What to expect from every team
So how do the W.N.B.A. teams stack up? Here’s a brief look at each, in predicted order of finish.
There’s Elena Delle Donne, healthy and ready to avenge the way last season ended, but the Mystics are no one-woman team. Joining Delle Donne up front is the fellow stretch-big Emma Meesseman, a 6-foot-4 markswoman (39.1 percent career from 3-point range) and rim protector who missed last year with overseas commitments. The Mystics also feature Kristi Toliver, who can shoot them into games with her high-volume looks beyond the arc, and Ariel Atkins, the steal of last season’s draft and a deft two-way player in Mike Thibault’s positionless plan. Natasha Cloud has turned herself into a frontline point guard, and don’t sleep on wing Aerial Powers off the bench, a former first-round pick who appeared reborn after last season’s midyear trade sent her to Washington from Dallas.
Las Vegas Aces
Let’s say you want to double-team Liz Cambage — a reasonable idea. Who are you going to leave open? A’ja Wilson, the 2018 Rookie of the Year and star in her own right who can score from anywhere? Kelsey Plum, last season’s leader in three-point percentage and able penetrator? Is it Jackie Young, the top pick in this season’s draft out of Notre Dame? Or is it Kayla McBride, the two-time All-Star who is automatic from the free throw line? If you don’t have an answer here, you’re not alone: The league may not have an answer, either.
Few picked the Dream, coached by Nicki Collen, to finish anywhere near the top in 2018. But the Dream took the Mystics to five games in the league semifinals, and Collen won coach of the year honors. A similar, if not better, season is in reach this year as well. The Dream are without Angel McCoughtry, who is expected to miss most of the season with a knee injury. But Atlanta has ample offensive options among Renee Montgomery, the veteran sharpshooting point guard; Tiffany Hayes, an underrated two-way shooting guard; Brittney Sykes, an emerging wing; and Elizabeth Williams, who is an efficient post scorer.
For three years now, Curt Miller, the Sun head coach and general manager, has been pointing to 2019 as the season his team’s build would reach its apex. The Sun traded Chiney Ogwumike in the off-season after she asked to be sent to Los Angeles, opening up more time for Connecticut’s most efficient combination at the 4 and 5, Alyssa Thomas and Jonquel Jones. Thomas is effectively a second point guard out of the wing, while Jones is a 6-foot-6 rebounding machine who shot 46.7 percent from 3-point range last season. Courtney Williams soars through the air and creates her own shot at will, Jasmine Thomas runs the show, and there’s more depth here than on any other roster.