WNBA Preview Capsules
A team-by-team look at the WNBA. Teams are listed in predicted order of finish.
2016: 28-6, 1st place; beat Phoenix 3-0 in semifinals; lost to Los Angeles 3-2 in WNBA Finals.
POWER POLL RANKING: 2nd.
COACH: Cheryl Reeve, 8th season.
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE: G Lindsay Whalen (9.8 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 3.8 apg), G Seimone Augustus (11.2 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 2.4 apg), F Maya Moore (19.3 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 4.2 apg), F Rebekkah Brunson (7.4 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1.8 apg), C Sylvia Fowles (13.9 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 1.8 bpg).
OUTLOOK: Minnesota fell a few seconds short of winning its fourth title in six seasons when the Sparks beat them in five games. The core is still intact with Moore, Whalen, Fowles and Augustus, the Lynx are the favorite to win again. The only issue could be age as four of the starting five are over 30. Most of that core group decided to rest their bodies and not play overseas during the winter which should leave them refreshed and recharged.
LOS ANGELES SPARKS
2016: 26-8, 2nd place; beat Chicago 3-1 in semifinals; beat Minnesota 3-2 in WNBA Finals.
COACH: Brian Agler, 3rd season.
POWER POLL RANKING: 1st.
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE: G Chelsea Gray (5.9 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 2.2 apg), G Odyssey Sims (14.0 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 3.9 apg), G Alana Beard (7.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.1 apg), F Nneka Ogwumike (19.7 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 3.1 apg), F Candace Parker (15.3 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 4.9 apg).
OUTLOOK: The Sparks won their first title in 14 years in dramatic fashion with a putback in Game 5 with 3.1 seconds left. Los Angeles lost guard Kristi Toliver to free agency, but picked up Sims in a deal with Dallas. Ogwumike, Parker and Jantel Lavender give the team the best frontcourt in the league. Overseas schedules weren’t kind to the Sparks with Parker, Lavender and Essence Carson all missing the opening game to play in the Turkish League championship. Ogwumike and Beard also didn’t show up until virtually the end of camp because of their overseas commitments. With the strong nucleus still together, the Sparks will try and be the first WNBA team to repeat since they did it in 2001-02.
NEW YORK LIBERTY
2016: 21-13, 3rd place; lost to Phoenix in second round.
COACH: Bill Laimbeer, 5th season.
POWER POLL RANKING: 3rd.
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE: G Brittany Boyd (6.5 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 3.6 apg), G Epiphanny Prince (5.2 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 0.7 apg), G Sugar Rodgers (14.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.4 apg), F Tina Charles (21.5 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 3.8 apg), C Kiah Stokes (6.9 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 1.4 bpg).
OUTLOOK: New York had a disappointing end to its season with an exit after just one playoff game following a first-round bye, despite having the third-best record in the league. Swin Cash retired and Tanisha Wright is sitting out this season, meaning that the veteran leadership will fall on Charles. The Liberty did add Kia Vaughn and Bria Hartley through a trade which gives the team more depth. A healthy Prince may be the key to see how far New York can go this season.
2016: 13-21, 10th place; missed playoffs.
COACH: Mike Thibault, 4th season.
POWER POLL RANKING: 4th.
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE: G Ivory Latta (8.3 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 1.9 apg), G Tayler Hill (15.4 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 2.9 apg), G Kristi Toliver (13.2 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 3.7 apg), F Emma Meesseman (15.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 2.3 apg), F Elena Delle Donne (21.5 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 1.9 apg).
OUTLOOK: No team made bigger moves in the offseason then the Mystics, who traded for Delle Donne and signed Toliver. Thibault has warned it will take time for this team to come together, but once they do, they certainly will be able to put points on the board. The only question is will they be able to defend anyone. LaToya Sanders was supposed to be the team’s rim protector, but she’s out for the season with a foot injury.
2016: 16-18, 7th place; lost to Atlanta in first round.
COACH: Jenny Boucek, 3rd season.
POWER POLL RANKING: 5th.
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE: G Sue Bird (12.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 5.8 apg), G Jewell Loyd (16.5 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 3.4 apg), F Breanna Stewart (18.3 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 3.4 apg), F Alysha Clark (9.0 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.9 apg), F/C Crystal Langhorne (9.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.4 apg).
OUTLOOK: Stewart had a strong rookie season, helping the Storm reach the playoffs. The team will look to build on that opening round exit. Despite the playoff loss, the Storm played well down the stretch last season, winning seven of their final 10 games after the Olympic break. The team had a relatively quiet offseason, but did add veteran post Carolyn Swords from New York, which gives Seattle another solid post defender.
2016: 16-18, 8th place; beat Indiana in first round; beat New York in second round; lost to Minnesota 3-0 in semifinals.
COACH: Sandy Brondello, 4th season.
POWER POLL RANKING: 6th.
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE: G Diana Taurasi (17.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 3.9 apg), G Danielle Robinson (DNP), G Stephanie Talbot (DNP-Rookie), F Camille Little (14.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.7 apg), C Brittney Griner (15.1 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 4.0 bpg).
OUTLOOK: Taurasi might need name tags to know her teammates. There was a huge roster turnover with Penny Taylor retiring, Candice Dupree getting traded and DeWanna Bonner pregnant. The Mercury did add All-Star guard Robinson and Little. Robinson missed all of last season while recovering from an Achilles injury. The Mercury are coming off a good playoff run where the team won its first two rounds before falling to Minnesota in the semifinals. Taurasi needs just 178 points to pass Tina Thompson as the league’s all-time leading scorer.
2016: 11-23, 11th place; missed playoffs.
COACH: Fred Williams, 4th season.
POWER POLL RANKING: 9th.
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE: G Skylar Diggins-Smith (13.1 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 3.4 apg), G, F Aerial Powers (10.4 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.0 spg), F Glory Johnson (11.3 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 1.3 apg), F Karima Christmas-Kelly (12.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 2.1 apg); C Courtney Paris (7.7 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.1 apg).
OUTLOOK: The Wings have a solid young core with Diggins, Powers and Johnson and added three first-round picks with Evelyn Akhator, Allisha Gray and Kaela Davis. The question is how quickly this neophyte group grows. They traded leading scorer Odyssey Sims in the offseason to Los Angeles and Plenette Pierson left as a free agent. The Wings showed some promise last season before dropping 11 straight games that crushed their playoff chances.
2016: 14-20, 9th place; missed playoffs.
COACH: Curt Miller, 2nd season.
POWER POLL RANKING: 11th.
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE: G Alex Bentley (12.9 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 2.5 apg), G Jasmine Thomas (11.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 5.1 apg), F Lynetta Kizer (9.6 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 0.6 apg ), F Morgan Tuck (7.0 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.1 apg), C Jonquel Jones (6.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.1 bpg).
OUTLOOK: The Sun will once again have to play without Chiney Ogwumike, who is sidelined for the season after suffering an Achilles’ injury. Miller still has a wealth of young talent, although Rachel Banham and Tuck are coming off injuries. Jones had a stellar winter playing overseas and could be a force in the middle for Connecticut. Danielle Adams was a late addition to the roster and she had a strong preseason. For Connecticut to make the postseason for the first time since 2012, the team will have to get some production out of its young front court.
2016: 17-17, 5th place; lost to Phoenix in first round.
COACH: Pokey Chatman, 1st season.
POWER POLL RANKING: 7th.
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE: G Briann January (9.7 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 4.7 apg), G Tiffany Mitchell (8.6 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 1.4 apg), F Candice Dupree (11.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.4 apg), F Marissa Coleman (8.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.0 apg), F Erlana Larkins (8.3 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 0.5 apg).
OUTLOOK: The Fever will have a different look this season as for the first time in 16 years, Tamika Catchings won’t be on the court after she retired at the end of last season. Without its franchise player, Indiana will try and keep its streak of 12 consecutive years in the postseason alive. The Fever have a new coach in Pokey Chatman, who spent the past six years leading Chicago. Chatman still does have a veteran core with January and Larkins leading the way. The Fever acquired Dupree in the offseason from Phoenix, providing another scoring threat.
2015: 18-16, 4th place; beat Atlanta in second round; lost to Los Angeles 3-1 in semifinals.
COACH: Amber Stocks, 1st season.
POWER POLL RANKING: 10th.
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE: G Courtney Vandersloot (9.5 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 4.7 apg), G Cappie Pondexter (12.9 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.7 apg), F Tamera Young (8.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.4 apg) F Stefanie Dolson (9.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.1 apg.), C Imani Boyette (6.7 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1.4 bpg).
OUTLOOK: Stocks walked into a difficult situation as the Sky’s star player Elena Delle Donne demanded to be traded. The rookie coach and GM sent the former MVP to Washington for Dolson, Kahleah Copper and the No. 2 pick in the draft that turned out to be Alaina Coates. Even without Delle Donne, the Sky still had a lot of good pieces in place with Vandersloot, Pondexter, Allie Quigley and second-year player Imani Boyette. Don’t forget that the Sky advanced to the semifinals without Delle Donne, who was sidelined with a thumb injury.
2016: 17-17, 6th place; beat Seattle in first round; lost to Chicago in second round.
COACH: Michael Cooper, 4th season.
POWER POLL RANKING: 8th.
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE: G Matee Ajavon (5.9 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2.4 apg), G Tiffany Hayes (15.0 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 2.4 apg), G Layshia Clarendon (10.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.5 apg), F Elizabeth Williams (11.9 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 2.3 bpg), C Sancho Lyttle (7.6 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 2.1 spg)
OUTLOOK: Atlanta will have to find a way to replace Angel McCoughtry, who announced she’d sit out this season to rest after playing year-round since she was drafted. Cooper still has a strong core with Hayes, Clarendon and Williams.
SAN ANTONIO STARS
2016: 7-27, 12th place.
COACH: Vickie Johnson, 1st season.
POWER POLL RANKING: 12th.
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE: G Moriah Jefferson (13.9 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 4.2 apg), G Kayla McBride (17.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.9 apg), G Kelsey Plum (DNP-Rookie) F Dearica Hamby (9.0 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.0 apg), F Isabelle Harrison (3.1 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 0.4 spg)
OUTLOOK: The Stars have nowhere to go but up after finishing in last place in 2016. The team, which has won 15 games combined the last two seasons, has a rookie coach and a rookie guard in Plum, who is the NCAA women’s all-time leading scorer. How quickly the team develops will determine if they have a shot at making the playoffs. San Antonio traded Danielle Robinson and used the pick they acquired to draft Nia Coffey fifth. The future definitely looks bright for the Stars. The question is whether the future is now.