Most of the WNBA returns to action Friday night, but a select few players will be making their season debuts. And while the tail end of any season provides a chance for teams to experiment and look forward, that’s not exactly the case here, as these particular player additions go to teams contending for the championship, looking for that push over the edge. Here we’ll examine which move helps its contender out most.
Player: Anna Cruz
Returning To: Minnesota Lynx
This was the plan all along with Cruz, who suited up for the Lynx last year and took the WNBA season off up until this point for Olympic preparations for her native Spain. It was well worth it for Cruz, who helped lead Spain to its first-ever Olympic medal, a silver, and paced the club with 3.1 assists per game. She single-handled provided an Olympic win with a buzzer beater in the lane against Turkey. Now she comes back to a Minnesota team in prime championship position. After signing with the Lynx last season, Cruz provided 8.0 points per game, over three rebounds and three assists. She was part of the Playoff rotation that won Minnesota its 3rd WNBA championship, so expect her experience to come in handy for the Lynx late again this postseason.
Player: Epiphanny Prince
Returning To: New York Liberty
In the gym with the Liberty for over a week now, Prince is making her return from a knee injury suffered in November while playing overseas. Epiphanny achieved Second-Team All WNBA honors last summer in New York, and has had to wait extra long to back up her award-garnering season. The two-time All-Star gave the Liberty 14.2 points, 3.1 assists, and 1.9 steals per game in 2015. New York currently leads the East and looks like a lock for a top-four Playoff spot and bye, but it will be interesting to see how Prince can mesh with this year’s breakout Liberty guard, Sugar Rodgers, and now-automatic Player of The Month Tina Charles.
Player: LaToya Sanders
Returning To: Washington Mystics
Currently, the Mystics are locked with the Storm for the eighth and final Playoff seed, and they could use any kind of boost down the stretch. After showing signs of heating up, Washington went into the Olympic break losers of their last seven games. No team was happier to see the break come than the Mystics after a nightmarish slide. But they’re getting back an old friend in Sanders, who suited up for the Turkish National Team during the Olympics and provided 5.0 ppg and 5.7 rebounds a game last year in D.C. This time, Sanders is inked to a multi-year deal, so regardless of the results of their Playoff push, Washington can begin to set up for the future.