Washington Mystics Enter Second Half of WNBA Season as Championship Favorites
Posted on: July 28, 2019, 01:00h.
Last updated on: July 26, 2019, 07:38h.
The Washington Mystics may not have entered the All-Star Break with the best record in the WNBA, but they’ll leave it as favorites to win the club’s first championship.
The Mystics were swept in last year’s WNBA Finals by the Seattle Storm, but are currently the 9/5 top choice to win the title this season, according to bookmaker William Hill.
Finally Whole, Mystics Heat Up
Washington headed into the All-Star Break on a three-game winning streak, pushing its record to 12-6, just a half-game behind the Connecticut Sun at the top of the Eastern Conference.
The Mystics have been led by forward Elena Delle Donne, who is averaging 17.1 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. While Delle Donne missed three games with a broken nose, her return prior to the All-Star Break finally gave Washington a look at what its team is capable of at full strength.
It’s kind of like the beginning to our season because everyone is here together,” guard Shatori Walker-Kimbrough said after a 28-point win over the Atlanta Dream on Sunday. “We are trying to build on what we have been doing and continuing to get better.”
While the Mystics may be at the top of the boards, bookmakers see a wide open race for the WNBA title at the halfway point. One of the leading contenders are the Las Vegas Aces (9/4), who not only had the honor of hosting the All-Star Game on Saturday, but also have a league-best 13-6 record.
Aces Working Through Wilson Injury
The Aces have been the hottest team in the WNBA, winning eight of their last 10 games to close out the first half of the season. But Las Vegas will have to endure the next few weeks without star forward A’ja Wilson, who sprained her ankle in a 69-66 loss to the Seattle Storm last Friday.
Even without the reigning rookie of the year, however, the Aces have a deep and talented roster. Wilson is joined by Liz Cambage and Kayla McBride to give the team three All-Stars who each score about 15 points per game, combining to create one of the WNBA’s most potent offenses.
That means Las Vegas believes they have more than enough to get by until Wilson returns to the lineup.
“We just have to work through it,” McBride told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “It’s a collective effort for us. That’s what it’s been all year. We just want her to recover and get back with us, but for now everybody will step up and do a little bit more.”
The Best of the Rest
While the Mystics and the Aces may be the leading contenders, there are a number of other teams that still have a realistic chance of contending for a WNBA title this year. Other teams to watch include:
Connecticut Sun (7/2): At 13-6, the Sun share the best record in the WNBA with the Aces, and are on a four-game winning streak heading into the second half of the year. Jonquel Jones has been a standout performer, averaging 15.3 points and 10.2 rebounds per game.
Los Angeles Sparks (13/2): The Sparks started slow, but have won seven of their last 10 games to improve their record to 11-8. Los Angeles will be without guard Riquna Williams for 10 games, however, as she is serving the longest suspension in league history due to a domestic violence incident from April.
Phoenix Mercury (8/1): Like the Sparks, Phoenix started slow, but have come on to post a 10-8 record at the halfway point of the season. The Mercury have been led by Brittney Griner and DeWanna Bonner, and could get a boost from the return of veteran Diani Taurasi, who is still recovering from back surgery.