Now, Ms. WNBA…
I’ve asked you three times…
Release the mother$%@&#+*^ schedule!
We are a good two-plus weeks shy of the WNBA draft, about a week and change shy of a supposed jersey release and a month and change prior to when we believe a season would begin, but we still have yet to see a schedule release courtesy of the W.
Remember – last year’s schedule was put out shortly after the league and WNBPA went on ABC’s Good Morning America and spoke with Robin Roberts about the landmark CBA the two sides hashed out together. Of course, that schedule became moot because of the pandemic and a new 22-game slate was worked out for the bubble.
With still no schedule released (yet), though it should be coming soon, we decided to take a look at what a 2021 WNBA schedule may look like … and offer some predictions on what to expect this coming season.
Color your TVs Black and Seafoam (and Copper!)
— New York Liberty (@nyliberty) March 29, 2021
The original plan for last season was that the New York Liberty were going to be on national television a lot last year, meaning less work for our friends at the YES Network. The W’s national television partners such as ESPN and CBS were going to ride the incoming Sabrina-Mania to big numbers in 2020.
Unfortunately, Ionescu rolled her ankle in the third game she played in the bubble and all that momentum was slowed last year for a Liberty team that won only two games.
This year’s Lib rendition – the first (finally!) at Barclays Center – will surely be better than last year’s given the free agency moves made by GM Jonathan Kolb. And yeah, Ms. Ionescu will be back fully healthy for the Liberty, so expect lots of Black, Seafoam and Copper on your television sets this year, whether you live in Manhattan or Manhattan, Kansas.
(South) ATL, Shawty
Our friends @AtlantaDream will be BACK at the #GatewayArena this summer, and we’re so excited we almost can’t contain it! We hope you’ll cheer these incredible women on in their 2021 season. 🏀 pic.twitter.com/hQ0UPkUJPE
— Gateway Center Arena @ College Park (@GatewayArena) February 23, 2021
With the W’s social justice message being a signature component of a league that is majority Black women, no team has embodied that message more than the Atlanta Dream.
In many ways, Dream players became the faces of the league as they rallied in the bubble against its former co-owner in Kelly Loeffler and supported her Senate opponent, Reverend Raphael Warnock, to a victory in January’s runoff election in Georgia.
Our guess is the W will go all-in on this message (especially given Renee Montgomery being one of the team’s new owners) and have a fitting christening of the Dream’s new College Park digs by opening the season at home. And given how much of Atlanta’s front office and roster from Nicki Collen to Chris Sienko to Courtney Williams to Shekinna Stricklen has Connecticut Sun connections, the Sun would be a fitting first opponent for the Dream on the ATL southside.
Viva Liz (and A’ja and Angel) Vegas!
— Las Vegas Aces (@LVAces) March 16, 2021
At the conclusion of free agency, one cannot look at the landscape of the WNBA and believe the Las Vegas Aces are not the favorites to win the 2021 championship. Vegas, now under new ownership, came from down 2-1 to the Sun last year in the semifinals to win the final two games and advance to the Finals with the Seattle Storm.
The Aces will field the reigning league MVP in A’ja Wilson, an Angel McCoughtry still in search of her first championship and a returning Liz Cambage fresh off of winning a WNBL championship with the Southside Flyers.
Oh … and credit to Dan Padover for doing work in free agency by signing Chelsea Gray and Riquna Williams.
With the high expectations placed on Las Vegas, our prediction is that they will be the team that will get the most national appearances on TV this season.
Champion vs. Champion
What. A. Night. 📸
— WNBA (@WNBA) October 11, 2019
— WNBA (@WNBA) October 7, 2020
If the WNBA really wants to go big for its 25th anniversary (and we all know it does), we suggest it go really big by featuring a matchup with the last two champions – especially with those champions fully healthy.
A Seattle Storm vs. Washington Mystics contest would be certainly intriguing. On one side, there’s a Storm team returning its core of Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd but who also added Katie Lou Samuelson in that five team trade that included the Liberty, Minnesota Lynx, Dallas Wings and Phoenix Mercury. The Storm did lose Natasha Howard and Alysha Clark along with Morgan Tuck to retirement.
On the other, there is a Mystics team that did not have its full compliment of players to the bubble (including Elena Delle Donne and Tina Charles), but will be bringing back both EDD and TC31 along with Natasha Cloud. Oh…and Clark is now in the Nation’s Capital with the Mystics as well, even though Washington recently announced she will miss the 2021 season with a foot injury.
A contest of the last two champions would not only be great aesthetics, it would be great basketball since both the Storm and Mystics are in the top of the class in the WNBA.
Hey, I Know This Court!
— NBC Sports Chicago (@NBCSChicago) January 27, 2021
As in … hey, Candace Parker knows the court at Staples Center given Staples has been her home court for much of her professional basketball career.
That, of course, changed this offseason when Parker decided to trade in her purple and gold Los Angeles Sparks digs for the power blue and gold of her hometown Chicago Sky and went from Rodeo Drive to Lakeshore Drive.
Our guess is sometime in the first month of the season, we will get a Sky vs. Sparks game at Staples Center in Los Angeles – and that it will be a national television broadcast on ESPN, and not only because of the significance of CP3 returning to Hollywood.
Let us not forget how Sparks Twitter was ready to jettison Sparks coach Derek Fisher out of Southern California after losing Chelsea Gray and Riquna Williams to Las Vegas along with losing Parker. They still have both Ogwumikes, Kristi Toliver and Seimone Augustus are returning and Los Angeles got ex-Indiana Fever Erica Wheeler and ex-Lib Amanda Zahui B in free agency.
The Sparks will still be good – and, obviously, so will Chicago, meaning that is another game that ESPN (or … ABC …) will be more than happy to have on its docket for the 2021 WNBA season.