Our WNBA 2021 season preview with title predictions, MVP picks, and more

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Because the WNBA enters its twenty fifth season, it feels just like the league has by no means had extra expertise than it does at present. It’s hyper-competitive simply to make a roster on every of the 12 groups. At this level, it charges just like the W might add a number of extra groups through enlargement and nonetheless have loads of star-power to go round.

The WNBA returns to dwelling arenas this yr after spending final season within the bubble wubble. The Seattle Storm enter the yr as defending champions, and can be trying to find their third title in 4 years. Storm ahead Breanna Stewart is on her method to changing into probably the most completed gamers within the historical past of the game, whereas veteran level guard Sue Chicken stays a gradual flooring normal as she enters her 18th season.

If the Storm are the favorites, there are not any scarcity of opponents. The Washington Mystics, Las Vegas Aces, and Chicago Sky have gotten common picks to win all of it on the finish of the season.

Earlier than the 2021 WNBA season will get underway, we requested our employees to foretell how this yr will go. Picks are being made by Sabreena Service provider, Sydney Umeri, Ricky O’Donnell, Brady Klopfer, Cat Ariail, Zack Ward, Eric Nemchock, and Jim Savell. For continued protection of the WNBA all season, comply with our wonderful girls’s basketball group Swish Enchantment.

Which crew would be the must-watch this yr?

Cat: The Indiana Fever. Sure, the crew that completed final in Swish Enchantment’s preseason energy rankings. Nonetheless, if every thing breaks proper, Indy might emerge as a super-fun, younger crew. There’s a state of affairs the place Kelsey Mitchell is a surefire All-Star, Teaira McCowan makes the leap many have been ready on, Victoria Vivians strokes it from deep, Kysre Gondreszick shines like a lottery choose and vets Jantel Lavender and Danielle Robinson present regular management, and simply sufficient protection. The choice state of affairs — the place the Fever’s expertise deficit resigns them to the WNBA cellar — continues to be intriguing. Whereas I feel all of us need to see Tamika Catchings succeed as normal supervisor, a disappointing season has to lift questions on the route of the franchise. Will Indiana stand behind Catchings or make modifications throughout the group’s decision-making construction?

Sydney: The Las Vegas Aces. They’re trying very robust this season, they usually’re a crew you gained’t need to miss. Final season they have been runner-ups to the Seattle Storm, they usually didn’t even have everybody accessible to play. With Liz Cambage again after opting out of the 2020 season and Kelsey Plum absolutely recovered from her achilles harm, they are going to be enjoyable to observe. They’re additionally returning their core together with, Tamera Younger, Dearica Hamby, and A’ja Wilson; to not point out, they now have Chelsea Grey.

Ricky: The Chicago Sky. Chicago already had probably the most thrilling groups within the league even earlier than including Candace Parker in free company. Veteran level guard Courtney Vandersloot is the league’s high facilitator, Diamond DeShields feels primed for a breakout season at age-26, and Azurá Stevens is an inside-out scoring menace within the entrance court docket. The Sky have an amazing mixture of established veterans and burgeoning younger expertise, and it seems like Parker may very well be the lacking piece to tie all of it collectively.

Jim: The New York Liberty. Sabrina Ionescu enjoying once more mixed with the arrival of Natasha Howard make the Liberty fairly an intriguing crew. The Liberty shot 602 3-point pictures final season and that ought to proceed to be part of their offensive gameplan. In the event that they make greater than the 27 p.c they did final season, the Liberty would possibly discover themselves within the playoff hunt.

Sabreena: Any crew that has Chennedy Carter, Aari McDonald, and Courtney Williams in the identical backcourt is must-see for me. If something, the truth that the Atlanta Dream misplaced their head coach lower than two weeks earlier than the beginning of the season makes them extra attention-grabbing as a result of Carter and McDonald are simply going to be given the ball and requested to go to work. The Dream even have LaChina Robinson and Angel Grey on the League Move broadcast, in order that they’ve received every thing going for them.

Brady: The Chicago Sky. The Sky have each ingredient you need for leisure. Candace Parker is without doubt one of the greatest gamers in league historical past, and nonetheless good for quite a few highlights an evening. Courtney Vandersloot is the very best passer within the league, with an help price in 2020 that just about doubled the next-best participant. Diamond DeShields is likely to be the very best pure athlete within the league. Past that, they’ve dynamics that might replenish the drama, leisure, and intrigue bars. Parker’s an all-time nice, however her groups have had their fair proportion of off-court tales and rigidity lately. Vandersloot and her backcourt associate, Allie Quiqley, are married. Many predicted a Sky breakout final yr, however they completed simply 12-10. It’s simple to examine the Sky ending the common season as title favorites, or as a disappointing center of the pack crew. And so they’ll be must-watch TV the entire approach.

Zack: The Chicago Sky. Candace Parker on her personal makes any crew value watching together with her ardour and management. The story of her returning to her hometown of Chicago is so compelling. She has an enormous persona and slot in in Hollywood, however her return to her roots has revealed a distinct, humbler facet to her. As a participant, Parker proved doubters flawed final yr by making the All-WNBA First Staff and successful Defensive Participant of the 12 months after combating an harm in 2019. She has a chip on her shoulder to show she will nonetheless be the most effective at age 35. And Courtney Vandersloot should have a chip on her shoulder too in spite of everything these years of being saved out of the MVP dialogue as a result of she’s some extent guard. She is a novel expertise as the one participant within the league who can pile up assists at a prolific price and her teaming up with Parker simply makes Chicago that rather more attention-grabbing.

Eric: The Atlanta Dream. Granted, Atlanta is a little bit of an unknown amount coming into the season, with former head coach Nicki Collen accepting a job at Baylor College in the midst of coaching camp and an overstock of ball-dominant combo guards making the Dream’s potential rotation a whole enigma. It’s that rotation, nevertheless, that makes Atlanta so tantalizing: 2021 No. 3 total choose Aari McDonald, who turned a nationwide star throughout Arizona’s unbelievable run within the NCAA Event, joins budding stars Chennedy Carter and Courtney Williams on a crew brimming with vibrant persona. The jury’s nonetheless out on whether or not or not the Dream can be any good, however they’ll be League Move favorites regardless.

Which participant can be a family identify by the top of the season?

Sydney: Mark my phrases Charli Collier can be a reputation to recollect by the top of this season. Although it’s her rookie yr, and there is likely to be a little bit of a studying curve, Collier is extraordinarily proficient. She was the No. 1 total choose within the 2021 WNBA Draft popping out of the College of Texas as a junior. She is a middle/ahead with the power to stretch defenses and knock down threes when wanted, however can also be a pressure on the glass, ending with a mix of energy and finesse across the rim.

Eric: Kysre Gondrezick. The Fever brought on a stir after they drafted Gondrezick at No. 4 total, however they clearly see one thing in her that they like, so it’d be shocking if she doesn’t get loads of alternative to carve out a spot for herself on a rebuilding Indiana crew. She’s already signed a contract with Adidas – in line with ESPN’s Nick DePaula, Gondrezick would be the face of Adidas Basketball transferring ahead – and he or she’s spoken at size concerning the significance of branding and influencing future generations. Gondrezick has but to play a single minute of WNBA basketball, however she’s already on the quick observe to widespread visibility.

Ricky: Chennedy Carter. Carter didn’t win Rookie of the 12 months final season (the award went to Crystal Dangerfield), however the 5’9 guard did set up herself the longer term face of the Atlanta Dream with a terrific all-around debut within the W. Carter is a dynamic three-point shooter, and ought to be freed as much as work off the ball at occasions with the arrival of high draft choose Aari McDonald. The Dream is likely to be in disarray after head coach Nicki Collen bolted for Baylor, however Carter will give followers one thing to cheer about.

Sabreena: Am I too late on Napheesa Collier? It feels just like the hype practice for Collier is a lot softer than different big-name Connecticut prospects. She gained Rookie of the 12 months in 2019, was second-team all-WNBA a yr in the past, and virtually makes you overlook that Maya Moore isn’t in Minnesota proper now. Collier seems like she ought to be the largest up-and-coming participant within the W apart from possibly her podcast co-host A’ja Wilson and Breanna Stewart, however Collier is rattling good, and if the Lynx exceed preseason expectations, she’ll be the rationale why.

Cat: Brianna Turner. Within the latter half of her sophomore season, Turner served as a wanted spark for the then-floundering Phoenix Mercury, together with her relentless effort and power translating into All-Defensive honors. She proved particularly prolific in grabbing rebounds and swatting pictures. But, Turner is overshadowed by the a number of starry names on this Mercury crew — Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner, Skylar Diggins-Smith and Kia Nurse. Nonetheless, if Phoenix approaches their championship aspirations, count on Turner to be integral to their success. Turner additionally deserves extra shine as an incisive voice on issues of racial justice.

Zack: Courtney Williams. Williams made a little bit of a reputation for herself through the 2019 WNBA Finals when she was a member of the Connecticut Solar, however search for her to change into much more well-known this season. She doesn’t usually get talked about as the most effective gamers within the WNBA, however numbers counsel she had a case to be in Swish Enchantment’s High 30 gamers. With career-best averages of 14.6 factors (2020), 7.2 rebounds (2020), 3.8 assists (2019) and 1.4 steals (2019), she deserves extra respect and will put up even larger numbers at age 27 for a Dream crew that’s searching for different members of its deep roster moreover Tiffany Hayes and rising star Chennedy Carter to step up and provides them a legit large three.

Jim: Ezi Magbegor. The 2019 first spherical choose of the Seattle Storm from Australia performed her rookie season in 2020 and performed 13 minutes per sport. With Natasha Howard off to New York, there can be a gap on the heart place. The younger 6’4” heart scored 17 factors in 19 minutes within the Storm’s preseason sport towards the Phoenix Mercury, displaying that she is able to compete for the beginning spot.

Brady: Napheesa Collier’s sport isn’t fairly as flashy as it’s invaluable, however if you happen to like watching elite-level gamers play, there are few individuals who can maintain a candle to her. She’s been under-appreciated early in her profession as Minnesota tried to retool on the fly for the post-Maya Moore and Lindsay Whalen period. However I think the Lynx can be title contenders this yr, with Collier on the brief record of MVP candidates. And I count on each of these issues to be true for many years for the following decade or so.

Who will lead the WNBA in scoring?

Eric: Arike Ogunbowale. Dallas could also be extra balanced offensively than it was final season, however the roster continues to be very younger, and it’ll most likely be Ogunbowale’s crew till confirmed in any other case. She’s posted huge utilization rankings to date in her profession (over 30 p.c in each 2019 and 2020, in line with Basketball Reference), and that was with the Wings enjoying at a comparatively sluggish tempo. If head coach Vicki Johnson emphasizes early offense in her first season on the helm, Ogunbowale will get that many extra possessions to place the ball within the hoop.

Cat: Breanna Stewart. On first intuition, the reply is Dallas Wings’ scoring dynamo Arike Ogunbowale. But, the 2021 Wings have a deeper suite of scorers. Whereas it ought to be anticipated that an improved Satou Sabally will get extra touches on offense, rookies Chelsea Dungee and Dana Evans even have the potential to fill it up. In distinction, Breanna Stewart should assume an even bigger scoring burden on a retooled Seattle Storm squad that contains a supporting solid of youthful, still-unproven gamers and past-their-prime vets. With Jewell Loyd as the one different constant bucket getter on the Storm, Stewie ought to flip in lots of large scoring nights.

Ricky: Arike Ogunbowale. Ogunbowale led the WNBA in scoring at 22.8 factors per sport contained in the bubble final season, and he or she can be anticipated to hold the Dallas Wings once more this yr. Whereas Ogunbowale put up large numbers, her scoring effectivity — 41.2 p.c from the sector, 33.6 p.c from three — leaves her loads of room for enchancment going into this season.

Sabreena: Arike looks as if the apparent choose, however I’m going to go together with DeWanna Bonner. She was third in scoring final season, however now has a yr of enjoying in Curt Miller’s system below her belt. Bonner can have extra offensive duty with out Alyssa Thomas accessible and probably more room to work with now that Jonquel Jones is again, too. Situations appear ripe for the league’s Nineteenth-leading scorer of all-time to seize her first scoring title.

Brady: Breanna Stewart. Full disclosure: Ogunbowale ought to be the odds-on favourite, however Stewart has a really robust case after ending third a yr in the past in her first season again after tearing her Achilles. On what figures to be a nasty crew with plenty of rookies to develop, it wouldn’t be a shock if Ogunbowale sees a slight lower in minutes and position, because the Wings attempt to construct up her teammates to allow them to be aggressive in 2022. Stewart, alternatively, can be given the important thing to the Storm’s automotive, and likewise their different automotive, in addition to their courtesy automotive and golf cart.

Zack: Breanna Stewart. She has the sting over Ogunbowale together with her potential to post-up and rating as a frontcourt participant in addition to a guard-like perimeter participant. Each are extremely gifted with stellar strikes and this can be a shut name. However count on 2021 to be the yr of Stewie and count on that to incorporate the scoring title.

Sydney: Arike Ogunbowale. She was the main scorer final season, and it doesn’t appear like anybody will stand in her approach and sluggish her down anytime quickly, not even the brand new additions to the Dallas Wings roster. She may be very environment friendly and in the end a guard that may precisely learn defenses, benefit from missteps by defenders and end at a excessive share whether or not she’s slashing to the rim, pulling up within the lane, or from past the arch.

Jim: Breanna Stewart. The Storm’s roster has modified fairly a bit from final season and the opposite high 5 scorers from final season (Arike Ogunbowale, A’ja Wilson, DeWanna Bonner, and Diana Taurasi) can have extra scoring choices. Stewart was coming off of an Achilles harm in 2020 and nonetheless managed to complete fourth in scoring. Search for her to be a chief primary possibility for the Storm.

Who can be MVP?

Sabreena: WNBA voters have a really clear “greatest participant on greatest crew” sample relating to awarding the MVP. Not since 2015 has the MVP come from a crew that wasn’t the No. 1 seed, and even then, Elena Delle Donne performed for the second-seeded Sky. This actually would possibly come all the way down to who has the very best file, and I feel that would be the Storm, who’re projected to clear the sector by three video games by FiveThirtyEight. Meaning Breanna Stewart ought to be the MVP for the second time in her profession. It’s already been three weeks since Stewart added a trophy to her case because the 2021 EuroLeague Last 4 MVP, so it’s previous time she added one other one, proper?

Eric: Candace Parker. Let’s be trustworthy: MVP is essentially a narrative-driven award. Parker is probably not as individually dominant as Stewart, Delle Donne, Wilson and different common MVP picks at this level in her profession, however she proved in 2020 that she nonetheless has lots left to contribute to successful basketball. Parker brings protection, rebounding, playmaking and expertise to a Chicago crew that wanted each little bit of her various skillset; if the Sky take the leap many expect of them and end close to the highest of the WNBA standings, Parker will seemingly have a compelling case for MVP.

Jim: I feel it comes all the way down to Breanna Stewart and Candace Parker. Stewart can have the stats and, though I feel the Storm are typically weaker as a crew than they’ve been not too long ago, the Storm can be close to the highest of the standings. Eric’s argument concerning the award being narrative-driven is compelling. If the Sky end third or higher and Parker stays wholesome, search for Parker to take the award.

Ricky: Breanna Stewart. Stewart is likely to be on observe to change into girls’s basketball’s GOAT by the point she retires. Nonetheless simply 26 years previous, Stewart is already extremely completed and appears to be firmly in her prime. She efficiently recovered from a torn Achilles final yr, and instantly led the Storm to a WNBA championship within the bubble. Elena Delle Donne and A’ja Wilson will push her, however Stewart continues to be the very best participant alive.

Sydney: Candace Parker. She’s in her hometown, with a brand new crew and a brand new system, however I really feel like this can be a dominant yr for her. Thirty-five years previous and having spent the previous 13 seasons in LA, her change to Chicago shocked the basketball world. I really feel like Parker, although a veteran, will proceed to amaze us on her new crew with many dominant MVP caliber performances. I feel she’ll remind us that the younger gamers are nice, however at the same time as a veteran she’s nonetheless the most effective within the sport.

Brady: Breanna Stewart. Stewart is the very best participant alive, on a crew with a stable probability of being the very best within the league. That’s a fairly robust system. Reigning MVP A’ja Wilson might make a push, however her utilization would possibly drop a bit of with Liz Cambage’s return. Elena Delle Donne has the talents to win, however is already hampered by again accidents. Others like Candace Parker, Napheesa Collier, Nneka Ogwumike, Brittney Griner, and Jonquel Jones all have circumstances, but additionally obstacles. Stewie has essentially the most simple path whereas, once more, already being the very best participant on the earth.

Cat: Napheesa Collier. With A’ja Wilson and Liz Cambage stealing votes from one another on the Las Vegas Aces, Breanna Stewart on a Seattle Storms crew that seemingly won’t match final season’s heights and the Washington Mystics’ Elena Delle Donne working her approach again from offseason again surgical procedure, there’s a potential MVP void. Because the Minnesota Lynx are poised to be close to the highest of the standings, Napheesa Collier, who completed fifth on final season’s MVP poll, is a powerful candidate to fill it. Even because the Lynx have bolstered their roster, it’s Collier, together with her potential to credibly play three positions on each ends of the ground, who unlocks the flexibility that makes the Lynx a harmful, championship-caliber crew. Collier additionally ought to submit the uncooked numbers and influence metrics requisite of an MVP.

Zack: Breanna Stewart. There actually couldn’t be a extra excellent storm for Breanna Stewart proper now. She’s a bit of faster than Elena Delle Donne, who’s arguably the second-best participant on the earth, and younger at age 26. She eradicated any ideas that the Achilles harm in 2019 would decrease her degree of play by averaging 19.7 factors and eight.3 rebounds final yr en path to a second-place end in MVP voting. Count on her to win the award for the second time this yr.

Let’s discuss protection. Which crew will end No. 1 in defensive effectivity? Who will win Defensive Participant of the 12 months?

Ricky: A’ja Wilson for DPOY. Aces end with the highest protection. Wilson gained MVP final season, and is definitely one of many high total skills within the league. The Aces’ protection solely completed behind the Storm final yr, they usually’re getting Liz Cambage again this season. All indicators are pointing to the Aces being a powerhouse, and their dimension inside goes to be an enormous a part of a dominant protection.

Sabreena: On the threat of repeating every thing Ricky simply stated, the Aces can have the very best protection within the league. They’ve the bones of the protection that completed atop the league in 2019, and getting Liz Cambage again instead of Carolyn Swords/Emma Cannon/no matter was occurring on the 5 final yr ought to assist them get again from second place to that perch. As for defensive participant of the yr, let’s simply say it would go to somebody who can even seem on one of many league’s all-defense groups.

Brady: There are 1,000,000 and one good choices for DPOY, however I’m selecting Natasha Howard. The final time Howard wasn’t preventing for minutes and highlight subsequent to Breanna Stewart, she virtually unanimously gained DPOY. She’ll have a tall activity righting a Liberty protection that was final within the league a yr in the past, but when she will, she’ll be in pole place for the award. As for crew protection, I’m going with the Lynx. Minnesota wasn’t an excellent defensive crew final yr, however they have been missing Sylvia Fowles for all however seven video games. With a hopefully wholesome Fowles, the additions of Kayla McBride and Aerial Powers, and a yr of progress from Napheesa Collier, they may very well be elite on that finish of the court docket. Most Cheryl Reeve groups are.

Cat: Sylvia Fowles. In her temporary time on the court docket final season, the longtime Minnesota Lynx stalwart flashed DOY type. This season, with much less of a burden on offense, Fowles ought to be capable to dedicate her energies to anchoring Minnesota’s protection. In 2020, with out Fowles, the Lynx’s defensive score was almost seven factors worse than the league chief, a departure from season after season of being inside two factors of the league’s greatest protection, if not on the high. With a wholesome Fowles, the Lynx ought to be again of their extra acquainted defensive stratosphere, and Huge Syl might need earned extra {hardware}.

Zack: Elizabeth Williams greatest defensive participant. Lynx greatest defensive crew. To me, Williams was the second-best defensive participant within the league final yr after Alyssa Thomas, who will miss all of 2021 with a torn Achilles. Thomas made extra disruptive performs, however Williams supplied sound elementary protection on a constant foundation. She additionally averaged 1.4 blocks per sport. The Lynx return nine-time All-Defensive participant and three-time Defensive Participant of the 12 months Sylvia Fowles from a calf harm to a crew that was fifth within the league in defensive score final yr. The trio of Fowles, Napheesa Collier and Damiris Dantas within the frontcourt is formidable defensively and I’ll give it the sting over the backcourt duo of Briann January and Jasmine Thomas in Connecticut.

Eric: The Las Vegas Aces are trying fairly robust defensively. Shedding Angel McCoughtry to a knee harm is an enormous hit for his or her perimeter protection, however they need to stay a wonderful defensive rebounding crew, and in the event that they lead the WNBA in opponents’ free throw price by as huge of a margin as they did in 2020, their total defensive effectivity will as soon as once more be wonderful. So far as Defensive Participant of the 12 months, I feel that is Napheesa Collier’s yr to be acknowledged; her versatility and basketball IQ on the defensive finish of the ground are unparalleled, and if Sylvia Fowles can keep wholesome sufficient to contribute her common stout inside protection, Collier can have all of the room she must wreak havoc elsewhere.

Jim: I just like the Minnesota Lynx right here with Napheesa Collier to take the Defensive Participant of the 12 months award. The Lynx have been fifth final season and I count on the groups who completed in entrance of them to regress defensively primarily based on roster modifications and accidents. Minnesota performs nice crew protection and Collier is a flexible defender and will have the statistical argument to again it up by the top of the season.

Give me one daring WNBA prediction

Brady: Is it daring to say that Sabrina Ionescu can be the most effective gamers within the W? After being probably the most highly-touted prospects in league historical past a yr in the past, Ionescu struggled with ankle accidents and performed simply three video games. In essence, she’s nonetheless a rookie, however she gained’t play like one. I’ll say she makes an All-WNBA crew.

Cat: The Atlanta Dream will earn a top-five playoff seed. It’s been an excellent yr for interim head coaches within the ATL. (Shout out Nate McMillan!) Regardless of all the surprising turnover throughout the Dream group, interim head coach Mike Petersen and lead assistant coach Darius Taylor inherit a crew with a ton of expertise. Final season’s oft-injured core of Chennedy Carter, Courtney Williams, Elizabeth Williams, Monique Billings and Shekinna Stricklen will welcome again Tiffany Hayes, with No. 3 draft choose Aari McDonald and free brokers Cheynne Parker, Odyssey Sims and Tianna Hawkins highlighting the brand new arrivals. If Petersen and Taylor can get all these unfamiliar faces to coalesce right into a crew, the Dream ought to be in the midst of the playoff image.

Eric: Teaira McCowan will win Most Improved Participant. Although the factors for this award aren’t precisely clear, the younger Fever heart looks as if an excellent candidate to earn it; she struggled to remain on the ground in 2020, however her per-minute stats remained spectacular, and with Indiana overhauling its frontcourt in free company, McCowan appears to be in line for extra minutes and a constant beginning position. If she improves her defensive mechanics sufficient to remain within the good graces of head coach Marianne Stanley, McCowan might realistically common a double-double, which might give her an excellent argument for Most Improved honors.

Zack: Dallas and New York make the playoffs. Charli Collier, Awak Kuier, Chelsea Dungee and Dana Evans will all make impacts as rookies with Collier and Kuier changing into stars. It’s not unprecedented within the WNBA for high two draft picks to take action of their first seasons. Arike Ogunbowale and Satou Sabally can even play properly and Dallas gained’t have any weak hyperlinks. Marina Mabrey will stay an X issue. In the meantime the Liberty will see an enormous three type with Natasha Howard, Betnijah Laney and a Sabrina Ionescu who lives as much as expectations. Howard can be in rivalry for an All-WNBA spot and Ionescu’s distributing skills will make the Liberty offense run easily in order that they can bounce again from a 2-20 marketing campaign.

Sabreena: The Mystics fall off. The expectation appears to be that Washington can be proper again within the contending class now that all the gamers who opted out in 2020 are again, however I don’t suppose it’ll be that simple. Elena Delle Donne gained’t be prepared to start out the season, Emma Meesseman gained’t be coming till after the Olympic break on the earliest, and Alysha Clark gained’t swimsuit up in any respect. Tina Charles is a rattling good comfort prize with all these gamers at lower than full power, and Natasha Cloud has proven the power to guide a championship crew, however there’s sufficient uncertainty that I don’t suppose the Mystics might be penciled in alongside the Storm, Aces, Sky, and even the Lynx relying on when Collier will get again.

Jim: The Indiana Fever lastly make the playoff leap. The Fever have drafted a few of the greatest younger expertise to depart school over the previous couple of years. Nonetheless, that potential has not translated to success on the court docket, averaging simply 8.5 wins over the past 4 seasons. As head coach Marianne Stanley enters her second season, search for the Fever to be a lot improved and preventing for spot within the playoffs.

Ricky: Dallas makes the playoffs. The Wings have missed the postseason every of the final two seasons, however they’re too proficient to do it once more. Dallas has one of many league’s high scorers in Arike Ogunbowale, whereas 6’4 ahead Satou Sabally might flip right into a star in her second season. Dallas additionally had three of the primary 5 picks within the 2021 draft, including Charli Collier and Awak Kuier to the entrance court docket, and Chelsea Dungee to the backcourt. They’re able to crash the playoffs.

Sydney: The Atlanta Dream will make the playoffs. That is positively a daring prediction contemplating that the crew is in flux. They’re below new possession, have an interim head coach since Nicki Collen took the top teaching job for Baylor girls’s basketball 11 days earlier than the beginning of the season. The highway to the beginning of the season hasn’t been a straight shot for the Dream, and but I really feel like this crew has the guts to do what most individuals suppose they will’t. From Chennedy Carter to Aari McDonald, Elizabeth Williams, and the entire squad, I feel there’s an opportunity for them to make the postseason regardless of their circumstances.

What’s your Finals prediction?

Sabreena: Till it occurs, I can’t see the Storm being crushed. They’ve Stewie, and that’s a greater start line than anybody else. Right here’s hoping they get to play the Aces in a rematch of each groups at full power.

Eric: Mystics over Aces. Washington might battle out of the gate with Elena Delle Donne recovering from a again harm and Emma Meesseman competing internationally with Belgium, but when each of these gamers are again within the fold by the point the playoffs roll round, the Mystics can be balanced, expert and skilled. The contrasting offensive philosophies and quantity of star energy would make this an incredible sequence to observe, and assuming each groups can be at their strongest, I feel Washington can have the firepower to win all of it.

Sydney: The Aces win all of it. I do know, we haven’t seen that occur earlier than, particularly since this franchise is simply 4 years previous, however their expertise can’t be denied. It’s to not say that different groups aren’t proficient, however I can see the Aces getting scorching late within the season and being exhausting to chill down so long as they keep wholesome.

Ricky: Storm over Sky. Seattle is the betting favourite for a purpose. The Storm have gained the title two of the final three years, and can be going for back-to-back championships for the primary time in franchise historical past. Regardless of a pair questionable offseason strikes, that is nonetheless a stacked roster led by Stewie, the very best participant alive. They continue to be the crew to beat.

Cat: Mystics over Aces. The Washington Mystics might not end with the league’s greatest file through the common season, however, so long as Emma Messeman returns for the second half of the season and Elena Delle Donne stays wholesome, DC has the substances wanted to outlive what guarantees to be a hyper-competitive championship chase and declare a second trophy in three seasons. With a do-it-all celebrity in EDD flanked by quite a few “stars within the position” with playoff expertise — headlined by Messeman, Tina Charles, Natasha Cloud and Ariel Atkins — Washington has the intangibles attribute of title-winning groups.

Brady: Storm over Lynx. I can see a path to the Finals for eight groups, which is a part of what makes this league so enjoyable. However the Storm have the strongest case, and essentially the most Breanna Stewarts on their crew, so I give them the nod to repeat. Selecting an opponent is tougher, however I like the development of Minnesota’s membership. The items match collectively seamlessly, there’s expertise at each place, they usually’ve received a budding celebrity in Napheesa Collier. They’re deep and skilled, and led by an all-time nice coach with loads of postseason expertise.

Zack: Aces over Mystics. Regardless of Angel McCoughtry being out for the season with a torn ACL and a torn meniscus, the Aces are nonetheless essentially the most proficient crew within the league. The Mystics will show doubters flawed by being a High 2 crew, however the Aces can have an excessive amount of firepower with A’ja Wilson, Liz Cambage and Chelsea Grey within the Finals.

Jim: Aces over Lynx. With Liz Cambage again, the season-ending harm to McCoughtry might be weathered. Moreover, the remainder of the Aces crew has improved after making the WNBA Finals final season. After getting swept, search for the Aces to be on a mission. I just like the Lynx to make an enormous soar this season. The Storm, Mystics, and Sky can be on the cusp however I just like the protection of Minnesota to hold them to the finals however come up brief to Las Vegas.



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