WNBA Players to Watch in 2012
A young Chicago team traded for Swin Cash for her ability to win championships (she helped carry both her former teams, Detroit Shock and Seattle Storm, to titles). The four-time All-Star averaged 6.9 rebounds per game in 2011, her highest average since her rookie season in 2002, so will she continue on an upward trend in 2012?
The 2011 league MVP, Tamika Catchings has won everything there is to win in the WNBA except for a league title. Last year she helped the Indiana Fever to the Eastern Conference finals, where they lost to Atlanta (Catchings was hampered by a foot injury). Will her move from small forward to power forward help the team's chances for a title?
Seimone Augustus and the rest of the Minnesota Lynx are being chased by every other team in the WNBA. Fortunately for the Lynx, they remain one step ahead of their pursuers. Minnesota returns the majority of its title-winning roster from last year, putting it in the running for a repeat WNBA championship. Augustus is one of three Lynx players who will be representing the U.S. at the London Olympics.
Angel McCoughtry must constantly be thinking, Third time's the charm. The 2011 All-Star has led the Atlanta Dream to two straight WNBA Finals, only to come up short both times. The Dream retain most of their starters from last year, and given the players stay healthy, they should make another solid run through the playoffs.
Veteran Diana Taurasi will put the weight of the Phoenix Mercury on her shoulders, as fellow veteran Penny Taylor fell victim to a season-ending knee injury in April. Taurasi had a team-high 21.6 points per game last season, and she will need to keep that number high in 2012 if her team wants a playoff run.
Sue Bird is entering her 11th season in the WNBA, but her statistics don't reflect her age. The two-time WNBA champion will start the season without three-time WNBA MVP Lauren Jackson on the court with her, but she's more than suited to carry the weight of the Storm until after the Olympics (when Jackson will rejoin the team). She started every game for Seattle last year, and is expected to do the same in 2012.
It's hard for Maya Moore to top 2011 -- after winning Rookie of the Year honors and a WNBA championship, what else is there to do? Well, win back-to-back championships, of course.
Cappie Pondexter and the rest of the New York Liberty are building upon a solid foundation built in 2011. After leading the Liberty in points and assists per game, Pondexter will be the cornerstone of the 2012 team.
The first pick in the 2012 WNBA Draft, Nnemkadi Ogwumike (30) hopes to make a huge impact with the Los Angeles Sparks this year. Following in the footsteps of former first draft picks such as Angel McCoughtry, Tina Charles and Maya Moore is no easy task, but Nneka should have no problem doing so. She's already led the Sparks in scoring in several preseason games.
Since she joined the WNBA four years ago, Renee Montgomery has only improved. She led the Sun in averages and steals per game in arguably her best season last year.
Drafted by a team that only won three games in 2011, Riquna Williams has a chance to make a big impact immediately. The Tulsa Shock's top scorer, Tiffany Jones, will sit out the entire season to give birth to her first child, so Williams could easily work her way into a starting position.
Samantha Prahalis, the Mercury's first-round draft pick, should fit in seamlessly with this fast-paced team. Prahalis' flashy style was often criticized at the collegiate level, but should be more accepted in the WNBA. She will be expected to complement veteran Diana Taurasi, as veteran forward Penny Taylor is out for the season with a torn ACL.
The 2011 Defensive Player of the Year will be joined in Chicago by several veterans to contribute to a team that hopes to make a strong playoff run. Fowles, who led the Sky in points per game, rebounds per game and blocks per game in 2011, should continue to dominate in 2012.
The 2010 first overall draft pick led the Sun in points, rebounds and blocks per game in her sophomore season in the WNBA. She continues to improve, and, despite being injured in the preseason, will be a driving force for Connecticut as it pushes for another playoff run.
Last year's highly-touted draft pick from Australia was selected as an All-Star in her rookie year, and looks to go up from there. The 6'8" Cambage led the Shock in blocks in 2011, and will look to make a greater offensive impact in 2012, as Tulsa's top scorer is out for the season.