Checking in on the players and stories that are defining this WNBA season

The official Spalding basketball used for the WNBA Western Conference basketball game between the Los Angeles Sparks and the Charlotte Sting on 21st July 1997 at the Charlotte Coliseum, Charlotte, North Carolina, United States. (Photo by Craig Jones/Allsport/Getty Images)
The official Spalding basketball used for the WNBA Western Conference basketball game between the Los Angeles Sparks and the Charlotte Sting on 21st July 1997 at the Charlotte Coliseum, Charlotte, North Carolina, United States. (Photo by Craig Jones/Allsport/Getty Images) /

A new WNBA season is upon us, and many top teams, players, and their stories look to create an exciting world in women’s basketball.

It’s no secret — women’s basketball is in a unique and interesting place. Nothing says it like when the sun starts shining over the meadow during the month of May, and here comes the start of the WNBA Season. Many things have grown and changed since the days of Lisa Leslie, Sheryl Swoops, and the golden days of the LA Sparks and Detroit Shock, but some good things stay the same.

As of right now, the era of the greats is still among us as 15-year veteran Candace Parker and her Las Vegas sit undefeated in the WNBA rankings with an up-and-coming Dallas Wings club joining them. The other top teams are the 4-1 New York Liberty and Connecticut Sun. These teams, of course, had the highest expectations in preseason rankings.

There are many major players, teams, and stories to watch in this 12-team league, and many of them start their day on the floor without any flowers or glamour. Without any flowers or glamour, it’s just one thing: basketball. But of course, there’s the offseason business and all of the things regularly surrounding women’s basketball.

All eyes seem to be on the Indiana Fever. The Fever have the heat — the fever — this season. They have the No. 1 pick, Aliyah Boston from South Carolina and the No. 7 pick Grace Berger who’s from Indiana. Indiana played on WNBA opening night, and Boston got a chance to shine in her pro debut.

The Gamecock product and four-time SEC Defensive Player of the Year looked like a pro as she recorded 15 points and 9 rebounds and almost secured an opening night victory for the Fever. In spite of Boston’s personal victory, the Fever fell to the Connecticut Sun by nine, 70-61. That’s how Boston handled the loss, saying, “It wasn’t a successful rookie debut, just because no matter what my stats are like, it’s a team sport.”

What does Boston’s debut and her empowering words say about the debut of rookies in general and the start of a new WNBA season? What does it say about the veterans and returning players, who shined bright on night one and two weeks into the season? Questions linger about the future and success of the Fever, and while Boston hopes to answer, other teams and players should be on the lookout.

Perhaps, it says that history will be made either way you look at it and we should all be watching. Of course, Boston is used to this type of limelight having played off the heels of A’Ja Wilson, who’s the go-to of the undefeated Aces. It’s likely we’ll be seeing a mix of old and new in the WNBA, which proves the point of the draft in April and everything else that follows after. Hopefully, the experiment works as many old franchises are turning to the new in draft picks like the Minnesota Lynx and Diamond Miller to overturn and flip the WNBA upside down.

WNBA offseason stories

Along with the WNBA Draft, the offseason in the WNBA was busy this year with a state-of-the-art basketball facility in Las Vegas, tons of player movement and the ongoing saga of Brittney Griner.

The Las Vegas Aces have been making headlines since last season when the franchise won a championship, and they are one of the big stories this year. First, comes the announcement of a new practice facility only built usually for its male counterpart sports. It’s the first of its kind, built solely for a WNBA team. At 64,000 square feet, the facility is truly state of the art with two practice courts, a locker room, film room, training and weight rooms, lounge and player areas, and television and gaming rooms all over. The facility is right next to the headquarters of the Las Vegas Raiders in Henderson, Nevada.

The acquisition of veteran Candace Parker kept the Aces in the headlines and will certainly keep them afloat in the regular season. There’s no doubt the sky is the limit for the defending champs Las Vegas Aces again this year as they look to contend. But they’ll have plenty of competition from teams like the Liberty that added two former MVPs in Breanna Stewart and Jonquel Jones, as well as one of the best point guards in league history, Courtney Vandersloot.

The world got its wish over the offseason when Brittney Griner, who’d been detained in Russia for 10 months, was released and made her way back to the United States. The basketball player not only returned to the country, but she returned to the court. Griner returned as a member of the Phoenix Mercury. She led the Mercury in stats in both of their first two games with 18 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists and 27 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 blocks respectively. Since her return home, a word with more meaning than anything right now, all eyes have been on Griner and what’s next.

Predictions after the first two weeks of the WNBA season

It’s two weeks into the season, and the WNBA season is full of unfolding stories. Brittney Griner has gone from an off-the-court story to an on-court one and her return means more to the Mercury and WNBA than anyone will ever know.

It’s hard to make predictions in such an unpredictable world, but everything is sure to be left on the table. There are hopes and dreams of winning it all for many teams. No doubt the hopes are highest for the Las Vegas Aces, New York Liberty, Connecticut Sun, and newcomers like the Dallas Wings and Washington Mystic.

The Fever and Sun, as mentioned, have a bright outlook to their seasons. For the Fever, it’s climbing the ladder with the No. 1 draft pick — Aliyah Boston. For the Sun, it’s climbing the ranks again and hopefully, this time clinching victory over other top teams, such as the Aces and Liberty. They’ve made it to the Finals as the rival opponent several times, but now it’s time for Connecticut to, perhaps, win it all.

That’s if the newcomers, like the Dallas Wings and Washington Mystic don’t come in and make a run for it, even running faster than the super teams like the Aces and Liberty.

With the acquisition of Candace Parker and Breanna Stewart to each of these teams, success is a no-brainer. A championship is what Stewart and the Liberty are seeking and invincibility is what Candace Parker seeks. Stewart has the Statue of Liberty and the prowess of her jump shot behind her. Parker has her legacy and more. Both have the expectations of the WNBA execs, fans, and analysts, so that will carry them to greater heights.

The whole world of women’s basketball is a world of its own, and the rest of the world is watching. Whether it will be turning water into wine, squeezing lemons to make lemonade, or making flowers bloom from May onward, the WNBA will be something to watch. The state of women’s basketball, to say the least, has the whole world in its hands, they’re in nice, sweet hands that fit like a basketball.

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