Basketball Season 2: Movers of Week 1

© Athletes Unlimited, LLC 2023 / Credit: Jade Hewitt Media
Savanna Collins
Mar 01, 2023

The first edition of Movers of the Week is always a bit unique compared to the rest of the season because the only direction to go on the leaderboard is up.

With all players starting on a level playing field with 0, the point disparities will be small to begin the season but what can be learned from the leaderboard is how the top slots were earned.

That left win points to be the biggest factor in who is at the top. In fact, 18 out of the top 20 spots on the leaderboard are players from the winningest teams: the Week 1 orange and blue squads. Odyssey Sims’ 2-1 orange team earned 700 win points while the 3-0 Team Williams earned 850 points in the category. No way around it, athletes from these two teams would take the captain’s chairs.

At the top: Odyssey Sims

Back-to-back captain Odyssey Sims‘ win points obviously gave her a leg up when it came to climbing to the top this week, but it’s her stat points that stand out.

She ranks No. 1 overall in the category after accumulating 821 stat points in three games. There’s a significant margin of 178 points between her and the next highest-ranked player (NaLyssa Smith). Her highest earning categories are made two pointers (480 pts) and assists (370 pts). Not only does she lead the league in assists, but she broke the three-game series record with 38.

An area Sims could look to improve in Week 2 to bolster her stat points further is turnovers. She had 100 points deducted from her total due to turning over the ball.

A voted favorite: Isabelle Harrison

Forward Isabelle Harrison made use of all three point categories well. Tied with the rest of her Week 1 blue squad for first in win points, she’s also third overall in stat points (518) and first overall in MVP points.

Harrison’s MVP points could be a game-changing category for her. In the 2022 season where she finished third on the final leaderboard, she only earned 390 MVP points. She’s on track to blow those earnings out of the water in year two, already collecting 150 in the first week of games.

Hitting the (leader)boards: NaLyssa Smith

As the second overall stat points earner, NaLyssa Smith was bound to be a captain this week. She’s the only athlete to accrue more than 600 stat points in the first week aside from Sims.

Smith showed in Week 1 that she balances her scoring effort with rebounds. She’s second in AU Hoops for made two pointers (27) and second overall in rebounds (38).

Where Smith could improve her point earnings is upping her efficiency beyond the arc. She hit only one three in ten attempts over the course of Week 1 and improving her shooting percentage would cut down on her points lost while picking up +30 for makes.

Making her own way: Naz Hillmon

When looking at Naz Hillmon’s climb to No. 4 on the leaderboard it shows quality > quantity.

Hillmon has half the stat points of Sims with 410 points but she’s tied for second in MVP points with 120. That goes to show when Hillmon is in the game, she’s making a notable and positive difference for her team.

Many of Hillmon’s shots are from within a few feet of the basket, allowing her to be efficient; she shot 59.1 percent from the floor in Week 1. She’s in charge of her own destiny as a captain this week and could look to play herself more. She logged just 78 minutes across three games so taking on a heavier offense load with her team could boost her stat points and keep her at the top.

Player to Watch: Crystal Bradford

Ranked No. 20 overall and the only athlete from the Week 1 purple squad in the top half of the leaderboard is Crystal Bradford.

Bradford shined statistically, but on a 0-3 team it made it impossible for her to pass the competition on the leaderboard. That’s what makes Bradford’s ranking even more impressive: she only earned 200 win points (compared to Team Williams’ 850).

She leads the league in rebounds with 40 and is fourth overall in stat points. Plus, her ability to impact outcomes earned her MVP honors twice in three games. If Bradford can combine her individual performance with a successful team, she’s bound to shoot up the leaderboard.

For fans participating in the free Athletes Unlimited Basketball Fantasy League, Bradford is an athlete to keep an eye on.

Tune In

Week 2 tips off on Wednesday, March 1 as Team Smith takes on Team Harrison at 6 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. CT on WNBA League Pass.

Savanna Collins is the Digital Media Reporter at Athletes Unlimited. You can follow her on Twitter @savannaecollins.

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