2017 WNBA Preview: Lynx, Sparks in top tier

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 20: Rebekkah Brunson
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 20: Rebekkah Brunson /
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UNCASVILLE, CT – MAY 2: Morgan Tuck
UNCASVILLE, CT – MAY 2: Morgan Tuck /

Scrappy with postseason ambition

Connecticut Sun

So, remember how the Connecticut Sun went 8-4 to close the 2016 season, just barely missing the playoffs? You know, they had the fifth-best defense following the non-existent All-Star break? We get to see that team in full form from the opening tip! Sort of.

Chiney Ogwumike will miss the 2017 WNBA season, which is awful news. When healthy, she’s among the elite players in this league. The Sun will have to once again make way behind a strong defense and teamwork-driven offense.

This doesn’t sound too convincing, but I wouldn’t be shocked at all if this team made the postseason, or even outperformed a team like the Mercury. They’ve got a ton of pieces to like. Lynetta Kizer and Jonquel Jones are two bigs that bring unique skillsets to the table. Guards Courtney Williams and Jasmine Thomas are stingy defensively. A healthy Rachel Banham’s going to get buckets.

Dallas Wings

It’s kind of insane for a team with Skylar Diggins and Glory Johnson to be this far down, but the Wings have a lot to answer for in the youth and defense departments. They’ll need draft picks—Evelyn Akhator, Allisha Gray and Kaela Davis, among others—to become legitimate WNBA players overnight. They’ll need defense to come from… somewhere. The Wings will also need to stay healthy, and hope their stars are truly 100% and ready to carry this team.

In my mind, the realistic route for this Dallas team to make the Playoffs is by running. A lot. Diggins can push the pace like few others, Johnson runs the floor well, and young players perform better when they’re out in transition. Making every game a barnburner should suit the Wings well.

Chicago Sky

How well this team does is entirely dependent on first-time head coach Amber Stocks. From an on-paper standpoint, the Sky have enough talent for a run at the playoffs and even a first-round win. Stefanie Dolson has a bag of tricks. Cappie Pondexter still gets buckets. Jessica Breland and Tamara Young are extremely difficult to try and score on. Allie Quigley and Courtney Vandersloot remain a nasty guard combo, and if Imani Boyette can avoid foul trouble, watch out.

How do all these names fit, though? If Stocks takes a page from her former team, the Sparks, and implements some crafty offense that runs through the skilled Dolson with spacing and defense around her, that could make for a challenging team to deal with. Problem is some players are going to need to live with reduced roles and buy into what Stocks is cooking up. We’ll just have to wait and see.