This will be a quick one.
I’m very happy, but somewhat surprised, that Phoenix is atop the Western Conference. While I appreciate defense, I do like that Phoenix (and Minnesota) have been able to show that scoring more points than the other team is often more fun than keeping the other team from scoring more points than yours. I just hope that the league doesn’t get enamored with this style and pass silly rules changes to encourage it. The 8-second backcourt rule is more than enough…though I would like to see 12-minute quarters (but only if rosters are expanded a bit).
In the pre-season, I picked Seattle to win it all, and if LJ can stay reasonably healthy, I don’t see any reason why that can’t be the case…especially if Agler starts giving his stars a wee bit more rest.
Actually, that rest issue is definitely a problem. You see it from the veterans who have been playing year-round for a while. They’re looking tired. Some of the joy of playing the game is gone from their eyes. It’s definitely becoming a slog.
In the East, I’m a little surprised that Indiana is on top. I thought they’d continue on in the mid-level as in years past. As you know, I picked Chicago to over-achieve and be this year’s Cinderella team. I think they can still do it if they ever figure out their rotations. I think KT was keep in limited minutes for too long and while it’s very good that she’s finally getting the minutes she needs to be effective, it’s disrupting the flow a bit. If the Sky can settle it down, they can make a good run. Right now, though, the Cinderella team is looking to be the ACC-dominant Washington Mystics.
Speaking of the rookies. I was a little surprised that Bonner integrated so easily with Phoenix. She’s like a slightly thinner Tangela Smith…which, for the Mercury, is a very good thing. There have been more than a few occasions, though, when Bonner has been easily shoved out of position by bigger players, as predicted. Despite that, she’s been surprisingly effective at this level.
I think the rookie I’m most surprised with has been Shalee Lehning with the Dream. I saw her during the NCAA tournament and though she was impressive, her name wasn’t the first you’d think of as an important cog in a team’s machine. Though she’s hardly posting ROY numbers, her contribution to Atlanta has been more than I was expecting. Kudos.
And beyond that, there’s just been an awful lot of very entertaining basketball so far this season. But I’d expect nothing less from the W.
In this year, perhaps the last with any of the original class (though Tina Thompson might stick it out a little longer), the only problem at all for the league is money. The brand is sound. The talent has never been better. There is now the expectation that this league will be there–even if, as it’s joked, in 2047, on the 50th anniversary, that some (mostly men) will still loudly say that the survival of the league is still in question. If some teams are struggling, I think it’s more of a case of needing to find more receptive markets (maybe waiving the franchise buy-in fee in some cases). They are there…just look to where the college powers consistently draw big crowds, and find owners enthusiastic about the brand. The WNBA has walked in the NBA’s shadow long enough…it’s time to realize that it’s warmer in the sun.