One quarter of the way through WNBA season – Observations & Thoughts

With more than half of the league played roughly 8 to 10 games, we are officially done 1/4 of the WNBA season. We have seen some incredible play, some lackluster referees, quality and some very bad teams early. It’s time to break it down and offer my observations and thoughts on everything I have seen played out through the first 8 to 10 games.

First of all, the ROY race is now open. After so much hype regarding the #1 Draft pick Kelsey Plum, it turns out in the early part of the season she is not even in consideration for the award. The front runner of this award clearly belongs to Dallas Wings G/F Allisha Gray. She has been steady and reliant as well as a key component to the Wings offense. She is headed towards becoming a future WNBA All-Star one day.  As for Kelsey Plum? She’s in a tough spot in San Antonio. It’s hard to be a rookie point guard in the WNBA and it is the toughest position to master next to the center position. It takes time and clearly Plum is not there yet. It’s even tougher when a very good, young point guard in Moriah Jefferson is there and has played better to this point in the season. I won’t get into too much detail about it but even if Vickie Johnson (Stars head coach) played Plum, Jefferson and McBride together, Plum still has a long way to go to become a future WNBA star and starting point guard. I won’t write her off as a bust. That’s silly. She has a learning curve and in time, she will be a great guard we will talk about it. But the question remains, will it be in San Antonio?

Moving on, the MVP race is heating up. Before this season began, there was talk of Nneka Ogwumike maybe repeating or Elena Delle Donne, Tina Charles, etc. I don’t think Sylvia Fowles was seriously considered just because of the depth the Lynx have. Well, 9 games into the Lynx season and Fowles has emerged as the front runner for the MVP award. Simply put, she has been amazing and has improved her game at the age of 30 years old. Remarkable. Fowles has always been an elite center in the WNBA and one of the top defenders in the league but her play this season is a notch above her All Star play. I don’t think being on the Lynx will hurt her MVP chances just like it didn’t hurt Ogwumike’s shot last year either. While Fowles is the front runner, don’t forget about the Mercury’s Brittney Griner. She’s been simply outstanding and for me personally, fun to watch her growth and development. There’s a reason why she was taken ahead of Elena Delle Donne because when Griner puts it all together, she’s unstoppable. She’s been able to avoid foul trouble for the most part and her level of play should make Mercury fans very happy. Their very hyped center is finally turning the corner and becoming one of the top three players to watch through a quarter of the WNBA season. Another player who has also emerged as one of the three contenders for the award is none other than Washington Mystics forward Elena Delle Donne. If there is one thing Delle Donne is simply elite at, it is her ability to score. Being a versatile elite scorer has helped the Mystics off to a very great start through 10 games (7-3) and makes her a very serious candidate for the WNBA MVP award. Other names are also in the mix such as Sparks reigning MVP (Nneka Ogwumike), Liberty’s Tina Charles, etc. But these three (Fowles, Griner and Delle Donne) are simply a notch better through a quarter of the WNBA season right now.

Another key story is the quality of play of the top teams versus the bad teams. There is quite a remarkable difference between the Minnesota Lynx and the San Antonio Stars. One team is undefeated while the other is winless. Sure, the Lynx have more talent and have experienced veterans on this team, but the Stars do have talent regardless of what you have read about them. The Minnesota Lynx are 9-0 because they can close out teams, they have some very big blowout wins and are in cruise control right now. They get elite level production from Fowles (discussed above), steady production from Rebekkah Brunson, Seimone Augustus and a very good point guard in Lindsay Whalen to direct the team. Meanwhile the San Antonio Stars are winless because they cannot close out teams, they have had multiple chances to win games and their rotation is a mess because the coach has yet to figure out which line up combination works for her team. I did not expect the Stars to have a winning record at this point, but never did I think they would still be winless. It’s not fun to watch for anybody. The Lynx being 9-0 and the Stars being 0-9 are two stories to track through one quarter of the season. Both teams could set records (and in the Stars case, not a great record.)

REFEREES: Still not great, way too many games decided by their fate. Reviews are way too long and it takes the fun out of the WNBA game.

HOT SEAT? Two coaches right now are on the hot seat. Vickie Johnson of the San Antonio Stars and Amber Stocks, the coach/GM of the Chicago Sky. Of these two, I think Johnson will be let go after this season because she is only on a one year deal. Amber Stocks is on the hot seat because of some her rosters moves are puzzling. Not only that, but her team could have won more games, but haven’t due to the talent on the floor. It’s only a quarter of the way through the WNBA season, but keep an eye on these two coaches moving forward.

These are some of the top major stories around the league. When the majority of the WNBA has played half of their games (17 games), I shall do another post on what other stories have transpired in this 2017 WNBA season.

Twitter and the WNBA – What people are missing

The Twitter live stream of the first game was a smashing success. It was of great quality and the conversation was also great. There were very few trolls or mean comments. It was refreshing based on what we normally see in comments section on the Internet.  This was a very good step forward by not only the WNBA but Twitter as well.

One of the many things people often complain about the product is the fact that the WNBA does not market itself well. Very few TV ads are placed and the WNBA is not front and center in the public very often. The WNBA has started to address this by using Twitter, a social media tool that is used world wide and has great reach than what the WNBA can provide in the United States.

This is a very smart business move by the WNBA. Social media and online networks will continue to move forward and the WNBA has pushed forward in getting women’s sports out in the digital world. But what people fail to realize is, the WNBA has no intent to put out all of their games on Twitter. This is just a sneak peek to gauge casual fans interest and essentially get people to visit the website and purchase WNBA League Pass. It’s also to get people talking about the WNBA and for them to see the greatness of these WNBA players.

Another key part of this is Twitter. Twitter has started to already have an online digital network presence. They broadcast the news, sports, and other activities and have more lined up for the fall. For right now, the Twitter live stream is FREE. Remember, Twitter is a business. They need to make money. It could be in three to four years, that they start charging Twitter users who want to watch the Twitter live stream. Only then, will the WNBA have an active presence on Twitter.

I find it fascinating when I was reading the comments on #WNBALive and one of the comments said something along the lines of “I love this game! If there were MORE games to watch, I would!”. That kind of set me back a bit. The WNBA already does feature more games on ESPN and on local TV networks. Like I mentioned previously, they also have League Pass. Maybe the WNBA should have an in game advertisement saying if you enjoyed this game, you can watch the games on League Pass! Something along the lines of that.

I’ve been a fan of the WNBA for 9 years (10 WNBA seasons) and the product just keeps getting better and better. Every year, these new athletes get better. There will still be haters, or people who don’t want to see the WNBA get better. Over the years, I’ve shifted through articles of the following: “WNBA Players don’t get paid as much as the NBA Players”, “Where is the media coverage for the WNBA”, “Can the WNBA survive? Is it profitable?”, and so on and on. It gets annoying for me to read as well as other people.  So I’ve stopped. I’ve stopped reading those type of articles. Stopped mentioning to others to go read.

That is why I am so glad that the WNBA and Twitter have teamed up. Twitter is BY FAR the most social media tool I use and I am grateful that the league thinks the same way. I am ready to see the impact the Twitter deal will have on the league and if it can pick up more fans.

One last thing, if you want the WNBA to have more games on Twitter, be willing to pay. You like the action, but don’t live in a WNBA city? Buy WNBA League Pass. Stop making excuses and be honest with yourselves. You want the WNBA to succeed? Then prepare to open your wallet.

Personal Reflection – Looking back at WNBA Draft Week.

The WNBA Draft has come and gone and Kelsey Plum is headed to San Antonio as the #1 pick. It was a crazy week for me personally, as I have been dealing with the loss of my grandfather who passed away on Tuesday and I have been going back and forth to my parent’s house to help them out. On top of that, the draft took place on Thursday — and I was live streaming for WNBA365 (It’s on YouTube, just search WNBA365). All night long, we kept expecting draft day trades because we just kept hearing through out the week and then NOTHING came up! Talk about disappointment, but I’m pretty sure there will be some more trades or action with WNBA Training camp set to open in a week!

This week was just crazy for me personally. I had all these plans lined up for the summer and I have just found out this week that there are some big events planned both in my family as well as among my friends. It’s crazy right? What is the saying again? When you make plans, God laughs? Yup. That’s what happened to me this week. All these emotions of sadness and happiness mixed together.

As for how the WNBA Draft turned out, I was just disappointed. I am aware of the fact that this year’s WNBA Draft class was weak (not superstars, just solid role players or borderline All Stars) but still. It sucks for the draftees and their family not to get a picture with the league president on the stage and have that moment. It was robbed of them. There was nothing wrong with the Draft and if anyone had any objection to it otherwise clearly did the WNBA a disservice. Congratulations to all of the WNBA Draftees and good luck in training camp. It’s going to be extremely difficult to make a WNBA roster from this year forward (I would expect less than 10 to make it) but take the opportunity and make  your game better.

I haven’t put this on my blog yet, but I am working with Shattered Backboard for it’s  WNBA/women’s college basketball website. http://www.shatteredbackboard.com. Check it out as we will have great stuff rolled out for the upcoming WNBA season. It’s been a fun ride so far and more great things are in the future.

As always, I appreciate many of you who check my blog daily hoping for some updates. This post is for you! I don’t post here often, but I thought I would give an update on what is happening in my life as well as my thoughts on the WNBA Draft. I’ll try my best to blog more often on my thoughts on the WNBA season, players, etc.

Thanks for all the support on Twitter and everywhere else.

Peace out!

– Aneela

 

The WNBA Draft Date is April 13th, 2017

The WNBA has not yet announced the official draft date which is a shame, since it is a month away now. Yet, over the two months, thanks to knowledgeable fans who did the research, the WNBA draft date is April 13th 2017 starting at 7 pm on ESPN2.

UPDATE: (March 13th) The WNBA Draft is officially April 13th, confirmed by two people with knowledge. However, the WNBA Draft does NOT have a location set yet, meaning the Mohegan Sun arena is out. It could be either at the ESPN studios or in New York. Check back later on this post.

If you have heard that the draft is on April 10th, you are wrong. I have listed two pieces of information that will make it clear to you that the draft indeed will be April 13th.

The first piece of information is clear. ESPN2 has it’s programming schedule set for April 13th. As you can see, below it has the draft scheduled for 7 to 8 pm on ESPN2. Don’t believe me? Take a look yourself.

If you follow this link http://espnmediazone.com/us/programming/program-schedules/#tvl_resultsAnchor, and click on April 13th, for a live event on ESPN2, you will see the WNBA Draft pop up. Also, the WNBA draft will continue from 8 pm to 9 pm on ESPNU afterwards.

Another piece of information is listed right here in the Odyssey Sims article, which clearly states..”The WNBA Draft will take place on April 13th.” http://www.wnba.com/news/sparks-acquire-odyssey-sims-trade-wings/  right on the WNBA official website itself!

I’m not sure why the league STILL has not made it official. This is NOT how the WNBA should operate. The draft date should be open three months before. So, spread the word and let everyone know for those who didn’t know before. The official draft date is April 13th 2017. The San Antonio Stars hold the #1 pick.

Frustrations on getting WNBA access + getting the real stories

Read the title. This has always been a problem but it’s starting to rear it’s ugly head so much so that I thought I would I write a blog post about it.

For those of you who don’t know, I am a women’s basketball blogger who blogs on things regarding the women’s basketball world, etc. I also write articles (just not as often) on various websites. No, I’m not an official reporter for any major news outlet. No, I don’t always get the major scoop on WNBA access. That’s all on my own time and research and by reaching out.

For those asking, why I’m writing this blog post it’s because enough is enough. I’m tired of reading fluff WNBA articles on players, or not getting the full truth of the story. I’m tired of players being constantly compared to men’s basketball players. I’m tired of people giving major coverage to one player, but not to the others. I’m also tired of having to jump through hoops to get coverage or interviews. I get that the women’s basketball world is not a major sport and that it is a niche sport at the moment, but how are we supposed to grow the sport when there is limited access and availability in the first place?

For once, I just want to be able to read the full story or an investigative piece on why a WNBA team is falling apart or getting the full details of players contract (the length, years, money) and being fully able to report it. I want to be able to send an email and get a quick, timely response so that I can write the story. I’m tired of all of it and you should be too.

It’s time for all of that to stop. But the question is, how are we going to do just that?

To tell you the truth, I don’t know. But it has to STOP. It has to.

Until next time,

Peace

Aneela

 

 

WNBA Free Agency 2017 – List of all the WNBA Free Agents

WNBA Free Agency is just around the corner and with that, it’s time to release the confirmed list of all the free agents for this year. Thanks to some good people and a little research, the list of free agents is listed below.  Enjoy!

UPDATE: I’ve added some names and details to some of the free agents. If I’m still missing names, let me know! Also, cored players are added as well.

CORE PLAYERS

Angel McCoughtry – Atlanta Dream

Dewanna Bonner – Phoenix Mercury

Camille Little – Connecticut

Tanisha Wright – New York

Crystal Langhorne – Seattle Storm

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

Layshia Clarendon – Atlanta

Elena Delle Donne – Chicago

Alex Bentley – Connecticut

Kelly Faris – Connecticut

Sugar Rodgers – New York

Brittney Griner – Phoenix Mercury

Skylar Diggins – Dallas Wings (signed an extension till 2019)

Emma Messeman – Washington Mystics (signed an extension until 2019)

Kelsey Bone – Phoenix Mercury

Kayla Alexander – San Antonio Stars

Sydney Colson – San Antonio Stars

Vicki Baugh – San Antonio Stars

Tayler Hill – Washington Mystics

Tierra Ruffin Pratt – Washington Mystics

Tianna Hawkins – Washington Mystics

RESERVED PLAYERS

Meighan Simmons – Atlanta

Clarissa Dos Santos – Chicago

Tiffany Bias – Dallas

Erica Wheeler – Indiana

Ana Dabovic – Los Angeles

Jelena Dubliljev – Los Angeles

Katerina Elhotova – Minnesota

Temi Fagbenle – Minnesota

Keisha Hampton – Minnesota

Rachael Jarry – Minnesota

Anna Cruz – Minnesota

Rebecca Allen – New York

Olcay Cakir – New York

Sonja Petrovic – Phoenix

Marta Xargay – Phoenix

Haley Peters – San Antonio

Abby Bishop – Seattle

Jamie Weisner – Washington

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

Erika DeSouza – Chicago

Jasmine Thomas – Connecticut

Plenette Pierson – Dallas

Erlana Larkins – Indiana

Jeanette Pohlen – Indiana

Alana Beard – Los Angeles

Kristi Toliver – Los Angeles

Essence Carson – Los Angeles

Ann Wauters – Los Angeles

Sandrine Gruda – Los Angeles

Janel McCarville – Minnesota

Epiphanny Prince – New York – signed a multi year extension in September 2016

Mistie Bass – Phoenix

Krystal Thomas – Seattle

Monica Wright – Seattle

Leilani Mitchell – Washington

Asia Taylor – Connecticut

Wrapping up the 2016 WNBA season with a nod to the Los Angeles Sparks #wnba

It’s now been six days since Game 5 ended, and I’m still in shock. It was such a great game, intense series and to see the Sparks take the championship on the road was very fitting. I am so glad the WNBA decided to do this format because this wouldn’t have happened in previous years. Unless you are a Minnesota Lynx fan, you could not be any more happier for all the first time champions on the Sparks. The stories, the journeys, the injuries all made this Sparks team very special. Congrats to the LA Sparks, they fought with the Minnesota Lynx every step of the way and now can enjoy being the WNBA champion!

Moving along, this WNBA season was very unique and to me personally, it had shades of 2008 written all over it. The superstar rookie, really great legends and great games. Also, it was also interesting because many players retired this season, more than ever before. We said goodbye to Tamika Catchings, Lauren Jackson, Swin Cash, Delisha Milton Jones, Penny Taylor and Jayne Appel. That’s a LOT of greatness leaving the game. It’s bitter sweet to see that happen, but in a good sense, it means that young stars will now become the stars to watch for future seasons.

The only major gripe I had for the WNBA this year was the Olympics. I am totally on board with saying the US Olympic committee made a mistake leaving off both Parker and Oguwmike off the roster, but it got pretty tiring hearing about it in every story. I’m sure both Candace Parker and Nneka Oguwmike were upset, but they both moved on and focused on the season unlike the media. Also as a neutral observer, it got pretty annoying to deal with UCONN vs Tennessee when they’re hasn’t been any rivalry for a while now. But I guess that helps some fans deal with it, but for the rest of us it gets pretty old.

All in all, I’m pretty pleased with how this season went. The WNBA has a LONG way to go before we can reach NBA standards, but this season showed progress and just how much talent there is in the league and that if your not watching it, you are missing out.  With that, we say goodbye to the 2016 season and look forward to the 2017 season!

*Also for me on a personal level this season, there was more Twitter chatter over the season, I had way more followers and responses to this season than ever before. Sometimes my notifications would fill up and I couldn’t respond to anyone on time. So thank you to everyone who followed me, engaged with me via Twitter, etc. This season was by far the most interest I’ve had from my followers and others, so THANK YOU! I appreciate the support as a blogger and as a fellow tweeter.