The WNBA preseason isn’t quite over, but we’ve already witnessed several key factors that could offer a preview of what’s to come.
From incredible team performances to blockbuster trade deals, here are four early takeaways from the 2019 preseason:
The Minnesota Lynx have a real squad.
Last week, the Minnesota Lynx put on a dominant offensive performance in a hard fought victory against the Washington Mystics. Pioneered by a new backcourt featuring Danielle Robinson and Odyssey Sims, Minnesota walked away with a 86-79 win, with the two guards putting up a combined 33 points and 13 assists.
Minnesota’s bigs didn’t disappoint either. Veteran center Sylvia Fowles finished the game with 19 points and 11 rebounds, while rookie Jessica Shepard racked up 10 points and 8 rebounds in her WNBA debut.
These early numbers are quite impressive for the Lynx, and will need to continue if they wish to contend without newly retired point guard, Lindsay Whalen, as well as offensive powerhouse Maya Moore, who will sit out this season.
In acquiring Liz Cambage, the Aces have officially shaken up the Western Conference.
The Liz Cambage verses Dallas Wings saga is finally over.
After a tense period of negotiations that began with the all-star center requesting an offseason trade, the Wings reached a deal to send Cambage to Las Vegas – a move that instantly thrust the Aces into the realm of championship contention.
This is the second jackpot in a row for Las Vegas, who recently selected Jackie Young as the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. Now they’ve landed their greatest gem in Cambage, a 6-foot-8 scorer, rebounder and shot blocker who led the WNBA in scoring in 2018.
The Australian native brings a slew of experience to a youthful Aces lineup that includes elite shooters like Kelsey Plum, Sugar Rodgers and Kayla McBride. Most significantly however, Cambage joins forces with interior general and 2018 Rookie of the Year, A’ja Wilson, who led Las Vegas in points, blocks and minutes played last year.
With Cambage and Wilson in control of the backcourt, the Aces will wreak havoc with an interior presence that is virtually unstoppable, while also becoming far more proficient on the defensive end. Last season, the Aces fell one game short of making the playoffs, but they’ve now laid a strong foundation that could soon make them one of the most feared teams in the WNBA’s hyper-competitive Western Conference.
With the loss of Candace Parker, the Ogwumike sisters are ready to take over in Los Angeles.
During the Sparks first preseason game against the Mercury, 12-year veteran Candace Parker suffered a hamstring injury that will keep her out for three to five weeks. With the former league MVP on the sidelines, who will LA turn to on the interior?
Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike.
After all, the sisters have played together their entire lives, even making back-to-back Final Four appearances as an All-American duo at Stanford. Pair that with the fact that Nneka and Chiney are both versatile forwards who can shoot, pass, defend, and create shots in-and-outside of the post, and we’re potentially looking at one of the best frontline combos in the league.
During the Sparks’ recent loss to Phoenix, Nneka scored 12 points and grabbed 7 boards, while Chiney – who just recently joined her big sister in LA after being traded from the Connecticut Sun – put up 7 points and 4 rebounds in 24 minutes off the bench. These numbers foreshadow a potential start to a dangerous Sparks team that, upon Parker’s return, could transform into a lethal vessel barreling full speed toward another WNBA title.
It’s anyone’s game in the quest for a WNBA championship.
Well maybe not exactly anyone…but there are a number of teams that could get it done. Here’s why:
- WNBA Finals and league MVP, Breanna Stewart, recently suffered an Achilles injury overseas and will miss the entire season with the Seattle Storm.
- Phoenix Mercury star, Diana Taurasi, will be sidelined for 10-12 weeks after undergoing back surgery.
- Atlanta Dream all-star, Angel McCoughtry, is still recovering from last year’s knee injury, and may or may not be healthy enough to play this season (she did not report to training camp earlier this month).
- And 4X WNBA champion, Maya Moore, has informed the Minnesota Lynx that she will forgo the 2019 season to serve in the ministry.
With the absence of several stars who have consistently made waves throughout the league, the playing field seems wide open for a WNBA title – perhaps now more than any time in recent years.
Who do you think will win it all?
Sound off below.
Photo Credit: Associated Press