2011 WNBA Predictions
By Frank Della Femina, WNBA.com

At last the day is here. All 12 teams have been covered in our season previews. Rosters are trimmed down to the league-mandated 11 players. It's time to get the ball rolling as the league's 15th season tips off.

With so many exciting storylines leading up to the monumental season, itís only natural to start looking at the big picture. And by that I mean, letís get into some predictions.

Whoís going to win it all in 2011? Thatís the question everyone would love to know at this point and frankly I'm not about ready to take that leap just yet. We'll get to that around the midseason point, but what I will say right now is Atlanta and Indiana are my two favorites coming out of the East, while Minnesota and Seattle are my favorites in the West.

Below you will find an breakdown for each conference, whereby I toss out my prediction for regular season finish and a brief description of what we can expect to see in 2011. Should you wish to read the full season preview, that is also linked up in each teamís blurb.

EAST

TEAM (2010) NOTES
1
Atlanta (4)
If last yearís Atlanta Dream was good enough to make it to the WNBA Finals, thereís little reason to think this yearís team is going to finish any differently. Well, maybe slightly different if they can claim that coveted trophy, but the 2010 team is still intact and the addition of Lindsey Harding puts them up one more notch. Easily a top favorite in the East.
2011 Season Preview | Media Day Gallery
2
Indiana (3)
Tamika Catchings is easily one of the most exciting players to watch. Whether sheís attacking the basket on offense or smothering the opposition on defense, thereís one prevailing element to her game: she wants to win. As a top MVP candidate for the past two seasons, Catchings will once again be the focal point of this squad, while Katie Douglas and Tangela Smith provide some firepower as well. Briann Januaryís starting role at the point will play a significant part in this teamís success.
2011 Season Preview | Media Day Gallery
3
Connecticut (5)
One season in the books has given this team a chance to learn each others tendencies on the court. 2010 Rookie of the Year Tina Charles is bound to have another stellar season and the added growth of Kelsey Griffin and Alison Hightower should also provide a nice boost from the bench. Acquiring Kalana Greene as part of a Draft Day move could pay dividends by seasonís end.
2011 Season Preview | Media Day Gallery
4
Chicago (6)
The Chicago Sky will enter the season with a few new faces, a healthy mix of young and old. Sylvia Fowles had a monster year in 2010 with a league-leading 2.59 per game. She likely wonít stray too far from that this season, although she will be receiving a little help from veteran center Michelle Snow on the inside. The chemistry of Epiphanny Prince and third-overall pick Courtney Vandersloot is also worth keeping an eye on.
2011 Season Preview | Media Day Gallery
5
New York (2)
The Liberty is the sort of team that has the ability to score at will against opponents and they will look to do just that in 2011. The Achillesí heel for the Liberty though is centered on rebounding. Although general manager and coach John Whisenant did address a few concerns in this department during the draft, itís hard to say how successful the team will be when relying on rookies to get the job done down the middle. With center Janel McCarville not reporting to the team this season, it will remain a sore spot throughout.
2011 Season Preview | Media Day Gallery
6
Washington (1)
Itís hard to believe that last seasonís conference winners may potentially finish out of the playoff picture, but I genuinely feel this is a season in which the Mystics are looking to restructure. Trading away Lindsey Harding and Katie Smith gives a whole new look to the perimeter, while losing Monique Currie and acquiring Nicky Anosike will give a new look to the front court. Alana Beardís return is an obvious highlight to the season, but it may not provide a quick turnaround for the Mystics this season.
2011 Season Preview | Media Day Gallery
WEST
1
Minnesota (5)
Too bold of a prediction? Hey, Iíll go with it. Itís been said before but Iíll say it again: this was a team capable of making the playoffs in 2010. The only downside to that preseason projection was the unpredictable injury bug that struck the team over the course of the season. So a good team in 2010 derailed by injuries gets better with the addition of No. 1 pick Maya Moore and No. 4 pick Amber Harris. How can you not consider them as a top contender in the West?
2011 Season Preview | Media Day Gallery
2
Seattle (1)
Donít hate me Seattle fans; Iím just trying to be honest here. As SLAM Magazineís Ben York and I discussed during the offseason, the Storm was incredibly lucky to avoid the injury bug in 2010. Seeing as how depth is a bit of a concern for the Storm once you get past the starting five (letís stretch it to six and include Katie Smith), one untimely injury could be the thing that derails this teamís chances at repeating in 2011. Hopefully this prediction doesn't have me ducking for cover when I'm sitting on press row at a Storm game (unless you want to throw some candy my way).
2011 Season Preview | Media Day Gallery
3
Los Angeles (4)
Candace Parkerís return is bound to produce big results for the Sparks, provided she remains healthy for the entire season. The team is ripe with veteran leadership and skill in the front court, primarily with the likes of Ebony Hoffman, DeLisha Milton-Jones and Tina Thompson. There is a bit of a question mark when it comes to perimeter shooting, although rest assured Ticha Penicheiro will once again be the one directing traffic at the point.
2011 Season Preview | Media Day Gallery
4
Phoenix (2)
Fans have to be excited to see Diana Taurasi ready to take the court again in 2011. Actually let me correct that: Phoenix fans have to be excited. The rest of the league will have to look out. A well-rested Taurasi is expected to break out of the gate early this season. With Candice Dupree and Kara Braxton working the front court and Penny Taylor the likely player to benefit when opponents double-team Taurasi, thereís bound to be a lot of scoring any time Phoenix takes the court.
2011 Season Preview | Media Day Gallery
5
Tulsa (6)
Tulsa will be better in 2011 but itís a hard conference to compete in. Elizabeth Cambage and Sheryl Swoopes bring their own brand of excitement to the fans in Tulsa; a fan base that is hungry for wins. Will the team improve on its 6-28 performance from last season? I think so. But I donít think itís going to lead to a playoff spot once September rolls around.
2011 Season Preview | Media Day Gallery
6
San Antonio (3)
San Antonioís perimeter has plenty of weapons on hand but when it comes to rebounding and working the ball inside the team may hit a bit of a snag. Having Jayne Appel start the season injured is not ideal, but when the 6-foot-4 center returns to the court over the next three weeks or so sheís expected to step into a starting role down the middle for San Antonio. Becky Hammon will once again do her part to orchestrate the offense, but it may take a while for everyone to get on the same page.
2011 Season Preview | Media Day Gallery

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