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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The 2018 WNBA Draft Preview

I know that people love mock drafts. I enjoy them as well. But I also think drafts, as far as who gets chosen when, and the career any given draftee may have is often a crapshoot. For any league that holds a draft, we all know about the #1 pick or first round busts and the third or fourth round steals and surprises. The disappointment of fans when a highly successful player out of college or high school never lives up to their first round pick potential is all too real. But so is the player that comes out of the late rounds to eventually become an All-Star or a leader on a championship caliber team. With that in mind, I am not going to tell you who I think gets drafted first or third or 15th in this draft, I am going to tell you I am most excited to see potentially getting drafted and coming into the WNBA.

Victoria Vivians – 6’1″ Guard, Mississippi State

First, I am really excited to see Victoria Vivians in the WNBA. I like her as a shooter, I like her as good sized guard rather than a slightly undersized forward. I like what she can bring as a good rebounder, because she has really improved her rebounding and I think that is something that she can continue to do as the next level. She won’t be leading the league in rebounds, but she won’t be simply a scorer in this league either.

Jordin Canada – 5’6″ Point Guard, UCLA

I want to see Jordin Canada in a WNBA uniform. I want to see her continue to prove how good she can be. Is she short? Yes, but that shouldn’t stop her from being able to be successful as a confident, exciting leader on a WNBA team. She is very good on both ends and I like her odds at the pro level. She is a player that is highly competitive and WANTS to win.

A’Ja Wilson – 6’5″ Center, South Carolina

A’Ja Wilson is one of the seemingly no brainer picks of this draft, and of course is projected by many to go #1. I am most excited for her to be on an WNBA roster because I think she could be like many of the franchise changing players we have seen the last several years. Maya Moore, Tina Charles, Candace Parker, Brittney Griner, and Breanna Stewart are just a few examples of players that we have seen come into the league and make an immediate impact on their respective teams. A’Ja Wilson can do that for the Las Vegas Aces or Indiana Fever.

Maria Vadeeva – 6’3″ Forward, Dynamo Kursk

Maria Vadeeva is an overseas prospect that could be selected in the first round. She has been playing with WNBA talent in the Euro League, and she is going to be boom or bust, in my opinion for whoever drafts her. With her length and determination, as well as her ability to fill up the stat sheet; she could end up like another Russian basketball player you may have heard of named Andrei Kirilenko. I am most intrigued to see if a team does draft her, will she come play in the WNBA?

Wildcards Baby!

I want to end with just a few of the projected late round players who I am most intrigued to see, 1) if they get drafted, 2) if they make a roster and 3) if they have an impact short or long term in the league. First is Katelynn Flaherty of Michigan. She can really shoot, and she won the 3 point contest last week. But is she one dimensional? Can she improve and impress in other areas enough to make it to a team?

Second wild card is Shakayla Thomas from Florida State. Can she improve in other areas besides her scoring to be a WNBA talent? She is 5’11”, so she going to have to work hard if she wants to stay in the paint in the pros. But I like her, she is a tough, versatile player who might just make it.

Lastly is Natalie Butler of George Mason. A transfer from UConn, she is a rebounding machine and I would love to see her come into the league and play a role off the bench for a team that needs size right now. What are the chances she makes it? Odds aren’t great, but that’s why I have her as a wildcard.

Are there plenty of players in this draft who I didn’t mention who could go either way in the WNBA in the coming years? Heck yes. There are too many talented players and not enough roster spots in the WNBA. And I am not only excited about these particular players, I am just really excited to see what this draft class as a whole can do at the professional league level.