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2020 WNBA energy rankings — Seattle Storm exchange Washington Mystics at No. 1

Once we posted our preliminary 2020 Wnba Energy Rankings after the league’s draft in April, there was no certainty there could be a season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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There are nonetheless hurdles and questions forward, however the plan is in place now: The Wnba will play at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, from July to October, with a 22-game common season and commonplace playoffs.

June 24 was technically the deadline for gamers to announce whether or not they’re taking part in or opting out for 2020. However there would possibly nonetheless be extra roster motion if gamers are deemed medically exempt based mostly on pre-existing circumstances, or if extra gamers check optimistic and might’t be a part of their groups in time for the beginning of the season.

Listed here are our up to date rankings based mostly on the present rosters by way of Monday.

1. Seattle Storm

Final yr: 18-16, misplaced in second spherical

The Storm will not have coach Dan Hughes. A medical evaluation put Hughes, who’s 65 and battled most cancers final yr, as being at the next danger ought to he contract the coronavirus. However assistant Gary Kloppenburg stepped into the top teaching function final yr whereas Hughes was out after surgical procedure. So, will probably be a well-known scenario for Kloppenburg and the gamers as he steps into that job once more, this time for the entire season.

Apart from Hughes, the gang is just about again collectively just like the 2018 title group, with Breanna Stewart and Sue Fowl coming back from accidents that stored them out in 2019. Supplied everybody at present on the roster performs, the Storm can have star energy and depth, and so they’ll get a take a look at Australia’s Ezi Magbegor. The 6-foot-Four put up participant was the No. 12 decide within the 2019 draft however did not play within the WNBA final season. Final rating: 2

2 Los Angeles Sparks

Final yr: 22-12, misplaced in semifinals

Two veterans — Chiney Ogwumike and Kristi Toliver — have introduced they will not play this season. Final yr was Ogwumike’s first with the Sparks alongside her sister, Nneka. And Toliver, who gained the 2016 WNBA championship with the Sparks, was returning to Los Angeles after being in Washington the final three seasons, successful the title in 2019.

However Nneka Ogwumike, Candace Parker and Chelsea Grey are the perfect of constructing blocks, and we’ll see what newcomers to the Sparks — corresponding to Seimone Augustus, a Lynx legend who made a troublesome resolution to depart as a free agent, and youthful gamers corresponding to Brittney Sykes and Kristine Anigwe — can convey to Los Angeles. Final rating: 3

3. Washington Mystics

Final yr: 26-8, WNBA champions

Two starters from the title group — Natasha Cloud and LaToya Sanders — will not play in 2020. Kristi Toliver went to Los Angeles (and can be sitting out). At this level, we’re nonetheless ready to listen to about 2019 season MVP Elena Delle Donne, who has a historical past of Lyme illness and required offseason again surgical procedure. Suffice to say the Mystics will look totally different — particularly if Delle Donne would not play.

Nonetheless, with veterans Tina Charles and Essence Carson becoming a member of the Mystics, 2019 WNBA Finals MVP Emma Meesseman and Ariel Atkins coming again, and the debut of Kiara Leslie, a rookie who was injured and did not play final yr, there can be a brand new vibe in D.C. That might be a great way to comply with up the good chemistry of final yr, which might have been exhausting to duplicate even with the identical personnel. Final rating: 1

4. Las Vegas Aces

Final yr: 21-13, misplaced in semifinals

One factor the Aces actually did not need to lose was perimeter capturing, however they did with Kelsey Plum being out for the season with an Achilles damage. She had a robust playoff run final season, and the Aces will miss her.

Angel McCoughtry is the most important addition; the longtime Atlanta guard/ahead was out final season (knee) and is keen to play once more and make an influence on her new franchise.

The within duo of A’ja Wilson and Liz Cambage is among the greatest tandems within the league, and ahead Dearica Hamby turned a a lot larger issue final yr. Las Vegas can be relying on that trio so much. The Aces appear a bit guard-heavy, but nonetheless won’t be an awesome 3-point capturing group. Kayla McBride will paved the way on the perimeter, and we’ll see how final yr’s No. 1 draft decide, Jackie Younger, has progressed. Final rating: 5

5. Connecticut Solar

Final yr: 23-11, misplaced in Finals

Put up participant Jonquel Jones is sitting out the season, and that is a really large loss. However it might present a chance for rookie put up Beatrice Mompremier, who was drafted by the Sparks, was minimize, after which was signed by Connecticut. Two different starters from the WNBA’s runner-up group a yr in the past — Shekinna Stricklen and Courtney Williams — are gone to Atlanta. However Alyssa Thomas and Jasmine Thomas have change into rocks for Connecticut, and so they’re again.

Connecticut undoubtedly helped itself by signing DeWanna Bonner, a prized free agent who has beforehand spent her profession in Phoenix. Briann January additionally got here from Phoenix, and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis from Seattle, to assist shore up the Solar’s perimeter sport. And rookie Kaila Charles can be wanting to show herself. Final rating: 4

6. Phoenix Mercury

Final yr: 15-19, misplaced in first spherical

Guard Diana Taurasi turned 38 in June, and was restricted to 6 video games final season due to accidents. Throughout the USA Basketball faculty exhibition video games, she stated she was feeling higher however did not need to push issues. How wholesome is Taurasi now? Even in a extra restricted capability than we’re used to seeing her, she will have an effect due to how a lot confidence she conjures up in her teammates.

The Mercury will revolve round heart Brittney Griner. However Bonner, January and Leilani Mitchell have gone elsewhere. New faces like Skylar Diggins-Smith, particularly, and Bria Hartley, Jessica Breland and Kia Vaughn all will be contributors. Of final yr’s three rookies, Brianna Turner had essentially the most influence and will proceed to construct on that. Sophie Cunningham would possibly convey extra constant capturing, and Alanna Smith would possibly be capable to present extra of her abilities than in 2019, when she was slowed by damage. Final rating: 7

7. Chicago Sky

Final yr: 20-14, misplaced in second spherical

How a lot additional will Diamond DeShields, who led the Sky in scoring final season, progress? Can she step ahead to be a very elite, go-to participant each sport? How will Azurá Stevens adapt with the Sky after coming from Dallas, the place she was injured most of final season? How concerning the influence of veteran Jantel Lavender? She was a stable contributor when she got here to the Sky final yr, however her season was minimize brief resulting from damage.

How large a presence will rookie Ruthy Hebard be? And what of Gabby Williams, who has needed to fill in gaps wherever wanted? Is that her true worth, or would she be higher in a extra constant function at one spot? There are loads of questions with the Sky, however all of the solutions might be good. And so they nonetheless have the veteran backcourt of Courtney Vandersloot and Allie Quigley. Final rating: 6

8. Minnesota Lynx

Final yr: 18-16, misplaced in first spherical

Sylvia Fowles, 34, is the one starter from the newest Lynx champions, in 2017, nonetheless taking part in with the group. The Lynx are in a transition stage that each one dynasties should undergo sooner or later. Final yr there have been vibrant spots in that course of — none larger than Napheesa Collier, who earned league Rookie of the 12 months honors.

This yr, the Lynx drafted one other younger put up participant who they hope adjusts shortly to the professional sport in South Carolina’s Mikiah Herbert Harrigan, and so they additionally picked level guard Crystal Dangerfield from UConn. However the Lynx’s main scorer from final season, guard Odyssey Sims, is out on being pregnant go away. Offense, as soon as in abundance in Minnesota, now can be extra of a problem. How a lot newcomers to the Lynx like Shenise Johnson, Rachel Banham, Kayla Alexander and Megan Huff will add stays to be seen. Final rating: 9

9. Indiana Fever

Final yr: 13-21

There’s a lot to be optimistic about with the Fever, who’re below a brand new coach in Marianne Stanley, contemporary off a championship season as an assistant in Washington. They drafted Lauren Cox out of Baylor and Kathleen Doyle from Iowa, and each might be contributors this yr. They’ve again Victoria Vivians, who had a great rookie season in 2018 however missed final yr with a knee damage. Teaira McCowan, faculty teammates with Vivians at Mississippi State, has so much to construct on from her good rookie yr in 2019.

In her third WNBA season, possibly Kelsey Mitchell can take her sport up one other degree. Veteran Candice Dupree, who turns 36 in August, simply appears to maintain on going. Erica Wheeler had a breakout efficiency as MVP on the 2019 All-Star Recreation, and had her greatest all-around season final yr. If all goes properly, you may see the Fever grabbing a playoff spot. Final rating: 10

10. Atlanta Dream

Final yr: 8-26

Two key gamers are sitting out the season, and each are former UConn standouts: Renee Montgomery determined to give attention to social points, and Tiffany Hayes stated she felt it was in her greatest curiosity to not play. Plus, Brittney Sykes was traded to Los Angeles. All of which suggests the Dream do not have their prime three scorers from final season. And so they misplaced Angel McCoughtry, the longtime face of the franchise, to Las Vegas, though she did not play final season resulting from a knee damage.

Elizabeth Williams is the main returning scorer from final yr. The Dream have picked up gamers who, like Williams, ought to be capable to assistance on each side of the court docket, together with Courtney Williams and Shekinna Stricklen, who got here from Connecticut, Glory Johnson from Dallas and Kalani Brown from Los Angeles. Lots is totally different from final yr, however contemplating the Dream had the league’s worst document in 2019, that is most likely a great factor. Final rating: 8

11. Dallas Wings

Final yr: 10-24

This group actually might be enjoyable to look at, even when it has anticipated rising pains. The Wings have three first-round draft picks in Satou Sabally, Bella Alarie and Tyasha Harris, all of whom have talent units that Dallas was searching for, plus have the sort of aggressive mindset the group wished, too.

Katie Lou Samuelson, the No. Four decide by Chicago final yr who averaged simply 7.6 minutes per sport with the Sky, was traded to the Wings and might hit the reset button. If she will be the 3-point shooter Dallas is hoping for, she can be a weapon. Arike Ogunbowale, taken one spot behind Samuelson within the 2019 draft, already has confirmed how properly she has adjusted to the professional sport. She was a robust candidate for Rookie of the 12 months final season as Dallas’ main scorer. The Wings would possibly nonetheless be placing items collectively this season, however there’s an opportunity they may blossom within the subsequent few years. Final rating: 11

12. New York Liberty

Final yr: 10-24

No group is available in with fewer exterior expectations than the Liberty, regardless of having No. 1 draft decide Sabrina Ionescu. That is as a result of she’s one in every of seven rookies on the bottom flooring of a rebuilding course of below new coach Walt Hopkins. Then there are Kia Nurse, who’s in her third season, and Asia Durr, who’s in her second.

Even the participant with essentially the most expertise within the league — Layshia Clarendon, who’s coming into her eighth WNBA season — is new to the Liberty. The longest-tenured Liberty participant is Amanda Zahui B., who’s coming into her fifth season taking part in for New York. So Hopkins won’t have a very clean slate, however it’s as shut as any new coach might get. Outdoors of Ionescu, essentially the most intriguing of the Liberty’s rookies might be Megan Walker, who bypassed her senior season at UConn to go professional. Final rating: 12

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2020 WNBA energy rankings — Seattle Storm exchange Washington Mystics at No. 1


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