Our WNBA 2021 season preview with title predictions, MVP picks, and more

Our massive WNBA preseason roundtable includes projections for all of the league’s big questions.

As the WNBA participates its 25 th season, it may seem like the tournament has never had more talent than it does today. It is hyper-competitive simply to make a roster on each of the 12 teams. At this point, it fees like the W could add several more squads via expansion and still have plenty of star-power to go around.

The WNBA returns to home arenas this year after expend last season in the bubble wubble. The Seattle Storm enter the year as defending champions, and will be searching for their third title in four years. Storm forward Breanna Stewart is on her course to becoming one of “the worlds largest” accomplished musicians in the history of the athletic, while ex-serviceman degree guard Sue Bird remains a steady flooring general as she participates her 18 th season.

If the Storm are the favorites, there are no shortage of contestants. The Washington Mystics, Las Vegas Superstar, and Chicago Sky are becoming popular picks to win it all at the end of the season.

Before the 2021 WNBA season gets underway, we questioned our staff to predict how this year will go. Picks are being made by Sabreena Merchant, Sydney Umeri, Ricky O’Donnell, Brady Klopfer, Cat Ariail, Zack Ward, Eric Nemchock, and Jim Savell. For continued coverage of the WNBA all season, follow our excellent women’s basketball community Swish Appeal.

Which team are likely to be the must-watch this year?

Cat: The Indiana Fever. Yes, the team that finished last-place in Swish Appeal’s preseason power rankings. However, if all interrupts right, Indy could emerge as a super-fun, young squad. There’s a scenario where Kelsey Mitchell is a surefire All-Star, Teaira McCowan makes the leap many have been waiting on, Victoria Vivians strokes it from deep, Kysre Gondreszick glints like a lottery pick and vets Jantel Lavender and Danielle Robinson support steady leadership, and just enough defense. The alternative scenario — where the Fever’s talent deficit resigns them to the WNBA cellar — is still intriguing. While I think we all want to see Tamika Catchings succeed as general manager, a disappointing season has to raise questions about the direction of the franchise. Will Indiana stand behind Catchings or make changes within the organization’s decision-making structure?

Sydney: The Las Vegas Aces. They are looking very strong this season, and they’re a squad you won’t want to miss. Last season they were runner-ups to the Seattle Storm, and they didn’t even have everyone available to play. With Liz Cambage back after opting out of the 2020 season and Kelsey Plum fully recovered from her achilles hurt, they will be fun to watch. They are also returning their core including, Tamera Young, Dearica Hamby, and A’ja Wilson; not to mention, they now have Chelsea Gray.

Ricky: The Chicago Sky. Chicago already had one of the most exciting squads in the tournament even before adding Candace Parker in free agency. Veteran point picket Courtney Vandersloot is the league’s pinnacle facilitator, Diamond DeShields feels primed for a breakout season at age-2 6, and Azura Stevens is an inside-out scoring threat in the front courtroom. The Sky have a great mix of established veterans and burgeoning young aptitude, and it feels like Parker could be the missing piece to tie it all together.

Jim: The New York Liberty. Sabrina Ionescu and Asia Durr playing together combined with the arrival of Natasha Howard make the Liberty quite an intriguing team. The Liberty shot 602 3-point shots last-place season and that should continue to be a part of their offensive gameplan. If they build more than the 27 percentage they did last-place season, the Liberty might is still in the playoff hunting.

Sabreena: Any crew that has Chennedy Carter, Aari McDonald, and Courtney Williams in the same backcourt is must-see for me. If anything, the fact that the Atlanta Dream lost their head coach less than two weeks before the start of the season attains them most interesting because Carter and McDonald are just going to be given the ball and asked to go to work. The Dream also have LaChina Robinson and Angel Gray on the League Pass broadcast, so they’ve got everything going for them.

Brady: The Chicago Sky. The Sky have every ingredient you want for recreation. Candace Parker is one of the best players in league history, and still good for several highlightings a darknes. Courtney Vandersloot is the best passer in the league, with an assistance rate in 2020 that nearly doubled the next-best player. Diamond DeShields are likely to be the best pure player in the league. Beyond that, the government has dynamics that could fill up the drama, recreation, and intrigue barrooms. Parker’s an all-time great, but her squads have had their bazaar share of off-court stories and strain in recent years. Vandersloot and her backcourt collaborator, Allie Quiqley, are married. Many predicted a Sky breakout last year, but they finished only 12 -1 0. It’s easy to envisage the Sky purposing the regular season as title favorites, or as a disappointing centre of the pack crew. And they’ll be must-watch TV the whole way.

Zack: The Chicago Sky. Candace Parker on her own makes any team worth watching with her fervour and leadership. The tale of her returning to her hometown of Chicago is so compelling. She has a big personality and fit in in Hollywood, but her return to her roots has disclosed a different, humbler side to her. As a player, Parker proved doubters wrong last year by making the All-WNBA First Team and winning Defensive Player of the Year after struggling with an injury in 2019. She has a chip on her shoulder to prove she can still be one of the best at age 35. And Courtney Vandersloot must have a chip on her shoulder too after all these years of being prevented out of the MVP discussion because she’s a phase guard. She is a unique talent as the only player in the league who can pile up assistances at a prolific rate and her teaming up with Parker only constructs Chicago that much more interesting.

Eric: The Atlanta Dream. Granted, Atlanta is a bit of an unknown quantity participating the season, with former head tutor Nicki Collen accepting a position at Baylor University in the middle of training camp and an overstock of ball-dominant combo guards stimulating the Dream’s potential rotation a complete mystery. It’s that rotation, nonetheless, that shapes Atlanta so tantalizing: 2021 No. 3 overall picking Aari McDonald, who became a national star during Arizona’s implausible run in the NCAA Tournament, joins budding superstars Chennedy Carter and Courtney Williams on a crew brimming with vibrant personality. The jury’s still out on whether or not the Dream will be any good, but they’ll be League Pass favorites regardless.

Which musician will be a household name by the end of the season?

Sydney: Mark my terms Charli Collier will be a name to remember by the end of this season. Though it’s her rookie year, and there might be a bit of a read curve, Collier is extremely talented. She was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 WNBA Draft coming out of the University of Texas as a junior. She is a center/ forward with the ability to stretch defenses and knock down threes when needed, but is also a violence on the glass, finishing with a combination of power and finesse around the rim.

Eric: Kysre Gondrezick. The Fever caused a arouse when they drafted Gondrezick at No. 4 overall, but they clearly see anything in her that they like, so it’d be surprising if she doesn’t get plenty of opportunity to carve out a smudge for herself on a rebuilding Indiana team. She’s already signed a contract with Adidas – according to ESPN’s Nick DePaula, Gondrezick will be the face of Adidas Basketball moving forward – and she’s spoken at length about the importance of branding and affecting benefit of future generations. Gondrezick has yet to play a single time of WNBA basketball, but she’s already on the fast track to widespread visibility.

Ricky: Chennedy Carter. Carter didn’t win Rookie of the Year last-place season( the accolade went to Crystal Dangerfield ), but the 5’9 picket did establish herself the future face of the Atlanta Dream with a terrific all-around debut in the W. Carter is a dynamic three-point shooter, and should be freed up to work off the projectile at times with the arrival of top draft picking Aari McDonald. The Dream might be in disarray after manager tutor Nicki Collen bolted for Baylor, but Carter will give devotees something to cheer about.

Sabreena: Am I too late on Napheesa Collier? It may seem like the publicity develop for Collier is so much softer than other big-name Connecticut prospects. She won Rookie of the Time in 2019, was second-team all-WNBA a year ago, and nearly attains you forget that Maya Moore isn’t in Minnesota right now. Collier feels like she should be the biggest up-and-coming player in the W other than maybe her podcast co-host A’ja Wilson and Breanna Stewart, but Collier is damn good, and if the Lynx surpassed preseason expectancies, she’ll be the reason why.

Cat: Brianna Turner. In the second half of her sophomore season, Turner provided as a needed spark for the then-floundering Phoenix Mercury, with her relentless endeavor and energy translating into All-Defensive honors. She proved specially prolific in grabbing backlashes and swatting shots. Yet, Turner is overshadowed by the multiple starry calls on this Mercury team — Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner, Skylar Diggins-Smith and Kia Nurse. However, if Phoenix approachings their championship aspirations, expect Turner to be integral to their success. Turner likewise deserves more glitter as an perceptive voice in the area of the racial justice.

Zack: Courtney Williams. Williams made a bit of a epithet for herself during the course of its 2019 WNBA Finals when she was a member of the Connecticut Sun, but look for her to become even more well-known this season. She doesn’t often get talked about as one of the best players in the WNBA, but numbers propose she had a case to be in Swish Appeal’s Top 30 players. With career-best medians of 14. 6 phases( 2020 ), 7.2 rebounds( 2020 ), 3.8 assistances( 2019) and 1.4 steals( 2019 ), she deserves more respect and should put up even more significant amounts at age 27 for a Dream team that is looking for other members of its deep listing besides Tiffany Hayes and rising star Chennedy Carter to strengthened in and give them a legit large-scale three.

Jim: Ezi Magbegor. The 2019 first round picking of the Seattle Storm from Australia played her rookie season in 2020 and played 13 minutes per play. With Natasha Howard off to New York, there will be a hole at the center position. The young 6’4” centre scored1 7 levels in 19 minutes in the Storm’s preseason game against the Phoenix Mercury, showing that she is ready to compete for the starting spot.

Brady: Napheesa Collier’s play isn’t quite as flashy as it is valuable, but if you like watching elite-level musicians play, there was still few people who can hold a candle to her. She’s been under-appreciated early in her career as Minnesota tried to retool on the fly for the post-Maya Moore and Lindsay Whalen era. But I suspect the Lynx will be title contenders this year, with Collier on the short list of MVP candidates. And I expect both of those things to be true for most times for the next decade or so.

Who will lead the WNBA in scoring?

Eric: Arike Ogunbowale. Dallas may be more balanced offensively than it was last season, but the roster is still very young, and it will probably be Ogunbowale’s team until proven otherwise. She’s posted massive utilization ratings thus far in her vocation( over 30 percentage in both 2019 and 2020, according to Basketball Reference ), and that was with the Wings playing at a relatively slow speed. If manager tutor Vicki Johnson emphasizes early offense in her first season at the helm, Ogunbowale will get that many more belongings to put the ball in the hoop.

Cat: Breanna Stewart. On firstly instinct, the answer is Dallas Wings’ scoring dynamo Arike Ogunbowale. Yet, the 2021 Wings have a deeper suite of scorers. While it should be expected that an improved Satou Sabally will get more contacts on offense, rookies Chelsea Dungee and Dana Evans also have the potential to fill it up. In contrast, Breanna Stewart will have to usurp a bigger scoring burden on a retooled Seattle Storm crew that features a substantiating casting of younger, still-unproven players and past-their-prime veterinarians. With Jewell Loyd as the only other consistent bucket getter on the Storm, Stewie should turn in many big scoring nights.

Ricky: Arike Ogunbowale. Ogunbowale conducted the WNBA in scoring at 22.8 points per play within the bubble last season, and she will be expected to carry the Dallas Wings again this year. While Ogunbowale put up large-hearted numbers, her scoring efficiency — 41.2 percentage from the field, 33.6 percent from three — foliages her abundance of room for improvement going into this season.

Sabreena: Arike seems like the obvious pick, but I’m going to go with DeWanna Bonner. She was third in scoring last season, but now has a year of playing in Curt Miller’s system under her belt. Bonner will have more offensive responsibility without Alyssa Thomas available and potentially more room to work with now that Jonquel Jones is back, too. Conditions seem ripe for the league’s 19 th-leading scorer of all-time to grab her first scoring name.

Brady: Breanna Stewart. Full disclosure: Ogunbowale should be the odds-on favorite, but Stewart has a very strong case after finishing third a year ago in her first season back after tearing her Achilles. On what figures to be a bad crew with a lot of rookies to develop, it wouldn’t be a shock if Ogunbowale envisions a slight decrease in minutes and persona, as the Wings try and build up her teammates so they can be competitive in 2022. Stewart, on the other hand, will be given the key to the Storm’s car, and also their other automobile, as well as their courtesy auto and golf go-cart.

Zack: Breanna Stewart. She has the edge over Ogunbowale with her ability to post-up and score as a frontcourt player as well as a guard-like perimeter player. Both are incredibly gifted with stellar moves and this is a close call. But expect 2021 to be the year of Stewie and expect that to include the scoring title.

Sydney: Arike Ogunbowale. She was the leading scorer last-place season, and it doesn’t look like anyone will stand in her path and slow her down anytime soon , not even the brand-new additions to the Dallas Wings roster. She is very efficient and ultimately a guard that they are able accurately read defenses, are benefiting from blunders by champions and finish at a high percentage whether she’s slashing to the rim, pulling up in the path, or from beyond the arch.

Jim: Breanna Stewart. The Storm’s roster has changed quite a bit from last-place season and the other top five scorers from last season( Arike Ogunbowale, A’ja Wilson, DeWanna Bonner, and Diana Taurasi) will have more scoring options. Stewart was coming off of an Achilles injury in 2020 and still managed to finish fourth in scoring. Look for her to be a prime number one option for the Storm.

Who will be MVP?

Sabreena: WNBA voters have a very clear “best player on best team” pattern when it comes to awarding the MVP. Not since 2015 has the MVP come from a team that wasn’t the No. 1 seed, and even then, Elena Delle Donne played for the second-seeded Sky. This is something that might come down to who has the best record, and I think that will be the Storm, who are projected to clear the field by three games by FiveThirtyEight. That entails Breanna Stewart should be the MVP for the second time in her job. It’s already been three weeks since Stewart added a trophy to her suit as the 2021 EuroLeague Final Four MVP, so it’s past time she added another one, right?

Eric: Candace Parker. Let’s be honest: MVP is largely a narrative-driven award. Parker may not be as individually dominant as Stewart, Delle Donne, Wilson and other popular MVP picks at this degree in her vocation, but she proved in 2020 that she still has plenty left to contribute to winning basketball. Parker brings defense, rebounding, playmaking and experience to a Chicago team that are necessary every bit of her diverse skillset; if the Sky take the leaping many are expecting of them and finish near the top of the WNBA standings, Parker will likely have a compelling case for MVP.

Jim: I think it comes down to Breanna Stewart and Candace Parker. Stewart will have the stats and, although I anticipate the Storm are generally weaker as a squad than “theyve been” recently, the Storm will be near the top of the standings. Eric’s argument about the accolade being narrative-driven is making. If the Sky finish third or better and Parker remains healthy, look for Parker to take the awarding.

Ricky: Breanna Stewart. Stewart might be on track to become women’s basketball’s GOAT by the time she retires. Still merely 26 year olds, Stewart is already incredibly attained and seems to be firmly in her prime. She successfully recovered from a snap Achilles last year, and immediately led the Storm to a WNBA championship in the bubble. Elena Delle Donne and A’ja Wilson will push her, but Stewart is still the best player alive.

Sydney: Candace Parker. She’s in her hometown, with a new squad and a brand-new structure, but I feel like this will be a dominant year for her. Thirty-five years old and having squander the past 13 seasons in LA, her change to Chicago shocked the basketball world. I feel like Parker, though a veteran, will continue to amaze us on her new crew with many dominant MVP caliber performances. I feel she’ll remind us that the young musicians are great, but even as a ex-serviceman she’s still one of the best in the game.

Brady: Breanna Stewart. Stewart is the best player alive, on a team with a solid opportunity of being the best in the league. That’s a pretty strong formula. Reigning MVP A’ja Wilson could make a push, but her usage might lower a little with Liz Cambage’s return. Elena Delle Donne has the skills to win, but is already hampered by back injuries. Others like Candace Parker, Napheesa Collier, Nneka Ogwumike, Brittney Griner, and Jonquel Jones all have instances, but also obstacles. Stewie has the most straightforward path while, again, already being the best player in the world.

Cat: Napheesa Collier. With A’ja Wilson and Liz Cambage stealing votes from one another on the Las Vegas Aces, Breanna Stewart on a Seattle Storms squad that likely will not match last season’s summits and the Washington Mystics’ Elena Delle Donne working her space back from offseason back surgery, there is a potential MVP void. As the Minnesota Lynx are poised to be near the top of the standings, Napheesa Collier, who finished fifth on last-place season’s MVP ballot, is a strong candidate to fill it. Even as the Lynx have bolstered their listing, it is Collier, with her they are able to credibly play three positions on both ends of the floor, who unlocks the versatility that makes the Lynx a dangerous, championship-caliber team. Collier also should post the raw amounts and wallop metrics requisite of an MVP.

Zack: Breanna Stewart. There really couldn’t be a more perfect storm for Breanna Stewart right now. She’s a little quicker than Elena Delle Donne, who is arguably the second-best player in the world, and more youthful at age 26. She eliminated any beliefs that the Achilles injury in 2019 would lower her grade of play by averaging 19.7 levels and 8.3 rebounds last year en route to a second-place finish in MVP voting. Expect her to win the awarding for the second largest occasion this year.

Let’s talk protection. Which squad will finish No. 1 in defensive efficiency? Who will win Defensive Player of the Time?

Ricky: A’ja Wilson for DPOY. Hotshots conclude with the top protection. Wilson won MVP last season, and is unquestionably one of the top overall abilities in the tournament. The Aces’ defense simply finished behind the Storm last year, and they’re getting Liz Cambage back this season. All signs are pointing to the Aces being a powerhouse, and their size inside is going to be a big part of a reigning protection.

Sabreena: At the risk of reciting everything Ricky just said, the Ace will have the best defense in the conference. They have the bones of the defense that finished atop the tournament in 2019, and get Liz Cambage back in place of Carolyn Swords/ Emma Cannon/ whatever was happening at the 5 last year should help them get back from second place to that perch. As for defensive player of its first year, let’s just say it will go to someone who will likewise appear on one of the league’s all-defense teams.

Brady: There are a million and one good options for DPOY, but I’m prefer Natasha Howard. The last-place time Howard wasn’t fighting for minutes and spotlight next to Breanna Stewart, she almost unanimously won DPOY. She’ll have a tall task righting a Liberty defense that was last in the conference a year ago, but if she can, she’ll be in pole position for the honor. As for crew protection, I’m going with the Lynx. Minnesota wasn’t a good defensive squad last year, but they were lacking Sylvia Fowles for all but seven games. With a hopefully health Fowles, the adds-on of Kayla McBride and Aerial Powers, and a year of growing from Napheesa Collier, they could be elite on that end of the court. Most Cheryl Reeve squads are.

Cat: Sylvia Fowles. In her brief period on the court last-place season, the longtime Minnesota Lynx stalwart flashed DOY form. This season, with less of a burden on offense, Fowles should be able to devote her vigours to anchoring Minnesota’s defense. In 2020, without Fowles, the Lynx’s defensive rating was nearly seven levels worse than the tournament leader, a deviation from season after season of being within two points of the league’s best protection, if not at the top. With a health Fowles, the Lynx should be back in their more familiar defensive stratosphere, and Big Syl might have earned more hardware.

Zack: Elizabeth Williams best defensive musician. Lynx best defensive crew. To me, Williams was the second-best defensive musician in the league last year after Alyssa Thomas, who will miss all of 2021 with a snap Achilles. Thomas stimulated more disruptive plays, but Williams supplied audio fundamental defense on a consistent basis. She likewise averaged 1.4 blocks per game. The Lynx return nine-time All-Defensive player and three-time Defensive Player of the Year Sylvia Fowles from a calf trauma to a team that was fifth in the conference in defensive rating last year. The trio of Fowles, Napheesa Collier and Damiris Dantas in the frontcourt is formidable defensively and I’ll afford it the edge over the backcourt duo of Briann January and Jasmine Thomas in Connecticut.

Eric: The Las Vegas Aces are looking pretty tough defensively. Losing Angel McCoughtry to a knee injury is a big hit for their boundary protection, but they should remain an excellent defensive rebounding crew, and if they produce the WNBA in opponents’ free throw rate by as wide of a perimeter as they did in 2020, their overall defensive efficiency will once again be excellent. As far as Defensive Player of the Time, I think this is Napheesa Collier’s time to be recognized; her versatility and basketball IQ on the defensive end of the floor are unparalleled, and if Sylvia Fowles can stay health enough to contribute her usual stout interior protection, Collier will have all the room she required to wreak havoc elsewhere.

Jim: I like the Minnesota Lynx here with Napheesa Collier to take the Defensive Player of the Year award. The Lynx were fifth last season and I expect the teams who finished in front of them to regress defensively based on roster changes and traumata. Minnesota plays great squad defense and Collier is a versatile defender and “shouldve been” the statistical arguing to back it up by the end of the season.

Give me one bold WNBA prediction

Brady: Is it bold be mentioned that Sabrina Ionescu will be one of the best players in the W? After being one of the most highly-touted expectations in league history a year ago, Ionescu struggled with ankle traumata and played merely three games. In essence, she’s still a rookie, but she won’t play like one. I’ll say she makes an All-WNBA team.

Cat: The Atlanta Dream will earn a top-five playoff seed. It’s been a good time for interim head coaches in the ATL.( Shout out Nate McMillan !) Despite all of the unexpected turnover within the Dream organization, interim brain tutor Mike Petersen and lead assistant tutor Darius Taylor inherit a team with a ton of talent. Last season’s oft-injured core of Chennedy Carter, Courtney Williams, Elizabeth Williams, Monique Billings and Shekinna Stricklen will welcome back Tiffany Hayes, with No. 3 draft select Aari McDonald and free agents Cheynne Parker, Odyssey Sims and Tianna Hawkins highlighting the new arrivals. If Petersen and Taylor can get all these unfamiliar faces to coalesce into a team, the Dream should be in the middle of the playoff picture.

Eric: Teaira McCowan will win Most Improved Player. Though the criteria for this award aren’t exactly clear, the young Fever center seems like a good nominee to earn it; she struggled to stay on the floor in 2020, but her per-minute stats remained impressive, and with Indiana overhauling its frontcourt in free organization, McCowan seems to be in line for more times and a consistent starting persona. If she improves her defensive mechanics enough to stay in the good graces of brain coach Marianne Stanley, McCowan could realistically average a double-double, which would commit her a good contention for Most Improved honors.

Zack: Dallas and New York make the playoffs. Charli Collier, Awak Kuier, Chelsea Dungee and Dana Evans will all construct impacts as rookies with Collier and Kuier becoming stars. It’s not unprecedented in the WNBA for top two draft pickings to do so in their first seasons. Arike Ogunbowale and Satou Sabally will also play well and Dallas won’t have any weak links. Marina Mabrey will remain an X factor. Meanwhile the Liberty will see a big three kind with Natasha Howard, Betnijah Laney and a Sabrina Ionescu who lives up to expectations. Howard will be in contention for an All-WNBA spot and Ionescu’s distributing abilities will induce the Liberty offense operate smoothly so that they are able to bounce back from a 2-20 campaign.

Sabreena: The Mystics fall off. The expectation seems to be that Washington will be right back in the argue class now that all of the players who opted out in 2020 are back, but I don’t think it’ll be that easy. Elena Delle Donne won’t be ready to start the season, Emma Meesseman won’t be coming until after the Olympic break at a very early, and Alysha Clark won’t suit up at all. Tina Charles is a damn good succour prize with all those musicians at less than full strength, and Natasha Cloud has shown the ability to lead a championship team, but there’s enough skepticism that I don’t remember the Mystics can be penciled in alongside the Storm, Aces, Sky, or even the Lynx depending on when Collier gets back.

Jim: The Indiana Fever ultimately shape the playoff leap. The Fever have drafted some of the very best young talent to leave college over the last few years. However, that potential has not translated to success on special courts, averaging only 8.5 wins over the past four seasons. As psyche coach Marianne Stanley enters her second season, look for the Fever to be much improved and fighting for spot in the playoffs.

Ricky: Dallas attains the playoffs. The Wings have missed the postseason each of the last two seasons, but they’re too talented to do it again. Dallas has one of the league’s top scorers in Arike Ogunbowale, while 6’4 forward Satou Sabally could turn into a ace in her second season. Dallas also had three of the first five selects in the 2021 draft, adding Charli Collier and Awak Kuier to the front tribunal, and Chelsea Dungee to the backcourt. They’re ready to crash the playoffs.

Sydney: The Atlanta Dream will construct the playoffs. This is definitely a bold prophecy is of the view that the team is in flux. They are under brand-new owned, have an interim manager coach-and-four since Nicki Collen took the head coaching job for Baylor women’s basketball 11 days before the start of the season. The street to the start of the season hasn’t been a straight shot for the Dream, and yet I feel like this team has the heart to do what most people think they can’t. From Chennedy Carter to Aari McDonald, Elizabeth Williams, and the whole squad, I think there’s a chance for them to stimulate the postseason despite their circumstances.

What’s your Finals prediction?

Sabreena: Until it happens, I can’t assure the Storm being vanquished. They have Stewie, and that’s a better starting point than anyone else. Here’s hoping they get to play the Ace in a rematch of both teams at full strength.

Eric: Mystics over Whiz. Washington may strive out of the gate with Elena Delle Donne recovering from a back hurt and Emma Meesseman competing internationally with Belgium, but if both of those players are back in the crease by the time the playoffs roll around, the Mystics will be balanced, competent and experienced. The contrasting offensive philosophies and amount of star power would make this a tremendous series to watch, and accepting both teams will be at their strongest, I imagine Washington will have the firepower to win it all.

Sydney: The Aces win it all. I know, we haven’t seen that happen before, specially since this franchise is just four years old, but their talent cannot be denied. It’s not to say that other crews aren’t talented, but I can see the Aces get hot late in the season and being hard to cool down as long as they abide healthy.

Ricky: Storm over Sky. Seattle is the betting favorite for a reason. The Storm have won the title two of the last three years, and will be going for back-to-back championships for the first time in franchise history. Despite a pair questionable offseason moves, “thats still” a stacked listing led by Stewie, the best player alive. They remain the team to beat.

Cat: Mystics over Whiz. The Washington Mystics may not conclude with the league’s best record during the course of its regular season, but, as long as Emma Messeman returns for the second half of the season and Elena Delle Donne remains healthy, DC has the ingredients needed to survive what promises to be a hyper-competitive championship chase and claim a second trophy in three seasons. With a do-it-all superstar in EDD flanked by several “stars in the role” with playoff suffer — headlined by Messeman, Tina Charles, Natasha Cloud and Ariel Atkins — Washington has the intangibles characteristic of title-winning teams.

Brady: Storm over Lynx. I can see a course to the Finals for eight teams, which forms part of what establishes this tournament so fun. But the Storm have the strongest case, and the most Breanna Stewarts on their team, so I give them the nod to repeat. Choosing an opponent is harder, but I love the construction of Minnesota’s club. The articles fit together seamlessly, there’s talent at every post, and they’ve got a budding superstar in Napheesa Collier. They’re deep and suffered, and to be provided by an all-time great tutor with spate of postseason experience.

Zack: Superstars over Mystics. Despite Angel McCoughtry being out for the season with a rend ACL and a tear meniscus, the Superstar are still the most talented crew in the tournament. The Mystics will prove doubters wrong by being a Top 2 team, but the Hotshots will have too much firepower with A’ja Wilson, Liz Cambage and Chelsea Gray in the Final.

Jim: Hotshots over Lynx. With Liz Cambage back, the season-ending injury to McCoughtry can be weathered. Additionally, the other members of the Ace crew has improved after inducing the WNBA Finals last season. After get swept, look for the Superstar to be on a mission. I like the Lynx to make a big jump this season. The Storm, Mystics, and Sky will be on the cusp but I like the defense of Minnesota to carry them to the finals but come up short to Las Vegas.

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