As the first half of the WNBA season wraps up this week, this is a good time for hoop fans to jump into what's been happening. The All-Star game is this weekend and team captains Elena Delle Donne of the Washington Mystics and A'ja Wilson of the Las Vegas Aces choose their respective teams in the same fashion as Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James did for February's NBA All-Star Game. So with a break from an intensely competitive regular season, some of you will be degenerate gamblers and betting on the Little League World Series, making cricket predictions and playing in seven different fantasy football leagues. For the rest of you, TSFJ presents another series highlighting a player. We introduce, "Get To Know Her." But first, let's catch up on what's been happening in the WNBA.
The best two teams at this juncture are the Las Vegas Aces (13-5) and the Connecticut Sun (12-6). However, the top eight teams--those who would be in the playoffs if they started today--are only separated by three games. There is no time to coast to the postseason.
Vegas was expected to be excellent with the addition of Liz Cambage. Trading for her right before the season started bolstered a roster that already had the aforementioned Wilson, as well as guards Jackie Young and Kelsey Plum. Cambage is a fulcrum for everything head coach Bill Laimbeer—who played a similar role when he was in the NBA—wants the Aces to do on offense and defense. She's super skilled and an imposing presence in and out of the paint. She may be enough to bring Vegas the championship, but other teams like the Sun and Mystics are not far behind.
Cambage and Delle Donne have certainly been among the league's best this year. Especially Delle Donne, who's flirting with a 50-40-90 season for the second-place Mystics. Other names who are in running for MVP: Phoenix's Britney Griner, Connecticut's Jonquel Jones (you will see a feature on her down the line) and Seattle's Natasha Howard are among those women who have stood out this year. With less than half of the games remaining, those four All-Star players along with others will determine playoff seeding.
The Mercury have been without Diana Taurasi and the Storm have been without Sue Bird so far this season. Two of the best and most accomplished pro athletes of all time have been sidelined with an injury. Bird and Taurasi are delights to watch, evidenced by their duel in last year's playoffs. But the WNBA is strong without them. I've mentioned many of the MVP candidates. But even this year's rookies have come in making an impact. Dallas's Arike Ogunbowale, Minnesota's Naphesa Collier (an All-Star reserve this year) and New York's Asia Durr were three outstanding college players in their careers and have had a better transition to the pros. The point is, just like in the NBA, the younger players are more and more skilled coming in. The WNBA is in good hands and when living legends like Taurasi and Bird do eventually walk away for good, there will still be plenty of talent throughout the league.
Hopefully, this primer will help initiate you into the rest of the season. Enjoy the WNBA, folks.
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