What Were the Biggest Moves of the WNBA Offseason?
The WNBA Draft is in the books and the bulk of the offseason is behind us, and that means training camps are just around the corner. Some teams only made minor tweaks in the offseason, but others shifted the entire foundation of their roster. Here’s a look at some of the most notable moves made by each team across the league.
A franchise center that has been in Atlanta since the team’s inception, de Souza returns after a successful 2014 season which saw her earn her third All-Star appearance. She’s the team’s all-time leader in games played (194), rebounds (1,657), blocked shots (281), field goal percentage (.540) and double-doubles (67). Locking her up means that the stability that has been a huge asset for Atlanta the past several teams will continue.
The Sky acquired the six-time WNBA All-Star in a blockbuster trade with the New York Liberty over the offseason. Pondexter, a Chicago native, brings a solid veteran presence and championship pedigree to an already talented Chicago roster that’s looking to build upon its first-ever trip to the WNBA Finals last year.
With a knee injury sidelining reigning WNBA Rookie of the Year Chiney Ogwumike, the Sun were able to trade away the third pick of this year's draft to the Seattle Storm in exchange for Camille Little and Shekinna Sticklen. Sun coach Anne Donovan said before the draft that Little should be able to come in and help from a maturity and versatility standpoint as a stretch-four. Little averaged 12.9 points and 4.3 rebounds per game in 2014 and will have plenty of opportunity in 2015.
The Fever had a rather quiet offseason. The team is in the midst of a gradual overhaul, with Tamika Catchings on the tail end of her career. The Fever traded for San Antonio guard Shenise Johnson, a 24-year-old who averaged 6.0 points and 3.3 rebounds a game in 2014. But the biggest change from 2014 to 2015 will be on the sidelines. White, an assistant in Indiana since 2011, was promoted to head coach after the departure of Lin Dunn. She’s the league’s youngest coach, and while the Fever didn’t make many offseason moves, she’ll add 2014 first-round pick Natalie Achonwa this season, who sat out the 2014 season rehabbing an ACL injury.
The Sparks were able to nab former Seattle Storm head coach Brian Agler for its head coaching position during the offseason. Agler coached the storm from 2008 to 2014 and led the team to a championship in 2010. He now oversees a Sparks team that added veterans like Erin Phillips, Temeka Johnson and Jennifer Lacy during the offseason and should be poised to make a run in the Western Conference when Candace Parker returns.
The Lynx roster remains largely the same, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The Lynx should be a contender in the Western Conference and didn’t have many pressing depth chart issues. They traded away the No. 11 pick in the draft and acquired guard Anna Cruz from New York. She averaged 7.7 points, 3.6 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game in 2014 and the team believes she will add versatility to its backcourt.
The Liberty made plenty of moves this offseason, perhaps most notably trading away Cappie Pondexter to Chicago in exchange for guard Epiphanny Prince. Prince averaged 15.0 points and 3.8 assists per game during the 2014 season in Chicago, and she’ll join a Liberty team looking to make the playoffs for the first time under head coach Bill Laimbeer. Prince and the rest of the backcourt will have a chance to groom first-round draftee Brittany Boyd, who seems like a perfect fit for Laimbeer’s system.
The Phoenix Mercury enter 2015 with a roster rich in talent as it looks to defend its title. With Diana Taurasi not available in 2015, the Mercury made two offseason moves to help offset the production lost without Taurasi on the depth chart. Bonner, who was drafted by Phoenix in 2009, has averaged 13.2 points and 4.1 rebounds during her time in the league and she will likely assume an even larger role in 2015. Currie, the model of consistency, comes to Phoenix after spending seven seasons with the Mystics where she averaged 9.9 points and 4.6 rebounds per game in 2014.
The Stars owned the No. 6 and No. 9 picks heading into the 2015 WNBA Draft, but only ended up making one selection int he first round. They used that pick on Dearica Hamby, a 6-foot-3 forward from Wake Forest that the club obviously thinks highly of. Hamby’s only been playing basketball for six years, but established herself as one of the best players in the ACC while in college. She runs the floor well and her versatility can cause mismatch problems for opponents. Hamby has a chance to fit in nicely with Kayla McBride, Danielle Robinson and Jia Perkins in San Antonio, as the stars begin the post-Becky Hammon era.
The Seattle Storm are in the midst of a rebuilding period that the front office has been vocal about since the beginning. A youth overhaul is in the works and the Storm were able to get some quick help with that makeover in the 2015 WNBA Draft. Head coach Jenny Boucek’s team drafted Notre Dame’s Jewell Loyd No. 1 overall and then took Connecticut’s Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis at No. 3. Loyd will immediately bring her flashy, athletic playing style to a Storm team that finished last in the league in points per game in 2014. Mosqueda-Lewis is the NCAA’s all-time leader in three-point field goals and is looking to carry over her success from Connecticut to a city where fellow Husky-great – Ray Allen – played during his time as a marksman in the NBA.
Head coach Fred Williams knew his team would have the chance to draft a potential star with the No. 2 pick in the WNBA Draft, but he wasn’t sure which one would be available. In the end, it was Minnesota center Amanda Zahui B. who fell into Tulsa’s lap, and the Shock now have a promising center prospect. The 6-foot-5 center brings stellar defensive and she rebounds well, too. Williams noted her ability to step out and knock down jumpers as just another area of her game that makes her dangerous. She should help a Tulsa team that’s looking to get over the hump and make the playoffs for the first time since moving to Oklahoma.
While the Mystics didn’t shake up their roster much this offseason, head coach Mike Thibault’s team gave 2014 WNBA All-Star Ivory Latta a contract extension in February. Latta averaged 12.8 points and 3.3 assists per game in 2014 and is one of the key leaders on this team. The Mystics might not have a bonafide superstar, but that hasn’t stopped them from making the playoffs in each of the last two seasons.