Back in January, Angel McCoughtry couldn't have been more clear on her intentions for the 2013 WNBA season. "Trust me and believe. Its coming. Real soon. I will win a WNBA Championship. Im stronger than ever," the Atlanta Dream gunner told WNBA.com. "Im 26 years old, hitting my prime, and I am ready to go. Trust me and believe. Its coming." Nine games into the 2013 season and you'd be hard-pressed to find a non-believer.
McCoughtry has led the Dream to an all-time franchise best 8-1 start -- also the top won-loss record in the league -- with her usual combination of prolific scoring (2nd best in the league), tenacious defense (league-best 35 steals) and the added dimension of creating offense for her teammates, as evidenced by cracking the top five in the league in assists.
With Sancho Lyttle, Armintie Herrington, Erika de Souza, Tiffany Hayes and rookie Alex Bentley all committing to the frenetic defensive pressure extolled by Head Coach Fred Williams and with McCoughtry soaring to a new level of intensity, the Dream are flying high in the East.
2. Friday After Next
Candace Parker and the Sparks were a decidedly unhappy group after falling to the Lynx in the 2012 Western Conference Finals by the smallest of margins. While last Friday's 87-59 thrashing of Minnesota doesn't alleviate the pain suffered in the 2012 playoffs, it still must have felt good.
Any time you can hold Maya Moore and Seimone Augustus to under 10 points combined in a game, while also keeping Lindsay Whalen from dishing out a single assist, you have a strong shot of beating the Lynx, and with Kristi Toliver (19 points) and Nneka Ogwumike (18 points) scoring, it didn't matter that perennial MVP candidate Candace Parker (recently the subject of a fascinating profile on Grantland.com) also had a relatively quiet night (five points in 17 minutes of action).
The question is, does Los Angeles have Minnesota's number, or was this just an aberration, a rare off-game for the Big Three and the Lynx? For the answer, check out the rematch this Friday in Minnesota (8pm ET) on LiveAccess.
3. Back to Future
Tina Thompson's accomplishments are well chronicled. Leading scorer in the history of the WNBA, eight-time All-Star, only player to compete in all 17 WNBA seasons, first pick in the inaugural 1997 Draft, four-time WNBA Champion. The list goes on.
When Thompson announced that this year would be her last in the league, one could be tempted to think her goodbye tour with the Seattle Storm would be largely ceremonial, more style than substance. One would be wrong.
Thompson rolled back the years last week and reminded everybody what all the fuss has been about, posting a 30-point, eight-rebound, five-trey, two-block effort in the Storm's 96-86 victory over the Mystics. She followed that up three nights later with a solid 21-point outing in a 91-86 win over the Silver Stars. It's altogether fitting that the most enduring player in league history would go out with a bang rather than a whimper.
4. Mercury Rising
Don't look now, but here come the Phoenix Mercury. After a slow start, the wildly diverse talents of Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner have emerged as a cohesive pairing, resulting in five wins in the past six games for Phoenix.
Taurasi is leading the league in scoring (23.9 ppg) and providing the energetic, vocal leadership which has made her arguably the finest women player in the game, while Griner has adjusted to the more physical, intense defensive attention she's been receiving in the W, posting her best individual game (26 points, seven rebounds and five blocked shots) in last night's 83-77 win over the Silver Stars.
5. NBA in the House
There was plenty of star-power on hand for the aforementioned Mercury-Silver Stars game on Tuesday night as San Antonio Spurs players Boris Diaw and Danny Green were on hand to support a Green Initiative and take in the WNBA action, which Diaw, in particular, admired for its skill-based game and general hoops intelligence. Check out the video below.