June 03, 2011

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 East:

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WNBA Eastern Conference Preview
1 Atlanta Dream
Atlanta Dream | 2010 Record: 19-15
Key Additions: Lindsey Harding
Key Losses: Kelly Miller

Much like the Storm, the Dream, the 2010 finals runner-ups, added a Washington playmaker in the offseason. Newly-acquired point guard Lindsey Harding is a perfect fit alongside star Angel McCoughtry, and the combination should lead the Dream to their second straight finals appearance.
2 Indiana Fever
Indiana Fever | 2010 Record: 21-13
Key Additions: Tangela Smith
Key Losses: Tully Bevilaqua, Ebony Hoffman

After a disappointing 2010 playoff run, the Fever cleaned house, cutting ties with forward Tully Bevilaqua and Ebony Hoffman. The Fever added All-Star forward Tangela Smith -- a two-time WNBA champion -- who should boost the Fever's title hopes in 2011.
3 New York Liberty
New York | 2010 Record: 22-12
Key Additions: Quanitra Hollingsworth, Jessica Breland
Key Losses: Taj McWilliams-Franklin

There are plenty of new faces in New York, but luckily none of them are in the starting lineup. Coach Anne Donovan and GM Carol Blazejowski are gone, but Cappie Pondexter and the rest of the starting five should have no trouble hitting the ground running in 2011 under new GM and coach John Whisenant.
4 Washington Mystics
Washington | 2010 Record: 22-12
Key Additions: Kelly Miller
Key Losses: Katie Smith, Lindsey Harding

Washington exceeded expectations last year but it will be a hard act to follow. Gone are playmakers Katie Smith and Lindsey Harding, and with defensive stalwart Monique Currie likely sidelined for the entire season, the Mystics will have trouble challenging for the East's top spot.
5 Connecticut Sun
Connecticut | 2010 Record: 17-17
Key Additions: Kalana Greene
Key Losses: Anete Jekabsone-Zogota

After a dominant 2010 season, Tina Charles will look to lead the Sun to their first postseason berth since 2008. No one doubts the 2010 Rookie of the Year's ability, but it will be the development of the young players around her (Kelsey Griffin, Renee Montgomery) that will determine the fate of the Sun in 2011.
6 Chicago Sky
Chicago Sky | 2010 Record: 14-20
Key Additions: Courtney Vandersloot, Michelle Snow
Key Losses: Jia Perkins

It's been five years since the Sky joined WNBA and they're still looking for their first trip to the postseason. Don't expect it to come in 2011. Center Sylvia Fowles (17.8 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 2.59 bpg) is a rare talent, but with a new head coach and a rookie point guard, the Sky are still very much a work in progress.

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