The WNBA Playoffs are two weeks away and the postseason picture is beginning to gain clarity. When looking at WNBA Championship odds it’s important to remember the league’s playoff format.
Eight teams will make the postseason. The top two seeds get two-round byes to the semifinals, and the third and fourth place teams get byes to the second round. The 8 seed plays the 5 seed and the 6 seed plays the 7 seed in the first round.
So the advantage of earning a top two spot in the regular season is enormous. With that in mind, let’s look at our favorite championship odds.
The last two WNBA MVPs also led their teams to championships. Breanna Stewart certainly looks poised to join Minnesota’s Maya Moore (2017) and Los Angeles’ Nneka Ogwumike (2016) this year. The third year forward is averaging a league-best 22.8 points on 53% shooting to go with 8.1 rebounds and 1.4 blocks. She has the Storm in line for the overall No. 1 seed, but she isn’t alone. 16-year-veteran Sue Bird is averaging a career-best 7.4 assists and, at 37 years old, leads the league in net rating.
That two-headed monster has Seattle leading the league in offensive efficiency, 3-pointers per game, assists per game and field goal percentage. The offseason addition of Natasha Howard has given Seattle a fourth option – along with Jewell Lloyd – as she’s averaging career bests in points, rebounds and steals. After finishing last year ninth in defensive efficiency, Seattle has jumped to third in 2018. They aren’t dominant, but they’re as balanced as any team in the league. They’re the favorites for a reason and make a solid bet at 5/2 at 888sport.
The Mercury are fading, having lost 8 of 10 after a 14-5 start to the year. Still, no team is going to want to face the combination of Brittany Griner and Diana Taurasi in the postseason. They’re on pace to become the first teammates since 2009 to both rank in the top 5 in scoring. DeWanna Bonner has provided a third option but the Mercury have little past that.
They’ve been middle of the pack in most major statistics and won’t exactly enter the postseason with much momentum. But Taurasi has three WNBA titles, and Griner was along for the most recent one in 2014. There isn’t a better 1-2 punch in the league, and if they’re able to catch fire in the postseason they’re well worth the 8/1 odds at Karamba.
The defending champions have been the most confusing story this WNBA season. Loaded with three All-Stars and two league MVPs, Minnesota barely sits above .500 with two weeks left in the regular season. Maya Moore’s shooting has struggled all year, Sylvia Fowles’ blocks are at a career low and Seimone Augustus is in danger of averaging below 10 points for the first time in her 13-year career. After leading the league in offensive efficiency the last two years, Minnesota is ninth in that category in 2018.
And yet, they’re still one the league’s favorites at 4/1 on Karamba. Fowles, Augustus and Moore all have been named Finals MVPs during their illustrious careers. No team has more playoff experience, so it’d be foolish to write them off despite an up-and-down regular season. Jumping in to the top four to earn a bye would make their run at a fifth WNBA title in the last eight years easier. We like their odds.
You won’t find a more balanced offensive attack than in Connecticut. The Sun have five players averaging double figures in points – Seattle and Chicago are the only teams with even four – and have jumped from 8th to 3rd and 2nd in offensive efficiency the last three seasons. And now they’ve got a defense to match it; Connecticut is one of two teams, along with league-leading Seattle, to rank in the top 5 in offensive and defensive efficiency.
The result is the WNBA’s No. 2 net rating, despite a 16-12 record, and the best rebounding rate in the league. They’ve got an All-Star in Chiney Ogwumike, who is finally healthy, that they can lean on in the postseason, and they’ve got others to complement her with two players – Jasmine Thomas and Alyssa Thomas – averaging at least four assists per game. They’ve struggled against the top competition in the league, but we still love their odds at 16/1 with 888sport.
Defense wins championships. Or at least the Atlanta Dream are hoping it does. Their defensive rating this season (95.8) is 2.5 points better than Seattle’s. They lead the league in blocks per game and are third in steals per game. It’s helping make up for an offense that ranks second-to-last in efficiency and field goal percentage. But guess what? It’s working.
Atlanta has won 10 of their last 11 games, allowing just 75.6 points, while knocking off Seattle, Los Angeles and Washington (twice) in the process. Tiffany Hayes was snubbed as an All-Star, and she and Angela McCoughtry should give Atlanta enough offense in the postseason to match their defense. If they can hang on to the No. 2 spot – they play just two more games against teams with winning records – they’ve got a great shot to win the whole thing. And to get them at 7/1 with Karamba is icing on the cake.