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WNBA Opening Night (Live Chat and Open Thread)

A bevy of games today, ranging from the very best, to the very worst.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Who: Dallas Wings v. Indiana Fever

Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse (Indianapolis, IN)

Time: 6:00 pm ET

Live TV: ESPN3

Last Meeting: It's a brand new season!



It's opening night, my friends! The Indiana Fever's last game was a heartbreaking loss to the Minnesota Lynx in the WNBA Finals, while the Dallas Wings (formerly the Tulsa Shock) lost in the conference semis to the Phoenix Mercury.

The Fever lost three players in Brianna Butler, Natasha Howard, and Shavonte Zellous. The three combined for around fourteen points, on less than 40% shooting. They picked up one player, Devereaux Peters, who won a chip last year with the Lynx, but only averaged around three points. TL;DR - they lost inefficient volume scoring, and picked up no scoring at all.

The Wings, on the flip side, lost nobody. They're trotting out the same roster as last year, with one crucial difference; Skylar Diggins is healthy. She is the best player on the Dallas roster, and if she's at 80%, she's the best player in this game.

Strictly for the Return of Diggins, I'd pick the Wings. The Fever vastly overachieved last year, according to the statistical predictions of one "expert", and they may have gotten worse this year.

Who: Verizon Center (Washington, DC)

Where: New York Liberty v. Washington Mystics

Time: 7:00 pm ET

Live TV: ESPN3

Last Meeting: 0-0! Fresh starts for all!



Game two is between the Liberty of New York and the Mystics of DC. The Liberty are coming off a season in which, defensively speaking, they were one of the most dominant teams in the country. Their defensive rating was 94.2, 1.4 points ahead of the eventual champion Minnesota Lynx. The Mystics were 4th in DR, at 97.4 points per game.

Using defensive rating for individual players is a bit more complicated. While the Mystic have the number one ranked play in DR (Latoya Sanders), she played less than twenty minutes per game. In the interest, of you know, not spending the rest of my life investigating these numbers, I'm just going to point out that the Liberty have the second, third, sixth, and tenth best defensive rated players, and call it a day.

There are some other interesting tidbits, such as Epiphanny Prince being the fifth ranked player in PER, and the fourth-ranked player in offensive rating. Emma Meesseman, who plays for DC, ranks seventh in PER, and tenth in offensive rating. There is a fair amount of star power here.

Also, did I mention that the New York Liberty swept the Washington Mystics in the playoffs last year?

Perhaps I should've lead with that.

Who: Minnesota Lynx v. Phoenix Mercury

Where: Target Center (Minneapolis, MN)

Time: 7:30 pm ET

Live TV: ESPN (!!!!!)

Last Meeting: N/A



The Lynx are coming off a hard-fought and well-deserved championship. By most statistical measures, they put up the best season of any team in the country, and they rampaged through the playoffs until running into the hot Indiana Fever. They are, in my opinion, the favorites to repeat as champions this year.

That belief is predicated on a few things, Maya Moore and Sylvia Fowles being the principal reasons. Moore has a PER of 25.5, fourth-best in the league, while Fowles was only two spots behind her in sixth with 24.1. Fowles was also sixth in defensive rating.

Moore, who won the MVP and Finals MVP last year, is just at the beginning of her athletic prime, at age 26, while Fowles is at the very peak of hers at 30. They, combined with a roster filled with players like Seimone Augustus, Rebekkah Brunson (eighth in DR), and Anna Cruz, they have a roster built to win anywhere.

However, the Phoenix Mercury do have something nobody else has, and that is Brittney Griner. Griner was suspended for seven games to start the season after she and her-then girlfriend were arrested for getting into a fight at their home, hurting the Mercury's early record. However, when she returned, she was the same force of nature that she has always been, and the Mercury only lost when coming up against the juggernaut that is the Lynx. This Mercury team also benefits from the return of Dina Taurasi, one of the best WNBA players of all time, who took last season off.

I'm picking the Lynx in this game, but if the Mercury were to win this game and potentially beat this Lynx team in the playoffs, it wouldn't be a surprise. These are probably the two best teams in the nation.

Who: Connecticut Sun v. Chicago Sky

Where: Allstate Arena (Rosemont, IL)

Time: 8:00 pm ET

Live TV: ESPN3

Last Meeting: N/A



This game is between to extremes. The Connecticut Sun were trash in 2015, winning a shade over 40% of their games, and giving up 102.3 points per 100 possessions (defensive rating), while only scoring 100.1 (offensive rating). The Chicago Sky, on the other hand, had the best offensive rating in the country, at 106.3, and a just under league average defensive rating, at 101.1.

The main difference between these teams is that the Sky have Elena Delle Donne, and the Connecticut Sun do not. Delle Donne was far and above the best player in the WNBA last season, ranking first in PER, offensive rating, and first in Win Shares, beating out second-place Maya Moore by 2.4. She was unbelievable.

But: this game might be closer than people think. The Sun had two top four draft picks, and took two highly-respected players. If those two players are as good as advertised, they might be able to hang with the Sky. However, I wouldn't bet on it. The Sky had Delle Donne, and that's the only thing that really matters.

Who: Atlanta Dream v. San Antonio Stars

Where: AT&T Center (San Antonio, TX)

Time: 8:00 pm ET

Live TV: ESPN3

Last Meeting: N/A



The Atlanta Dream were bad in 2015, finishing dead last in the East. The San Antonio Stars were worse, finishing with less than ten wins. The Dream flipped their fourth overall pick to the Connecticut Sun for Elizabeth Williams, while the Stars took Moriah Jefferson out of, well, Connecticut.

The Dream, who have made the WNBA Finals three times in the last five years, have a much better chance of becoming a relevant, competitive team than the Stars do. Unless Moriah Jefferson is the second coming, they're going to struggle.

I'd lay my money on the Dream winning on the road.