Final rosters are due by May 13 at 5 P.M. ET.
By Alex Holmes
The WNBA preseason featured all but one of the league’s 12 teams. Granted, the preseason schedule only gives teams one or two final tune-ups before the regular season begins, but it does allow coaches an opportunity to gage which players have earned the right to stay on the 12-player roster. Let’s check out which teams had the most success in their final dress rehearsals, which individuals stood out, and the latest headlines ahead of the WNBA’s 25th season.
Best Team Performances
Three teams that stood out in their preseason games are the Seattle Storm, Indiana Fever, and Los Angeles Sparks.
The Storm defeated the Phoenix Mercury 88–71 in their lone preseason game. The most impressive stat line for the Storm was their 22 total assists on 35 made field goals. Head coach Dan Hughes opted to limit the playing time of Seattle’s Big Three—Sue Bird, Jewell Loyd, and Breanna Stewart—and he received solid contributions from center Ezi Magbegor (17 points), guard Kitija Laksa (13 points), and power forward Candice Dupree (11 points).
The Los Angeles Sparks tied the preseason league favorites Las Vegas Aces 85–85 in their sole exhibition contest. The Sparks had five players reach double figure scoring from the play of rookie Jasmine Walker (23 points), Nneka Ogwumike (12 points), Nia Coffey (11 points), Te’a Cooper (11 points), and Bria Holmes (10 points).
Although Angel McCoughtry’s season-ending injury devastated Las Vegas’ morale, the Aces still had the league’s deepest preseason roster. Los Angeles went toe-to-toe with Las Vegas without the likes of veterans Seimone Augustus, Chiney Ogwumike, and Kristi Toliver, as well as highly-touted rookie Arella Guirantes—their addition to the line-up in the regular season should only boost the squad’s chances of making a case for the championship come playoff time.
The Indiana Fever should also receive a pat on the back for their preseason performances. The Fever defeated the Chicago Sky in their first game before falling to the Sky in their second preseason match a few nights later.
In the first matchup, five players scored in double figures for head coach Marianne Stanley’s side. Victoria Vivians and Kelsely Mitchell may be the Fever’s go-to scoring options in the regular season. Add veteran Danielle Robinson and a fast-improving Teaira McCowan, and the Fever should be on their way to finishing far better than last season’s 11th place.
The three rookies that had an impressive unofficial preseason debut were Jasmine Walker of the Los Angeles Sparks, DiJonai Carrington of the Connecticut Sun, and Chelsey Perry of the Indiana Fever.
Walker connected on seven three-pointers and finished with a team-high 23 points against the Las Vegas Aces. She also finished with a team-leading 9 rebounds against a talented Aces frontcourt. At 6-foot-3, Walker can score at all three levels and the Sparks should be excited to see how her preseason performance carries over into the regular season.
Carrington played 24:46 for the Sun in their preseason win against the Dallas Wings, the second most on the team. The former Baylor standout filled in well for guards Briann January and Jasmine Thomas, scoring 16 points.
To loyal UT Martin basketball fans, it should be no surprise that the third-round draft pick Perry played vital minutes in the Fever’s preseason games. The former two-time Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year scored a team-leading 16 points in the first tune-up against Chicago and 7 points in the second matchup. Perry played the second fewest minutes in the Sun’s 82–65 win over the Sky, scoring 16 points in just under 15 minutes of play—talk about efficiency.
Aces guard Angel McCoughtry suffered an ACL injury in the team’s preseason game against the Los Angeles Sparks on May 8. The injury came when McCoughtry came down from an offensive rebound with 2:49 in the first quarter. McCoughtry, a five-time WNBA All-Star, was entering her second season with the Aces and was expected to be a key contributor on Bill Laimbeer’s star-studded roster.
The Chicago Sky traded forward Gabby Williams to the Los Angeles Sparks in exchange for Stephanie Watts and the rights of German player Leonie Fiebich. Williams, a former First Team All-American at UConn, was placed on the Sky’s suspended list earlier this month because she will be spending most of her summer with the French national team preparing for the Olympics.
The 2021 WNBA season begins Friday, May 14, with four games slated for the evening. The season tips off with a matchup between the Indiana Fever and New York Liberty at 7 P.M. ET on NBA TV. The Liberty were the only team that did not play in a preseason game.
The Connecticut Sun and Atlanta Dream begin their seasons at 7:30 P.M. ET. The matchup will stream live on Twitter.
The Phoenix Mercury and Minnesota Lynx square off at 9 P.M. ET on CBS Sports Network, and then the Los Angeles Sparks will host the Dallas Wings at 10:30 P.M. ET and the game will stream live on Facebook.
The full schedule for the 2021 WNBA season is available here.