*Note: With the WNBA regular season ended more than a week ago and the WNBA Playoffs well underway, I know that this post is a bit late. This post is taking a look back on all 12 teams and how they finished post All Star break into the end of the regular season.
The 2017 WNBA regular season came to a close more than a week ago. It was a successful 2017 WNBA season as this season saw more fans attend more games since 2011. It was also one of the most highly social interacted on social media platforms thanks to the Twitter partnership, FanDuel deal and the introduction of the WNBA in a video game in NBA Live 18. There were some memorable moments in the 2017 season and there’s more to look forward to in 2018 as the league continues to grow.
All 12 teams at one point or another save for the San Antonio Stars were in playoff contention at some point in the year and the new playoff format saw teams playing their best until the very end of the regular season which is something that would not have happened under the old format in which teams tended to rest their players the final day.
We now take a look back at all 12 WNBA teams starting from the team to the worst record to the team with the best record post All Star break.
WNBA Team: San Antonio Stars
The San Antonio Stars were much better in the second half of the year in which they not only produced more wins but were more competitive and could have pulled out a few more wins. After struggling through the first 2 months, Stars first pick Kelsey Plum found her groove and played much better in the final months. She was in contention for WNBA Rookie of the Month honors for the month of August. After a slow start, she started coming into form and showed that she can be a great point guard although she still has much to learn. Meanwhile, the other Stars point guard Moriah Jefferson struggled with knee injuries and barely played in the final months and the Stars have not yet updated her status but she should be ready to play next May. The Stars have this off- season to decide whether or not to retain Vicky Johnson and need to upgrade some of the starting lineup so that the Stars can be compete for the playoffs which has not happened since 2014.
WNBA Team: Indiana Fever
The Indiana Fever had a rough second half of the season with many players having season ending injuries and the other players not performing up to their level save for Fever star Candice Dupree and Fever guard Erica Wheeler. When a team often loses their franchise player there are often growing pains and the Fever experienced that as they had a record WNBA loss against the Minnesota Lynx in the second half of the season and failed to make the playoffs in which they used to do regularly. Not all of it was bad however. Tiffany Mitchell had her moments, Shenise Johnson was the team’s leading scorer before she went down with a season ending injury and some of the team’s younger players got a chance to grow for next season. The Fever have work to do in the off- season if they want to get back to the WNBA playoffs next year.
WNBA Team: Atlanta Dream
The Atlanta Dream were a complete mess in the second half of the season. They were mostly hovering around the .500 mark before going on a losing streak which saw them not only lose their shot at the WNBA playoffs but they also lost their shot of drafting a top player next year when they traded for Imani Boyette and Tamera Young in exchange for Jordan Hooper and their 2018 first round pick. Because of the way the Dream finished the season, the first round pick became even more vital. After having 3 WNBA All Stars in the WNBA ASG, the Dream struggled and while rookie Brittney Sykes continued to bloom and was the Rookie of the Month for August and is in contention for Rookie of the Year, the rest of the team took a step back and the Dream management fired head coach Michael Cooper at the end of the disappointing end to what was a promising start. The Dream will get Angel McCoughtry back after she sat out the 2017 season but they also have work to do to get back into the WNBA playoffs for next season.
WNBA Team: Chicago Sky
The Chicago Sky were somewhat respectable in the second half of the season. They had moments where they looked playoff ready and others were they looked like they were lottery bound. It was an up and down second half of the season for the Sky. Courtney Vandersloot and Allie Quigley remain one of the top back court duos in the WNBA and Stefanie Dolson is emerging as a top WNBA forward/center but other than that, the Sky could not get consistency beyond Jessica Breland and therefore was stuck in the dreaded 9th place where a team is good but not great enough for the playoffs. However, the 2018 outlook looks much better as the Sky are the most rich lottery team in terms of first round picks and should have much to look forward to in 2018 as they aim for the WNBA Playoffs.
WNBA Team: Seattle Storm
The Seattle Storm struggled with inconsistency for most of the season but during the second half of the season, the head coach Jenny Boucek was fired as the team was struggling and the team needed new leadership. Interim coach Gary Kloppenburg took control and the Storm seemed to trend in an upward direction as they won four straight and then struggled with inconsistency the rest of the year. However it was good enough to make the WNBA Playoffs which was a goal the organization had in mind and at least for this season was good enough. However, while Storm star Breanna Stewart was great, Jewell Loyd struggled with inconsistency and it showed in games. The Storm bench was not always up to par and so the Storm have work to do and have to address their needs otherwise they maybe a lottery team next season. They also have to address whether or not they will keep Gary Kloppenburg or hire a new head coach altogether.
WNBA Team: Dallas Wings
The Dallas Wings had a stable second half of the season. They mostly hovered around the .500 mark for the second half of the season and were competitive in many games despite their defense being the worst in the league. Skylar Diggins was exceptional for the Wings and the Wings also got help from Glory Johnson, Theresa Plaisance, Allisha Gray, Karima Christmas-Kelly to help them make the playoffs after their move to Dallas last season. Allisha Gray struggled in the second half of the season but still was a solid rookie and in contention for WNBA Rookie of the Year. The Wings with 5 rookies were able to make the playoffs and have much to look forward to in 2018 but must address their defense otherwise they may take a step back next season.
WNBA Team: Washington Mystics
The Washington Mystics did not have a great ending to the 2017 season. Their second half was marred with injuries to key players such as Elena Delle Donne and Natasha Cloud. They were in contention for the #4 overall seed before injuries took a toll and the Mystics lost a couple of games. After a promising start to the season, the Mystics just could not pull it together during the second half of the season and dropped in the standings to the #6 seed. However, it was not all bad for the Mystics. Shatori Walker-Kimbrough showed she can play, Emma Messeman stepped up her game and Krystal Thomas shined. Because of injuries, it is difficult to tell how good the Mystics can be but they will be definitely better next season when all of the key players are healthy and ready to go.
WNBA Team: Phoenix Mercury
The Phoenix Mercury overachieved during the second half of the season. Although they were in contention for the #4 spot along with the Mystics, they dropped a couple of games while Brittney Griner was sidelined. When Griner returned and still one of the best players in the game Diana Taurasi were able to guide the Mercury to win some much needed games and eventually won the #5 seed. The Mercury had a great ending to the season not only due to Griner and Taurasi but Leilani Mitchell, Monique Currie, etc helped. It’s a truly remarkable season for the Mercury as Griner becomes into the top player in the league. The Mercury outlook for 2018 looks bright.
WNBA Team: Connecticut Sun
The Connecticut Sun dropped off a little bit during the second half of the season. They started off and stayed mostly at the #3 seed for majority of the year before some losses dropped them to #4. It was still a great year for the Sun as they not only made the WNBA Playoffs but to do so well with such a young team. Jasmine Thomas and Alyssa Thomas were excellent for the Sun, Jonquel Jones showed why she will be a force in the WNBA and other players helped such as Courtney Williams, Alex Bentley, etc. The Sun exceeded expectations and with that comes new expectations. The 2018 season for the Sun looks very good and they will get back their star who was injured in Chiney Oguwmike.
WNBA Team: New York Liberty
The New York Liberty ended the season on a roll. After hovering near the .500 mark the first half of the season, they managed to win 10 in a row and end up as the #3 seed just like last season. Tina Charles was dominant once again, and the Liberty got solid contributions from Bria Hartley, Shavonte Zellous, and others. After struggling majority of the season, the Liberty turned things around because of their defense and finally played like one of the top teams that they were expected to be. However, the Liberty’s end to the regular season was going to be defined on how they played in the WNBA playoffs after suffering two first round exits the previous two years. (The Liberty’s great end of the season was all for naught, as they once again lost in the first round and have many questions to address including whether or not Bill Laimbeer should continue to be the head coach.) The Liberty are still a top team, but they have their work cut out for them if they want to advance in the playoffs and have great success in 2018.
WNBA Team: Los Angeles Sparks
The Los Angeles Sparks ended the second half of the season on a great note. They managed to stay in contention for the #1 overall seed till the very last day and managed to win the regular season series versus the Lynx two games to one. The defending champions showed that they are still one of the best teams in the WNBA and are on a mission to win the WNBA title again this season. Nneka Oguwmike and Candace Parker are still one of the very best front court duos and Alana Beard’s defence is top notch. Along with that the Sparks have very good guard play in Chelsea Gray and Odyssey Sims plus excellent defence. The Sparks have tough offensive firepower heading into the WNBA Playoffs which will be difficult for any team to stop. The Sparks outlook for 2018 is once again very great as the majority of the team is still young enough for perhaps, another title run next season.
WNBA Team: Minnesota Lynx
The Minnesota Lynx ended the second half of the season after such a strong start in the first half of the season just good enough to secure the overall top seed. They struggled in the second half of the season after losing their point guard Lindsay Whalen to injury. Although Renee Montgomery stepped up in her absence, the Lynx managed to win enough games and the Lynx’s age showed as many of their players just did not have the energy they had during the first half of the season. However, after setting a record start the slide was able to prevent the Sparks from gaining ground and the Lynx managed to stay tough. The Lynx were led by Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus, Rebekkah Brunson, Sylvia Fowles plus their savy vets off the bench. The Lynx are still one of the top teams in the WNBA and it will be tough to stop them come WNBA playoff time. The 2018 outlook for the Lynx is still very good and the Lynx will be yet on another WNBA title chase.
With that, my review of the 2017 season through all 12 teams is completed and with the WNBA Playoffs well underway, there’s still some more endings needed to be written for the 2017 season. Make sure you tune into ESPN2 and catch the exciting playoff games to see who wins the WNBA title this year.