With the kickoff of training camp today (at least by league standards,) I decided to take a look at the camp rosters for each team and it kick started the excitement. So down below, you'll read of my "predictions" on who will make the roster. Now, there's a lot of factors that impact the selection of a final roster. So bear in mind, all predictions are based on what I would do if I was in a coach/GM role for the franchise and acted off personal preference for style, chemistry and player abilities.These rosters will also be including full 12 man rosters, even though teams like Seattle may only carry 11. The predicted starting lineups also are made with the respect to teams being fully healthy (so Sylvia Fowles will still be permanent markered into Chicago's starting lineup.) So without further ado, let's dive in!
1. Chicago Sky
G- Courtney Vandersloot
G- Epiphanny Prince
F- Tamera Young
F- Elena Delle Donne
C- Sylvia Fowles
Jessica Breland, Markisha Gatling, Sasha Goodlett, Allie Quigley, Avery Warley, Sequoia Holmes, Aaryn Ellenberg
Just Missed the Cut: Jameirra Faulkner
The defending Eastern Conference Regular Season champs will go limping into training camp. It's already been announced that Carolyn Swords was lost for the season and Sylvia Fowles is on the shelf for an unknown length of time after having surgery. What may stick out most here is that Swin Cash is not listed on this roster. Cash has not been signed by the Sky and she has been cored by the team so she can only negotiate with them. A unique exchange between Cash and Seattle Storm forward Lauren Jackson revealed there may be some things going on behind the scenes that may not allow for Cash to be in the WNBA this season. But as for the roster, the Sky really take a step back in terms of their roster when you consider what some of the other teams in the league have done with the extra roster spot. Breland has proven to be a solid rotation big and had it not been for the ball being dropped in Indy, she would've been a key piece for the Fever in the playoffs. Gatling should have a puncher's chance at sticking as she is a strongly built post with nice finishing ability. Goodlett should start the season as the starter with Fowles out and with a slimmer frame after a solid season in Korea where she shot 58%, she has a chance to nail down a job for this and the next few years. Quigley and Warley should make the roster on the strength of having played a year under Chatman. If the Cash situation doesn't rectify itself, the player would could benefit the most is Seqouia Holmes. She's shown in the past that she could find a job having spent time with Phoenix and Houston, if she's improved this is a good situation for her, even if Cash plays. I think Aaryn Ellenberg makes this team moreso based on the players around her than anything else. Ellenberg averaged 3 threes made a game and with the weapons on this team, she could carve out a niche, a la Quigley/Murphy, last season. Faulkner is a tough, gritty kid I got to see a lot of and she brings an interesting dynamic as the nation's leading assister last season.
2. ATLANTA DREAM
G- Celine Dumerc
G- Tiffany Hayes
F- Angel McCoughtry
F- Sancho Lyttle
C- Erika de Souza
Matee Ajavon, Aneika Henry, Shoni Schimmel, Inga Orekhova, Samantha Prahalis, Cassie Harberts, Jacki Gemelos
Just Missed The Cut: Ashley Corral, Amanda Thompson
Next up, the defending WNBA runners-up really have a chance to make something special happen during the regular season this year. If there's any point guard out there that the Dream could have brought in and just toss the reigns to the team to her, it would be Celine Dumerc. Dumerc was instrumental in France's Silver medal finish in the London Olympics and joins a starting lineup up with 3 other Olympians. Hayes should be ready to make the jump into the starting lineup. The intangibles that she brings makes her the better fit, not to mention that she seemed to be one of the players that McCoughtry enjoys playing with. Ajavon should prosper in Cooper's system, but then again she probably should have in Mike Thibault's as well. She's a high risk, high-reward gunner at this point in her career and there's enough talent on this team to pull her if she's not playing well. Even though the Meadors/Williams era is over, I think that Henry will be getting the main minutes in the post behind de Souza and Lyttle. Prahalis is in a great situation to really be able to learn from Dumerc. She really shouldn't have been out of the league in the first place so this should be a big moment for her. Now, had it not been for Prahalis' signing, we'd have three former USC players that make the roster. Ashley Corral has been the last cut for a couple different teams in the W and it's probably going to happen again this year. Both Harberts' and Gemelos bring versatility that is mandatory in those last couple roster spots and they could be key contributors before long. Orekhova is a WNBA player although many didn't get the chance to see her this season.. Amanda Thompson is a sleeper to be the next Erlana Larkins and could beat out Harberts if she has a good camp.
3. WASHINGTON MYSTICS
G- Ivory Latta
G- Kara Lawson
F- Monique Currie
F- Tianna Hawkins
C- Stefanie Dolson
Bria Hartley, Quanitra Hollingsworth, Emma Messeman, Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, Kia Vaugnn, Nadirah McKenith, Kody Burke
Just Missed The Cut: Cierra Bravard
The surprise of the WNBA season last year, the Mystics flipped the script this season and will be much younger. After trading All-Star Crystal Langhorne to Seattle for the draft rights to Hartley and Tianna Hawkins, you have to think there will be some growing pains in DC. Lawson slides into the 2-spot that never really saw any consistency last season. I don't think Currie lasts the full season in Washington but she's be the lone piece that's seen any real time in the WNBA that starts in the frontcourt for the Styx unless Vaughn suddenly comes to camp consistent. Hartley and McKenith can really put on the afterburners and will keep the pressure up this season, Hollingsworth should be available for a full season. Messeman has a year under her belt, as does TRP. Kody Burke gets the final nod as she showed the ability to knock down open threes this year for NC State; not to mention Thibault has always had an eye for talent that fits what he desires and he usually has a second/third round pick make the roster every year. I think Bravard could stick in this league and it really comes down to Hollingsworth and if she is committed to the WNBA this season.
4. INDIANA FEVER
G- Briann January
G- Shavonte Zellous
F- Marissa Coleman
F- Tamika Catchings
C- Erlana Larkins
Karima Christmas, Natasha Howard, Layshia Clarendon, Lynetta Kizer, Jeannette Pohlen, Ziomara Morrison, Natalie Achonwa
Just Missed The Cut: Jasmine Hassell
The Indiana Fever will look mighty different in quite a few spots this season, it'll be interesting to see what they do this season. If it were up to me, I'd have Achonwa on the roster this season and ensure she's training with the medical staff to be ready for 2015 because none of the players outside of the eleven listed above strike me as someone that you have to have ahead of allowing Achonwa to build chemistry. Jennifer Schlott is an interesting prospect but she'll probably get abused in camp by the bigger guards that Indy has. Coleman should flourish next to an actual defender in Tamika Catchings. Christmas got meaningful minutes last year which could prove beneficial after losing Katie Douglas. If there were any feasible options in camp, Clarendon would be gone quickly, but I do hold out hope that she's improved tremendously. Pohlen should be fully healthy. Kizer is a sleeper to be the first post off the bench and Morrison brings a year of WNBA experience and a solid stroke from three, which is an interesting wrinkle Indiana has never really had in a big. Hassell falls into the "just missed" line because she played with the team last year. I didn't really consider anybody else to be in the mix.
NEW YORK LIBERTY
G- Cappie Pondexter
G- Essence Carson
F- Tyaunna Marshall
C- Tina Charles
Kara Braxton, Delisha Milton-Jones, Alex Montgomery, Meghan Simmons, Kamiko Williams, Nicky Anosike, Ebony Hoffman
Just Missed The Cut: Anna Cruz, Jerica Coley, Chucky Jeffery
Marshall could turn out to be the steal of the draft. She went to a perfect situation. Laimbeer will know how to use her and her lack of an outside shot would have probably hurt her in any other camp. Not sure what the prognosis is on Plenette Pierson but I think you could swap her and DMJ back and forth all day or even see both of them starting along with Charles. They say if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything, so I'll just wish Charles the best. Carson's health could be key as Pondexter has seemed to get gradually worse every year since she left Phoenix (dodged a bullet there) but the addition of the former MVP could help that. Braxton is still going to make a roster because she's 6'6 with spurts of goodness, Montgomery has shown she's a solid rotational player who can get hot. Simmons, like Marshall ended up in the best possible landing spot. Williams had a really good season in Israel. Anosike should be solid if she's healthy and Hoffman should make the roster off reputation alone although she will probably be the casualty if Jerica Coley, Anna Cruz or Chucky Jeffery have a good camp.
6. CONNECTICUT SUN
G- Allison Hightower
G- Renee Montgomery
F- Katie Douglas
F- Chiney Ogwumike
C- Kelsey Bone
Alex Bentley, Alyssa Thomas, Kayla Pedersen, Yelena Leuchanka, Denesha Stallworth, Keisha Hampton, Kalana Greene
Just Missed The Cut: Kelsey Griffin, Sydney Carter
It's time for a major talent overhaul in Connecticut and Chris Sienko did a good job in putting together the pieces for a competitive camp. With the changes, the Sun should be able to play this season without having players throwing the season on the floor. Montgomery should improve on a shaky season with a consistent role this season. They frontcourt of Bone/Ogwumike has the potential to be great for years to come. Alyssa Thomas is a wildcard as I had her penciled in starting at the three, moving Douglas to the two and Montgomery back to the bench but her lack of outside shooting ability just wouldn't work with Ogwumike and Bone who need to be in the paint. Bentley started off great last season. Pedersen's versatility and smarts are a plus for every team. Leuchanka should be a nice addition for the Sun if she can stay away from cameras. Stallworth has the tools to have a long prosperous career. A healthy Hampton would've been in the league 2 years ago. Greene sticks solely because her contrac is guaranteed. Kelsey Griffin will in reality due to the same reason but I feel like players like Stallworth and Hampton have more upside than anything Griffin brings consistently to the WNBA. Maybe if the season was played in Australia...
And now for the West, which should be a little more fun...
1. MINNESOTA LYNX
G- Lindsay Whalen
G- Seimone Augustus
F- Maya Moore
F- Rebekkah Brunson
C- Janel McCarville
Monica Wright, Tan White, Devereaux Peters, Tricia Liston, Asya Bussie, Lindsey Moore, Waltiea Rolle
Just Missed The Cut: Asia Taylor
New year, same starting lineup. Wright will probably get even more minutes as a backup point guard with White joining the fray. Those two offensively and defensively will bring an interesting dynamic off the bench. Peters solidified herself as the first post off the bench and made Harris expendable even if she decided to show. Reeves already mentioned plans of playing Liston as a possible stretch four and she brings a toughness factor as a Chicago kid.. Bussie is a solid player who's defensive potential is very intriguing if she can ever improve on the sub-par 49% shooting percentage from her senior season. Moore is back, played well in spurts last year and has done some community work representing the Lynx so you'd have to think she'll make the opening roster. Rolle is 6'6 and gritty so playing against Brunson/McCarville should bode well for both sides. Liston takes Jarry's spot because she does the same things, only better.
2. LOS ANGELES SPARKS
G- Lindsey Harding
G- Kristi Toliver
F- Candace Parker
F- Nneka Ogwumike
C- Sandrine Gruda
Armintie Herrington, Candice Wiggins, Jantel Lavender, Antonita Slaugher, Alicia DeVaughn, Farhiya Abdi, Alana Beard
Just Missed The Cut: Brittainey Raven, Alyssia Brewer, Darxia Morris
Considering Gruda shows up, which it seems she will, the best move would be moving Parker out to the perimeter and Beard to the bench with Wiggins and Herrington to form a great defensive trio. This is similar to what UMMC does with Parker although she does start at the 4, she's able to move around the perimeter and create mismatches with her ability to put the ball on the floor. Lavender could be in her last moments in LA as she continues to play well in Euroleague but someone new comes in and eats into her minutes each year. Not too many 6'1 guards can say they had a hand in stopping Brittney Griner but Slaughter brings a three point stroke and a swagger that could be really fun to watch in the Staples Center. DeVaughn is an intriguing prospect and being Yolanda Griffith's daughter, she has the potential to be special. Alana Beard probably will still continue to start but really didn't play well in Korea which is why I chose to demote her. Abdi gets the nod with a year in the system and she played well overseas. Raven has developed from a shooter into a scorer so if she gets in a rhythm she could take a couple players spot. Brewer and Morris are intriguing prospects but the talent ahead of them is their downfall.
3. PHOENIX MERCURY
G- Erin Phillips
G- Diana Taurasi
F- Penny Taylor
F- Candice Dupree
C- Brittney Griner
Briana Gilbreath, DeWanna Bonner, Mistie Bass, Shay Murphy, Ewelina Kobryn, Anete Jekabsone-Zogota, Alexis Gray-Lawson
Just Missed The Cut: Maggie Lucas, April Sykes, Tiffany Bias, Krystal Thomas, Chelsea Hopkins
This is the deepest camp roster in the league. The Mercury mean business. The health of Penny Taylor will play a huge role as Phillips should slide in seamlessly beside Taurasi. Dupree will continue in her metronomic manner. Griner should at least know what to expect this season. Gilbreath should still make this team based on her ability to be an irritant. Bonner will go back to etching her name into the Sixth Woman of the Year trophy if Taylor is ready. Bass will rebound and defend, Murphy and AJZ give the Mercury a couple of knock down shooters. Kobryn should step in and take Krystal Thomas' spot solely based on the fact that you do have to know where she is on the offensive end but probably won't get many minutes. AGL should be able to step in and play a dual role as a ball handler and a player that can create her own shot off the bench next to Taurasi and Phillips. This is going to be a really strong camp with the late additions of Kobryn and Zogota as any of the group including Thomas, Maggie Lucas, Tiffany Bias, Chelsea Hopkins or April Sykes could have made the roster as well.
4. SEATTLE STORM
G- Sue Bird
G- Tanisha Wright
F- Shekinna Stricklen
F- Crystal Langhorne
C- Camille Little
Noelle Quinn, Temeka Johnson, Jenna O'Hea, Michelle Plouffe, Joslyn Tinkle, Alysha Clark, Valencia McFarland
Just Missed The Cut: Angel Robinson, Mikaela Ruef
The Storm will more than likely miss the playoffs this season and I would hope Agler finally cracks and gives some young kids a chance to grow. Stricklen should start as she wildly outplayed Quinn in South Korea. Langhorne and Little will play really well together. Tanisha Wright's knees are always a question mark. Birdy will be Birdy. Johnson will provide a steady hand off the bench and in combination with the two starting guards, they would be great mentors for a player like McFarland who would have been on the national radar had she not been on such a bad team. O'Hea should probably steal minutes from Quinn who only makes the roster because she's guaranteed. Plouffe is a great pickup for Agler and I doubt she'll play like a rookie which Agler will like. Agler is really high on Tinkle and Clark should be back to provide a spark from time to time off the bench. Robinson will probably make the roster in reality but I like Plouffe's ability to slide from the perimeter to the post. Ruef could easily sneak onto the roster because of her toughness and smarts.
5. SAN ANTONIO STARS
G- Danielle Robinson
G- Becky Hammon
F- Shenise Johnson
F- Sophia Young-Malcom
C- Jayne Appel
Danielle Adams, Kayla Alexander, Shameka Christon, Catherine Kraayeveld, Kayla McBride, Jia Perkins, Whitney Hand-Jones
Just Missed The Cut: Karla Gilbert, Carolyn Davis, Bri Kulas
McBride could possibly end up as the starting three as neither Christon or Johnson left a lasting impression and Kraayeveld's days as a three should be over. Getting Young and Hammon back after the year Robinson had and the growth Appel showed is a plus. Alexander should be a year better but if she isn't Karla Gilbert is the type of player Dan Hughes could get a lot out of. Perkins will continue to be a steady hand for the Stars. Hand-Jones is an intriguing player as Hughes all but said she would be on his roster if he got the chance during his time broadcasting the game that ended her career at Oklahoma. Adams should be back in her sixth woman spot with Young back and Christon, at this point seems expendable if Bri Kulas shows she belongs. Davis could also sneak onto the opening roster if Kraayveld or Alexander have a tough camp.
6. TULSA SHOCK
G- Skylar Diggins
G- Odyssey Sims
F- Nicole Powell
C- Courtney Paris
Angel Goodrich, Riquna Williams, Roneeka Hodges, Jordan Hooper, Ariel Edwards, Tiffany Jackson-Jones, Vicki Baugh
Just Missed The Cut: Jen Lacy, Theresa Plaisance
Another youth movement could pay dividends for the Shock as the crop of young players that they have are some of the better players that were available. Sims will probably be rookie of the year as she will probably end up as the leading scorer unless TJJ returns to pre-pregnancy form. Paris could potentially be the leading scorer but it will be interesting to see how Fred Williams decides to play now that she will likely be the starting center. Goodrich played well last season and is waiting in the wings if Diggins continues to struggle. Riquna Williams is a lock of 6WOY if Bonner starts. Hodges will keep a job because if she gets hot, she's one of the best shooters in the league. Powell should be able to do some nice things after seeing the game in a different perspective under one of the best college coaches in the nation. Hooper and Plaisance couldn't have ended up in better spots because while Fred Williams does tend to play small, they've got great size along with the shooting ability they both bring to the table. Edwards has great potential and in the right situation, I think she could become the biggest steal of this season's rookie class. It's not often you get a 6'2 guard that hasn't even tapped the surface of her potential. Baugh has just missed making this team the last two years and with the addition of Hooper, Jennifer Lacy becomes expendable because they do the same things as she, only better, younger and cheaper. Plaisance misses out simply because she lacks the strength and toughness that Baugh, Edwards and Hooper bring.