The 2019 WNBA Off-Season

There are simply too many story lines, players, and teams to be excited about heading into the 2019 WNBA off-season. But let’s take a quick dive into some of the recent headlines and look ahead to January when teams can start to trade and sign new players.

1. Who can the Dallas Wings add in Free Agency?

With the signing of new head coach Brian Agler, the questions surrounding this talented Wings team begin to really mount. Will Liz Cambage return? She has stated it isn’t a priority, so it looks as though we will all be in another wait and see mode for the next weeks or months to find out if she will actually return to the Wings or not. But with or without Cambage, the Wings will need to add more star power to the lineup if they want to compete with the rest of the league. My thought is that they need to sign a high quality player like Tina Charles. If they can’t sign someone significant, they are going to have to draft smart at the #5 pick.

2. Can the Aces step forward and get into the playoffs?

The Las Vegas Aces missed the playoffs by a single loss to the Wings at the end of last season. They once again have the #1 pick in the draft and will need to add a real starting center or someone who can score on the wing. I still like this team to take a step forward and beat another team to the final playoff spot, likely Chicago.

3. Will Emma Meesseman come back to the Mystics?

Meesseman missed all of 2018 with Belgium international duty. She will likely miss a big part of the season for Euros in July. Will she come back mid-season to Washington to try to help them get back to the Finals? I would love to see her and Delle Donne on the floor together next season just to see exactly what they could do, especially late in the season and into the playoffs. But I am not sure how committed the Mystics will be to her, or vice-versa.

4. Can Minnesota re-tool and win again with their aging core?

The window for another WNBA title is likely still open as long and Fowles and Maya Moore can play at a high level. They both had down years last season, but if they can make some moves in free agency and really pick the right player at #6, I say anything is possible.

5. Will the Seattle Storm repeat in 2019?

With the best player in the WNBA last season in Breanna Stewart, the best trade in Most Improved Player Natasha Howard, and with the outstanding play of Jewell Lloyd, Sue Bird, Alysha Clark, and the rookie Jordin Canada, the Storm have the starting players to continue to win games in 2019. But so many other teams have plenty of amazing talent as well. Teams like the Lynx, Sparks, and Mercury could easily bounce back and retake the WNBA throne. Up and coming teams like Dallas, Connecticut, or the Mystics could also breakout, just like Seattle did last season to win it all. It will be a very tough task for the Storm to repeat as WNBA Champions in 2019, just ask the Lynx how tough it is to repeat…

Those are just a few of the storylines I wanted to briefly look at heading into free-agency in January. As free-agency heats up I will update with another look at some more exciting WNBA storylines.

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WNBA 2018 Season T-Shirt Twitter Giveaway

I will be giving away one (1) WNBA Logo T-shirt from WNBAStore.com, and all you need to do is follow me on Twitter @wnbahoops and retweet the tweet announcing the contest, which will run from Friday evening, May 18, 2018 until it ends Monday morning May 21, 2018 at 11: am Eastern Daylight Time. I will then use a random retweet picker online to choose the winner. I will then get your details via direct message on Twitter on sizing and whether you would prefer a men’s or women’s Tshirt.

2017 WNBA Playoffs Predictions Part 1

The 2017 WNBA Playoffs start tomorrow, and fans should be gearing up for a very exciting postseason.

The first game tomorrow at 8 pm eastern on ESPN is the #7 seed Dallas Wings facing off against the #6 seed Washington Mystics. My prediction? Dallas takes this game because the Mystics are not a cohesive unit just yet. They have had too many injuries and Dallas has been bringing it all together late in the season.

The second game tomorrow night is at 10 pm eastern also on ESPN 2 is the match up between the #8 seed Seattle Storm and the #5 seed Phoenix Mercury. My prediction? Phoenix, although this team is getting older, they still have enough in Taurasi and Griner, a possible MVP this year, to win against the Storm. Seattle have really struggled this year to find a lot of production from anyone outside Lloyd, Stewart, and Bird.

I will update after this first round with more predictions with rounds 2 and 3.

The Season So Far At the All-Star Break

This year’s All Star Game looks like it is going to be a lot of fun, with 9 first time All-Stars making the rosters, ranging from 8 year vet Allie Quigley and 5 year vet Sugar Rodgers, to some of the newest, youngest stars in the league like Seattle’s Breanna Stewart and this season’s breakout player: Connecticut Sun forward Jonquel Jones. This year’s All-Star game is going to be tough to call but I am going with the West to win it. They have the better starting five, especially with Delle Donne out. Either way the game goes though, it’s going to be great seeing all the young players enjoying their first All-Star Game.

And now that the All-Star Game is finally here, let’s look at how the season is going so far for teams and players around the league.

First let’s talk about the Minnesota Lynx. They are an incredible team. They have a net combined offense and defense rating of 13.9. The second best team in terms of net rating, the Sparks have a rating of 7.9. They are leading the league in points per game and assists per game, and are 4th in rebounds per game. They could very easily be one their way to a 4th WNBA title. Sylvia Fowles is going to win the MVP. NOT MAYA MOORE, but SYLVIA FOWLES. Let that sink in. In short, the Lynx have 3 All-Stars and the most talented team in the league. They also have arguably the best coach in the league in Cheryl Reeve. She knows how to get the best out of everyone on the team every game.

What else is big news this season? The Connecticut Sun. They are really showing their collective potential this year and are really impressive with their pace and overall playing this year. Jonquel Jones is most improved and Curt Miller has this team going back to the playoffs for the first time since 2012.

But what about the Washington Mystics? Well, they are also vastly improved and have one of the best starting fives in the league. However, Tayler Hill is now out for the season with an ACL injury to her right knee, and Delle Donne is out for a bit with an ankle sprain. They also really need to step it up in the assists dept, but that isn’t surprising given the makeup of the roster.

Speaking of injuries, Brittney Griner is out for a month with a left knee bone bruise that she suffered on July 14th vs. the Lynx. The injury effectively wipes out her chances for surpassing Fowles for the MVP award and hurts the Mercury’s chances come playoff time, even if she’s back in time to play.

Teams around the league that are seeing improvement as of late are the Dallas Wings and the Chicago Sky. Although the Sky still sit second to last in front of the Stars, they not far out of playoff contention. The Liberty and Mercury look like two pretty good teams, but teams that simply won’t have enough come playoff time.

The Seattle Storm continue to grow and improve, pretty much on schedule, but when Sue Bird leaves, they are going to need more than Stewart and Lloyd to lead the team back to WNBA titles.

The Sparks, once again, look like the team most likely to challenge the Lynx in the Finals, and could, with luck like last year, repeat as WNBA champs.

Overall, the league is looking pretty good. There are players of talent and potential on every roster, even if it doesn’t pan out in the standings
. The league needs to promote better, market better, and do a better job on Twitter, but the #WNBALive games are certainly a step in the right direction. Here’s to hoping for a second half of the season just as good as the first.

What makes a WNBA “All-Star”?

The voting has started this week for this year’s WNBA All-Star Game in Seattle on July 22. It’s always an exciting time of the year, as the season is well under way, and teams’ fortunes are starting to take shape. The All-Star Game always has it’s share of players who, according to public opinion, seemingly should or should not have made the ASG roster.  And as I made my first 10 picks yesterday, I had to ask myself, “What makes an ‘All-Star”? Who really deserves to be picked to play in an All-Star Game? Is it really simply the “stars” of the game that I should be voting for?

One of the best examples of the uncertainty of who does or does not belong on an ASG roster this year is Maya Moore. Do I have to vote for her simply because of name recognition? Or do I leave her out because she is not shooting nearly as well as seasons past? She is in the top ten in steals, assists, and 3 point percentage, but beyond that, her teammate Sylvia Fowles is having a far better season, and the best season of her career. She is also doing it by shooting a clear 30 percent better than Moore is.

But does Maya Moore get left out because a player like Kayla McBride or Tiffany Hayes is averaging 3 or 4 points more per game? Does stardom come down to a career of excellence or should it come down to season by season performance?  I think from a traditional sense, Maya Moore should be an All-Star this year, because she is one of the biggest, if not the biggest star the league has.  And in the end, my opinion doesn’t really matter, because Maya Moore will no doubt be in the All-Star Game this year simply because of that fact. But as I start looking at this season’s stats, as I look over this year’s league leaders, I still have to really think about whether I should pick someone who’s having a better year individually than Moore, even when her team is clearly far and away the best team in the league. But at the end of the day, that’s the fun and excitement of All-Star voting. You get to have your say about who you think deserves to play in All-Star Game, whether the stats back you up or not.

WNBA Trade Season: The Delle Donne Blockbuster and more

We are just a couple of months away from the 2017 Draft, and we have seen some very interesting trades happen so far this offseason. The biggest is of course the trade that has sent Elena Delle Donne to the Mystics.

Is this the biggest trade in WNBA history? Some say yes, others say no. My opinion is that on paper, yes this is the biggest trade in league history, but time will only tell if it really has the impact on the Washington Mystics that they hope it may have. Delle Donne is an MVP player that can do it all, score from inside and out, pass, rebound, block shots, and she is the most efficient player from the free throw line. There are few players in the league, if any, that can impact the entire game like Delle Donne does. But the Mystics have to hope she can stay healthy and fit in and play well with a whole new group of teammates.

Did Chicago get a fair deal out of the trade, getting Stefanie Dolson and Kahleah Copper as well as the second pick in the draft this year? I think they fared about as well with this deal as they could have hoped for, especially considering the position they were in. Delle Donne is arguably the best player in the league, and she really forced her way out of Chicago. She publicly and openly voiced her displeasure for playing for the Sky, ostensibly to the point that the Sky had no other option but to trade her. Dolson and Copper are both very good, young players, and both still have plenty to prove to the rest of the league. Add in the #2 pick and I think the Sky have a real opportunity to create a better team atmosphere, as well as continue to build a young core of real talent, especially with a player like Imani Boyette in the front court. However, if the rumors are true, it’s going to take some real ownership/front office changes if the Sky want to keep the talent like Boyette from leaving.

The next biggest trade is the three team deal that sends Carolyn Swords to Seattle, with Washington getting Seattle’s 6th and 18th picks in the draft, while New York gets center Kia Vaughn and guard Bria Hartley. The short term winner of this deal is Seattle, getting a proven, defensive center in Swords, who can really help Breanna Stewart in the front court. The long term winners could be the Mystics, with an uncertain draft class this year, Washington’s picks could go either way, and with adding Delle Donne, they are now much closer to getting to, and making a real push in the playoffs. New York is probably the team that fares the worst in this trade, as Bria Hartley finds herself in a crowded back court minutes wise, but injury to anyone else could make her role on the Liberty more prominent. They did get a veteran center in Vaughn, who should help Tina Charles shoulder the rebounding and defensive load.

The third biggest trade is Danielle Robinson going to Phoenix in exchange for Isabelle Harrison and the Mercury’s fifth pick. This certainly gives the Mercury one of the best back courts in the WNBA, with the retirement of Penny Taylor, Danielle Robinson serves as a great compliment along side Diana Taurasi, as well as Taurasi’s possible long term replacement when she retires as well.

The last moves I need to mention are Erika De Souza going to San Antonio and Plenette Pierson going to the Minnesota. With the De Souza signing, the Stars are getting a much needed bolster at center, and De Souza is in a town that seems will be a better fit all around. Plenette Pierson going to the Lynx is an interesting move, because you have to wonder whose minutes she’ll be taking, and if that means a player like McCarville has to be let go, my bet is that Minnesota is willing to do to make room for Pierson.

It has been a very exciting offseason thus far, and we can only hope the draft brings as much interest and that excitement and interest really carries into the start of the season. Will any more big trades happen? It’s hard to say, but this offseason, at this point, nothing would surprise me.