WNBA Title Odds Shift With All-Star Game 2019 Approaching
The Connecticut Sun were one of six teams with a realistic shot of winning the 2019 WNBA championship. They opened the season with +550 odds, fifth best among a host of teams clustered together in a wide-open WNBA following MVP Breanna Stewart’s Achilles tear.
And since the start of the season, no team has seen their respective title odds shorten more than the Sun. While they’re not yet the favorite, their title odds on 888Sport have moved to +350 and could shrink even further during the second half of what’s been a tremendous season.
Jones Leading Sun To Red-Hot Start
There were real questions about how the Sun would replace Chiney Ogwumike, the two-time All-Star who requested a trade this past offseason and was granted her wish. The Sun only received a 2020 first-round pick from the Los Angeles Sparks in exchange, which did nothing to help their 2019 prospects.
If losing their leading scorer affected them, they certainly didn’t show it to begin the season. Connecticut won nine of their first 10 games, including two over Washington and one at Las Vegas, and did so behind a resurgent offense and league-best defense.
Jonquel Jones, who took a backseat to Ogwumike last season, is flourishing in a leading role. The All-Star is averaging 15.3 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game. She’s the only player in the WNBA averaging a double-double, and her 2.3 blocks per game also lead the league. The last player to lead the league in rebounds and blocks was Candace Parker in 2009. Jones was an easy selection as an All-Star starter and the Sun have found their new leader.
The Sun lost five straight between the end of June and beginning of July but have turned things around with a four-game winning streak prior to the All-Star break and are tied with Las Vegas for the league’s best record at 13-6. With Jones leading the way, and Alyssa Thomas and Jasmine Thomas putting together stellar campaigns, Connecticut has the look of a true contender.
Mystics Still Favorites Despite Record
It’s tough to get a read on the Washington Mystics. They began the season as favorites and have remained in that position, with oddsmakers giving them a slight bump to +220 to win their first title despite a 12-6 record. That record has included puzzling home losses to Phoenix and Seattle.
But the advanced numbers don’t lie. Washington is putting together one of the best offensive seasons in recent WNBA history. They entered Wednesday with a 108.5 offensive rating, the best mark in the league by nearly nine points (Connecticut, 99.6). In a year where offensive efficiency has plummeted around the league, the Mystics are flying high. They’re averaging 92.3 points in their wins and are beating teams by an average of 20.3 points in those games. When they’re hot, they’re unstoppable.
They lead the WNBA in effective field goal percentage, turnover percentage and assist ratio. They’re the only team in the league with six players averaging at least 9.9 points. It hasn’t mattered that they’re just middle of the pack defensively. With All-Star Elena Delle Donne leading a stellar offense, the Mystics are in great shape.
Aces Still Sitting Pretty
There wasn’t a bigger offseason acquisition than the Las Vegas Aces trading for Liz Cambage, and they became a popular 2019 title pick because of it. Cambage’s efficiency has taken a tumble but she was still named an All-Star and leads the NBA-best Aces in scoring and rebounding.
Vegas stumbled to a 4-4 record to begin the season but has been stellar since. They’ve won nine of their last 11 games and have the league’s best net rating (8.8) in that span. They’ve done it with a defense that ranks first in efficiency by more than three points. In that stretch, their title odds have shrunk from +250 back to +225, where they were at the beginning of the season. They’re starting to put it all together.
Atlanta Dream Becoming A Nightmare
The Atlanta Dream were expected to struggle without last year’s leading scorer Angel McCoughtry, who suffered a knee injury in August. But a 23-win team that was a game away from last year’s WNBA Finals still had high hopes for the season, and they had modest +650 title odds heading into the season.
Instead, the Dream have been the league’s worst team. They have a 5-15 record and their -11.4 net rating is on pace to be the second worst mark in the last eight WNBA seasons. Because of that, their title odds have gone from +650 to +10000.