2017 WNBA Preview: Lynx, Sparks in top tier

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 20: Rebekkah Brunson
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 20: Rebekkah Brunson /
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WASHINGTON, DC –  MAY 8: Ally Malott
WASHINGTON, DC –  MAY 8: Ally Malott /

Contenders, but not the Lynx or Sparks

Washington Mystics

This tier is for the teams that should have a good shot at making the Finals, but unfortunately the Lynx and Sparks exist. That doesn’t mean an upset is impossible, but unlikely.

The Mystics will be a tough out because they may end up with the league’s best offense—ever. Seriously. The talent on that end between Elena Delle Donne, Emma Meesseman, Toliver, Tayler Hill, Ivory Latta and others is ridiculous. Head coach Mike Thibault’s going to put together some crafty stuff, and even if this team doesn’t click right away, at some point they will, and that’ll be scary.

Defense is a serious issue, though. LaToya Sanders is out for the season, and Washington’s core pieces aren’t known for their defense. They’ll skate by the regular season without being able to stop the best teams, but these flaws will rear their heads big time in the postseason, hence being relegated behind the Lynx and Sparks.

New York Liberty

The Liberty dealt their starting center, got added guard help, are healthier compared to this time last year, are going to run more, but everything should turn out about the same. We know what to expect from this team: a strong regular season record behind Tina Charles and a commitment to 90’s-era defense and rebounding. Some of the smaller pieces have shifted but New York’s essence remains.

The question for the Liberty in trying to reach that next level is where they can get consistent and reliable offense. Last season, they ranked 10th in halfcourt offense per Synergy Sports. Getting out in transition more will help, but Epiphanny Prince needs to look like 2015 Epiphanny Prince again coming off injury, and Sugar Rodgers needs to add more to her off-the-dribble game. Young pieces like Rebecca Allen or Kiah Stokes could step up to take on some of this load.