Training camps are heating up across the WNBA
One of the most interesting times on the WNBA calendar is the brief preseason that occurs after the draft and before opening night. Most professional sports leagues give their rookies and newly signed players more than just a few weeks to get acquainted, but these young players are challenged immediately to step up their game.
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With players returning from overseas, teams are already having to make roster cuts. Based on what we have seen with our own eyes and heard from team reporters, this years’s camps have been incredibly competitive, which bodes well for the future quality of play, but will leave many deserving players on the sidelines.
Let the battles begin
So who might be on the way out? Some teams are better off than others, but there are a few camps that we have our eyes on specifically when it comes to their upcoming decisions.
Too much of a good thing in LA
The Los Angeles Sparks picked up a haul in the draft, with Jasmine Walker, Stephanie Watts, and Arella Guirantes joining the team. The Sparks also brought in veteran players Nia Coffey and Bria Holmes in the offseason. The biggest question for LA is whether team need should be prioritized over talent.
Derek Fisher’s squad desperately needs three-point shooting, something Watts can provide better than other roster hopefuls. Despite having much more depth in the front court than the back court, I cannot see an opening for Coffey to get a spot over a younger player.
Guirantes is the fascinating variable, as she has insane talent but inexplicably fell to pick 22 in the draft. She has yet to report to training camp for undisclosed reasons, but it will be interesting to see if she can play well enough to warrant cutting another proven vet to open up a final spot.
International affairs in the Big Apple
Some of New York’s biggest questions might not be answered in a timely fashion, as they have a plethora of players still playing overseas in addition to international athletes like Han Xu and Marine Johannès who could have Olympic commitments to tend to before joining the squad later in the season.
For now, it will be a few undrafted players battling it out to show the young Liberty coaching staff that they deserve a spot over the veteran talent. Two players specifically are Janelle Bailey from from UNC and Jasmine Bailey out of the University of Illinois at Chicago. Both players have an immense range of offensive skills, Janelle on the blocks and Jasmine pretty much everywhere else, but making the W as an undrafted player is a very difficult task. From my count there were less than fifteen 3rd round picks and undrafted players on rosters at the end of the 2020 season, and so the Baileys will have to be special the next few days/weeks if they want to survive with the Liberty.
The other 10 teams will have similar roster debates, but these quarrels mean one important thing: the WNBA season is almost here. A competitive camp means a competitive regular season, and that is all we can ask for as fans.