NEW YORK If the WNBAs general managers are accurate prognosticators, the Minnesota Lynx will be taking part in a championship parade for the third time in four years. The Lynx, led by All-Stars Seimone Augustus, Rebekkah Brunson, Maya Moore, and Lindsay Whalen, collected 58 percent of the votes as the team most likely to win the WNBA Finals presented by Boost Mobile in the 12th annual WNBA.com GM Survey. Minnesota was also selected as the team that is most fun to watch, receiving 42 percent of the votes from the GMs. The Atlanta Dream, led by All-Stars Angel McCoughtry and Erika de Souza, as well as rookie shooting guard Shoni Schimmel, was picked to win the Eastern Conference.
The complete results of the exclusive survey will be posted on WNBA.com in advance of WNBA Tip-Off 2014 presented by Boost Mobile, when the defending WNBA champion Lynx and reigning WNBA Finals MVP Moore tip off the leagues 18th season in the nations capital against the Washington Mystics on Friday, May 16 (7 p.m. ET). WNBA Tip-Off 2014 presented by Boost Mobile will feature 22 games from May 16 through Memorial Day (May 26), including the launch of ESPN2s season-long coverage of the WNBA. ESPN2 will debut its schedule of WNBA games on Saturday, May 17, when the Chicago Sky, led by Elena Delle Donne, the 2013 WNBA Rookie of the Year, visit the New York Liberty, featuring newly acquired veteran Tina Charles, the leagues 2012 MVP, at Madison Square Garden (8 p.m. ET).
The Lynxs Moore, the Fevers Catchings, the Phoenix Mercurys Diana Taurasi, the Sparks Parker, New Yorks Tina Charles, and sisters Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike figured prominently in a number of categories.
Parker, who took home not only her second regular-season MVP award in 2014, but also MVP honors of WNBA All-Star presented by Boost Mobile, was selected to once again earn the leagues top individual honor (50 percent, edging out the 33 percent for Moore). Moore was also named as the player GMs would select if starting a franchise today (33 percent) and as the leagues best small forward (42 percent).
Catchings earned the top spot in the voting as the toughest player in the WNBA (64 percent), the top power forward and the player who is best at making her teammates better (50 percent each), as well as for the player likely to be named Defensive Player of the Year presented by Samsung (42 percent). The 2011 regular season and 2012 Finals MVP also was selected as the best leader (58 percent), grabbing the mantle from Seattles Sue Bird, who earned the honor the last five years.
Taurasi captured the votes as the leagues best pure shooter (67 percent), the player GMs would most want taking a shot with a game on the line (58 percent), and the player with the best basketball IQ (42 percent). The six-time All-Star and former league MVP (2009) also shared top billing along with Augustus and New Yorks Cappie Pondexter as the player deemed best at creating her own shot (25 percent each).
Charles, who the Liberty acquired in a draft day trade with the Connecticut Sun, racked up the No. 1 spot in four categories. While the move of the leagues 2012 MVP from the Sun to her hometown Liberty was considered the most surprising offseason move (67 percent), it also resulted in Charles being viewed as the one player acquisition that will make the most impact (58 percent). Now entering her fifth WNBA campaign, Charles also was voted as the player with the best post moves (50 percent), and the leagues top rebounder (42 percent).
Chiney Ogwumike, who the Sun made the No. 1 overall selection in the 2014 WNBA Draft presented by State Farm, and her older sister, Nneka, who was selected first overall by the Sparks in 2012, were considered by the GMs to be among the leagues best athletes. Nneka led all vote-getters (50 percent) as the most athletic player in the WNBA, while Chiney tied with Connecticut teammate Alyssa Thomas as the leading vote-getters for the most athletic rookie (33 percent apiece). Chiney, however, was edged out by Tulsa Shock guard Odyssey Sims, the No. 2 overall pick in the recent draft, as the player most likely to earn Rookie of the Year presented by Samsung honors (50 percent) and as the rookie who will develop into the best player five years from now (58 percent).
While the GMs saw Los Angeles as the team that made the best offseason moves (earning 50 percent of the votes following the teams acquisition of veterans Armintie Herrington, Sandrine Gruda, and Candice Wiggins), Connecticut which signed veteran star Katie Douglas away from Indiana and used draft day to select Chiney Ogwumike and acquire No. 4 overall pick Alyssa Thomas via trade with New York captured the vote as the team that will be most improved (33 percent), edging New York and San Antonio (25 percent each).
Ten players received votes as the player most likely to have a breakout season, with Phoenixs Brittney Griner and Los Angeless Ogwumike sharing the top honor (17 percent each). Similarly, nine players were in the mix as the leagues most underrated player, with Seattles Tanisha Wright leading the way (27 percent).
The coaching category included a variety of winners. Minnesotas Cheryl Reeve was given the nod as the best head coach (42 percent) and the coach that runs the best offense (50 percent); Seattles Brian Agler was considered to be the best head coach in the last two minutes of a game and the head coach with the best defensive schemes (42 percent each), as well as the head coach that makes the best in-game adjustments (33 percent). The Washington Mystics Mike Thibault, a three-time winner of the WNBAs Coach of the Year award (2006, 2008, and 2013), was voted as the head coach that is the best at developing young players (42 percent).
The GMs also felt that Seattle will be bolstered in 2014, not only by the return of seven-time All-Star point guard Sue Bird, who missed the entire season a year ago following knee surgery, but also by a rabid fan base at KeyArena. The Storm, for the fifth straight year, was considered by the GMs to have the best home-court advantage.
Additional leaders in the WNBA.com GM survey included:
Minnesotas Whalen best point guard (58 percent)
San Antonios Becky Hammon (now in her 16th season and returning from ACL surgery) player with the greatest hunger to win a championship (33 percent)
Chicagos Delle Donne, Phoenixs Griner, and Minnesotas Moore player who forces opposing coaches to make the most adjustments (17 percent apiece)
Atlantas McCoughtry player who is the most dangerous in the open floor (58 percent)
Seattles Bird, San Antonios Hammon, and Washingtons Kara Lawson active player that would make the best head coach someday (25 percent each)