It took five games and a game-winning, championship-winning put-back with 3.1 seconds left to determine a WNBA champion this season. The Los Angeles Sparks came out victorious, triumphing over the Minnesota Lynx, three games to two.
The excitement of the final seconds capped a great and momentous title series, leading into an offseason filled with pertinent storylines.
What can Sparks do for an encore?
Los Angeles won the WNBA championship for the first time since 2002, when teams led by Lisa Leslie repeated as champions after winning in 2001 as well. This 2016 squad was led by league MVP Nneka Ogwumike through the regular season and finals MVP Candace Parker through the playoffs. Ogwumike averaged 19.7 points and 9.1 rebounds during the year, ranking third in the WNBA in both categories. She did so while shooting a league-best 66.5 percent from the floor. Then Parker followed that up with an MVP in the finals, stamped with 28 points and 12 rebounds in the decisive game. It was the eight-year veteran’s first championship.
Coming off the title, the Sparks are also set to have the fourth overall pick in the 2017 WNBA Draft. This comes courtesy of a trade they made last season with the Connecticut Sun. Adding a newcomer of that caliber to this group should make LA a team to be reckoned with again next season.
It’s Lonely in Connecticut
The Sun made a huge splash with its trade with Los Angeles last season, but it didn’t exactly work out in the team’s favor. Connecticut traded away its first-round pick this year, multiple second-round picks and serviceable rotation player Chelsea Gray for first- and second-round picks in last year’s draft. Instead of propelling it to the playoffs, the moves left CT in the ninth spot in the standings, two games behind the final playoff spot.
Now, entering the offseason, one of the team’s best players, Chiney Ogwumike, is having surgery on her Achilles tendon. The procedure is expected to sideline her for six-to-nine months. This comes after she missed all of 2015 with a knee injury and then won AP Comeback Player of the Year in 2016. It hardly seems fair to expect a player to undergo two traumatic comebacks in the span of two seasons, yet the Sun needs her output if it hopes to get back to the postseason for the first time in five years.
Stars at the Top
The Stars were easily the worst team in the league last season. For their efforts, they received the most ping pong balls and won the draft lottery, giving them the franchise’s first ever number-one overall pick. Early mock drafts thought San Antonio may go with Tennessee’s Diamond Deshields with that first pick.
Where Did They Go?
A ton of WNBA stars are set to play overseas this offseason, per usual. WNBA.com supplies a list for each roster of where the ladies are set to play. Fans can keep an eye on their players for improvements, as well as injuries.