The WNBA is coming back with an abbreviated 22-game season that will be played at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
And thus, in a centralized location and without fans, the 2020 season will look even more different than it would have otherwise, after many of the league’s stars have found new homes.
The season tips off July 25, with a game between the Seattle Storm and New York Liberty. But first, we’re breaking down the winners and losers of the WNBA’s return plan.
New York Liberty
No matter the circumstances of the season, there’s a lot of excitement surrounding the Liberty this season.
For one, they have a shiny new toy in Sabrina Ionescu. The No. 1 overall draft pick out of Oregon is the most accomplished college basketball player ever and is worth all the hype. The late-Kobe Bryant took an interest in her development and the world will take great interest in her debut.
The Storm returns star duo Sue Bird and Breanna Stweart from injuries that kept them out of the entire 2019 campaign. And with only 22 games this season, it will hopefully be easier on their bodies.
Seattle saw a ton of success winning it all in 2018, and you can expect that the memories are recent enough to inspire them to get back to that.
Los Angeles Sparks
They’ll be without main contributors Chiney Ogwumike and Kristi Toliver, who have opted-out of the WNBA return. But still, the Sparks are one of few teams who will keep some of last year’s core in tact with Candace Parker, Nneka Ogwumike and Chelsea Gray participating.
With a 22-game season, existing chemistry is invaluable. Adding four-time WNBA champion Seimone Augustus from the Minnesota Lynx can’t hurt, either.
Unfortunately, the runners-up in last year’s WNBA Championship don’t appear to have the same trajectory for the abbreviated season.
The Sun will be without three of its five starters from 2019. Courtney Williams and Skekinna Stricklen joined the Atlanta Dream in the offseason, while Jonquel Jones opted out. And 22-regular season games isn’t a ton of time to get a new rotation accustomed to playing with one another.
The Wings are rebuilding after Skylar Diggins-Smith followed in Elizabeth Cambage’s footsteps and announced she wanted out of Dallas.
They have collected quite a few assets via the draft picks they received in exchange for the trade, but the time frame isn’t ideal when trying to develop rookie talent.
To be determined
The Mystics’ season outlook can’t be determined until Elena Delle Donne reveals whether or not she will play.
The reigning league MVP opened up about her struggles with Lyme disease after a WNBA panel of doctors denied her request to be medically excused from the season. Despite that decision, the Mystics offered to pay her regardless, even if she just rehabs from her January back surgery all 2020.
Well, we’re one step closer to the season, and that’s a win in itself.