It pained me to not have these two occupying the hammer spot, so I kinda did it anyway. Former UConn teammates, Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi are old-heads of the WNBA and won three chips a piece.
Bird steers her ship with a steady hand. The WNBA’s elder stateswoman doesn’t get buckets like she used to, but she’s Seattle’s all-time leading scorer and finished second in the league in assists last year.
You ever watch one of those old horror movies where the villain just keeps coming back no matter how many times you think they’re dead? That’s Diana Taurasi. She’s a stone-cold killer. Michael Jordan stands as the aptest comparison for Taurasi, both widely considered the best to ever play their sport with the title hardware to match.
Taurasi enters the twilight of her career but hasn’t shown signs of slowing down. In 2018, she averaged the third-most points per game in the WNBA and put up her third-highest win share out of her 14-years in the league.
However, Bird might miss the entire regular season and Taurasi is out until sometime in July. I still attest they’re their teams’ most important pieces, but can’t put them here in good conscience.
Seattle Storm — Natasha Howard
The injury gods didn’t make it easy for the returning champs. With reigning MVP Breanna Stewart out for the year with a torn Achilles and Bird’s knee scope, Seattle will have to… *slides sunglasses down bridge of nose, makes five seconds of intense, uninterrupted eye contact*…weather the storm without them. That starts with Natasha Howard.
The team’s defensive onus falls onto her, where she will have to be the new backbone. While Howard doesn’t have the versatility or playmaking Stewart does, it’ll be her job to step into the void. The frontcourt vacancy opens up 15 field goal attempts and over eight rebounds to grab per night.
They’ll be there on a first come, first serve basis for Howard.
Phoenix Mercury — Brittney Griner
Even with Taurasi out, the Mercury position themselves as the preseason title favorites. That’s mostly due to the existence of Brittney Griner.
At 6-foot-9, Griner literally stands above the rest of the league and is an absolute beast. While being the only center to ever win the scoring crown, she owns basically every block record there is by leading the league in swats in all her six seasons.
This season will bring more of the same plus carrying an added scoring load in Taurasi’s absence. An MVP campaign isn’t out of the question for the Mercury center.