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Candace Parker #3 of the Chicago Sky with her teammates Courtney Vandersloot #22, Allie Quigely #14 and Kahleah Copper #2 celebrate together. Photography: David Becker/NBAE via Getty Images
Beginning Wednesday night, the top eight WNBA teams will play off to determine who gets in this year’s finals.
Here we analyze their 2022 regular season performance, their value to the team, their versatility and their playoff experience.
However, you won’t find Skylar Diggins-Smith or Dearica Hamby here. The Next’s Hayden Cilley reports that Diggins-Smith is expected to miss the playoffs. Meanwhile, Hamby will be out in the first round, and likely at least in the second. She was diagnosed with a knee contusion on August 10 and could be away anytime between two weeks and a month. This list does not include Arike Ogunbowale and Diana Taurasi, both of whom were injured due to hip injuries and quadriceps strains Likely to miss at least the first round.
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In her final playoffs, Subard won’t be as valuable or as Seattle Storm teammates Breanna Stewart, Jewell Loyd and Tina Charles Just as clear. She’s had a slump in both field goal percentage (40.3 percent from the field, 38.9 percent from 3) and scoring (7.8 ppg) and scoring (7.8 ppg), and the numbers posted may not show her worth.
But Bird is still the nervous system of the Storm, and her postseason experience can be invaluable this time of year.
When Bird followed health and safety protocols in the first month of the season, the storm wasn’t running smoothly. While they went 2-1 in absences from May 27 to June 3, they had fewer than 20 assists in two of those games.
Photography: Chris Marion/NBAE via Getty Images
Phoenix’s first-round series to watch: Mercury and Las Vegas Aces are Brianna Turner against 2022 MVP hopeful A’ja Wilson .
Turner is one of the best-single linebackers in the league. The only reason she didn’t win my vote on one of the best defensive teams is because the defenses around her have been poor all season.
According to PBP Stats, the Mercury has a defensive rating of 104.48 this season with Turner on the floor. It soared to 110.60 as she got off the floor.
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Arike Ogunbowale will miss at least the first round to undergo abs earlier this month After surgery, the 2022 playoffs. That means Marina Marbury will play a bigger role against the Connecticut Suns.
In Dallas United’s last four regular-season games without Ogunbowale, Mabrey averaged 21.8 points and 5.3 assists per game, shooting Shooting 50 percent from the field and 48 percent from 3-point range.
Staying on Marbury’s defense, she ended the regular season in absolute tears. Wings needs her to put a lot of pressure on the Suns’ perimeter defense to get a first-round upset.
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Allie Quigley will be the greatest WNBA ever one of the shooters. One day, the league’s three-point contest should be named after her. (She’s won four times.)
Quigley’s value to the Sky isn’t just her shots, though. She’s also able to space the ball away from the ball and keep opposing defenses on their toes. While she’s not shooting anywhere near her career-best in 2022, she’s providing the Chicago Sky with a lot of gravity on offense. When Quigley is on the floor, according to PBP Stats, Chicago’s offensive rating is 110.16. When she closes, it drops to 101.96.
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Teaira McCowan in focus The Dallas Wings offense has been leading the charge since Arike Ogunbowale went down with an abdominal injury. She actually took over the role after Ogombovar missed several games in early August with an ankle injury.
McCown is one of the strongest players in the league. She is also one of the most efficient people. According to her basket stats, McCown’s shooting percentage ranks third in the league at 60.2.
McCown also opened up the floor for shooters and wings like Marina Mabrey and Allisha Gray. Dallas’ offense has never been more balanced.
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Natasha Cloud is leading the WNBA in assists this season at exactly seven per game. She stabilizes the Washington Mystics and knows how Elena Delle Donne and Ariel Atkins’ key offensive gear move and function on the floor.
Crowder’s 6’0 frame also allows her to put a lot of pressure on the rim, especially when the defense is focused on her on teammates.
But what’s most impressive about Crowder is her two-way play this season. She deservedly earned a spot on my All-Defensive First Team because she’s one-third of the league’s strongest perimeter defender, tied with Atkins and Alyssa Clark.
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Jewell Loyd shot just 39.6 percent from the field during the regular season, but she became red hot in the Seattle Storm’s final five regular-season games. During that time, she’s averaging 19.0 points while shooting 47.8 percent from the field overall and 53.5 percent from 3-point range.
Lloyd goes 13-of-23 in Seattle’s final regular-season game against the Las Vegas Aces A season-high 38 points. She’s the one who looks like an MVP candidate, not teammate Breanna Stewart or ace forward A’ja Wilson.
While all eyes will be on Stewart in the playoffs, it will be hard for Seattle if Lloyd can keep her hot Be eliminated.
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Tina Charles is one of the most honored post players in the WNBA and hasn’t made the playoffs since 2017. During the postgame press conference, she was visibly in tears when she found out that the Seattle Storm had secured a playoff berth.
While Charles’ defense has been criticized at times, since she arrived in Seattle at the end of June, she has given her a lot on offense. A major boost for the Storm. Before her arrival on June 29, the Storm had an offensive rating of 98.3, ninth in the league . Since then, the Storm’s offensive rating of 107.0 is tied for the third-best mark in that span.
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Ariel Atkins has been solid on both ends of the floor for the Washington Mystics this season.
Elena Dale Dorn returns to fold, Atkins is able to focus in addition to her sharpshooter on defense. She’s shooting 42 percent from the field this season and 36.5 percent from 3-point range, both of which are up from the numbers she posted last year.
Like Natasha Crowder, Atkins is another third of the Mystics’ strong perimeter defense . As a result, she won my first-team All-Defensive vote.
Mystics’ net rating floor talks when Atkins comes on and off. Washington’s net rating is 6.72 when she’s on the court, and 0.80 when she’s sitting.
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Earlier this season, Las Vegas Aces head coach Becky Harmon said starting point guard Chelsea Gray could “cut the cut.” “. The evidence is in the numbers.
According to Synergy Sports, Gray scored 0.995 points per possession when she was the ball handler on the court. pick and roll. Teammate Jackie Young is the only pick-and-roll ball handler with more than 100 possessions and scoring more efficiently.
Gray’s decision-making is what drives Trump. She may not have MVP-caliber scoring stats like teammates A’ja Wilson or Kelsey Plum, but her value is in how she controls the rhythm and balance of the team.
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According to Synergy Sports, Jackie Young averages 1.048 points per possession as a pick-and-roll ball handler, which puts her in the league’s No. 1 spot 95 bits. The No. 1 overall pick in 2019 is a great example of the Most Improved Player.
Playing like Chelsea Gray or Kelsey Plum, Young supports the Las Vegas Aces defense alongside A’ja Wilson . She often takes on the opponent’s biggest offensive threat on the perimeter.
While opposing defenses will stick to Wilson and Plumb, Young may give more leeway. Her versatility on both ends of the floor and her ability to play both on and off the ball will be critical to the Aces reaching the WNBA Finals.
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Natasha Howard finally realized her fate as Sabrina Inescu’s pick-and-roll partner of the season.
Howard’s aggression and speed to the rim balanced out the New York Liberty when outside shots didn’t fall for them attack. She also acts as a free defender
The way Howard plays his best defense, which is as a helper, is exactly what head coach Sandy New York’s defense designed by Brondero. Howard should be appreciated for his ability to guard the league’s best big man despite his 6-foot-2 height, said freeback Diddy Richards.
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Dallas Wings guard Alyssa Gray was supposed to be this year’s All-Star. She has proven herself to be a competent two-way player.
Gray won my second-team All-Defensive vote for the challenging task. Her defense against Kelsey Plum down below was impressive as she used her agility and speed to get to the exact spot on Plum’s favorite floor.
Owen Pence@OwenPence Allisha Gray’s lock-up defense against Kelsey Plum is here pic.twitter.com/BQ12ETIf0F
According to PBP Stats , Wings has a 3.99 net rating this season with Gray on the floor. Without her, Dallas’ net ratings fell to a negative 10.06.
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Connecticut Suns this season What a luxury for Leona Jones to come off the bench.
Jones is averaging 1.11 points per possession, according to Synergy Sports, which ranks 95th in the league. Breanna Stewart is the only player with the same number of possessions to score more.
As the frontrunner for Sixth Man of the Year, Jones proved she was as dominant as anyone in the league because Her overall shooting percentage is 56.9, and she ranks fifth in the league based on her basket stats. While the Suns count Alyssa Thomas as their engine, Jones has been Connecticut’s most consistent force.
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Emma Messman is the most influential free agent signing in the league. The Sky won the gold when they convinced her to leave the Washington Mystics for Chicago.
According to her basketball stats, Meesseman has 5.9 total win shares, fifth best in the WNBA. While Messman has always been effective on offense (her fourth-best shooting percentage at 57.1), she’s proven herself on the defensive end this season. While her contributions aren’t always reflected in scoring, and her one-on-one defense is rated average by Synergy Sports, Messman used her sharp prediction skills to create more deflections in the half-court and destruction.
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2021 WNBA Finals MVP Kalia Copper is one of Chicago’s best-known players. The Sky’s scoring is mostly in the paint, and her ability to drive and pass anyone on both ends of the floor is tough to defend.
And the bronze 2022 season will take a while to get into shape as she needs some time to recover after her overseas season in Spain, Her overall stats are back to what would be expected from a player of her kind. During the regular season, she averaged 15.7 points per game (a career high) while shooting 48.1 percent from the field (the second-highest), while averaging her career highs in rebounds (5.7) and assists (2.3).
But let’s not forget the defensive copper. While I’ve often praised Candace Parker for his snares and hedging, Copper has held the fort while defending the opponent’s best perimeter player one-on-one. What’s also impressive about the way she defends is how quickly she recovers and transitions, as her athleticism keeps her energized in that regard. According to PBP Stats, the Sky’s defensive rating went from 99.83 with her on the floor to 102.52 without her.
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MVP Jonquel Jones is down slightly from her breakout year in 2021, cementing her place as one of the best players in the world. But I don’t think that It’s her fault. When the Connecticut Suns brought Alyssa Thomas back into the starting lineup, they changed their identity. Thomas has had a great season, and I’ll get into that later, but Jones should still be considered the Suns’ MVP. According to PBP Stats, the Suns have better offensive efficiency, net rating and defensive efficiency when Jones is on the floor and Thomas is not (compared to when Thomas is on the floor and Jones is not).
In her basket stats, Jones ranks third in the league in offensive rebounds per game (2.6) and makes two-pointers The percentage (58.2) ranks ninth in the league. One question I have going forward is how head coach and general manager Kurt Miller is going to maximize his most talented players in the playoffs, which is something Miller doesn’t always do in the regular season.
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Although Elena Delle Donne’s playing time limit in the first half of the season makes me hesitant to make her an All-Star and that’s why she’s on my All-WNBA Second Team and not mine First team, it’s all a result of Washington’s plan to save her best basketball for the playoffs. For the most part, things went according to plan. In her 25 games in 2022, she is averaging 17.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and a career-high 2.3 assists. While her shooting percentage has dipped from the 2019 MVP season, let’s remember she’s had two back surgeries since winning the WNBA title three years ago.
What makes Delle Donne so valuable is because she changed the way defenses guarded the Mystics. When defending double Delle Donne, the others are open. It could be the shooter or the cutting Shakira Austin, who thrives when the defense helps her. While Dale Dorn’s shooting percentages have been low in the final three games of the regular season, it’s clear that her own personal shooting doctor has been helping her adjust for the playoffs.
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While I mentioned earlier that Kahleah Copper is the player that Sky’s identity is largely built around, Courtney Vandersloot also shares this mantel. The Bulls averaged the most assists per game (24.3), thanks in part to Vandersloot’s passing. While I’ve noticed Copper is a deadly killer, Vandersloot also puts a lot of pressure on the rim. She dribbles quickly, makes quick decisions, and realizes when she has to put the ball on the floor instead of looking for a teammate.
Vandersloot’s game also represented the Sky’s approach to shooting from beyond the arc. The Sky team prefers to look for shots that move the ball from north to south rather than east to west. But if the best look they can find goes beyond the arc, they’ll take it. Vandersloot shot 36.7 percent from three in the regular season, up from 34.6 percent in Chicago’s championship season a year ago.
Similar to being other elite point guards in the league, Vandersloot’s role is to organize her teammates and help them execute The style of play that won a championship for Chicago.
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Chicago’s second offense CNS leader and defense first leader is Candace Parker. While Parker has proven her game is right for her size Most comprehensive in person, but her value and how she assists Vandersloot lies primarily in her vocal leadership. Parker didn’t stop talking. If she’s on the court or off the bench, it’s hard to find the quietness of the two-time WNBA champion in the ups and downs of the game.
When Sky signed her in the winter of 2021, it was clear not only her leadership but also her secondary possession Technology will put enormous pressure on Vandersloot. The 36-year-old Parker can play at such a high level is impressive. She received my vote for the All-WNBA Second Team and All-Defensive Second Team.
Why not first? There’s so much talent in the Sky because they have the most players of any W team on this list. While one of the major storylines of the season is the final season of Sylvia Falls and Sue Bird, Parker may also walk away if the Sky manages to return for the first time in 20 years with a WNBA rerun.
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Sabrina Ionescu had a winning season with the New York Liberty. When I mentioned her teammate Natasha Howard earlier, I noticed that she had fulfilled part of her mission as the Liberty’s primary pick-and-roll player. But for Ionescu, her fate has been fulfilled this season, proving to the Liberty, fans and herself that she is exactly the player New York drafted. The Liberty is her team.
In her third season — though do we really count the three games she’s played in 2020? —She won four Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors, became the first WNBA player to score 500 points, 200 rebounds and 200 assists in a single season, and surpassed franchise legend Theresa Weathers Peng (Teresa Weatherspoon) had the most assists in a single season (228). She made everything to me — the WNBA first team, the most improved player of my choice.
Similar to Kahleah Copper and Courtney Vandersloot, Ionescu’s play is what drives freedom and its identity. New York is a 3-pointer team that plays the pick-and-roll a lot and is most efficient when it comes to the ball.
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If A’ja Wilson is not on her team, Kel Will sey Plum be more of an MVP frontrunner? worth considering. The No. 1 overall pick in 2017 will take a while to get to this point, but Plum has officially cemented himself as one of the best offensive guards in the league. In her first WNBA All-Star Game last month, she won the MVP while tying the record for most points scored (30). In Plumb’s senior year, she recorded the most 3-pointers per game with 3.1 3-pointers per game, according to her basketball stats, and her 3-point percentage of 42.0 percent (seventh in the league), And finished second in the scoring title battle, averaging 20.2 per game.
Plum doesn’t just score; she’s handing out, too. She set a career high with 5.1 assists per game, ninth in the Western Conference. I’m really curious to see how Plum handles this playoff run as one of the top two players on opposing scouting reports. It was the 2019 playoffs that brought the league’s attention to the type of player Plum is looking to continue a career-defining season in the postseason.
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The Connecticut Sun called Alyssa Thomas their engine, and that’s how she’s been all season. Starting point guard Jasmine Thomas tore her ACL in May, and Thomas became a full-fledged point forward who would go on to record two triple-doubles, becoming the fourth WNBA player to do so this year. I voted for Thomas on my All-WNBA First Team and All-Defensive First Team.
Her ability to defend multiple positions and play against the post and guard was impressive, and her play changed the Suns in Play in transition. Their fast break rating of 14.7 percent is the highest in the league.
I still have some questions about her chemistry with defending MVP Jonquel Jones. According to PBP Stats, when Jones is on the floor and Thomas is not, the Suns’ offense scores more than when both are on the floor. But looking at Thomas’ season, she made a case for Defensive Player of the Year and MVP, and I hope she gets quite a few votes.
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I think the last two players on this list are 1A and 1B. But let’s talk about why A’ja Wilson will be so valuable in the 2022 playoffs. According to Her Hoop Stats, Wilson leads the league in two-point field goal percentage (229), total rebounds (339) and blocks per game (1.9). She and teammate Kelsey Plum became the first duo to score more than 700 points in a WNBA season.
Oh, how can we forget about how Wilson shot from deep this season? Before the 2022 season, Wilson made just two 3-pointers during the regular season in his career. With coach Becky Hammon’s freer offense, Wilson made 83 3-pointers and shot 37.3 percent. Not too shabby!
I’d be remiss if I didn’t discuss Wilson on the defensive end, which is an all-defensive second-team pick my vote. She’s been the mainstay of the Aces’ defense all season. Impressively, she was willing to let her team defend at times. The Aces have struggled to stay on the defensive end all season. Their rotations weren’t always in sync, and when that happened, Wilson often swooped in to stop. According to PBP Stats, without Wilson on the floor, Ace’s net rating was 110.90, and with her, that number dropped by about 10 points to 100.55.
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Breanna Stewart is 1A for the same reason I picked her as my MVP, not Wilson. Compared to Wilson, Stewart’s offense around her is less consistent in 2022. The Storm don’t have another MVP candidate on their roster this season, though they do have one past MVP, Tina Charles.
Like when Subard was out this season in health and safety protocols, the Storm without Stewart is a whole different ball team. She missed two straight games against the Phoenix Mercury, and Seattle lost both games because of health and safety protocols.
Another reason I rank Stewart over Wilson is because of her playoff experience and success. Stewart won two WNBA championships and was the Finals MVP twice. She and Wilson played very similar roles on their respective teams, but Stewart’s playoff experience gave her a slight edge.