Monday, June 26, 2017
WNBA...No surprises at the top so far. -- MONDAY CARDINAL COUPLE
As the WNBA rolls into the dozen games played mark of their season, a look at the standings offers no real surprises at the top so far. Atop the standings are the Minnesota Lynx with an 11-1 record. The Lynx came in second in 2016...losing the best of five championship series to the Los Angeles Sparks. The Sparks are, coincidentally, in second place with a 9-3 record.
For the Lynx, Sylvia Fowles and Maya Moore lead the way...which is no big surprise either. Along with Lindsey Whalen, Seimone Augustus and Rebekka Brunson are also big factors in Minnesota's success...all but Whalen are averaging double figures in scoring...and she is at almost nine points a game. They all average over 24 minutes a game for the Lynx and pose a multi-dimensional threat to anyone who faces them. Only the Connecticut Sun have claimed a victory over them...although the next two games see them on the road in Phoenix and LA and could be challenges.
The L.A. Sparks have Nneka Ogwumike, Candace Parker and Chelsea Gray leading the way...all above 15.0 p.p.g. and that's as good of a threesome as you'll find in the league. Complimented by Alana Beard, Odyssey Sims and Essence Carson...L.A. doesn't seem to be missing Kristi Tolliver all that much from last year. Tolliver, meanwhile has been one of the factors that has gotten the Mystics off to a good start. Indiana, Atlanta and Dallas have hung losses on the Sparks...but none of these were by more than six points.
So, have these two become the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers of the WNBA?
Washington might argue that...along with New York. Those two hold third and fourth places with five losses each. The Mystics have one more win that the Liberty and the big news in D.C. is the arrival of Elena Della Donne. Washington probably has to be wondering what life would be like if they didn't have to play Minnesota...two of their five defeats have come at the hands of the Lynx. Phoenix is 7-5 also...the story there is, of course...Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi. Griner leads the league with 23.1 p.p.g. and Tauasi is sixth in scoring.
Out of the other seven squads...Dallas, Connecticut and Seattle are playing .500 basketball. Indiana is close to that at 6-7 while the Atlanta Dream, obviously feeling the effects of no Angel McCoughtry, are 5-6.
That gets us to the doormats of the league...Chicago (3-10) and San Antonio (0-14). The Stars only need to lose six more games in a row to equal the league's worst losing streak...put up by Tulsa in 2011. Welcome to the WNBA...Kelsey Plum.
Four players are averaging over 20 points per game. We mentioned Griner earlier...behind her are Fowles (21.0), Tina Charles (20.5) and Ogwumike (20.3). Della Donne is knocking at the door with 19.3.
Now that the conference system has been scrapped in terms of playoff eligibility and the top eight teams wherever make the playoffs...if played today, the "odd teams out" would be Indiana, Atlanta, Chicago and San Antonio.
A pleasant and maybe unsuspected surprise this season has been 6'6" Jonquil Jones and her play for the Connecticut Sun. Jones was impressive at George Washington University during her college days...no doubt...but the second-year pro has doubled her points and rebounding average from last year and leads the WNBA in grabs.
Morgan Tuck just might find herself out of a job when she returns from injury...