- Associated Press - Friday, May 13, 2016

A team-by-team look at the Western and Eastern Conference in the WNBA. Teams are listed in predicted order of finish.

___

WESTERN CONFERENCE

MINNESOTA LYNX

2015: 22-12, 1st place; beat Los Angeles 2-1 in conference semifinals; beat Phoenix 2-0 in conference finals; beat Indiana 3-2 in WNBA Finals.

POWER POLL RANKING: 1st.

COACH: Cheryl Reeve, 7th season.

PROJECTED STARTING FIVE: G Lindsay Whalen (10.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 4.3 apg), G Seimone Augustus (13.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 2.4 apg), F Maya Moore (20.6 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 3.5 apg), F Rebekkah Brunson (7.8 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.8 apg), C Sylvia Fowles (15.3 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 1.6 bpg).

KEY ADDITIONS: Janel McCarville (free agent).

KEY LOSSES: F Devereaux Peters (traded to Indiana).

OUTLOOK: Minnesota won its third title in five seasons and with the main core back of MVP Moore, Whalen, Fowles and Augustus, the Lynx are the favorite to win again. History isn’t on their side as no team has repeated as champions since Los Angeles did it in 2001-02. Having Fowles on the team for the whole season can only help build their chemistry even further. The only issue could be age as four of the starting five are over 30.

___

PHOENIX MERCURY

2015: 20-14, 2nd place; beat Tulsa 2-0 in conference semifinals; lost to Minnesota 2-0 in conference finals.

COACH: Sandy Brondello, 3rd season.

POWER POLL RANKING: 2nd.

PROJECTED STARTING FIVE: G Diana Taurasi (DNP), G Penny Taylor (DNP), F Candice Dupree (14.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.7 apg), F DeWanna Bonner (15.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 3.3 apg), C Brittney Griner (15.1 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 4.0 bpg).

KEY ADDITIONS: G Diana Taurasi (rest) G Penny Taylor (free agent); G Courtney Williams (draft, No. 8).

KEY LOSSES: G Monique Currie (traded to San Antonio).

OUTLOOK: With Taurasi back, the Mercury are out for redemption. They hope to win a second title in three seasons and with a solid group they are in the best position to dethrone Minnesota. The last time this team was together they set a WNBA record with 29 victories in 2014 en route to the title. Griner’s grown her game since then.

___

LOS ANGELES SPARKS

2015: 14-20, 4th place; lost to Minnesota 2-1 in conference semifinals.

COACH: Brian Agler, 2nd season.

POWER POLL RANKING: 6th.

PROJECTED STARTING FIVE: G Chelsea Gray (6.9 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.7 apg), G Kristi Toliver (14.1 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 3.4 apg), G Alana Beard (7.8 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 2.7 apg), F Nneka Ogwumike (16.5 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 2.1 apg), F Candace Parker (19.4 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 6.3 apg).

KEY ADDITIONS: G Essence Carson (free agent); Gray (trade, Connecticut), F Riquna Williams (trade, Dallas).

KEY LOSSES: G Erin Phillips (trade, Dallas); G Lindsey Harding (free agent).

OUTLOOK: The Sparks will have Parker for the entire season this year after she sat out the first half of 2015 to get healthy. No player had a better second half of the season than Parker and she has added incentive after not being selected for the 2016 U.S. Olympic team.

___

DALLAS WINGS

2015: 18-16, 3rd place, lost to Phoenix 2-0 in conference semifinals.

COACH: Fred Williams, 3rd season.

POWER POLL RANKING: 7th.

PROJECTED STARTING FIVE: G Skylar Diggins (17.8 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 5.0 apg), G Odyssey Sims (16.0 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 3.8 apg), F Aerial Powers (DNP-Rookie), F Glory Johnson (DNP-Pregnancy), C Courtney Paris (6.6 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 1.2 bpg).

KEY ADDITIONS: F Powers (draft, No. 5); G Erin Phillips (trade from Los Angeles).

KEY LOSSES: C Amanda Zahui B. (trade, New York); G Riquna Williams (trade, Los Angeles).

OUTLOOK: Dallas made the biggest move in the offseason, moving to Texas from Tulsa. The Wings started out great last season before Diggins tore her ACL. She looks to be fully recovered and the Wings are poised to make noise in the Western Conference. Johnson will have to sit out the first seven games while she serves a suspension for her domestic violence arrest in 2015.

___

SEATTLE STORM

2015: 10-24, 5th place.

COACH: Jenny Boucek, 2nd season.

POWER POLL RANKING: 9th.

PROJECTED STARTING FIVE: G Sue Bird (10.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 5.4 apg), G Jewell Loyd (10.7, 3.5 rpg, 1.9 apg), F Breanna Stewart (DNP-Rookie), F Ramu Tokashiki (8.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 0.8 apg), F/C Crystal Langhorne (11.1 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.1 spg).

KEY ADDITIONS: F Stewart (draft, No. 1).

KEY LOSSES: None.

OUTLOOK: Seattle’s rebuilding project took a huge leap forward when they drafted Stewart with the No. 1 pick. Add to that the development of last season’s No. 1 choice Loyd and the Storm should be in the mix for the playoffs.

___

SAN ANTONIO STARS

2015: 8-26, 6th place.

COACH: Dan Hughes, 10th season.

POWER POLL RANKING: 12th.

PROJECTED STARTING FIVE: G Moriah Jefferson (DNP-Rookie), G Kayla McBride (13.8 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.6 apg), G Monique Currie (8.4 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.5 apg) F Dearica Hamby (6.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 0.7 apg), C Jayne Appel-Marinelli (3.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.4 apg)

KEY ADDITIONS: G Jefferson (draft, No. 2), G Currie (trade, Phoenix).

KEY LOSSES: Danielle Robinson (Achilles); Sophia Young-Malcolm (retired)

OUTLOOK: Hughes announced before the season that it would be his last in the league. Robinson is out indefinitely after having surgery on her Achilles. The Stars have a young nucleus led by McBride, Jefferson and Hamby that will need time to develop.

_____

EASTERN CONFERENCE

CHICAGO SKY

2015: 21-13, 2nd place; lost to Indiana 2-1 in conference semifinals.

COACH: Pokey Chatman, 6th season.

POWER POLL RANKING: 3rd.

PROJECTED STARTING FIVE: G Courtney Vandersloot (11.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 5.8 apg), G Cappie Pondexter (15.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.1 apg), F Jessica Breland (6.7 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.3 apg) F Elena Delle Donne (23.4 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 95 ft pct.), C Erika de Souza (5.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 0.8 bpg).

KEY ADDITIONS: C Imani Boyette (draft, No. 10).

KEY LOSSES: None.

OUTLOOK: Delle Donne was the MVP of the league, but she didn’t have enough help to get the Sky back to the WNBA Finals as they lost in the opening round. If Pondexter and Quigley can provide more help for Delle Donne, the Sky can get back to the Finals.

___

NEW YORK LIBERTY

2015: 23-11, 1st place; beat Washington 2-1 in conference semifinals; lost to Indiana 2-1 in conference finals.

COACH: Bill Laimbeer, 4th season.

POWER POLL RANKING: 4th.

PROJECTED STARTING FIVE: G Brittany Boyd (6.6 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 2.3 apg), G Shavonte Zellous (8.4 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 1.9 apg), G Sugar Rodgers (8.1 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 1.5 apg), F Tina Charles (17.1 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 2.4 apg), C Carolyn Swords (5.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 0.6 apg).

KEY ADDITIONS: G Shoni Schimmel (trade, Atlanta), C Amanda Zahui B. (trade, Dallas), G Zellous (free agent).

KEY LOSSES: G Essence Carson (free agent), F Swin Cash (waived); G Epiphanny Prince (injury, ACL), G Candice Wiggins (retired).

OUTLOOK: New York had the best season in franchise history, securing the top record in the league. The Liberty fell in the Eastern Conference finals to Indiana. Prince is lost until potentially the Olympic in break in July while she recovers from her ACL injury. The Liberty have been active on the trade market acquiring Schimmel and Zahui B. right before the end of the preseason.

___

INDIANA FEVER

2015: 20-14, 3rd place; beat Chicago 2-1 in conference semifinals; beat New York 2-1 in conference finals; lost to Minnesota 3-2 in WNBA Finals.

COACH: Stephanie White, 2nd season.

POWER POLL RANKING: 5th.

PROJECTED STARTING FIVE: G Briann January (8.1 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 3.4 apg), G Shenise Johnson (10.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.4 apg), F Tamika Catchings (13.1 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 2.2 apg), F Marissa Coleman (10.4 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.6 apg), F Natalie Achonwa (8.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 0.6 apg).

KEY ADDITIONS: F Devereaux Peters (trade, Lynx), G Tiffany Mitchell (draft, No. 9)

KEY LOSSES: F Natasha Howard (trade, Lynx), G Layshia Clarendon (trade, Atlanta), G Shavonte Zellous (free agent).

OUTLOOK: All eyes will be on Catchings as she plays her final season in the WNBA. The Fever fell just short of a title last season and need a few things to bounce the right way for them to have a chance to get back there. The Fever lost Zellous to the Liberty in free agency and need to find a solid replacement for her. They also might start the season without January, who had had microfracture surgery on her right knee after sustaining the injury in Game 5 of the Finals last season.

___

WASHINGTON MYSTICS

2015: 18-16, 4th place; lost to New York 2-1 in conference semifinals.

COACH: Mike Thibault, 4th season.

POWER POLL RANKING: 8th.

PROJECTED STARTING FIVE: G Ivory Latta (13.4 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 2.6 apg), G Tayler Hill (7.5 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 0.9 apg), F Emma Meesseman (11.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.7 apg), F Kia Vaughn (5.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.0 apg), C Stefanie Dolson (10.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1.6 apg).

KEY ADDITIONS: G Kahleah Copper, (draft, No. 7).

KEY LOSSES: None.

OUTLOOK: Thibault has a very talented young team that has no superstar, but a lot of really good players led by Latta, Dolson and Hartley. The continued development of the young players will be key to their continued success. Latta will miss the first few weeks of the season after having knee surgery in April. Thibault could really use guard Kara Lawson, who hasn’t decided whether she’ll retire yet or not.

___

CONNECTICUT SUN

2015: 15-19, 6th place.

COACH: Curt Miller, 1st season.

POWER POLL RANKING: 10th.

PROJECTED STARTING FIVE: G Alex Bentley (14.7 ppg, 2.0 apg, 2.0 spg), G Jasmine Thomas (8.2 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 3.9 apg), F Chiney Ogwumike (DNP-Injury), F Morgan Tuck (DNP-Rookie), F Kelsey Bone (15.4 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 2.0 apg).

KEY ADDITIONS: F Tuck (draft, No. 3), G Rachel Banham (draft, No. 4), C Jonquel Jones (trade, Los Angeles).

KEY LOSSES: F Elizabeth Williams (trade, Atlanta).

OUTLOOK: New year, new season, new coach, new attitude. That’s the motto of the Sun this year. Having Ogwumike back is going to make a big difference for Connecticut. Tuck also should help in the front court. Miller has a young talented deep team where minutes will be tough to come by.

___

ATLANTA DREAM

2015: 15-19, 5th place.

COACH: Michael Cooper, 3rd season.

POWER POLL RANKING: 11th.

PROJECTED STARTING FIVE: G Matee Ajavon (5.9 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2.4 apg), G Tiffany Hayes (12.9 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.2 apg), F Angel McCoughtry (20.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.8 apg), F Elizabeth Williams (3.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 0.9 bpg), C Sancho Lyttle (10.3 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 2.3 spg)

KEY ADDITIONS: F Elizabeth Williams (trade, Connecticut), G Bria Holmes (draft, No. 11), G Layshia Clarendon (trade, Indiana).

KEY LOSSES: G Shoni Schimmel (trade, New York).

OUTLOOK: Atlanta struggled for consistency last season and hope to make it back to the playoffs this year. Losing had the best record in the Eastern Conference in the regular season, but fell to Chicago in the opening round. The Dream traded for Williams hoping to shore up their defense.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide