since Napheesa Collier in 2019, and finished the season with averages of 16.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.6 steals.
Among rookies Howard was first in scoring, sixth in rebounding, first in assists and first in steals. She also became just the eight rookie in league history to average at least 16 points, four rebounds, two assists and two stocks (steals plus blocks), joining A'ja Wilson, Breanna Stewart, Candace Parker, Diana Taurasi, Tamika Catchings, Chamique Holdsclaw and Ruthie Bolton.
Howard was the focal point of a complete rebuild in Atlanta this winter that also included hiring Dan Padover as the new general manager and vice president and Tanisha Wright as the new head coach. With Howard leading the way on the court, the Dream well exceeded expectations and may have made the playoffs if not for an unfortunate run of injuries. But despite ultimately falling short this season, the future looks bright, especially with another lottery pick on the way.
Howard also highlights the All-Rookie team along with Smith and Austin, the No. 2 and No. 3 overall picks, respectively. Here is the full squad: