WNBA Preview Capsules
NEW YORK (AP) A team-by-team look at the WNBA. Teams are listed in predicted order of finish.
2017: 27-7, 1st place; beat Washington 3-0 in semifinals; beat Los Angeles 3-2 in WNBA Finals.
POWER POLL RANKING: 1st.
COACH: Cheryl Reeve, 9th season.
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE: G Lindsay Whalen (8.0 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 4.1 apg), G Seimone Augustus (10.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 4.0 apg), F Maya Moore (17.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 3.5 apg), F Rebekkah Brunson (10.2 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 1.5 apg), C Sylvia Fowles (18.9 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 2.0 bpg).
OUTLOOK: Minnesota won its fourth title in the past seven years, edging Los Angeles in five games. The Lynx have the same core back and will try to become the first repeat champions in the WNBA since the Sparks won titles in 2001 and `02.
LOS ANGELES SPARKS
2017: 26-8, 2nd place; beat Phoenix 3-0 in semifinals; lost to Minnesota 3-2 in WNBA Finals.
COACH: Brian Agler, 4th season.
POWER POLL RANKING: 2nd.
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE: G Chelsea Gray (14.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 4.4 apg), G Odyssey Sims (9.6 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 3.5 apg), G Alana Beard (6.9 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.2 apg), F Nneka Ogwumike (18.8 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 2.1 apg), F Candace Parker (16.9 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 4.3 apg).
OUTLOOK: The Sparks came within a game of consecutive titles only to fall short against rival Minnesota. The same nucleus is back as well as adding young Russian star Maria Vadeeva to the mix. It would be no surprise to see Los Angeles in the title hunt again.
2017: 16-18, 7th place; lost to Washington in first round.
COACH: Fred Williams, 5th season.
POWER POLL RANKING: 6th.
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE: G Skylar Diggins-Smith (18.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 5.8 apg), G Allisha Gray (13.0 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 1.5 spg), F Glory Johnson (14.9 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 1.6 apg), F Karima Christmas-Kelly (10.4 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 2.2 apg); C Liz Cambage (DNP).
OUTLOOK: The Wings made the biggest offseason acquisition getting Cambage to return to the franchise after sitting out the past four years. The 6-foot-8 Australian star gives Dallas a dominant post player on both ends of the floor. The Wings also drafted 6-6 Azura Stevens from UConn giving the team another solid post. Dallas has a strong shot to make a deep playoff run if the team jells.
NEW YORK LIBERTY
2017: 22-12, 3rd place; lost to Washington in second round.
COACH: Katie Smith, 1st Season.
POWER POLL RANKING: 5th.
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE: G Bria Hartley (7.8 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 2.1 apg), G Epiphanny Prince (12.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 2.9 apg), G Shavonte Zellous (11.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.8 apg), F Tina Charles (19.7 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 2.6 apg), C Kia Vaughn (5.8 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 0.7 apg).
OUTLOOK: New York made news off the court this season with all but two games being played in Westchester as opposed to Madison Square Garden. The Liberty also changed coaches with Bill Laimbeer leaving for Las Vegas and Katie Smith promoted to the head coach. The Liberty drafted UConn’s Kia Nurse and added free agent Marissa Coleman to an already deep roster. New York has finished with the third best record the past two years, but failed to make it out of the second round each time.
2017: 21-13, 4th place; lost to Phoenix in second round.
COACH: Curt Miller, 3rd season.
POWER POLL RANKING: 3rd.
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE: G Courtney Williams (12.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 2.1 apg), G Jasmine Thomas (14.2 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 4.3 apg), F Alyssa Thomas (14.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 4.5 apg ), F Chiney Ogwumike (DNP-Injury), C Jonquel Jones (15.4 ppg, 11.9 rpg, 1.5 bpg).
OUTLOOK: The Sun were the biggest surprise of the season led by their breakout star Jones. They made the postseason for the first time since 2012 and now have Oguwmike back after she missed last season with an Achilles’ injury. The toughest problem Miller may have is to figure out a rotation and find minutes for a deep roster.
2017: 15-19, 8th place; lost to Phoenix in first round.
COACH: Dan Hughes, 1st season.
POWER POLL RANKING: 7th.
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE: G Sue Bird (10.6 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 6.6 apg), G Jewell Loyd (17.7 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 3.4 apg), F Breanna Stewart (19.9 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 2.7 apg), F Alysha Clark (8.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.6 apg), F/C Crystal Langhorne (12.4 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.5 apg).
OUTLOOK: New coach Hughes has a lot to work with as the Storm have a talented trio of Bird, Loyd and Stewart. Seattle drafted UCLA guard Jordin Canada, who will provide more speed to the team. The Storm also added Courtney Paris giving the team another solid rebounder and defender in the post.
2017: 18-16, 5th place; beat Seattle in first round; beat Connecticut in second round; lost to Los Angeles 3-0 in semifinals.
COACH: Sandy Brondello, 5th season.
POWER POLL RANKING: 4th.
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE: G Diana Taurasi (17.9 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.7 apg), G Briann January (9.5 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 3.9 apg), F DeWanna Bonner (DNP-Pregnancy), F Camille Little (7.1 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 1.4 apg), C Brittney Griner (21.9 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 2.5 bpg).
OUTLOOK: Phoenix will see the return of Bonner, who sat out last season to give birth to twins. The Mercury also added January and Sancho Lyttle giving the team more veterans. The Mercury will try and get past the semifinals of the playoffs after losing in that round each of the past two seasons. A healthy Griner will be the key to their success.
2017: 18-16, 6th place; beat Dallas in first round; beat New York in second round; lost to Phoenix 3-0 in semifinals.
COACH: Mike Thibault, 5th season.
POWER POLL RANKING: 8th.
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE: G Natasha Cloud (4.4 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2.9 apg), G Kristi Toliver (11.9 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 3.4 apg), F Monique Currie (10.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.1 apg), F Elena Delle Donne (19.7 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.6 apg), C Krystal Thomas (7.0 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 1.1 bpg).
OUTLOOK: The Mystics didn’t make nearly as big a splash this offseason after acquiring Delle Donne and Toliver before the 2017 season. Thibault did add Currie, who will try and fill some of the void left by Emma Meesseman’s absence. She’s spending the season playing with the Belgium national team as they prepare for the women’s world cup this fall.
2017: 12-22, 9th place; missed playoffs.
COACH: Nicki Collen, 1st season.
POWER POLL RANKING: 9th.
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE: G Brittney Sykes (13.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 1.9 apg), G Tiffany Hayes (16.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.4 apg), G Layshia Clarendon (10.7 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 6.6 apg), F Angel McCoughtry (DNP-Rest), C Elizabeth Williams (10.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 2.0 bpg).
OUTLOOK: Atlanta receives a big boost with the return of McCoughtry, who sat out last season to rest after playing year-round since she was drafted. First-year head coach Nicki Collen has a solid young team that the All-Star forward will bolster. The Dream also added Renee Montgomery and Jessica Breland that will improve the roster’s depth.
2017: 12-22, 10th place; missed playoffs.
COACH: Amber Stocks, 2nd season.
POWER POLL RANKING: 10th.
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE: G Courtney Vandersloot (11.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 8.1 apg), G Allie Quigley (16.4 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.6 apg), F Gabby Williams (DNP-Rookie) F Kahleah Copper (6.7 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 0.4 apg), C Stefanie Dolson (14.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.6 apg).
OUTLOOK: The Sky have a strong core with Vandersloot, Quigley and Dolson. The success of the team may depend on rookies Williams and Diamond DeShields to see if they can make the playoffs this year. It hasn’t helped that Vandersloot and DeShields have missed camp because of overseas commitments in Turkey. Chicago also should have 2017 first-round pick Alaina Coates available this season after she missed last year with an injury.
LAS VEGAS ACES
2017: 8-26, 12th place; missed playoffs
COACH: Bill Laimbeer, 1st season.
POWER POLL RANKING: 11th.
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE: G Kelsey Plum (8.5 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 3.4 apg), G Kayla McBride (15.4 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.6 apg), F Kelsey Bone (DNP) F Dearica Hamby (7.8 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 0.9 apg), F A’ja Wilson (DNP-Rookie)
OUTLOOK: After finishing in last place the last two years, a move to Las Vegas could provide a boost to the fan base. Moriah Jefferson is coming off knee surgery and Laimbeer is not rushing her back. Isabelle Harrison is out indefinitely because of personal medical reasons leaving Laimbeer with a shorter roster. Wilson was definitely the consensus top pick in the draft and can be the face of the franchise for years to come.
2017: 9-25, 11th place; missed playoffs.
COACH: Pokey Chatman, 2nd season.
POWER POLL RANKING: 12th.
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE: G Erica Wheeler (11.8 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 4.1 apg), G Tiffany Mitchell (10.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.4 apg), F Candice Dupree (15.0 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.6 apg), F Natalie Achonwa (7.1 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 0.7 apg), F Erlana Larkins (4.9 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.1 apg).
OUTLOOK: The youth movement has started for the Fever with the addition of draftees Kelsey Mitchell and Victoria Vivians. They traded away Briann January and look to Wheeler to run the backcourt.