The first day of the 2017 WNBA season is in the books, as the 21st season in WNBA history got underway with three games. In the opener, the Liberty used a balanced attack to take care of an shorthanded Stars team, 73-64. Out in L.A., the Sparks pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 78-68 victory over the Storm in a fun one. Finally, the Dream squeaked out an 81-74 win over the Sun in Connecticut.
Here’s the good, the bad, and the… stinky? from opening day.
Good: Nneka Ogwumike’s 3-point shooting
With her athleticism, efficiency, and nifty footwork and post moves down low, Ogwumike was already one of the best offensive players in the league coming into the season. If she continues to shoot 3s like she did in the season opener, she’s going to be absolutely unstoppable.
Ogwumike knocked down three triples in the Sparks’ 78-68 win over the Storm, going 3-6 from downtown to set a new career-high for 3s in a game. Over her first four seasons, Ogwumike only made seven shots from beyond the arc, and though she expanded her range last season, it was still not a main option, as she went 16-26 from deep on the season.
The best players in the game usually come back from the offseason with a new addition to their game; if consistent 3-point shooting is Owgumike’s then good luck to opposing defenses.
Bad: Missing stars
Either because of injuries or commitments overseas, a number of star players were absent on opening day. Kelsey Plum (ankle), Moriah Jefferson (knee), and Kayla McBride (overseas) were all out of the lineup for the Stars, and it showed in their loss to the Liberty. Breanna Stewart (knee), Sue Bird (knee), Candace Parker (overseas), Jantel Lavender (overseas), and Essence Carson (overseas) were all missing in the Storm-Sparks matchup, causing that game to lose a lot of luster. And in the finale, both teams were missing a star, as Angel McCoughtry (rest) and Chiney Ogwumike (Achilles) were both sidelined.
It’s just some bad luck, and there’s nothing anyone could have done about it, but it was still a letdown to be without so many fun and exciting players on the league’s first day of action.
Good: Odyssey Sims’ strong debut in L.A.
After losing Kristi Toliver to the Mystics, the Sparks needed another guard, so they went out and traded for Odyssey Sims, sending the Dallas Wings the No. 4 and No. 23 overall picks in the 2017 WNBA Draft in exchange for Sims and the No. 11 pick.
Sims is a much different player than Toliver, however, and there was no guarantee she would be able to fit right into the Sparks’ system. Yet after Sims’ superb performance on Saturday afternoon, those doubts have been eliminated.
With Parker and Lavender both still overseas, Sims had a big opportunity to step up in their absence, and she took advantage, pouring in 20 points on 9-15 shooting, while dishing out six assists and looking mighty comfortable running the show for Brian Agler’s bunch.
Bad: Seattle Storm’s carelessness with the ball
The Storm were third-worst in the league last season in the turnover department, coughing the ball up 14.4 times per game. And as their opening game against the Sparks showed, that problem has not been solved.
Seattle turned the ball over a ridiculous 24 times, with Jewell Loyd accounting for nine of them by herself. Yes, Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart were out, but even so, you can’t be turning the ball over 24 times.
Good: Connecticut’s youngsters doing fun things
The Sun lost their opener to the Dream, but there was plenty to be excited about, especially from three of their youngsters, Morgan Tuck, Courtney Williams, and Jonquel Jones.
Tuck, who was the No. 2 pick in the 2016 draft, missed a good portion of last season with a knee injury, but she looked impressive, scoring a career-high 21 points. Meanwhile, Williams, who brings non-stop energy, added 18 points on an efficient 8-14 shooting. And then there was Jones. Picked by the GMs as the most likely player to have a breakout season, Jones made them look smart, giving us the first 20-rebound performance of the season, as she finished with 8 points, 20 boards, 2 blocks, and 2 steals.
Stinky: Brittany Boyd’s breath (allegedly)
The WNBA season isn’t even 24 hours old, and we already have the likely winner for most disrespectful quote of the year. After the Stars’ loss to the Liberty at Madison Square Garden, Monique Currie roasted the Liberty’s Brittany Boyd for apparently having bad breath.
According to Currie, Boyd tried to take the ball away, Currie took exception, and the two exchanged words. Currie, however, couldn’t remember exactly what was said, because as she put it, Boyd’s “breath was stinking.”