Around the WNBA - Jun. 7

Prediction Mockery tried to warn you. "The middle of both conferences is muddled, and at this point no team can safely be ruled out of the playoff race," we wrote in our WNBA preview. "That should set up yet another fantastic WNBA season - as long as your predictions aren't saved on the Internet."

With a healthy Becky Hammon at the point, the Liberty is rolling.
Jesse D. Garrabant/NBAE/Getty
Two full weeks into the season, that could not possibly be more accurate. If the season ended today - it does not - both teams this site had in last place in their respective conferences, the Minnesota Lynx and the Connecticut Sun, would be playoff teams, the Lynx with home-court advantage. Meanwhile, the Detroit Shock labored in last place in the WNBA prior to beating the Sun yesterday in a brief return to normalcy, and the Los Angeles Sparks and Sacramento Monarchs, widely expected to meet in the Western Conference Finals, sit sixth and seventh in the West.

The standard "it's early" caveat applies, but it seems that, particularly in the Western Conference, parity continues to rule the day. By this time last season, it was already apparent that the Mercury was outclassed. This year, the closest team to filling that role is probably the 2-4 Washington Mystics, but even they are only a revival from center Chasity Melvin (4.5 ppg, 2.5 rpg thus far this season) away from contention.

The only team to separate itself from the pack so far this season has been the New York Liberty, which has looked outstanding in winning six straight games after dropping its opener to the Indiana Fever. Center Elena Baranova has provided an unexpected lift, averaging 11.6 points, 7.0 rebounds and a league-leading 2.9 blocks while shooting 53.3% from the field (despite never shooting better than 42.7% in a season to date). That, combined with the impressive rebounding of rookie DeTrina White, has given the Liberty the inside presence it lacked last season even with Dispersal Draftee Ann Wauters still working her way back into the lineup after arriving at the start of June.

As far as the Lynx, they got more good news today when forward Svetlana Abrosimova was activated from the Suspended List. It was expected that Abrosimova would return after the Olympics at the earliest because of her commitment to the Russian National Team, but the Lynx will get her back much earlier. Abrosimova is a major offensive upgrade over former Storm forward, who is averaging 5.4 points per game so far this season.

Stock Up, Stock Down

Speaking of making a mockery of this site's commentary, the last look around the WNBA touted San Antonio rookie Agnieszka Bibrzycka as on her way to the starting lineup while questioning the performance of Connecticut rookie Lindsay Whalen. Since then, the two players have gone in opposite directions.

After scoring 13 points in her second WNBA game, Bibrzycka has combined for two points and two rebounds in her last five games, shooting a dismal one of 13 from the field (7.7%). Rumors of veteran Silver Stars starter Adrienne Goodson's demise continue to be greatly exaggerated. Goodson is still playing better than 30 minutes per game, and while her shooting (36.2% from the field) has been inconsistent, the 2002 All-Star is pulling down a career-best 6.9 rpg.

Meanwhile, Whalen is finding her place in Coach Mike Thibault's high-octane attack. In her last four games, three of them Connecticut wins, the other yesterday's one-point loss to the Shock, Whalen is averaging 12.0 points and 5.0 assists while shooting 58.3% from the field and 6-for-9 from downtown. Whalen continues to turn over the ball on a regular basis, but that can be forgiven if she produces as much as she has.

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