Peter Keating has a new article up for ESPN The Magazine titled "A Perfect Storm". He notes Seattle's veteran roster and writes:
Coach and GM Brian Agler goes with older stars because he likes how they tend to break down less than NBA vets. The 34-game WNBA season puts less mileage per year on players. Even those who moonlight for international teams generally still play a fraction of the games that their male counterparts do. (Bird, who heads to Russia most winters, will appear on her third Olympic team this summer, while Yao Ming, also drafted No. 1 overall in 2002, last played regularly three years ago.) Agler's approach also makes sense because WNBA teams have 11-player rosters, compared with 15 in the NBA, so winning clubs have little room to carry young players just because of their potential.
I don't know if I'd agree with that. There might be longer time between games but European travel is nothing like American travel - hours on the road on cramped bus rides for national games. Add up the WNBA games and the international games and you could have something pretty close to an NBA season, but stretched out over multiple continents and with none of the luxuries of NBA stars. Furthermore, there isn't the kind of an off-season that a NBA player would get. It's rare for elite WNBA players to take two or three months off.
Keating gives us some numbers:
The WNBA has the most compressed salary structure of any league: Maximum pay for vets is just $105,500 this season, about three times the minimum.....So in the WNBA, it's virtually impossible for teams to overpay the best players, because they can't overpay anybody.
Very true. He continues:
Most WNBA teams haven't caught on to this insight. Instead, because one premier player can make such a difference, clubs tend to bank their success on a great draft pick.
I suspect that Pokey Chatman might might have caught on. It's a short article, but a good one and worth a read. That "banking on a great draft pick" is something to think about when Griner Bowl season starts.