Starting Five: Early thoughts as 2022 WNBA season commences

Photo Credit: Lamar Carter

The 2022 WNBA season tipped off on May 6. As of this writing, it is now May 17 and while there is still plenty of season to be had, there are already a few early storylines developing from the first week and change of W basketball.

A few teams that were in the lottery from last season would be firmly in the playoff picture if the season were to conclude today and one team that is expected to contend for a championship is starting out slow out the gate.

Here are five observations from the first few days of the 2022 season.

Rhyne Howard

After several seasons mired in the lottery, the Atlanta Dream have started the season with a 3-1 record – tied with the Washington Mystics and Las Vegas Aces for tops in the WNBA.

And they are doing so in large part because of the play of its No. 1 overall draft pick Rhyne Howard.

She is currently fourth in the W in scoring as she is averaging 20.8 points per game and recently won Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors. With what Howard is doing so far with the Dream, she is not only putting up Rookie of the Year numbers, she is putting up statistics that are indicative of a possible All-Star berth in Chicago.

Stics SZN

Speaking of those Washington Mystics …

Mike Thibault’s team is looking exactly like what a Mike Thibault team would look like with a health Elena Delle Donne.

As of today, Delle Donne is fifth in scoring in the WNBA with an even 20 points per contest. Last season, Washington won only 12 games (tied with the Los Angeles Sparks and New York Liberty even though the Liberty won the tiebreaker and eighth playoff berth) and were in the lottery. They are a quarter of the way to that already and we have not even reached the All-Star break.

Add in what Natasha Cloud, Ariel Atkins and Myisha Hines-Allen are doing and the Mystics could be on the path to reclaiming its place in the District of Champions.

Flying High

The Dallas Wings are another team that has started the season on the right pair of kicks. As of today, the Wings are 2-1. And while Dallas was a playoff team from a year ago, one does not typically think of the Wings when mentioning teams that may make deep postseason runs.

Dallas dropped it season opener at home to Atlanta – a 66-59 result. Vickie Johnson’s Wings then responded by dealing the Mystics its only loss of the season so far (in Washington), then making the short trip up to New York where they managed to score a come-from-behind victory over the Liberty.

Arike Ogunbowale is once again doing Arike Ogunbowale things as she is averaging 18.3 points per game through the first three matchups. Allisha Gray, Marina Mabrey and Isabelle Harrison are also posting impressive 2022s so far for Dallas.

Climate change?

If one were to be out of the WNBA loop, then return to said loop and see the Seattle Storm in lottery territory, one has to think initially that it must be a typo on the W’s website.

But it is no typo – the Storm have began the season with a 1-3 mark. Seattle also struggled down the stretch of last season.

Just as the hot takes are already flowing with the teams that have started the season hot, they are also doing so with teams like Seattle that have started slow out the gate. But the Storm still have its Big Three of Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd so never count out the green and gold.

Missing Lynx?

The Minnesota Lynx are 0-4. Cheryl Reeve-coached teams are not supposed to start their seasons 0-4, but the Lynx early on not only have struggled, they have been a revolving door of signings and releases.

Minnesota cut Layshia Clarendon and Angel McCoughtry prior to the start of the season. Napheesa Collier is out because she is giving berth. The team let go of Odyssey Sims as well as Crystal Dangerfield – the 2020 Rookie of the Year.

Let us hope Minnesota can turn things around soon because the great Sylvia Fowles does not deserve to go out like this.