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Are The Dream For Real? Are The Lynx In Trouble? Lessons From Week 1 Of The WNBA Season.


Getting into the 2022 WNBA season, opinions diversified extensively on a spread of points. The one place with consensus? There have been, probably, 10 groups preventing for the playoffs. Indiana and Atlanta could be heading for the lottery.

Every week into the season, the Atlanta Dream are considered one of two remaining undefeated groups, at 2-0, whereas the the Indiana Fever has already earned a win over a member of final season’s top-four squads, the Minnesota Lynx. Furthermore, there are encouraging indicators inside the knowledge to counsel that each groups could be higher than anybody thought.

Let’s dig in.

The very first thing to think about, whereas we acknowledge that this can be very early and the pattern dimension is extraordinarily small, is that we’re nonetheless a large chunk of the WNBA season. Washington, as an example, has already performed three video games, which, in a 36-game slate, is 8.3 % of the staff’s 12 months. Have you ever fashioned any concepts a few Main League Baseball staff after 13 video games? An NBA staff after seven video games? That’s an identical level of comparability.

So it’s not the whole lot, however it’s additionally not nothing. As an example: “She is a generational expertise,” a WNBA expertise evaluator texted me about Rhyne Howard after her Dream beat the Los Angeles Sparks, who got here into Atlanta’s dwelling opener Wednesday with a win in hand over the defending champion Chicago Sky.

“Her IQ, her confidence, simply coming in understanding that we want her, and she or he’s an enormous a part of this staff,” Atlanta’s Cheyenne Parker mentioned about what makes Howard completely different following the sport Wednesday night time. “Her simply embracing that, and taking it full head-on.”

That is no exaggeration. Howard averaged 35 minutes per recreation within the first two contests, with no different Atlanta participant reaching over 30. She can also be the staff’s second in help proportion, at 18.2 %, and she or he is taking pictures 40.9 % from three.

The opposite half of her two-way recreation is translating immediately as effectively. She leads her staff in block proportion, at 5.5, and is considered one of three Dream defenders with a steal proportion north of two. She’s an enormous purpose the Dream are sporting an 81.7 defensive ranking, second within the league, to this point.

As for Indiana, their sixth-in-the-league 99.6 defensive ranking could not appear very spectacular, however it represents a large enchancment over final 12 months’s 107.8, by far the worst within the WNBA. This can be a essentially completely different roster, because of the jump-started rebuild from interim basic supervisor Lin Dunn, however it’s paying off early on the defensive finish, no simple feat for a staff that includes 5 rookies. 4 of these rookies — Emily Engstler, Lexie Hull, Queen Egbo and Destanni Henderson — characteristic optimistic defensive on/off rankings to this point.

And the Fever don’t want to search out out who their star is. It’s Kelsey Mitchell, who has a career-best help proportion north of 24 to this point, is environment friendly from the sphere whereas taking probably the most threes per recreation of her profession, and is in each approach the participant 2022 appears constructed to lastly let bloom.

It’s notable that the Fever win got here in opposition to Minnesota, who’ve some issues to determine for positive. Whereas Sylvia Fowles is a devastating offensive power within the center, the Lynx have but to search out the purpose guard greatest suited to get her the ball. The three main level guards to this point — Rachel Banham; Yvonne Turner, who had been signed on a hardship deal; and Odyssey Sims, who was waived Thursday — had been all at 23 % or under in help proportion, whereas defenses aren’t paying a worth for leaving them alone to shoot, both. Turner leads that group from the sphere, and she or he’s taking pictures 32 %.

That mentioned, I’m not significantly involved concerning the Lynx. For one factor, they’ll be getting Damiris Dantas and Kayla McBride again quickly from harm and abroad commitments. For an additional, coach Cheryl Reeve all the time appears to determine it out — her groups have made the playoffs yearly since 2011. And the event of Jessica Shepard is already paying large dividends: The unconventional star-to-be is definitely Minnesota’s chief in help proportion, at 29.3, and is taking pictures the ball from in every single place, successfully, taking a leap ahead that may put her within the Most Improved Participant dialog. 

Lastly, the Washington Mystics are making an early declare for team-to-beat standing within the WNBA. They’re 3-0, and the underlying metrics assist this topline outcome. The Mystics dominated the league in 2019, with a web ranking of +14.8. Up to now in 2022, they’re at +16.3. Natasha Cloud is hitting 36.4 % of her threes, one other stage up in her exceptional journey since enjoying at St. Joseph’s, whereas Shakira Austin is making a right away influence at each ends, with an on/off web ranking that trails solely Cloud and underrated famous person Ariel Atkins amongst her teammates.

They’ve executed it with out Alysha Clark enjoying a minute, one thing that’s anticipated to alter tonight. They’ve executed it whereas giving Elena Delle Donne a recreation off in between Video games 1 and three on the schedule, and enjoying her solely 29.5 minutes per recreation within the two she did take part in. And so they’ve executed it with out Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, a robust 3-point shooter, making a single shot from past the arc but. 

It’s early. However I’ve seen sufficient to keep up my championship ceiling for the Mystics and revise their ground upward.

Try our newest WNBA predictions.



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