The rosters are finally final, which means the WNBA season tips off tonight!
It’s been a supremely active offseason and preseason, and nothing has been more indicative of that than the past few days of difficult roster cuts around the league. College standouts Megan Gustafson, Kennedy Burke, Natisha Hiedeman and Macy Miller were among those rookies to not make an opening-day roster.
The WNBA offseason was also highlighted by the injuries and other health conditions of some of the league’s best players. Among the big names missing all or part of the 2019 season are Breanna Stewart, Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird and Skylar Diggins-Smith (along with Maya Moore, who is not injured, but won’t be playing this season anyway). Plus, 2019 first-round pick Kiara Leslie is expected to miss three to four months after knee surgery that came as a surprise to her Washington Mystics.
But with all that settled, there’s a WNBA season to play — and still plenty of players to make it happen.
Several teams have brand-new looks this season. The Minnesota Lynx are going with three rookies — Napheesa Collier, Jessica Shepard and Shao Ting — as well as key veteran pickups Karima Christmas-Kelly and Odyssey Sims. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Sparks have two rookies of their own — Marina Mabrey and Kalani Brown — in addition to one of the most notable pickups of the offseason in Chiney Ogwumike, who joins her sister, Nneka, in LA.
Beyond the teams nearer to the top of the 2018 standings, each of the lottery teams — the Las Vegas Aces, Chicago Sky, New York Liberty and Indiana Fever — has made its case in some way to improve from last season. With Las Vegas’ acquisition of Liz Cambage selling some on the idea that the Aces will become an instant title contender, can they prove themselves and land a postseason bid?
In spite of the missing veteran stars and the disappointing roster crunch this week, the 2019 season still holds a lot of promise. Here’s how you can watch tonight’s games and start the season off right:
Dallas Wings vs. Atlanta Dream
When: Friday, May 24, at 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: State Farm Arena, Atlanta, GA
Featured attraction: Rookie Arike Ogunbowale should see action as the Wings’ starting point guard, which means big minutes in her first professional regular-season game. Meanwhile, veteran Dream point guard Renee Montgomery looks to steer her team of fellow vets to a repeat of their preseason thrashing of the Wings.
Injury-wise, Azurá Stevens (concussion) is out tonight for Dallas.
Indiana Fever vs. New York Liberty
When: Friday, May 24, at 8 p.m. ET
Where: Westchester County Center, White Plains, NY
How to watch: NBA TV, YES Network (NYC-area TV), FOX Sports GO
Featured attraction: One of these teams will get a season-opening win, something neither the 11th-place Liberty nor the 12th-place Fever managed last season. Look out for the new-look Liberty to make some noise early — but also keep an eye on the Fever, who hope to turn a 3-0 preseason outing into much more.