First WNBA Weekend Is In The Books, What Did We Learn?

WNBA Seattle Storm
Elaine Thompson/AP Photo

The 2017 WNBA season kicked off this weekend and once everything was said and done fans learned something about every team in the league.

The first weekend of the 2017 WNBA regular season is officially in the books! What did we learn about each team after their first games? Let’s find out.

Los Angeles Sparks (1-0), defeated Seattle 78-68

Top Performers: Nneka Ogwumike (23 points), Odyssey Sims (20 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists0, Chelsea Gray (8 assists), Alana Beard (5 steals)

What did we learn?

  • Ogwumike shows no signs of letting up from her MVP form, and her three-point shooting is even better. Even with Candace Parker still in Europe, Ogwumike was extremely impressive.
  • The reports of the demise of Sims’ career are greatly exaggerated. Sims played both ends of the court with great intensity, and it is clear that Brian Agler is the coach for her to return to top form. Kristi Toliver may be gone, but Sims and Gray combined for 34 points and 14 assists!
  • Beard may be getting older, but she still may be the best on ball defender in the WNBA. The work she put in on Jewell Loyd led to a ridiculous amount of turnovers by the Storm

Washington Mystics (1-0), defeated San Antonio 89-74

Top Performers: Elena Delle Donne (24 points), Emma Meesseman (13 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists), Tayler Hill (15 points, 4 assists)

What did we learn?

  • Delle Donne can shoot and score with the best of them, hitting 7-of-11 shots from the floor and 8-of-9 from the foul line. Okay, we already knew that, but it was reassuring to Mystics fans
  • For at least one day the Delle Donne/Meesseman combination in the post worked. How it will stand up to a top post combination instead of San Antonio on a back to back is still to be determined
  • Hill and Kristi Toliver both played pretty well, but neither is a true point guard. Questions still remain there too.

Dallas Wings (1-0), defeated Phoenix 68-58

Top Performers: Kaela Davis (20 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists), Glory Johnson (14 rebounds), Allisha Gray (11 points, 4 rebounds)

What did we learn?

  • The South Carolina duo of Davis and Gray continued their winning ways; from national championship to strong performances on opening day. They will need to keep this up for Dallas to succeed
  • Skylar Diggins-Smith did not play particularly well, now that this is her undisputed team. She’s too good to have many games like this, but Dallas is lucky to win a game she shot 2-for-12 and had more turnovers than assists
  • Johnson looks healthy and strong, pulling down 14 rebounds, only three shy of Phoenix’s total!

Minnesota Lynx (1-0), defeated Chicago 70-61

Top Performers: Sylvia Fowles (26 points, 10 rebounds, 4 steals, 3 blocks), Maya Moore (11 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists)

What did we learn?

  • Fowles is still the best center in the WNBA, and had her way with the Sky combination of Dolson and Boyette
  • Even when she shoots 5-for-19, Moore impacts the game in other ways, as she contributed seven rebounds, and six assists
  • This team just knows how to win; Lindsay Whalen, Seimone Augustus, Rebekkah Brunson may not win you much dinero on FanDuel, but they will put you at the top of the standings

New York Liberty (1-0), defeated San Antonio 73-64

Top Performers: Tina Charles (12 points, 7 rebounds), Epiphanny Prince (11 points), Shavonte Zellous (10 points, 4 assists)

What did we learn?

  • Not a lot, even coach Bill Laimbeer was unhappy with his team’s performance despite the victory
  • Charles is a dominant scorer and rebounder, and is very comfortable at the forward slot now
  • There are a lot of similar talent level players on this team, and Laimbeer isn’t afraid to put someone else in if he’s not happy. Other than Charles, eight players played between 15 and 24 minutes in the game

Atlanta Dream (1-0), defeated Connecticut 81-74

Top Performers: Tiffany Hayes (19 points, 6 rebounds), Bria Holmes (15 points), Layshia Clarendon (14 points)

What did we learn?

  • While they are not Angel McCoughtry, Hayes and Holmes make a pretty formidable combination, especially out on the break
  • Clarendon and Elizabeth Williams both are ready to build on last year’s successes and continue to improve in all facets of the game
  • Damiris Dantas looks good, and it would not be a surprise to see her starting over Sancho Lyttle before too long

Seattle Storm (1-1), lost to Los Angeles 78-68 and defeated Indiana 87-82

Top Performers: Jewell Loyd (26 points per game), Crystal Langhorne (15 ppg, 6 rpg), Breanna Stewart (15 points, 7 rebounds, 1 monster block in one game)

What did we learn?

  • Jewell Loyd is terrific. She made things happen, contributed all over the court, and except for the high turnover total generally dominated play
  • Oh those turnovers! Sue Bird was missed as the primary ball handler, and her long-term replacement either is not ready or not on the roster at this time. She is needed for this team to succeed
  • Bench is stellar. Ramu Tokashiki, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Carolyn Swords, and (when Bird returns) Noelle Quinn are solid off the bench, which should help give Stewart in particular some more rest this season

Indiana Fever (0-1), lost to Seattle 87-82

Top Performers: Shanise Johnson (24 points, 8 rebounds), Briann January (23 points), Tiffany Mitchell (17 points)

What did we learn?

  • Tamika Catchings is very, very difficult to replace. Johnson and Mitchell provided offense, but the defense needed Catchings’ presence out there
  • January is going to try to carry the load this year, but she needs help from the bigs. The posts did not even screen very well to get opportunities for the guards.
  • Candice Dupree tore it up during pre-season, but returned to last year’s form yesterday, hitting only 3-of-13 shots. That is not going to work from a scoring power forward if the team wants to succeed

Connecticut Sun (0-1), lost to Atlanta 81-74

Top Performers: Morgan Tuck (21 points), Jonquel Jones (8 points, 20 rebounds, 2 blocks), Courtney Williams (18 points)

What did we learn?

  • Curt Miller’s predictions for a breakout year by Tuck and Jones may be right. She scored 21 points but stil l only hit 7-of-18 shots. She needs to finish at the rim better than she did on opening night. Same could be said of Jones. Her 20 rebounds is an unbelievable number, but so is 3-of-11 shooting for a 6’6 player. Finish, finish, finish will be Miller’s cry all season
  • Make your foul shots if you want to win games. Alyssa Thomas is a high energy player with an array of moves that get her to the foul line. When you only make 3-of-9 free throws though, it hurts your team immensely.
  • Alex Bentley needs to get healthy. Williams played great off the bench scoring 18 points, but Bentley is the starting shooting guard for a reason, and it’s difficult to win with her going 0-for-5.

Chicago Sky (0-1), lost to Minnesota 70-61

Top Performers: Tamera Young (14 points, 8 rebounds), Jessica Breland (11 points, 10 rebounds), Imani Boyette (12 rebounds)

What did we learn?

  • What we didn’t learn is where are the points going to come from? With Courtney Vandersloot and Allie Quigley in Europe still, scoring was lacking, and only Young and Breland scored double figures
  • Cappie Pondexter is going to need to shoot better than 3-for-11 from the floor for this team to win. They have bigs in Boyette and Stefanie Dolson plus Breland, but if Pondexter cannot loosen things up with some jump shots, it is going to be tough
  • This may be the year that under-appreciated Young gets her due. At least in the first game she was the most efficient Sky player on both ends of the court

Phoenix Mercury (0-1), lost to Dallas 68-58

Top Performers: Brittney Griner (18 points), Danielle Robinson (8 points, 9 assists)

What did we learn?

  • We didn’t learn who is going to rebound, that’s for sure. 17 rebounds for the entire game, with Griner out there? Come on now, that’s just not acceptable.
  • Diana Taurasi does not play well after getting married. One day after tying the knot, she shot 1-for-11 from the floor (1-for-9 from three), had no free throw attempts, no rebounds, and no assists. She is too good a player for that to happen again.
  • Robinson is back in good health; it will take a little time for her to get used to working with Taurasi and Griner, but this is a threesome that should do good things before too long

More WNBA: Would Moving The Start Of The Season Improve The WNBA?

San Antonio Stars (0-2), lost to New York 73-64, lost to Washington 89-74

Top Performers: Monique Currie (27 points and 5.5 rebounds per game), Isabelle Harrison (10.5 ppg)

What did we learn?

  • We learned that Currie still has it! Put in a position where she had to be the leading scorer, ball handler and rebounder, she did a great job. I’d guess even she would say she wouldn’t want that for all season, but it was kind of fun to turn back the clock and watch her go off for two games
  • Not much else; without Kayla McBride (Europe), Kelsey Plum and Moriah Jefferson (injured) the Stars were missing most of their starting five and the majority of their offense.
  • Back to backs are difficult anyway; without the three players listed above, well at least they stayed reasonably close in both games

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