The 2018 WNBA season has begun and oddsmakers see it as a two-team race for the championship. Check out all the futures prices and a pair of longshots to consider.
The Minnesota Lynx and Los Angeles Sparks have clashed in the WNBA Finals two years in row. Oddsmakers overwhelmingly believe one of the two will win the title in 2018. The reigning champion Lynx is the betting favorite at +135 odds at 5Dimes, closely followed by the Sparks at +175. The Phoenix Mercury is a distant third at +1200 odds, with the New York Liberty and Washington Mystics rounding out the top five betting choices at +1400 apiece. Here’s a look at the current futures for all teams entering the league’s 22nd year:
|Los Angeles Sparks||+175|
|New York Liberty||+1400|
|Las Vegas Aces||+5500|
If betting on a WNBA Finals futures ticket, don’t stray too far down the board. The gap between the good and the bad, strong and weak, rich and poor is typically wide in this league. The cream always rises to the top. Only once has the team with best point differential in the regular season failed to win the title (Sun, 2006).
Franchises also rarely make a leap from pretender to contender in one year. Since 2012, the average change in margin of victory from one season to the next is a little more than 3.0 points per season. Every league winner, in fact, has averaged a 4.0 point differential or greater in this span, and each played better than -1.0 points per game the prior season. Rule out the Wings (-2.7), Dream (-3.8), Sky (-5.1), Aces (-7.0), and Fever (-9.2) from making a jump based on their 2017 numbers.
As the market makes clear, it is the Lynx, Sparks and everyone else in the race to win the title. Here’s why both top contenders can win, plus two longshots that offer value with your WNBA picks.
Minnesota Lynx (+135)2017: 27-7 SU, 18-14-2 ATS
The Lynx are the WNBA dynasty. The franchise has played in six of the last seven WNBA Finals, winning four. Its starting five has combined for 25 appearances in the All-Star game, a number that could be higher if not for Olympic years. The Lynx top three players -- Sylvia Fowles (league MVP), Maya Moore (1st team All-WNBA), and Seimone Augustus -- are a force to be reckoned with. Think of them as the James Harden-Chris Paul-Clint Capela trio of the league. Since 2016, including the playoffs, Minnesota is 49-12 SU (32-27-2 ATS) when the three start. The team’s average margin of victory is 9.1 points per game.
Los Angeles Sparks (+175)2017: 26-8 SU, 22-12 ATS
The Sparks will always be a contender if rolling out the frontcourt duo of former MVPs Nneka Ogwumike (2016) and Candace Parker (2008, 2013). Since 2012, L.A. is 119-50 SU (70.4 percent) in the regular season when the two start. The Sparks are also the only team capable of hanging with Lynx over the last two years. They are 8-8 head-to-head in this span. No other franchise has more than four wins total.
Connecticut Sun (+3100)2017: 21-13 SU, 20-14 ATS
The surprise breakout team of 2017, the Sun are one of two franchises (Storm) to play the Sparks and Lynx better than market expectations over the last two years, going 7-5 ATS (3-9 SU). Like L.A., Connecticut is carried by a stout frontcourt comprised of MVP candidate Jonquel Jones and two-time All-Star Chiney Ogwimike. The team ranked in the top four in offense and defense last season with great balance and speed. Maturation and experience are the only things holding this squad back.
Seattle Storm (+3100)2017: 15-19 SU, 14-19-1 ATS
Look for the Storm to settle as the surprise team this season. Dan Hughes, the longtime Stars coach, will improve the squad’s defense and toughness in his first year in charge. The backcourt talent is young and rivals any in the league. They excel in high efficiency areas offensively, draining a league-high 7.3 treys per game in 2017. The shot will feature again, and provide the Storm a legitimate shot at the title. Seattle owns the best records against the Lynx and Sun in the last two years, going 4-9 SU and 8-5 ATS. It has proven a tough matchup for the league’s best.