The 2018 WNBA season has ended, and the Seattle Storm have been crowned the champions! The celebratory champagne has stopped flowing and the attention has shifted in the professional women’s basketball world to the USA Basketball Women’s National Team in preparation for the FIBA World Cup.
But not so fast. Let’s take a trip down memory lane for my quick top 10 moments of this monumental 2018 season.
10. Enter the Las Vegas Aces
The condensed 2018 season marked the debut of the newly-moved and newly-branded Las Vegas Aces, previously the San Antonio Stars. I was excited to see how this new team in a new city packed with entertainment would fare in its first season at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. The Aces didn’t disappoint and fought until the end, barely missing the last playoffs spot to the Dallas Wings. They were led by Rookie of the Year and my fave WNBA hooper in 2018, A’ja Wilson.
9. Rookies had the best season ever
There was a season-long moment that I loved: rookies getting it done! There’s always the anticipation to see if your team’s draft pick is going to gel with the team and step up to the professional ranks smoothly. This season, the Aces’ A’ja Wilson, the Liberty’s Kia Nurse, the Sky’s Diamond DeShields, and the Mystics’ Ariel Atkins were just a few of the women from the rookie class that contributed valuable minutes. Now that the season is over, and novices no more, it will be exciting to see which of them avoids the sophomore slump.
8. All-Star Weekend packed with highlights
The All-Star festivities this year were full of fashion, fun and of course, basketball as the weekend kicked off in Minneapolis. Team Parker defeated Team Delle Donne 119-112, and Lynx star Maya Moore took home her third straight All-Star MVP award. Other highlights included Allie Quigley’s record-setting three-point contest win, lone rookie A’ja Wilson pouring in 18 points and the announcement that the 2019 All-Star Game will be hosted by the Las Vegas Aces!
7. Cambage’s big game
On July 17, Dallas Wings center Liz Cambage set the new WNBA single-game scoring record with 53 points as the Wings beat the Liberty 104-87. Cambage made 17-of-22 from the field and 15-of-16 from the charity stripe. On her stellar performance, she also added 10 rebounds and 5 blocks. And as if that wasn’t enough, Cambage added 35 points in the Wings’ next game to set the WNBA two-game scoring record with 88 total points.
6. Lindsay Whalen retires
Minnesota Lynx great Lindsay Whalen announced in August that she would be hanging up the playing shoes at the end of the 2018 season. Whalen had accepted the head coach position at the University of Minnesota in April, but still the news came as a surprise, as I’ve come to expect to see her each WNBA season. I wish Whalen luck on the new endeavor with the Golden Gophers!
5. Courtney Vandersloot with the assist(s)
Right near the end of the regular season, Vandersloot broke the WNBA single-season assists record in the Chicago Sky victory over the Minnesota Lynx 91-88 on August 14, passing Ticha Penicheiro’s 236 and eventually finishing the season with 258 assists. I liked this moment because Vandersloot to me has become an underdog in the WNBA, and after being snubbed in All-Star voting this year, she put an exclamation point on the season with her performances game after game.
4. Both semifinals series went all five games
The semifinals had the Mystics against the Dream and the Storm matching up with the Mercury, and this round was tough! Both series went to five winner-take-all games, and it went down to the wire to see who would advance to the Finals. Despite key injuries in the Mystics’ Elena Delle Donne and the Storm’s Sue Bird, these superstars showed that they weren’t going down without a fight and wouldn’t throw in the towel in the face of adversity.
3. The Mystics made their first trip to the WNBA finals
Being a supporter of Mystics star Elena Delle Donne, I thought their Finals appearance was testament to the team putting it all together. They looked like they were learning each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and there is no sweeter reward than punching your ticket for the final round of the playoffs!
2. Mask on
I just can’t say enough about what kind of a player and leader Storm veteran Sue Bird is, but when she broke her nose in Game 4 of the semifinals against a very good Phoenix Mercury team, her fire was lit! It had a bit of a superhero-esque feel to have her go down and emerge in Game 5 with a mask on, lighting it up from three to help the Storm surge past the Mercury.
1. We are the champions!
My top moment of the season has to be when the Seattle Storm won the WNBA championship for the third time in franchise history. In my prediction before postseason play started, I tapped the Storm to win it all, but it is always exciting to watch how it all unfolds. The Washington Mystics put up a dogfight in the semifinals and in my opinion just ran out of steam to beat a good and consistent Storm team.
What were your top 10 moments of this epic 2018 WNBA season?