Twitter’s Favorite Players to Watch 2018

I ran an informal question poll on Twitter the weekend after the 2018 season ended and asked, “Who was your favorite WNBA Player to watch in 2018?” I was happy to see a lot of folks respond and give their opinions on who they enjoyed watching the most this season. I wasn’t surprised but many of the answers, I was more surprised by the number of players that didn’t get mentioned, even once. First let’s look at the list, broken down simply by each player and the number of votes (or times someone mentioned them in a response) that player received. Bear in mind that many respondents mentioned more than one player, as the general consensus seemed to be that it was simply too difficult to name only one player as their favorite to watch. Second, we’ll talk about some of the players I was surprised that no one voted for, and why that may be. I will be updating the list periodically if more votes come in, but it has stayed fairly consistent numbers wise. There have been 87 responses so far, but remember that some responses contained more than one player.

The List

15 votes – Elena Delle Donne
15 votes – DeWanna Bonner
12 votes – Liz Cambage
10 votes – Natasha Howard
10 votes – Diana Taurasi
09 votes – Sue Bird
09 votes – A’ja Wilson
08 votes – Brittney Griner
08 votes – Breanna Stewart
07 votes – Tiffany Hayes
07 votes – Kristi Toliver
07 votes – Ariel Atkins
07 votes – Natasha Cloud
05 votes – Candace Parker
04 votes – Kia Nurse
04 votes – Courtney Vandersloot
03 votes – Allie Quigley
03 votes – Alysha Clark
03 votes – Chelsea Gray
03 votes – Diamond DeShields
02 votes – Kelsey Mitchell
02 votes – Maya Moore
02 votes – Gabby Williams
02 votes – Courtney Williams
02 votes – Kelsey Plum
02 votes – Kayla McBride

Alyssa Thomas, Brittany Boyd, Azura Stevens, Tiffany Mitchell, Briann January, Sugar Rodgers, Seimone Augustus, LaToya Sanders, Lindsay Whalen, Renee Montgomery, Alex Bentley, Angel McCoughtry, Sami Whitcomb all received one (1) vote.

So there it is. At the top you’ve got two of best players in the league, Elena Delle Donne, and DeWanna Bonner getting the most votes. They are both very dynamic scorers on two very talented teams, so it is not surprising to see either of them at the top of the list. Many of the players on the list are long-time fan favorites, players with WNBA titles, All-Stars, but there are also a lot of really young players, rookies and younger vets alike who people are excited about. That bodes well for the future of the WNBA, as fans can follow a player for many years and become more invested in that player’s success and career as time goes on. The 7 rookies who got votes certainly all got talked about a lot on Twitter and around the league all season long, so it will be fun to see how they continue to improve and play next season as well.

It is interesting to see that not a single vote came in for Jewell Loyd, Tina Charles, Sylvia Fowles, Nneka Ogwumike, Chiney Ogwumike, Rebekkah Brunson, or Skylar Diggins-Smith, who were all All-Star selections this season. I began to wonder like a player like Skylar Diggins-Smith or Tina Charles didn’t get a vote, and I came up with some ideas. One, for a player like Tina Charles, she was the best player on one of the worst teams in the league this season. Yet her teammate Kia Nurse got 4 votes. Maybe people were just more excited to watch a young rookie make her way through the league, and maybe her style of play would be considered more fun or exciting compared to Tina’s low post up game. And if it was simply about the standings, no one should have voted for Kelsey or Tiffany Mitchell. But again, those are two young players that maybe a few more people are excited to watch RIGHT NOW, as opposed to a veteran like Charles. But what about Skylar Diggins-Smith, she is one of the best guards in the league, can make great plays, and she is fun to watch. My reasoning for her not getting any votes on this list is that she was likely overshadowed by her new teammate, Liz Cambage, who put up record-setting numbers and drew a lot of eyeballs to the Wings with not only her play but her reactions to what was happening on the court, whether it was a big shot or foul she was upset about. Similarly, Jewell Loyd is not short or talent or creating excitement on the court, but she was likely put in the back off people’s minds when they thought of who they liked watching on the Storm this season, as Howard had a breakout year as Most Improved, Stewart was the MVP, and Bird is an all-time fan favorite. Players like Sylvia Fowles, last season’s MVP, seems likely to have also been overshadowed by her own teammates, but also it may come down positional play as well, like Charles, Fowles is a less flashy, grind it out in the paint and score buckets type of player. She may simply not strike someone as their favorite player to watch, even though she is one of the best in the league. Brittney Griner is a similar player, and maybe she got more votes because a lot of fans’ responses simply included the Mercury as the big three of Bonner, Taurasi and Griner. Same thing occurred with Mystics fans, who mentions Delle Donne along with Toliver or Natasha Cloud in the same response.

And when you think of it, when you think of how much talent is in the league, it is hard to think of just one single player you could say was your favorite player to watch this season. In the same way, it is easy to think of one player and then totally overlook so many other exciting, talented, and fun players across the league. Like I said, I was quite happy to see so many responses include more than one player.

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Watch “WNBA Finals Storm vs Mystics Game 2 Preview” on YouTube

Will the Mystics make the adjustments to win Game 2? Will the Storm come out just as strong? Will Jewell Loyd continue to attack? Check out my preview on YouTube!

Watch “Mercury vs Sun 2018 WNBA Playoffs Preview” on YouTube

The Phoenix Mercury take on the Connecticut Sun in a single elimination round 2 of the 2018 WNBA Playoffs! Check out my video preview of tonight’s matchup!

The 2018 Playoffs Predictions!

The regular season absolutely flew by this year and the playoffs start tonight! This year’s single elimination games feature some HUGE names and some of the WNBA’s biggest stars, so it’s bound to be even better than last year.

First up it’s the Dallas Wings at the Phoenix Mercury at 8:30 pm eastern time. Dallas barely made it into the playoffs after losing 8 games in a row, firing their head coach Fred Williams, and just beating the Aces on Friday night to take the 8th and final spot. They have been riding high on the amazing offense and defense of the nearly unstoppable center Liz Cambage and the stellar leadership of point guard Skylar Diggins-Smith. They have great young talent as well and veterans with players like last year’s rookie of the year Allisha Gray and vet Glory Johnson. But something has really changed for this team in the last month or so. Can they get a win on the road against the legend of Diana Taurasi, who is playing like she is ten years younger? Can Can age out duel one of the league’s best post players in Brittney Griner? And can the Wings’ wings stop DeWanna Bonner? My guess is that they will fall short, but it will be a close game, and the Mercury will really need to be their best to get a win, even with their amazing home fans cheering them on.

Up next tonight is one of the biggest rivalries in WNBA history, the two teams that have played each other in the Finals for the past two years, the Minnesota Lynx take on the Sparks in Los Angeles at 10:30 pm eastern time. This game will feature some of the most talented players the league as ever seen, and even in a down year, I expect Maya Moore, Lindsay Whalen (in what could be her last playoff game ever) Sylvia Fowles, Brunson, and Augustus to give it their all in what is their last season all together. However, the Sparks have arguably just as much talent and have had the better year so far. MVP candidate Candace Parker continues to lead a team of stars along with Nneka Ogwumike (who may not be healthy or at 100%), reigning defensive player of the year Alana Beard, suddenly starting Riquna Williams, Chelsea Gray, Odyssey Sims, Essence Carson, and Jantel Lavender. As they’ve had the better year, and they are playing at home, I think the Sparks come out on top of another close, very physical game. Don’t be surprised if we see one or more the ejections tonight!

As far as round two goes, I see the Mystics and Sun really motivated, rested and moving on with wins into the semi-finals. I think the Mystics are hungry and will beat a tired Sparks team. I think the Sun are also very ready for revenge against the Mercury from last year’s loss in the second round. But in the semi-finals, I think the Dream’s defense gets it done against the Mystics strong offense, and I think the Sun come up short against the #1 seeded Seattle Storm.

In the Finals, the Dream simply won’t have the offensive firepower to compete with Seattle’s offensive and defensive balance. The Storm have simply been phenomenal this season. They were near the top of the league in almost every statistical category, and I expect them to continue to play just as well come their turn in the playoffs. Seattle is my pick to win their third WNBA championship, capping off an amazing season by Breanna Stewart, Natasha Howard, Jewell Loyd, Sue Bird, Alysha Clark and the rest of this 2018 Storm squad.

The 2018 Season So Far: Week 3

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Here is a quick rundown of what is happening around the league right now at the start of Week 3.

#1. The Connecticut Sun are #1. They are #1 in points, rebounds, assists, field goal %, 3 point field goal %, and they are doing it as a team. No one player is dominating this team. Everyone is simply playing together very, very well.

#2. The Minnesota Lynx are struggling early. They are sitting at 2-5 and have a net rating of -3.2. They are 10th in points per game. They simply look out of it at the moment. But they have the personnel and the talent to turn things around. With that said, this could be an early season sign of the end of one of the best dynasties in league history.

#3. Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd are the best duo in the league, and two of its best players right now. In the immortal words of MF Doom, “Check them stats, then you’ll know where I’m at,” Stewart and Loyd are 2nd and 3rd in points per game behind Tina Charles. They are showing the league exactly what everyone thought they could become when they were drafted #1 and won Rookie of the Year in back to back years.

#4. Liz Cambage is back and she is as good, if not better than advertised. Cambage could be the Wings new savior. If she can continue to average 20 points and 11 rebounds like she is doing, along with leading the league in blocks, she can best players like Tina Charles, Jonquel Jones, Brittney Griner, Nneka Ogwumike, and Sylvia Fowles in the post and compete for MVP while she does so.

#5. This Rookie class is looking really good. Las Vegas’ #1 pick A’ja Wilson is playing well despite her team’s record, averaging 21 points per game which is tops among all rookies, and is pulling down 7.7 rebounds per game. New York’s Kia Nurse is the second best player for the Liberty at the moment, averaging 18 points per game after scoring a huge 34 points her last game. Indiana’s Kelsey Mitchell is averaging 18 points a game and is shooting 43.5% from the 3-point line. Chicago’s Diamond DeShields is also playing well, and is averaging 15 points and 5 rebounds per game. Indiana’s Victoria Vivians and Seattle’s Jordin Canada aren’t putting up as impressive as the players above, but they are still getting in pretty good minutes and will look to improve as the season progresses.

All things considered, the start of the 2018 has been a very good one. Excitement around and about the league certainly feels to be on rise, and there are a myriad of story lines that make each team interesting in different ways. Let’s hope for great a June with some fun basketball!

Photo by MontyLov on Unsplash