WNBA rundown: Key veterans who have made a leap, including a name that's been in headlines recently

'All eyes have been on the rookie class as it ingrains itself into the WNBA. But the first-year players aren’t the only ones making a leap. Several players who have seasons of action already to their names are still improving and having their best seasons.

Here’s a look at the players who have made some serious strides.

Chennedy Carter, Chicago Sky

After not playing last season, Carter is back and thriving with the Sky (Caitlin Clark incident notwithstanding). Her talent has never been in question, as the fourth overall pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft came into the league and averaged 17.4 points per game during her rookie season. But things went downhill for Carter in Season 2, when she only played 11 games before being suspended for "conduct detrimental to the team." Carter was traded to the Sparks and was eventually benched for similar reasons. But after being out of the league in 2023, Carter seems to have found her place in Chicago. The guard has been an asset, leading the team in scoring during a three-game stretch to start June with 19, 16 and 25 points in each contest. She's averaging 12.9 ponts, 2.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists and shooting 51.4% from the field – all improvements on her 2022 season with the Sparks.

Dearica Hamby, Los Angeles Sparks

Hamby has been a force in the league for a long time, but the 10-year veteran has never been her team’s go-to player. Until now. After winning two Sixth Player of the Year awards and coming off the bench for the Aces, Hamby is having her best season and leading the L.A. Sparks in scoring, rebounds, assists and steals. She’s averaging 20.4 points, 11.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.7 steals per game. Hamby is second in the league in rebounding and fifth in scoring. Prior to this season, her best numbers came in 2020, when Hamby put up 13 points and 7.1 rebounds per game and won her second Sixth Player award.

DiJonai Carrington, Connecticut Sun

In her fourth season with the Sun, Carrington has earned a starting role and she’s making the most of it. The guard has been a key piece to the Sun’s 9-1 start. She brings defensive intensity and the ability to get to the rim off the dribble, which opens up Connecticut’s offense. Carrington’s first game of the year set the tone for the kind of season she’s having. In a 92-71 win over Indiana, Carrington had 16 points, 5 rebounds and 2 steals, while holding Clark to 5-of-15 shooting as she had 10 turnovers. Since then, Carrington is averaging 11.9 points, 5 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.

Tyasha Harris, Connecticut Sun

Like Carrington, Harris earned a starting spot this season. She started games here and there during her time in Dallas from 2020-22, but didn’t crack the starting lineup for the Sun last season. The South Carolina grad has started all 10 games for Connecticut this season, playing 31.4 minutes per game. Harris has doubled almost all of her stats from last season, averaging 10.7 points, 3.4 assists and 1 steal per contest. The guard is leading her team in 3-point shooting, making 37.8% of her attempts. Harris’ best shooting performance of the season came in a 92-71 win over Indiana on May 14, when she went 4-of-6 from beyond the arc.

Maddy Siegrist, Dallas Wings

An early frontrunner for the WNBA’s Most Improved Player, Siegrist went from playing 8.2 minutes per game last season, to starting and playing 32.6 minutes. Coach Latricia Trammell was careful with Siegrist’s development last season, playing the No. 3 pick sparingly, and the strategy has paid off. Siegrist is confident with the ball, which has translated into 14.1 points per game, third most on the team. Siegrist was a prolific scorer in college, finishing her time at Villanova as the Big East’s all-time leading scorer. During her rookie season, Siegrist struggled to score on moves she had success with in college, but this season she’s figured it out. Siegrist has executed well on turnarounds in the paint and midrange jumpers, two of her signature moves in college.

Monique Billings, Dallas Wings

The Dream released Billings after six years in Atlanta, but that hasn’t stopped the 28-year-old from having the best season of her career. Billings is on a hardship contract with the Wings, but that will likely turn into something more permanent, thanks to her level of play. During her best season with the Dream, Billings averaged 8.5 points per game and 8.5 rebounds per game. So far with Dallas, the forward, who has also earned a starting role, is putting up 12.7 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.2 blocks per contest. She’s also shooting 51.1% from the field, another career high.

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