There’s just one week of WNBA regular season action left, which means that we’ve almost got a full playoff picture, a look at the race for the eighth seed and plenty of awards talk. It also means that fans of the New York Liberty and Atlanta Dream should really relish these last couple games since their teams will definitely not be advancing to the postseason this year. On the flip side, everyone else should be getting pretty excited about watching the 2020 WNBA playoffs in the wubble, where Diana Taurasi can curse out the referees on the court one night and see them in the dining room eating breakfast the next morning.
Here’s what we learned from week six in the WNBA:
1. Jewell Loyd for the win
On Saturday, the Seattle Storm were down 87-89 against their West coast rivals, the Los Angeles Sparks. With 0.8 second remaining, it looked like the team in gold would prevail. But then Jewell Loyd did what Jewell Loyd does. She sprinted to the corner, caught the inbound pass from Sue Bird and sank a three-point shot to win the game for Seattle. And the best part? She had absolutely no doubt that it was going in.
With the return of Bird to the court this season, Loyd’s ability may be overlooked by some but the real ones know that the former Notre Dame guard (remember her, Muffet?) is an All-Star player. This season she’s averaging 14.6 points, 3.1 assists and 2.4 rebounds per game while shooting 44% from the field and 40% from three. The Storm may be stacked with big names like Bird, Breanna Stewart and Natasha Howard, but on Saturday, Loyd made sure that her name was not forgotten.
2. The Indiana Fever have gone cold
.@IndianaFever’s @JulieAllemand, with eight assists today, has 12 games this season with at least five assists, leading all rookies in that category, according to @ESPNStatsInfo. It’s been a challenging season for Fever, but Allemand has been a really good addition.
— Mechelle Voepel (@MechelleV) September 6, 2020
Coming into the 2020 WNBA season, the Indiana Fever had realistic hopes of playing in the postseason. But with one week left in the regular season, the team looks set for a fourth straight year of missing out on the playoffs, and they have no one else to blame but themselves.
After miraculously defeating the Seattle Storm on August 25, Indiana has lost seven straight games pushing them back to 10th place in the league standings. Injuries — losing Victoria Vivians for the second consecutive season is brutal — and the absence of star guard Erica Wheeler have certainly hurt the team, but questions might also be asked of head coach Marianne Stanley. On the plus side, the way rookie Julie Allemand has acclimated to the league — she’s averaging 8.1 points and 5.6 assists while playing 33 minute per game — is an encouraging sign for the Fever. But it looks like their rebuild is still in the works.
3. Who is the real top dog in the WNBA?
Talk about a team win! 5 Aces scored double-digits to secure the win.@_ajawilson22: 21 PTS // 8 REB // 2 BLK@angel_35: 18 PTS // 5 REB // 4 STL@kaymac_2123: 18 PTS // 4 REB // 3 AST@JackieYoung3: 18 PTS // 7 REB // 6 AST@dearicamarie: 11 PTS // 9 REB // 4 AST#ALLIN ♦️♠️ pic.twitter.com/5N6myWlRk8
— Las Vegas Aces (@LVAces) September 5, 2020
The Seattle Storm may have edged the Los Angeles Sparks — sans Nneka Ogwumike though, it should be noted — but the top three teams in the WNBA have never looked closer. It’s going to be insanely hard to predict which teams will emerge victorious in the WNBA Finals this year because the Storm, Sparks and Las Vegas Aces are all so dominant that you’d be wild to count any one of them out in a five-game series.
This year, the Storm have the best record led by Breanna Stewart, Jewell Loyd, Natasha Howard and the rest of their crazy deep roster but the Aces have been a real force this season behind possible league MVP A’ja Wilson and the resurgence of Angel McCoughtry. Vegas leads the league in points (88.1), rebounds (37.2) and points in the paint per game (42.7), highlighting their strengths — hint, it’s definitely not their three-point shooting. When talking about the top teams though, it’s probably not fair to dismiss the Minnesota Lynx, who have definitely surpassed expectations and currently sit in fourth place, just one game behind LA.
4. It’s awards season
🕹️💥 𝗥𝘂𝗻𝗻𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘂𝗽 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗵𝗶𝗴𝗵 𝘀𝗰𝗼𝗿𝗲 𝗹𝗶𝗸𝗲 𝗶𝘁'𝘀 𝗮 𝗴𝗮𝗺𝗲 💥 🕹️
— Seattle Storm (@seattlestorm) September 3, 2020
With the regular season winding down, everyone is eyeing the WNBA awards. If I had to choose today, here are my picks:
Most Valuable Player: A’ja Wilson (Las Vegas Aces)
Rookie of the Year: Crystal Dangerfield (Minnesota Lynx)
Sixth Woman of the Year: Dearica Hamby (Las Vegas Aces)
Defensive Player of the Year: Napheesa Collier (Minnesota Lynx)
Most Improved Player: Myisha Hines-Allen (Washington Mystics)
Comeback Player of the Year: Breanna Stewart (Seattle Storm)
Coach of the Year: Cheryl Reeve (Minnesota Lynx)
5. I’m here for all the WNBA Twitter beef
As awards season approaches and the playoffs loom, teams have been getting feisty on social media. From fiercely advocating for their own players to win awards to trash talking their rivals, teams have taken the Twitter beefs to an entirely new level in the wubble and I approve.
Here’s the Sparks stepping on the Mercury’s DPOY hopes:
— Los Angeles Sparks (@LASparks) September 7, 2020
Megan Rapinoe standing up for Jewell Loyd was pretty great:
— Megan Rapinoe (@mPinoe) September 3, 2020
And this entire thread between the Mercury and the Lynx has been incredible to follow: