By Adrienne Goodson
It was a tumultuous week in the WNBA. Last month the silence was deafening and had showed no signs of life, but now that the CBA has been re-signed and the bylaws are back in place, the trades have begun. Some teams have thoroughly taken advantage of the opportunity while some have not budged. The free agent market is full of talented players – in fact, there’s enough for a team to pick more than one good player. Detroit, Phoenix, and San Antonio are still the teams to beat but this year there will be a few familiar teams back to compete for the crown.
There are 14 teams in the league. As of right now, here’s who have given themselves the best possible chance of winning a championship in 2008:
Phoenix Mercury – We all know how hard it is to win a championship and putting all of the pieces together is half the battle. Phoenix has everyone re-signed. They just have to focus on signing Diana Taurasi and all will be well with the Mercury. The Champions will be back with Penny Taylor, Cappie Pondexter, and Kelly Mazzante pulling from the ozone.
San Antonio Silverstars – The Stars have not changed a thing and will give last year’s team the opportunity to show and prove that they belong on top. Becky Hammon, Sophia Young, and Vickie Johnson will once again contend for the Western Conference Championship. We’ll watch and see San Antonio without assistant coach Brian Agler. Agler is now the new head coach of Seattle. The west will be interesting to say the least…
Los Angeles Sparks – The Sparks will acquire the # 1 Draft Pick in 2008 which is sure to be Candace Parker. They also added three time All-Star Marie Ferdinand (San Antonio) to their roster. She will certainly add some speed on the wing. Lisa Leslie will have a no pressure comeback because of the depth on the bench. Taj McWilliams-Franklin and Murriel Page add experience and professionalism to a very young team. They could shape up to be quite a contender for Micheal Cooper.
Houston Comets – The Comets made a good decision by signing veteran guard Mwadi Mabika (Sparks) to a one-year contract. This will reunite her with ex-teammate Tameka Dixon. Hopefully, this duet can rejuvenate Sheryl Swoopes, and Tina Thompson. Houston could use some back-up post play but realistically, Michelle Snow must play big for Houston this season.
Detroit Shock – Detroit is loaded at all positions and is truly in the best shape right now. The addition of LaToya Thomas (Sparks) to the forward spot was brilliant. The reserves will be just as good as the starters. Tyresa Smith will be the rising young star on the roster and add more quickness to the backcourt. Deanna Nolan, Cheryl Ford, Katie Smith and crew will certainly be back in the playoffs again. Bill Laimbeer and Co. are the team to beat in the east.
Atlanta Dream – The Dream team is back and in Atlanta. They have the best group of free agents than any other team. Players like Betty Lennox and Iziane Castro Marques (both acquired from Seattle), Ann Wauters, Ivory Latta (Detroit) and Chantelle Anderson (San Antonio) makes a nice starting lineup in this league. The Atlanta organization constructed this roster wisely and should exceed all expectations in its first year.
The draft will bring in some promising young talent. Players like Candace Parker, Matee Ajavon, and Sylvia Fowles will undoubtedly help any team get to the next level, but it will be the free agents who will put them over the top. Training Camp begins on April 20th so there is still time for teams to build and reconstruct. This year will be competitive so stay tuned for a game coming to an arena near you.