The WNBA: Four Reasons To Care

The WNBA season tip-off passed by like the 10-year anniversary of the release of Final Fantasy IX – unnoticed. Despite all those clever “Basketball is Basketball” commercials, hoops fans were too busy hating on LeBron and Dwyane Wade‘s celebratory antics in Game 2 to pay much mind to the June 3 season opener between the Los Angeles Sparks and the Minnesota Lynx.

But now that Dirk Nowitzki‘s game-winning drives and Jan Vesely‘s smooch are distant memories, hoops fans need something new to satisfy their basketball fix. Now I know the WNBA might not seem sexy, but I’ve got four reasons for you to follow this summer’s campaign.

1. Maya Moore’s rookie season

Moore finished her career at UConn as one of the most iced-out players in NCAA history. The 6-0 forward grabbed three Big East Player of the Year awards, a pair of national championships, and the 2009 and 2011 Naismith College Player of the Year awards.

But now that Moore is in the big leagues, can she continue to dominate? The other night, the Minnesota starter showed she is still capable of making it rain, dropping 21 points in just 30 minutes of play. If she keeps that up, don’t be surprised if David Kahn tries to steal Moore for the T-Wolves and turn her into the eighth point guard on their depth chart.

2. The New York Liberty could end its championship drought

One of the eight original WNBA franchises, New York has reached the championship four times. But on each occasion, the Liberty left empty-handed. Could this be the year the squad finally brings home the trophy? My Magic 8-Ball says, “Cannot predict now.”

Despite Cappie Pondexter‘s 15.8 points per game, New York had a rough time picking up wins early on, starting the season 2-4. But the Liberty has begun to turn things around. Currently riding a two-game winning streak, New York sits just half a game out of second place in the Eastern Conference. If Pondexter and the rest of the squad can keep it up, the Prudential Center could finally get a taste of playoff basketball.

3. Lauren Jackson – is she the G.O.A.T?

Last season, the Seattle Storm’s Lauren Jackson cemented her legacy as one of the top players in the history of the league, becoming the third woman ever – along with Lisa Leslie and Sheryl Swoopes – to win three MVP awards. The 6-5 Australian could separate herself from the pack this season.

But history isn’t on her side. In the league’s 14-year existence, Cynthia Cooper is the lone baller to repeat as MVP. Jackson should have plenty of competition for the league’s top individual award, with Diana Taurasi, Sylvia Fowles, and Tina Charles on scoring binges. Also hurting Jackson’s chances is a hip injury that will sideline her for three weeks. The forward should have more than half a season to defend her honor when she returns, so look for her to quickly make up for lost time.

4. Diana Taurasi is ready to tear it up

Speaking of Taurasi, I fear for anyone who matches up against her this season. As if covering the former UConn superstar wasn’t already terrifying enough, Taurasi returns to the court this summer with renewed focus.

Nearly one year after she was arrested and charged with an “extreme DUI,” Taurasi was cut from her Turkish pro team this past winter after she tested positive for a mild stimulant. It was later revealed that the testing company had made a mistake, but the news did not come until after Taurasi had already repatriated. After a few months of extra rest in the States, Taurasi returns to the court for her eighth WNBA season. Watch out.

Will you check out the WNBA this summer?

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