Building team chemistry in the WNBA can be challenging. The short training camp sees players filtering in from Europe, and everyone shares limited playing time in preseason games. Yet, it’s in that time that each WNBA team finds a rhythm and their players begin to click.
As teams begin to round into form before the season, here is a dynamic duo from each WNBA club that can give opponents fits on any given night.
With Elena Delle Donne traded and Jamierra Faulkner out for the 2017 season due to a torn ACL, the Sky will look for guard Cappie Pondexter and center Imani Boyette to emerge as a potent tag team. Pondexter is a proven scorer and distributor that has been in the league for more than a decade, while Boyette is just coming off her rookie season.
Jasmine Thomas and Alyssa Thomas aren’t sisters like their last names suggest, but they possess the same strength in creating ball movement and opportunities for teammates. They also move well without the ball, always looking for openings in the defense.
Jewell Loyd and Breanna Stewart have played together for only one season, but they play like they’ve been on the court together since junior high. They share the ball well and will surely have plenty of highlights this season.
Lindsay Whalen and Maya Moore are a triple-threat duo that create, score and hustle. Moore and Whalen aren’t the tallest on the floor, but they get after loose balls and find space to clean up rebounds for putbacks.
Los Angeles Sparks
Reigning league MVP Nneka Ogwumike and reigning Finals MVP Candace Parker are both scoring machines. Ogwumike led the Sparks in scoring last season, averaging 19.7 points per game while Parker was second at 15.3 per game.
New York Liberty
Sugar Rodgers and Tina Charles are a defensive challenge for opposing teams, forcing them to make adjustments on that end of the court. They are both snipers from all over the floor. If Rodgers is double-teamed, she can dish to Charles for the bucket, and vice versa.
Between Brittney Griner’s rim protection and Diana Taurasi’s ability to score and set up Griner for the occasional dunk, these two work like a well-oiled machine.
Tiffany Hayes and Bria Holmes form a backcourt duo that can flat-out score. Hayes will be the top returning scorer for the Dream with 15 PPG. The Dream’s leading scorer last year, Angel McCoughtry, will be sitting out for at least part of the 2017 season. Holmes played 21.3 minutes per game last season while averaging 7.5 points and 1.2 assists.
Skylar Diggins-Smith, who missed the first part of the 2016 season due to an injury, is a fierce competitor and brings energy to the team. The captain of the Wings, Erin Phillips, is the rock of the team, and this duo’s strength is their leadership.
San Antonio Stars
Moriah Jefferson and Kayla McBride have played together with the Stars for one season, and they were the team’s two leading scorers. McBride averaged 17.1 PPG and Jefferson, who made the WNBA All-Rookie Team, averaged 13.9 PPG and 4.2 assists.
Kristi Toliver was acquired from the Sparks, and she finished last season third on the team with 13.2 PPG. Also newly acquired, the 6-5 Elena Delle Donne can dribble, shoot and distribute like a guard. With Toliver’s championship experience, it could the perfect combination for Delle Donne’s first WNBA title.
Erica Wheeler and Erlana Larkins are a guard-forward combo that draws the defense, creating open opportunities for their teammates and each other. Wheeler is quick, shifty and great at using a change of pace. Larkins is a 6-1 forward that can work in the paint and on the perimeter. They are creative and continually come up with different ways to score.