WNBA Players to Watch in 2011
Since her spectacular rookie campaign in 2008, during which she took home both Rookie of the Year and MVP honors, Parker has played sparingly. She missed the start of the 2009 season following the birth of her daughter and a dislocated shoulder truncated her 2010 season. Now healthy, Parker will look to lead the Sparks to their first title since 2002.
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 WNBA draft, Moore will look to follow fellow UCONN alumnae Tina Charles (2010) and Diana Taurasi (2004) as top overall draft picks to win Rookie of the Year honors. Moore's game is WNBA-ready, and she should make an already potent Lynx offense that much better.
In 2010, Taurasi led the WNBA in scoring (22.6 ppg) for the third straight year as the main offensive option for the high-octane Phoenix Mercury. In 2011, as the team attempts to transition from a run-and-gun offense to a more balanced one, she may have trouble leading the league for a fourth year. Nevertheless, the 2009 WNBA MVP will gladly trade points for another trip to the WNBA finals.
The 2010 regular season and finals MVP, Jackson and her Seattle Storm will look to pick up where they left off in 2010. With all-time great Katie Smith joining the already fearsome duo of Jackson and Sue Bird, the Storm should be well positioned to repeat as champions.
Swoopes, who turned 40 this year, is returning to the league she was a founding member of after a two-year hiatus. Her last season in the league was in 2008 with Seattle, who released Swoopes due to her chronic back problems. Grateful for a second chance with the Tulsa Shock, Swoopes will look to regain the form that made her a three-time MVP.
McCoughtry followed up her sensational rookie year by leading the Dream to the 2010 WNBA finals (where they fell to the Storm in three games). Along the way, the former Louisville Cardinal established herself as a legitimate threat on both ends of the court, tallying new career highs in points (21.1), assists (3.1) and rebounds (4.9). Now another year older, the sky is truly the limit for McCoughtry.
Charles, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft, had no trouble adjusting to the WNBA game. She set WNBA single-season records for rebounds and double-doubles, led the league in rebounding and ranked second in blocks. The challenge now? Repeating the exquisite performance and leading the Sun back to the postseason for the first time since 2008.
Catchings does a little bit of everything for the Indiana Fever. The former Tennessee Volunteer ranked in the top 10 in points, rebounds, steals and three-point percentage during the 2010 season, and with another pesky campaign in 2011, she could pass Ticha Penicheiro as the WNBA career steals leader. After falling to the Liberty in the first round of the 2010 playoffs, Catchings and the Fever are aiming to go further in 2011.
After winning two titles in three years with the Phoenix Mercury, Pondexter requested a trade to New York in 2010. She couldn't lead the Liberty to a title in her first year with the team, but by all accounts, her first year in the Big Apple was a smashing success. The three-time All-Star earned a second straight first team All-WNBA selection and led the Liberty to the Eastern Conference finals, where the team fell to the Atlanta Dream in two games.
Two weeks before training camp opened in 2010, the Mystics announced that Beard, whom many considered the face of the franchise, would miss the entire 2010 season after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on her left ankle. A year later, Beard is healthy and ready to lead the Mystics, who posted a franchise-best record of 22-12 last season, deep into the playoffs.
Vandersloot, the No. 3 pick in the 2011 draft, will likely find herself as the starting point guard in Chicago on Opening Day. As the only NCAA Division I player, male or female, to amass 2,000 career points and 1,000 career assists, she seems well suited for the task. Chicago has yet to crack the postseason since joining the league in 2006, but the Sky hope the combination of Vandersloot and star Sylvia Fowles will change all that in 2011.
The Silver Stars looked poised for a run to the WNBA finals before they announced 2011 draft pick Jayne Appel would miss time with a minor meniscus tear. With her sidelined, even more pressure will fall on Hammon's shoulders. Indisputably the heart and soul of the Silver Stars, Hammon will have to keep the team afloat until Appel returns if they want to make a playoff push.