Speaking 'candicely,' WNBA regains spark

May 27, 2008 7:00 PM

by Kevin Stott |The WNBA needed something to re-spark interest in professional women’s basketball and this year’s draft was that once-in-a-lifetime triumvirate with Candace Parker (Tennessee), Sylvia Fowles (LSU) and Candice Wiggins (Stanford) going 1-2-3 to Los Angeles, Chicago and Minnesota.

Now several teams in the league can win the championship. Let’s look at them in order of their opening odds released by Caesars Palace:

Detroit (3-1) lost Swin Cash but return starters Smith, Ford, Braxton and Nolan and added Hornbuckle (Tennessee) and Humphrey making them double-deep. Laimbeer’s girls started the season 2-1, holding serve in Motown. Although driven by the taste of last year’s loss in Game 5 of the Finals, betting 3-1 against this field is not worth it.

Indiana (7-2) added Katie Douglas but the key to the Fever will be the health of Tamika Catchings. Defense is superb but backing a team with a nursing star to go all the way is asking a bit too much at this point to back them for a futures.

Los Angeles (4-1) is the team to watch with CP3 (Parker) landing in Lalaland and Lisa Leslie back after having a baby. These two provide size and talent in the paint while Milton-Jones, Johnson, Spencer and Candace’s Tennessee teammate Shannon Bobbitt can all pop from outside. At 4-1, this is a good bet to make and if the Sparks make it out of the West, they should win it all with this rookie phenom.

San Antonio (5-1) is led by Becky Hammon and plays well together for Coach Hughes. Buescher’s presence gives the Silver Stars a chance to hang with anyone as their appearance in the Western Conference finals attests to. Want more value here to back.

Phoenix (6-1) is the defending champs and Diana Taurasi and Cappie Poindexter are a big part of the reason why. The Mercury will suffer though when Penny Taylor heads to the Olympics and that will be tough in a conference on the upswing. Had 0-3 start ATS.

Sacramento (7-1) lost Yolonda Griffith to Seattle, a big loss underneath, but Brunson, Powell, Penicheiro and Lawson make the Monarchs a tough draw on the road or in Sactown. Had Seattle on the ropes last week but gave up a huge, late rally showing a weakness in an eventual 12-point loss. Hold off here.

Seattle (7-1) provides value at this price with huge offseason acquisitions in Griffith (SAC), Cash (DET) and Swoopes (HOU). Toss in the killer backcourt of Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson and you have one of the league’s best starting fives. The problem? Jackson will also play for Australia in the Olympics and will miss a big chunk of the season. Started 3-1 ATS and definitely worth a shot at 7-1. Bet it now.

Connecticut (12-1) is the last of the teams that could actually find a way to win it all for the futures bettor. But Sales is injured and Dydek just gave birth (Try that NFL!) meaning everything will have to go right for the Sun to shine. Save it.

Washington (35-1) traded for McMillan-Franklin to help upfront but Beard will also be Beijing-bound and Detroit and Indy are two awfully big obstacles the Mystics just can’t crack. Started 0-2 ATS with 11- and 19-point losses. No chance ladies.

New York (35-1) was the only team in the first 11 games to lose at home but all five starters return and the Liberty’s draft was strong. The 35-1 is value-laden but WNBA champs?

Chicago (35-1) also provides value at 35-1 as a $20 throw would reap $700 should the Sky soar to the top. Getting Fowles was huge for franchise and pushing Seattle at home in opener proves they’ve improved. Chicago also started off 2-0 ATS.

Houston (50-1) still has Tina Thompson, took Ajavon (Rutgers) No. 5 in the draft and also picked up UNLV’s Sequoia Holmes. But the 23 TOs in the opener reveals this may be a long season in Houston.

Minnesota (85-1) took Wiggins (Stanford) in the draft but also improved its lot in a big way taking Nicky Anosike (Tennessee) and Charde Houston (UConn). The Lynx upset the Shock in their opener and at 85-1 are well worth a $5 chance.

Atlanta (125-1) opens up its first season with a roster chosen from players other teams left unprotected, the most notable being Betty Lennox. If the Dream play the way they did in their 100-67 opening loss to the Sun – 26 TOs, 39 percent FGs – than it’s going to be a very long season in Hotlanta.

Analyzing the first week of play, it’s notable that home teams went 11-3 through Thursday and that the under was 9-5 (64.2%) through those first 14 contests.