Updated May 24, 2019 - 9:20 pm
2018 record: 26-8 (Won WNBA championship)
Season outlook: The defending champions lost reigning league MVP Breanna Stewart in April to an Achilles injury. Coach Dan Hughes was diagnosed with cancer. And star point guard Sue Bird might miss the entire season after undergoing knee surgery this week. That puts more of the onus on shooting guard Jewell Lloyd, who averaged 15.5 points last season. Natasha Howard could see more touches after averaging a career-high 13.2 points last year.
2018 record: 20-14
Season outlook: WNBA legend Diana Taurasi is still recovering from back surgery and will miss several weeks. But the Mercury still have plenty of firepower with center Brittney Griner and power forward DeWanna Bonner. Griner averaged 20.5 points 7.7 rebounds and 2.6 blocks last season, and Bonner averaged 17.3 points and 7.2 rebounds. The backcourt could struggle without Taurasi, as top guard Briann January averaged 7.0 points last season.
Los Angeles Sparks
2018 record: 19-15
Season outlook: The Sparks missed out on Liz Cambage, but still landed two-time All-Star forward Chiney Ogwumike in a trade with the Connecticut Sun. She averaged 14.4 points and 7.3 rebounds last season and will team in the frontcourt with her sister Nneka, the 2016 league MVP who averaged 15.5 points and 6.8 rebounds last season. They will assume a majority of the scoring load, along with guard Chelsea Gray (14.9 points per game), while Candace Parker recovers from a strained hamstring. A healthy quartet should help the Sparks contend for the WNBA title under first-year coach Derek Fisher.
2018 record: 18-16
Season outlook: The four-time champion Lynx will look drastically different this season. Longtime point guard Lindsay Whalen announced her retirement. Rugged veteran forward Rebekkah Brunson is gone, too. And former league MVP Maya Moore is sitting out the season for personal reasons. But they still have All-WNBA center Syliva Fowles, who averaged 17.7 points and 11.9 rebounds in 2018. Former All-Star guard Seimone Augustus is at the twilight of her career, but still scored 10.8 points per game last season. Third-year forward Cecilia Zandalasini averaged 5.7 points last season and could get more shots in Moore’s absence.
2018 record: 15-19
Season outlook: The Wings traded star center Liz Cambage to the Aces for Moriah Jefferson and Isabelle Harrison. They also will be without star guard Skylar Diggins-Smith (pregnancy leave) for a while. Former Sparks coach Brian Agler takes over and will rely on the likes of Kayla Thornton (9.2 points per game), Allisha Gray (9.2) and Azura Stevens (8.9). Former Notre Dame star Arike Ogunbowale joins the rotation as the No. 5 overall pick in this year’s draft.
Las Vegas Aces
2018 record: 14-20
Season outlook: The Aces are the betting favorite to win the WNBA title behind All-Stars Liz Cambage, A’ja Wilson and Kayla McBride. Cambage, acquired last week from the Dallas Wings, averaged 23.0 points and 9.7 rebounds last season. Wilson averaged 20.7 points and 8.0 rebounds, and McBride scored 18.2 per game. No. 1 overall picks Kelsey Plum (2017) and Jackie Young (2019) round out the starting five, and an improved bench could help the Aces make a lengthy playoff run.
2018 record: 23-11
Season outlook: The Dream were one of the surprise teams last year, winning 11 more games than in 2017. Guard Tiffany Hayes earned All-WNBA first-team honors after averaging a career-high 17.2 points. Veteran guard Renee Montgomery scored 10.3 points per game and is back to run the point. But star forward Angel McCoughtry tore her ACL late last season and still is out. She averages 19.2 points for her career.
2018 record: 22-12 (Reached WNBA Finals)
Season outlook: Star forward Elena Della Donne is back to lead the Mystics, who lost to the Seattle Storm in the WNBA Finals last year. She averaged 20.7 points and 7.2 rebounds. Guard Kristi Toliver averaged 13.9 points and can play on or off the ball. Ariel Atkins was one of the league’s best rookies and should have a bigger role. She logged 11.3 points per game and shot almost 36 percent on 3-pointers.
2018 record: 21-13
Season outlook: The Sun were among the most balanced teams last season, with six players averaging in double figures in scoring. But leading scorer Chiney Ogwumike was traded last month, meaning her 14.4 points per game must be distributed elsewhere. Veteran guard Jasmine Thomas averaged 12.9 points, and guard Courtney Williams averaged 12.6 points. Former All-WNBA forward Jonquel Jones accounted for 11.8 points and 5.5 rebounds, but could see an uptick in usage this season. She averaged 15.4 points and 11.9 rebounds in 2017.
2018 record: 13-21
Season outlook: Chicago’s backcourt of Allie Quigley, Diamond DeShields and Courtney Vandersloot combined to average 42.3 points last season. Quigley (15.4 ppg) is among the league’s best shooters and hit 42 percent on 3-pointers. DeShields (14.4 ppg) was one of the league’s best rookies, and Vandersloot (12.5 ppg) led the league with 8.6 assists a game. Big things are expected from rookie forward Katie Lou Samuelson.
New York Liberty
2018 record: 7-27
Season outlook: Former league MVP Tina Charles is still among the WNBA’s elite, as evidenced by her 19.7 points and 7.0 rebounds per game in 2018. But her supporting cast struggled, and the Liberty were one of the league’s worst teams. Kia Nurse, the team’s first-round pick in 2018, averaged 9.1 points. 2019 No. 2 overall pick Asia Durr joins the team and will be a top scoring option.
2018 record: 6-28
Season outlook: The Fever were the league’s worst offensive team and second-worst defensive team last season. Help is on the way in the form of 6-foot-7-inch rookie center Teaira McCowan, the No. 3 overall pick. She will team in the frontcourt with veteran Candace Dupree, who averaged a team-high 14.2 points. Scoring guard Kelsey Mitchell returns after an inconsistent season in which she averaged 12.7 points but shot 34.6 percent from the field.