Back in college, Courtney Williams built her reputation at the University of South Florida by being one of the best scorers in the country. In the WNBA, she has averaged double figures in every season but her rookie one, when she was traded and played limited minutes. But while there's never been any doubt about her ability to put the ball in the basket, the way she's gone about it has raised some questions.
For much of her career, Williams has been a mid-range artist, using her quickness and leaping ability to create space for off-the-dribble jumpers. Basketball-Reference.com's tracking data only goes back to 2018, but here's a quick look at how many of her attempts from the past three seasons came from beyond 10 feet, but inside of the 3-point line.
|WNBA Season||Percent of Williams' shots from mid-range|
Being able to create your own shot pretty much at will is a very valuable skill, especially at the end of games or in the playoffs. But it's hard to be a consistently efficient scorer when you almost never go to the rim and rarely shoot 3-pointers. The former is always going to be a challenge given her size, but prior to this season, Williams had never taken more than 1.8 3s per game, and her career high for makes in a season was 20.
That all changed this summer. Williams still isn't launching with the same regularity as an Arike Ogunbowale or Kelsey Mitchell, but she's extended the range on her jumper and has become a legitimate 3-point threat. She's currently second in the league at a somewhat outrageous 55.2 percent, and taking 4.8 3s per game.
Williams hasn't completely changed her game, and is still taking her fair share of mid-range jumpers. But this season they account for a much more reasonable 54.3 percent of her attempts, and both her and the Dream are reaping the benefits of her more varied offensive approach.
Through six games, Williams is averaging a career-high 19.5 points, which leads the team and is good for sixth in the league. The Dream, meanwhile, are 4-2, which is their best start since 2018. Here are this week's WNBA Power Rankings:
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1. Seattle Storm (6-1) -- Last week No. 1
Perhaps they haven't been quite as dominant as they were at times last season, but the Storm just keep on winning. They sit atop the league at 6-1, and their five-game winning streak is a current league best. Breanna Stewart continues to be the best player in the league by some margin, and her impact on this team is staggering. When she plays, their offensive rating is 111.4. When she sits, it plummets to 68.6.
2. Connecticut Sun (7-2) -- Last week No. 2
An uncharacteristic collapse in the final minute of the fourth quarter against the Lynx last weekend is all that stands between the Sun and the best record in the league. Jonquel Jones looks better than ever, and is the only player in the league averaging a double-double. Meanwhile, the defense has been as good as advertised, and the Sun are still holding opponents under 40 percent shooting.
3. Las Vegas Aces (6-3) -- Last week No. 4
As expected, the Aces have been one of the best teams in the league this season. They have the best net rating by a wide margin (plus-12.6), and five different players averaging double figures in scoring. But while they're still one of the favorites, another loss to the Sun this week is slightly concerning. They've now played two games each against the Sun and Storm, and have a 1-3 record in those games.
4. Atlanta Dream (4-2) -- Last week No. 6
After an 0-2 start, the Dream have now won four games in a row to move up to fourth place in the standings. They haven't exactly faced the toughest competition, so it's fair to be a bit skeptical, but there are some positive signs. Courtney Williams turning into an elite 3-point shooter is one of the more fascinating developments of the season. She's second in the league at 55.2 percent, and through six games is only four made 3s shy of matching her previous career high.
5. Phoenix Mercury (5-3) -- Last week No. 7
Even without Diana Taurasi, the Mercury have found a way to keep winning. Kia Nurse's Eurostep buzzer-beater from just inside halfcourt against the Sky was unbelievable, and has taken the lead in the race for the best play of the season. And speaking of highlights, Brittney Griner has become a dunking machine lately, throwing down two of them this week.
6. New York Liberty (5-3) -- Last week No. 3
The momentum from a brilliant start has slowed a bit as the Liberty have lost their last two games. Still, with more talent and perimeter threats, we're really seeing Walt Hopkins' vision in action this season. The Liberty are leading the league in 3-pointers per game (11.5), 3-point percentage (41.4) and pace (100.6). Both 3-point marks would set new WNBA records, and they're the first team since 2010 to have a pace over 100.
7. Chicago Sky (2-6) -- Last week No. 5
Candace Parker still hasn't played since opening night due to an ankle injury, and the Sky have suddenly dropped six straight, which is the longest active losing streak in the league. But while things are certainly not going well at the moment, all is not lost in Chicago. Three of those losses were by three points or less, Allie Quigley is now back from a hamstring injury they actually have a strong defense for once.
8. Minnesota Lynx (1-4) -- Last week No. 9
The Lynx made a huge fourth-quarter comeback last weekend and eventually defeated the Sun in overtime for their first win of the season. That result, and the effort and fight they showed to get it, had to be encouraging for head coach Cheryl Reeve after such a tough start. There's still a ton of talent in Minnesota, and you'd back them to get back on track, especially now that they have Napheesa Collier again.
9. Los Angeles Sparks (3-3) -- Last week No. 11
After a really ugly start, the Sparks have worked their way back to .500. But while they do have some wins to their name now, two of them came against the severely shorthanded Sky, and the other was against the Fever, who look to be the worst team in the league. That is to say, there's still some questions here, especially now that Nneka Ogwumike is out for 4-6 weeks with a knee injury.
10. Dallas Wings (2-4) -- Last week No. 10
What a strange season it's been so far for the young Wings. They have two double-digit wins over the Sparks and four losses by seven points or less. But even if the results haven't always gone their way, there's been a lot of positives, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Marina Mabrey's breakout season -- 8th in scoring at 19.3 points per game and tied for the league lead in 3-pointers made -- is one of the biggest surprises in the league so far.
11. Washington Mystics (2-4) -- Last week No. 8
Still no Elena Delle Donne, and it's unclear when she's going to be ready to play, which is a bit concerning. Without her, the Mystics are off to a 2-4 start, with three of those losses coming by double digits. One positive, however, has been the play of Tina Charles. The veteran forward is leading the league in scoring at 26.7 points per game, which is five points better than her previous career high.
12. Indiana Fever (1-9) -- Last week No. 12
Five straight double-digit losses now for the Fever, including two by 35-plus points. While they were widely expected to be one of the worst teams in the league, you would have hoped to at least see some progress and positive signs for the future in what is now year five of a rebuild. Instead, they look as lost as ever.