Paige Bueckers’ dominant efficiency for UConn vs. Syracuse is why she’ll be WNBA Draft’s No. 1 choose in 2025

UConn was on the ropes. The Huskies hadn’t missed a Candy 16 since 1993, and it was beginning to appear to be that a long time lengthy streak may come to an in depth.

Late within the fourth quarter of their 72-64 win within the second spherical of the 2024 NCAA Ladies’s Basketball Match on Monday night time, place to begin guard Nika Muhl had fouled out and Syracuse had lower UConn’s result in simply two factors with an 8-0 run. That is when Paige Bueckers took management of the state of affairs. 

First, with slightly below two minutes to play, she sized up the protection on the prime of the important thing, acquired to her spot within the mid-range and buried a jumper to push the Huskies’ lead again to 4 factors. A minute later, down on the opposite finish of the ground, she dove on a unfastened ball and properly known as timeout to get her crew an additional possession. Then, on the following play, she drew a triple crew and made an ideal cross to KK Arnold, who buried a 3-pointer to seal the sport. 

Bueckers’ three game-saving moments had been a microcosm of her sensible total efficiency. She completed with 32 factors, 10 rebounds, six assists and 4 steals on 14-of-25 capturing to ship UConn to the Candy 16 for a report thirtieth consecutive 12 months. Within the course of, she confirmed why she’ll be the No. 1 total choose within the 2025 WNBA Draft. 

Final month, after UConn’s win over Georgetown on senior night time, Bueckers addressed the adoring crowd inside Gampel Pavilion and instructed them precisely what they had been hoping to listen to: she had determined to not flip professional and would return to highschool for the 2024-25 season. That ensured extra nights like Monday, however Bueckers will ultimately depart for the WNBA. When she does, she’ll be top-of-the-line perimeter prospects to ever enter the league. 

Bueckers can actually do all of it, and it begins along with her scoring. As we noticed towards Syracuse, she will create her personal take a look at any level, and is snug and environment friendly in any respect three ranges. She’s averaging 21.5 factors, and the one cause she shouldn’t be going to hitch the 50/40/90 membership this season is as a result of she’s capturing solely 84.6% from the free throw line. 

Her off-the-dribble prowess, particularly from the mid-range — 49.2% on pull-up two-pointers — makes her extraordinarily tough to cease. At six-feet, she has the scale to see over any perimeter defender, and as soon as she will get to her spot there’s not a lot you are able to do moreover hope that she misses. Towards Syracuse, that did not occur fairly often. 

When she must, Bueckers can flip it on and actually pile up the factors. For essentially the most half, although, she picks and chooses her spots, and makes positive to get her teammates concerned. Do not let her career-low 3.8 assists per sport idiot you, that quantity undersells her imaginative and prescient and passing capacity. 

Simply take a look at these two feeds. On the primary, she will get into the tooth of the protection, reads the large stepping up and delivers an ideal drop-off bounce cross to Aaliyah Edwards for a bucket. Later, she as soon as once more attracts a number of defenders with a dribble drive. This time, she kicks the ball out to the nook and Ashlynn Shade buries a 3 to beat the buzzer. 

Bueckers’ protection is essentially the most underrated facet of her sport. She could not rack up awards on that aspect of the ball, however she has nice measurement and size on the perimeter and understands the sport. That alone can get you fairly far, and Bueckers combines it with an actual want to make an affect on protection. 

Early on towards Syracuse, Bueckers made an affect off the ball by leaping into passing lanes. However down the stretch, after Muhl had fouled out, she grew to become the first defender on Dyaisha Truthful, the Orange star who grew to become the third-leading scorer in Division I girls’s basketball through the sport. Bueckers shut her down, which helped make sure the victory. 

“We have now the most effective participant in America,” UConn head coach Geno Auriemma stated. “Simply saying that as a result of the numbers, on this world of analytics, say that she is. And the stat sheet says that she is. And everyone that watched is aware of it.”

Whether or not Bueckers is definitely the most effective participant within the nation could possibly be up for debate. What’s not is that only a few gamers, at any degree, have her mixture of measurement, abilities and really feel for the sport. When she does determine to make the leap to the WNBA, she must be the No. 1 choose within the 2025 draft. 

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