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This week on Above the Damage, we’re having a look at WNBA Playoffs odds, the most efficient groups within the league, Skylar Diggins-Smith industry rumors and extra.
The WNBA All-Famous person destroy is right here, which is a great time to prevent and mirror on the place this season has long past…and the place it’s headed.
As we head into the destroy, we formally have a brand new group atop the standings, because the Chicago Sky have handed the Las Vegas Aces for the No. 1 seed. Will Chicago keep there? And what concerning the fight for the overall playoff spots?
Who makes the WNBA Playoffs and who will get neglected?
Probably the most compelling fight presently is for the overall 3 playoff seeds. Reputedly each and every group excluding the Fever are within the combine nonetheless, so who will or not it’s that will get the ones spots?
As of now, we now have 5 groups within the league who’re over .500 and really feel necessarily locked into the postseason. That leaves the remainder of the WNBA preventing for a place. Presently, Atlanta, LA and Dallas all sit down at 10-12. Phoenix and New York are a sport again and the Lynx are an extra sport and a part again.
So, which of the ones groups will declare the ones ultimate seeds?
One group I’m going to temporarily get rid of is Phoenix. The group has gotten somewhat sizzling in recent times, however there are simply too many intensity considerations with this group, and there’s the Skylar Diggins-Smith scenario, as there are rumors the group may well be having a look to industry her — extra on that beneath.
That also leaves 5 groups scuffling with for a playoff spot. Can New York or Minnesota surpass somebody?
Perhaps. Nevertheless it’ll be difficult. FiveThirtyEight has the Liberty with the worst odds on this staff of constructing the postseason and the Lynx because the second-worst. New York dropping on Thursday to Phoenix was once a large hit for the group’s playoff hopes, and the group exits the All-Famous person destroy with the next time table: Aces, Aces, Solar, Mystics, Sky, Sky. That’s six video games in a row after the destroy in opposition to groups over .500. They’ll finish the season with 8 in a row in opposition to the groups that they’re scuffling with for the playoff spot with, however can this group also be within the playoff dialog through that time? They’ll need to give you the chance to scouse borrow some video games in that six-game stretch.
Minnesota has a large number of momentum presently. Additionally they have six video games in opposition to groups over .500, however none of the ones are in opposition to Vegas and Chicago. With Sylvia Fowles wholesome, the Lynx are enjoying just right basketball and simply ended the primary part with wins over Vegas and Chicago. The Lynx really feel like a playoff group.
Who will they displace, regardless that?
Atlanta has Tiffany Hayes again. The Sparks have Nneka Ogwumike enjoying at a top stage. The Wings have a ton of skill…but additionally have the bottom ground of those groups. Dallas has had some video games this 12 months the place not anything running. They just lately misplaced 92-64 to Minnesota. They’ve been held beneath 70 issues 5 occasions, going 1-4 in the ones video games. Arike Ogunbowale can shoot her group out of a sport, regardless that she additionally possesses the facility to shoot them again into one as neatly.
So, right here’s my present prediction: the Lynx make the playoffs. The Wings don’t.
Chicago is the WNBA’s perfect group
Will have to we be surprised that the protecting champions have the most efficient report within the league? Now not in a vacuum, however while you believe how just right Vegas was once to begin the season, seeing a unique title atop the league is a bit of little bit of a departure from the place we idea we’d be.
The Sky sit down moment within the league in offensive score in keeping with WNBA.com, and they have got the fifth-best defensive score.
A large a part of this is that the group has essentially the most intriguing and flexible frontcourt within the league.
Candace Parker, Emma Meesseman and Azurá Stevens are essentially the most fascinating frontcourt within the W as a result of they’re so professional. They may be able to all shoot. They may be able to all play inside of. They every moderate a block in keeping with sport.
The Sky have a web score of 14.7 when Parker and Meesseman percentage the ground, 1.7 when Meesseman and Stevens percentage the ground and 13.9 when Stevens and Parker percentage the ground. Clearly, Candace Parker makes the entire thing run, however with the ability to play your different two bigs in combination and nonetheless be higher than your opponent is very large.
Take the Aces, for instance. The group has a ten.5 web score when A’ja Wilson is at the ground, however a -9.5 web score when she’s off the ground. That group doesn’t have the intensity to live on the ones mins when its celebrity is at the bench.
And for me, that’s the adaptation presently with the Sky. You have got a 6POY candidate in Stevens, who means that you can at all times have a bonus over different groups up entrance.
Will have to the Mercury industry Skylar Diggins-Smith?
This has been a peculiar season for the Phoenix Mercury.
With the group’s celebrity middle, Brittney Griner, recently detained in Russia, Phoenix entered 2022 with decrease expectancies than that they had all through the offseason. Nonetheless, the addition of Tina Charles supposed there was once nonetheless a lot of skill. This was once a playoff group.
Except for, neatly…Charles is now in Seattle and there are rumblings across the standing of the group’s celebrity, Skylar Diggins-Smith.
Howard Megdal reported this week that the Mercury have explored buying and selling Diggins-Smith.
Previous within the season, Diggins-Smith and Diana Taurasi were given right into a verbal altercation at the sidelines, and SDS was once then out for a couple of video games after that. Then, there was once the perceived disrespect from head trainer Vanessa Nygaard, who stated of the All-Famous person sport that it will “now not be an All-Famous person sport as a result of Diana Taurasi isn’t enjoying,” even supposing Diggins-Smith, who additionally performs for Nygaard, is an All-Famous person. Diggins-Smith tweeted a clown emoji according to this.
So, there’s some discord there. However what would a Diggins-Smith industry imply for Phoenix?
Necessarily, it will be the group waving the white flag in this technology of Mercury basketball.
Diana Taurasi is 40. She’s now not the way forward for your group. Diggins-Smith is sort of a decade more youthful. And as the nature of the WNBA doesn’t in reality permit for equivalent worth trades, dealing Diggins-Smith signifies that throughout the subsequent 12 months or two, the Mercury are left with a possible core of Brittney Griner. That’s it. Simply Griner. And whilst Griner is a brilliant participant, she’s additionally within the closing 12 months of her contract, so the Mercury may well be left in a good worse place.
Buying and selling Diggins-Smith is the beginning of a rebuild. Perhaps that’s a just right factor, regardless that it will constitute an enormous shift from a group that went all-in this 12 months in pursuit of a name. And Phoenix received’t have a first-round pick out in 2023 as it was once traded to Chicago, so in the event that they’re going to rebuild, even this is down the road. 2024 is a great draft elegance, probably headlined through Paige Bueckers and Caitlin Clark, two guards who can attempt to fill the outlet left through a SDS industry. However is Phoenix, which closing neglected the playoffs in 2012, in a position for this sort of seismic shift in group construction?