2017 WNBA Preview: Lynx, Sparks in top tier

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 20: Rebekkah Brunson
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 20: Rebekkah Brunson /
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ST. PAUL, MN – MAY 5: Tiffany Hayes
ST. PAUL, MN – MAY 5: Tiffany Hayes /

The rest

Atlanta Dream

They don’t have Angel McCoughtry in 2017. That about sums up why they fall in this tier. Last year, the Dream as a whole were outscored by 2.6 points per 100 possessions. With McCoughtry on the floor, they were a net positive.

It’s not that the rest of Atlanta’s roster or their coaching is awful. There are a ton of players to love. Elizabeth Williams improving on last year will be awesome. Tiffany Hayes plays harder than 99% of the league. Layshia Clarendon brings another steady point guard campaign. It’s just hard to see how this will be enough.  

Indiana Fever

Speaking of losing star players, Indiana enters a season without Tamika Catchings for the first time since… hold on… give me a second here… 2002. Good god.

Now, Briann January is the Fever’s best player. She’s a really good player, but she still has to prove she can carry a team offensively without a dropoff in her defense, which was best in the league in points per possession, per Synergy. Instead, I’d watch out for development from the Fever’s young guards—Erica Wheeler and Tiffany Mitchell.

The former broke out early last season, emerging in the starting lineup thanks to her lightning quickness. Mitchell enters her sophomore campaign looking to find some ground after an up-and-down freshman season. New head coach Pokey Chatman is not one to be overlooked, but she’ll need more to work with before putting real dents in the win column.

San Antonio Stars

Very young, very rebuilding, very early to be wishing for a strong season. Granted, one WNBA coach suggested their young pieces could lead to a bit of a surprise year. However, it’s not as simple as San Antonio having studs on its roster. Fitting them together is going to be interesting.

Moriah Jefferson and 2017 first overall pick Kelsey Plum play the same position—point guard. Kayla McBride is another young backcourt player who often had the ball in her hands. Defensive matchups are going to be a constant struggle.

This will likely end up being a learning and maturing year for the Stars. They’ve got other interesting pieces like Kayla Alexander, but it’s a bit too soon to expect many wins from the silver and black.