While the NBA and NHL playoffs not to mention the early stages of the MLB season consume most bettors' attention, the 2022 WNBA season is a little over a week away from tipping off. We've found plenty of success exposing soft lines on the ladies hardwood over the years and expect more of the same this season.
Here's part one of our look at what to expect from the league's 12 teams.
Odds to win the WNBA title are courtesy BetOnline.
Connecticut Sun (+350)
The Sun proved to be the 'cream of the crop' during the regular season last year but couldn't keep it going in the playoffs. Most believe the Sun are rightly positioned as the preseason favorite to win the WNBA title this year. Health will of course play a key role and all indications are that all of Connecticut's key pieces are full-go entering the season, led by reigning league MVP Jonquel Jones. Courtney Williams is back after a brief stop-over in Atlanta to relieve some of the scoring burden from Jones. Jasmine Thomas recently reported to camp after returning from overseas league play in Turkey. You'd be hard-pressed to find a deeper team with no fewer than six players having been previously elected as league All-Stars.
Chicago Sky (+425)
The Sky are the reigning champs so it's not surprising that they're projected as a championship contender again this season. It may seem odd to talk about a 'window of opportunity' closing just months after a championship run but Chicago's roster isn't getting any younger, with a number of veterans looking to repeat last year's performance and perhaps ride off into the sunset. The addition of 2019 WNBA Finals MVP Emma Meeseman and Julie Allemand among others have the Sky optimistic that, to quote the Counting Crows, this year could (actually) be better than the last.
Phoenix Mercury (+500)
Brittney Griner's ongoing ordeal in Russia certainly hangs over the Mercury franchise. Phoenix did load up in the offseason, adding the likes of Tina Charles and Diamond DeShields - two proven performers that should fit right in. Diana Taurasi is back in the mix as well, perhaps for a final run at a title. It remains to be seen how it will all work with first-year head coach Vanessa Nygaard at the helm but there's no question the talent is there for the Mercury to finish near the top of the standings once again.
Washington Mystics (+1400)
The Mystics appear to fit the bill as a solid sleeper pick, provided Elena Delle Donne can stay healthy which is always a big question mark. Ariel Atkins and Myisha Hines-Allen are one of the more underrated one-two punches in the league in my opinion. Add in some savvy drafting with Shakira Austin poised to make an immediate impact (unfortunately their other draft choice Christyn Williams will miss the season after suffering an injury during the preseason) and Washington is capable of making some noise in an uneven Eastern Conference.
New York Liberty (+2500)
There are those that believe this might just be 'the year' for the Liberty but I think that's a little optimistic (and the oddsmakers seem to agree). Health concerns always seem to swirl around Sabrina Ionescu. If she can stay on the floor, there's reason to believe the Liberty could contend in the top half of the East. New head coach Sandy Brondello comes over from Phoenix to lead a talent-laden roster that also includes last year's Rookie of the Year Michaela Onyenwere. The addition of Stefanie Dolson from the reigning champion Sky gives New York some much-needed stability and production down low.
Atlanta Dream (+6600)
The Dream were in desperate need of a franchise reset and got just that in the offseason with changes across the board, both on and off the court. Nia Coffey, Kia Vaughn and Erica Wheeler have joined the down-trodden Dream through free agency and it always helps to have the number one overall pick in the draft, with the Dream opting to go with Rhyne Howard who should be able to help right away. Atlanta's prospects could hinge on how Aari McDonald develops after an up-and-down rookie campaign a year ago. While Atlanta is still likely a year or two away from contending for a playoff spot, there's no question the franchise is once again pointed in the right direction.
Check back next week as we look at the WNBA's other six teams in part two of our season preview.