The WNBA season begins this weekend, with the Seattle Storm favored by the oddsmakers to repeat as league champions.
The Storm begin the season as an 11/4 favorite on the WNBA futures at . Last year the Storm rolled through the postseason with series sweeps through all three rounds, including the Finals against the Atlanta Dream. If the Storm can rule the postseason again they would be the first repeat WNBA champs since Los Angeles did it in 2001-02.
Judging by their offseason the Storm's chances of running the table again look pretty good. All of Seattle's starters return, including leading scorers Lauren Jackson, Swin Cash, and Sue Bird. Seattle did lose reserve Svetlana Abrosimova but they were able to add two-time WNBA champion Katie Smith, which should make the loss easier to handle.
The Dream made a surprising run all the way to the WNBA Finals last season after finishing fourth in the East during the regular season. The Dream's solid run in the postseason was enough for the oddsmakers at to put them second on the WNBA futures at 6/1. The Dream still have a formidable lineup with Angel McCoughtry, Iziane Castro Marques, and Sancho Lyttle returning. They also added veteran Lindsay Harding, which could be the final piece they need to take the next step.
The rest of the true contenders for the WNBA title all come from the West, and they're in a logjam on the WNBA futures at with Los Angeles, Minnesota, and Phoenix all listed at 8/1.
You can't really judge the Sparks on how they did last season. Star Candace Parker was lost for the season with a shoulder injury after only 10 games, which left them without their leading scorer. Los Angeles still has a veteran core that includes Tina Thompson, Ticha Penicheiro, and DeLisha Milton-Jones, which could carry them in the playoffs if they have enough left in the tank.
The Mercury had a tumultuous offseason as star Diana Taurasi's positive drug test saga ended with her being vindicated and the lab that reported the positive test being sanctioned. With that all behind her Taurasi can try to lead the Mercury to their third championship in the last five years. With the addition of Kara Braxton and Nakia Sanford alongside Taurasi, Candice Dupree, and Penny Taylor the Mercury are a team to watch in the West this season.
The team bettors really need to watch is Minnesota. The Lynx have been overloaded with talent for years, but injuries or inconsistent play have always gotten in the way. Minnesota made a killing in the draft this year with first overall pick Maya Moore and No. 4 pick Amber Harris. Minnesota also brought in veteran Taj McWilliams to fill out a roster that already included scorers Seimone Augustus, Candice Wiggins, and Lindsay Whalen, as well as defensive stalwart Rebekkah Brunson. There's a chance Minnesota could disappoint again, or they could finally put it all together and be a force in the West.
Odds to Win WNBA Championship ()
Seattle Storm 11/4
Atlanta Dream 6/1
Los Angeles Sparks 8/1
Minnesota Lynx 8/1
Phoenix Mercury 8/1
Connecticut Sun 10/1
New York Liberty 10/1
Washington Mystics 10/1
Chicago Sky 12/1
Indiana Fever 12/1
San Antonio Silver Stars 14/1
Tulsa Shock 18/1