The WNBA has been around for more than 20 years. Now it is time for an individual duel to take it to the next level.
The WNBA is without a doubt one of the most amazing leagues in the world. Almost all teams have a player who can be classed as a superstar. On any given night, any team can beat any team.
However, the league is at a crossroads. At it’s biggest, the league had 16 teams, but they have had to settle for 12, which seems to be working. Unfortunately not all of them appear to be making money, so expansion into traditional NBA markets does not appear possible.
Expanding into Florida, adding another team in California and going back into Sacramento are all good options but the league needs to have a catch, a draw card similar to the rivalry between Larry Bird and Magic Johnson.
This rivalry took the NBA from a really good league to a compelling one to watch. These two superstars, quite simply, changed the face of the sport. Michael Jordan then came along and used his looks, charisma and skill to take the league to a worldwide audience. For those who know me, I am not comparing the two leagues, I am simply using the blueprint of the more established league to help the WNBA.
That being said, it is my belief the WNBA has all the ingredients of this scenario Elena Delle Donne is a special talent, she can handle the ball, shoot threes, rebound, block shots and is almost perfect from the free throw line. Add to this she is second on the all-time points per game list with 20.41 points per game. She is behind only Cynthia Cooper who scored at 20.98 points per game. The way Delle Donne is playing, she should go past that average in a year or two.
Breanna Stewart is quite possibly the greatest talent to set foot on an WNBA court. She has great handles, a 7-foot-1 wingspan giving her the ability to block all sorts of shots, She is seventh all-time with 18.29 points per game. Her ability to hit the three when her team needs it is becoming a little Lauren Jackson-esq. She plays incredible defense and is fourth all-time in rebounds with 9.15 per game. All in only her second season.
Fr me the best part is still to come. With Delle Donne coming to the Washington Mystics there is almost a cross town rivalry which can develop between Washington and the Seattle Storm. Both teams are on the up and will fight hard for years to come. Stewart, however, may be a year or two off from being able to match it with Delle Donne. As I said earlier, she is only in her second season. When it happens, the WNBA had better be ready to make the most of the battles between these two.
The WNBA needs too then have a player ready to fill the Jordan role and for anyone who watches, you will know there are a myriad of candidates. If Kelsey Plum is ever allowed to play her game, she has the skills, personality and looks to take this role. Skylar Diggins-Smith is already there.
For me, without knowing the financials of the teams in the league, I am bullish about the future. Lisa Borders is an tremendous asset to the league and her work getting the 20 games a season on Twitter was nothing short of genius. Attendances may be down but the league is reaching more people in more places. How else can an Australian write about a league happening thousands of miles away. The League pass is so reasonably prices, I can watch every game from my living room. You should be too.