The 2020 WNBA season was supposed to begin back in May, but that obviously didn't happen due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now, after months of planning, the league is set to begin the season on Saturday, July 25 from their bubble environment at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
With all 12 teams in one location, the regular season shortened to 22 games and a number of MVP-caliber players sitting out due to the pandemic, this is set to be the strangest season in league history. As such, trying to predict what's going to happen might end up being quite a foolish endeavor.
Still, our WNBA experts did their best to give you their picks for all the major awards, as well as a Finals prediction.
- Brittney Griner, Phoenix Mercury: Since being drafted in 2013, Griner has led the league in scoring twice, and been in the top 10 three other times. She's consistently been one of the most dominant players in the league on offense, and on defense she's been named Defensive Player of the Year twice, and made the All-Defensive team six times. She has every award to her name -- including a championship in 2014 -- except league MVP, and after finishing second in MVP voting a season ago, she'll have the perfect opportunity to finally reach that pinnacle. She'll have Taurasi and Diggins-Smith to get her the ball anywhere she wants, and after adding a mid-range jumper to her game last season, she'll be a more versatile player this year. -- Jasmyn Wimbish
- Breanna Stewart, Seattle Storm: Yes, she's coming off a devastating injury, so there's definitely some risk in making this pick. Still, the signs from her play overseas this winter were encouraging, and the reports out of Storm camp are glowing. Even at 85-90 percent of her pre-injury capacity, she's still one of the best players in the league, and more than capable of winning MVP -- especially in a shortened season and with so many other top candidates sitting out. -- Jack Maloney
Rookie of the Year:
- Satou Sabally, Dallas Wings: Rookie of the Year was perhaps the most difficult award to make a prediction for this season, as there's a number of strong candidates, including Sabrina Ionescu and Chennedy Carter. As guards on bad teams, those two will have the ball in their hands all the time, and either could easily take home the honor. Sabally, however, is the most versatile player in this draft class, and her size and athleticism are going to make her a nightmare matchup from Day One. Plus, she's far more likely to make an impact on the defensive end. -- Jack Maloney and Jasmyn Wimbish
Defensive Player of the Year
- Natasha Howard, Seattle Storm: With Stewart out last season, Howard came into her own while playing a much more prominent role. And while she showed she can handle a bigger load on offense, defense is where she really shined. She has the size and length to protect the rim, and the athleticism and quickness to switch out and guard on the perimeter. Howard has all the tools to become the sixth player in league history to repeat as DPOY. -- Jack Maloney and Jasmyn Wimbish
Most Improved Player
- Ariel Atkins, Washington Mystics: The lefty guard has flown under the radar a bit for the Mystics in her first two seasons, but that's not going to be an option in the bubble. With Elena Delle Donne, Natasha Cloud, LaToya Sanders and Tina Charles all sitting out, and Kristi Toliver gone, Atkins will be forced into a much bigger role. She has the mindset and ability on both sides of the ball to make the most of it. -- Jack Maloney and Jasmyn Wimbish
Sixth Woman of the Year
- Cheyenne Parker, Chicago Sky: Parker finished runner-up for this award back in 2018, and has been a strong reserve for the Sky for the past two seasons. This time around, things are set up well for her to take home the trophy. She figures to play a bigger role due to Jantel Lavender's injury, makes an impact on both ends of the floor and the Sky enter the season as a dark horse title contender. -- Jack Maloney and Jasmyn Wimbish
Coach of the Year
- Brian Agler, Dallas Wings: Agler is going to have a significantly better team to work with in his second season as head coach of the Wings. In addition to returning the Rookie of the Year runner-up in Arike Ogunbowale, he'll also have No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft, Satou Sabally, to pair her with in the starting lineup. Then there's the slew of offseason moves that netted Dallas players who can shoot and spread the floor in Katie Lou Samuelson and Marina Mabrey, and a true point guard in rookie Tyasha Harris who is already turning heads in the "wubble." This is an incredibly young, but talented team, and while it might seem outlandish to predict this team to make the playoffs this year, the unpredictable nature of the bubble environment just might make that a reality. If that happens, Agler could have another Coach of the Year award to put on his mantel next to his two WNBA championship rings. -- Jasmyn Wimbish
- Gary Kloppenburg, Seattle Storm: Due to his recent bout with cancer, Dan Hughes is at a higher risk of complications from COVID-19, so he is sitting out of the bubble and Kloppenburg is acting as head coach for the Storm this season. He takes over a team that has title aspirations with Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird back in the fold. If he can guide them to their second ring in three years, Kloppenburg will be the Coach of the Year. -- Jack Maloney
- Storm over Mercury: The Storm are returning Breanna Stewart to the starting lineup, and if there's any truth to what teammate Jewell Loyd said on media day, that "if you didn't know she got injured, you really couldn't tell," then I expect Stewart to lead Seattle back to the Finals. Their appearance there shouldn't be all that surprising since they'll also be getting back Sue Bird and are returning Loyd and Natasha Howard. That nucleus won the title handily in 2018 and would've been favorites to repeat last season if not for injuries to Stewart and Bird. The Mercury, on the other hand, are top-heavy in talent with Brittney Griner, Diana Taurasi and newcomer Skylar Diggins-Smith. Depth could be an issue for this team in the bubble, but with so many contending teams missing significant players -- like the Mystics with Tina Charles and (presumably) Elena Delle Donne, the Aces with Liz Cambage and Kelsey Plum and the Sparks with Chiney Ogwumike and Kristi Toliver -- this could provide Phoenix with a perfect opportunity to catapult itself back into the Finals. Once it gets there, though, the Mercury are going to have a difficult time matching up with the depth the Storm has, leading Stewart, Bird and co. to hoisting their second championship trophy in three years. -- Jasmyn Wimbish
- Storm over Sparks: Breanna Stewart is back, so too is Sue Bird, and with their returns, the Storm once again have the entire core that dominated in 2018. Even with questions about Stewart and Bird's health, they have the most talent and are widely seen as the favorites to win it all. Who else will get to the Finals is the big question, as the other top contenders are all dealing with missing stars and the challenge of integrating new players in such a short season. With so many variables, the easy answer is settling on the Sparks, who boast one of the most talented and experienced trios around in Candace Parker, Nneka Ogwumike and Chelsea Gray. -- Jack Maloney