WNBA Western Conference Preview
As the 15th WNBA season tips off, the league is rife with intrigue. In the West, a veteran Seattle Storm team is looking to repeat as champions, but a healthy Candace Parker and the Los Angeles Sparks might have something to say about it. In the East, a bevy of young teams have retooled and will seek to snatch the top seed.
Who will be hoisting the championship trophy in September? Let's take a look at the West:
Seattle Storm | 2010 Record: 28-6Key Additions: Katie Smith
Key Losses: Jasmine Thomas
The 2010 defending champions added a key piece in Smith, a five-time All-Star and the 2008 finals MVP. And with regular season and 2010 finals MVP Lauren Jackson still patrolling the paint, the Storm are the early favorites to repeat as WNBA champs.
Los Angeles Sparks | 2010 Record: 13-21Key Additions: Ebony Hoffman, Jantel Lavender
Key Losses: Marie Ferdinand-Harris
Despite losing Candace Parker to a season-ending injury early in 2010, the Sparks rallied and made a postseason run. With Parker back in the fold, the Sparks are the biggest threat to unseat the Storm as the best in the West.
Phoenix Mercury | 2010 Record: 15-19Key Additions: Nakia Sanford
Key Losses: Tangela Smith
The high-octane Mercury may have shuffled personnel, but don't expect them to slow down in 2011. Ashley Dupree gives them a deadly-accurate weapon down low (0.664 field goal percentage), and a well-rested Diana Taurasi should challenge for another MVP trophy.
Minnesota Lynx | 2010 Record: 13-21Key Additions: Maya Moore, Taj McWilliams-Franklin
Key Losses: Nicky Anosike
After narrowly missing the playoffs in 2010, the Lynx landed some good fortune. They beat the lottery odds to nab Maya Moore with the No. 1 overall pick, and the UConn product joins a healthy Seimone Augustus on what should be a very potent 2011 squad.
Tulsa Shock | 2010 Record: 6-28Key Additions: Elizabeth Cambage, Sheryl Swoopes, Kayla Pedersen
Key Losses: Scholanda Robinson
It was an offseason of change for the Shock, who signed WNBA legend Sheryl Swoopes and drafted Australia's Elizabeth Cambage and Stanford's Kayla Pedersen. The latter two look like great building blocks, but if Swoopes is a shadow of her former self, the Shock will be watching the playoffs from home for the second year in a row.
San Antonio Silver Stars | 2010 Record: 14-20Key Additions: Danielle Robinson, Jia Perkins, Scholanda Robinson
Key Losses: Michelle Snow
With Jayne Appel once again sidelined, the early going will be tough for the Silver Stars. Superstar Becky Hammon will do everything she can to keep the team afloat, but the Stars look like they are still a player or two away from contention.