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WNBA Season 2024 Preview: What Plays to Watch

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WNBA Season 2024 Preview: What Plays to Watch
The WNBA Season 2024 is gearing up for a banner year: File Image

The WNBA Season 2024 is gearing up for a banner year. The league’s inaugural game follows a record-breaking women’s collegiate basketball season, in which more people watched the women’s championship game than the men’s.

Now, when some of those collegiate stars, including Iowa’s Caitlin Clark and LSU’s Angel Reese, make their formal WNBA debuts as rookies, the WNBA will begin play on Tuesday, seeking to capitalize on that excitement.

The WNBA hopes to expand on the success of its 2023 season, which was the most viewed in more than two decades, with viewing up 21% and attendance up 16% from 2022. And now, the league is considering expansion in 2025 and 2026.

The regular season will last until mid-September, with a break for the Paris Olympics in July and August, where dozens of players will compete. The playoffs will run from late September to October.

Here’s something to watch for as the The WNBA Season 2024 begins this week:

Most Valuable Player

Negley: A’ja Wilson, Las Vegas Aces
Wilson mentioned her fourth-place MVP vote again during a preseason Zoom call with reporters. That fueled her through a career-best playoff performance (23.8 ppg, 11.8 rpg, 1.4 spg, 2.3 bpg) and she wore the MVP votes total on her second championship parade T-shirt. The Aces collectively run best on negative outside noise — perceived or real — and Wilson appears hungry for the trophy after losing it last year. It should be a great battle between Wilson, Breanna Stewart and possibly Alyssa Thomas again.

Laase: A’ja Wilson, Las Vegas Aces
It’s hard to believe Wilson didn’t collect her third MVP trophy last season after putting up career numbers and leading the Aces to their second WNBA Championship. Her stats should be similar this season, and the Aces are the favorites to win a third title in a row. If that happens, it will be because of Wilson leading the charge on offense and defense, and voters should take note.

Rookie of the Year

Negley: Caitlin Clark, Indiana Fever
Clark is a generational talent whose game is already translating well to the WNBA. More importantly, she’s stepping into a fantastic situation. Indiana began its rebuild a few years ago and has the foundation already set under second-year head coach Christie Sides. I expect Clark to rank top five in assists as the Fever settle in around her.

Laase: Caitlin Clark, Indiana Fever
I can see Rickea Jackson or Angel Reese making a run for the Rookie of the Year award, but Caitlin Clark is in the perfect position to win it. All eyes will be on the Fever, a team that should make a significant jump this season, and Clark will play an important role in that rise. Aliyah Boston won last year, and I expect her new Fever teammate to do the same this season.

Coach of the Year

Negley: Christie Sides, Indiana Fever
This only has a little to do with Clark. Indiana flirted with a playoff spot last year in Sides’ first season and played close contests against Las Vegas and New York. It’s hard to emphasize how important those minor improvements are to a franchise accustomed to struggling. Clark immediately improves the team, but it takes a good coach to put it all together and keep it going.

Laase: Noelle Quinn, Seattle Storm
The Storm went to work this offseason, picking up Skylar Diggins-Smith and Nneka Ogwumike. They join Jewell Loyd to make up a powerful Big Three that should help the Storm to a playoff run. Quinn’s squad has the personnel and potential to go from 11-29 last season to a playoff team. If she can get this team to jell, while developing players like Jordan Horston, Ezi Magbegor and Nika Muhl, I like her chances to win Coach of the Year.

Defensive Player of the Year

Negley: Alyssa Thomas, Connecticut Sun
Thomas is one of the league’s toughest defenders who can guard every position and often does. (Ahem, she faces off against the ROY favorite to start the season on Tuesday.) The 11-year veteran stepped up last year, averaging career highs in most categories, including steals (1.8, ranking fourth). Having center Brionna Jones back from an Achilles injury that kept her out last season will help the Sun improve on both sides of the ball, and Connecticut was already the league’s best defense last year.

Laase: A’ja Wilson, Las Vegas Aces
Part of the reason Wilson is my prediction for MVP is because of her defensive prowess. She’s equally important on both sides of the ball, which is why she’s my pick for DPOY as well.

Sixth Player of the Year

Negley: Kayla Thornton, New York Liberty
It’s not always clear during preseason what a team’s standard starting five will look like, and this honor could easily go to Alysha Clark again. That would make six Aces players winning it in a seven-year stretch. Thornton was in line a few times in Dallas for the Sixth Player award and will be a key contributor off the bench for the Liberty again this year. She’s one of their best defenders, averaging the second-most steals per 40 minutes on the roster.

Laase: Rebecca Allen, Phoenix Mercury
Over the last three seasons, Allen has been both a starter and a bench player for the New York Liberty and the Connecticut Sun. She started the most games of her career last season for the Sun (27) and provided a lift as a 3-point shooter and defender, using her length to get off contested shots on offense and to alter them on defense. Now with the Mercury, Allen will likely come off the bench behind Sophie Cunningham, but her skill and experience will remain the same, allowing her to thrive.

Most Improved Player

Negley: Karlie Samuelson, Washington Mystics
Overseas success can be a good predictor of WNBA improvement, and Samuelson is coming off a EuroCup Finals MVP playing with the London Lions. It’s the veteran guard’s first season on a guaranteed contract and I see her taking off in a starting role, even though the Mystics aren’t expected to make much noise. She is one of the game’s best 3-point shooters (42.6%) and should improve on the 7.7 ppg, 3 rpg and 2 apg of her breakout season with Los Angeles.

Laase: Dana Evans, Chicago Sky
Evans has seen her minutes increase every year she’s been in the league. She played 21.5 off the bench for the Sky last season, but Chicago coach Teresa Weatherspoon has made it clear that Evans will be her team’s starting point guard. In her first season as a starter, Evans should improve upon her 9 points and 3 assists per game, putting her in position to win the award.

Postseason outlook

Negley: The battle for the No. 1 seed came down to the final weeks last year, and I see that happening again. The Aces have to play Phoenix and Seattle more than New York will, which puts the Liberty in the No. 1 spot. A full training camp and second year together to build chemistry helps New York’s case.

I’m high on Indiana’s offense with Clark at the helm and her pick-and-roll game with Boston. If NaLyssa Smith weren’t out for a few games with a stress fracture in her foot, Indiana would have been a playoff team last year. So jumping a few spots doesn’t seem that drastic. Seattle and Phoenix bulking up their rosters with All-Stars puts them each over Dallas, a top-four team in 2023 that will have to go without injured forward Satou Sabally for most of the season.

Laase: The Aces are my favorite for the No. 1 seed and the WNBA title until someone else proves otherwise. With the way Las Vegas has dominated over the last two seasons, I can’t with good conscience put any team over them at this point. After that, I like the Storm to make a big jump and can’t wait to see the Notre Dame guard duo of Loyd and Diggins-Smith playing alongside Ogwumike.

Source: Yahoo News

Geoff Thomas is a seasoned staff writer at VORNews, a reputable online publication. With his sharp writing skills and deep understanding of SEO, he consistently delivers high-quality, engaging content that resonates with readers. Thomas' articles are well-researched, informative, and written in a clear, concise style that keeps audiences hooked. His ability to craft compelling narratives while seamlessly incorporating relevant keywords has made him a valuable asset to the VORNews team.

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‘Hawaii Five-0’ Fan Favorite And Former UFC Fighter Taylor Wily Dies At 56

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Los Angeles — Taylor Wily, a former sumo wrestler best known for his role as confidential informant Kamekona Tupuola on “Hawaii Five-0” and “Magnum P.I,” died on Friday, according to a friend and a “Hawaii Five-0” producer. He was 56.

“Hawaii Five-0” executive producer Peter M. Lenkov announced his death to The Associated Press and posted numerous condolences to the actor on Instagram, adding, “I am devastated. “Heartbroken” was the caption for a photo of the two.

Wily

‘Hawaii Five-0’ Fan Favorite And Former UFC Fighter Taylor Wily Dies At 56

KITV 4 in Honolulu was the first to report Taylor’s death on Thursday. Additional data concerning the cause are unknown. Lina Girl Langi, a TV and radio personality, said on the show “Island Life Live” that she broke the news “with a heavy heart,” because Wily was a friend.

Taylor’s longtime friend and partner, Lenkov, uploaded a second post later on Thursday with a video montage of images and clips with him. He commented, “You charmed me into making you a regular on the show and my life.” You were a family member. I’ll miss you every day, brother.”

In an extra statement to the AP, Lenkov said it was difficult to characterize Wily’s “special” qualities and praised the actor’s abilities.

Wily AP News image

‘Hawaii Five-0’ Fan Favorite And Former UFC Fighter Taylor Wily Dies At 56

“Even though a lot of his ‘Hawaii Five-0’ and ‘Magnum’ scenes featured his comedy skills, he was also an incredible dramatic actor,” Lenvok pointed out. “I wrote a script for him a few years ago and hoped to cast him in my next production. I wanted to keep him near, both as a friend and as an artist. I’m devastated that I won’t get the opportunity.

Taylor played Kamekona on “Hawaii Five-0” from 2010 to 2020 and became a fan favorite. He reprised his role in the reboot of “Magnum P.I.” and had a noteworthy performance as a hotel worker in the 2008 comedy “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.”

‘Hawaii Five-0’ Fan Favorite And Former UFC Fighter Taylor Wily Dies At 56

Before becoming an actor, Taylor, born Teila Tuli, was a well-known sumo wrestler and UFC 1 competitor. In 1993, he became the first knockout victim in UFC history after opponent Gerard Gordeau’s kick knocked a tooth out of Wily’s mouth, ending the bout in 26 seconds.

Wily is survived by his wife, Halona, and two children.

SOURCE – (AP)

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Yankees Cut González, Demote Marinaccio, Bring Up Bickford And Gómez In Bullpen Revamp

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NEW YORK — After losing consecutive series to AL East rivals Boston and Baltimore, the Yankees rearranged their bullpen, promoting right-handers Phil Bickford and Yoendrys Gómez, releasing left-hander Victor González, and demoting right-hander Ron Marinaccio.

New York’s bullpen pitched 7 2/3 innings in Thursday’s 17-5 loss to the Orioles and six innings in Wednesday’s 7-6 loss. The Yankees’ pitching staff entered Friday’s series opener against Atlanta with a 4.59 ERA in June, up from a major league-best 2.37 in May.

Yankees | AP news Image

Yankees Cut González, Demote Marinaccio, Bring Up Bickford And Gómez In Bullpen Revamp

“A major factor was the numbers game. “We’ve relied heavily on the bullpen the last two days, so we needed some coverage down there,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “And talk about certain things to shake up and pay attention.”

Gleyber Torres, second baseman, was out of the starting lineup after departing Thursday’s game with right groin stiffness. Boone stated that an MRI was negative, and Torres would most likely be available over the weekend.

González was acquired by the New York Mets in December from the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for second base prospect Jorbit Vivas and shortstop Trey Sweeney, the 20th overall pick in the 2021 amateur draft. González, 28, had a 3.68 ERA in 27 bullpen appearances, giving up 13 hits in 23 1/3 innings while walking 13 and striking out 11.

The Yankees designated him for assignment after allowing five runs (four earned), three hits, and two walks in his last three starts.

“That was difficult because I’d appreciated Vic. I respect him. “He’s had some success in the league,” Boone stated. “Hard getting him into a good role here, but definitely had some struggles with the strike throwing and not putting guys away a little bit and just felt like this was something over the long haul that we’re probably going to have to address.”

Yankees Cut González, Demote Marinaccio, Bring Up Bickford And Gómez In Bullpen Revamp

Marinaccio, 28, was promoted from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on April 13, demoted on May 10, then recalled on June 9. During his most recent big league appearance, he allowed five runs, four of which were earned, seven hits, and four walks over 6 1/3 innings.

Boone said Marinaccio handled the demotion “like a pro, but he’s not thrilled about it, obviously.”

Bickford, 28, was dismissed by the New York Mets in the final week of spring training and was paid $217,742 in termination money rather than the $900,000 salary he received as part of a non-guaranteed deal in salary arbitration. He signed a minor league contract with the Yankees and went 2-2 with a 2.94 ERA in 22 relief appearances for Scranton, striking out 35 and walking 12 over 27 2/3 innings.

His contract with the Yankees calls for a $1.1 million salary in the majors and $180,000 in the minors.

“Tough on the right guy,” Boone added. “He’ll give you some length.”

Yankees Cut González, Demote Marinaccio, Bring Up Bickford And Gómez In Bullpen Revamp

Gómez, 24, went 2-3 with a 3.12 ERA in 12 starts for the RailRiders, striking out 54 and walking 26 over 46 innings. He made his major league debut in September and has appeared in one game this season, striking out the side in the ninth inning of an 8-0 victory over San Diego on May 24.

“The couple of opportunities he has gotten up here, he’s done a nice job,” Boone stated. “He has a lot of talent. He’s still inexperienced and has had some injuries in his brief career.

SOURCE – (AP)

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Lexi Thompson Shoots 68 To Take 1st-Round Lead At The Women’s PGA Championship

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SAMMAMISH, Washington – Lexi Thompson anticipated a question after shooting a 4-under 68 on Thursday to take the first-round lead in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

Would winning a major title alter her decision to retire from full-time LPGA Tour play?

“I’m just taking things one day at a time. I made the announcement. I’m quite pleased with it,” Thompson stated. “Golf is a crazy game, so I’m not going to look too far ahead.”

Thomson AP Image

Lexi Thompson Shoots 68 To Take 1st-Round Lead At The Women’s PGA Championship

Thompson had six birdies on her way to a one-shot lead over Nelly Korda and Patty Tavatanakit.

Teeing off in the afternoon as temperatures soared into the 80s and dried up Sahalee Country Club, Thompson started strong with three consecutive birdies to begin her round, building on her loss in a playoff at the Meijer LPGA Classic the previous week.

Thompson, 29, who recently announced her retirement after the season, blasted a bogey-free 32 on the front nine, highlighted with a 6-foot birdie on the par-3 ninth. Thompson rallied from a bogey at No. 10 with birdies at Nos. 12 and 14 before another bogey at No. 16.

In June 2019, she won the ShopRite LPGA Classic, her last of 11 LPGA Tour victories. The 68 is her lowest major round since a 67 in the second round of the Women’s PGA at Congressional two years ago.

“My approach shots felt great,” Thompson added. “They felt really good last week, so just trying to simplify things and get in a rhythm with my swing.”

Korda shot 69 in the morning, while Tavatanakit tied it in the afternoon with a bogey-free round.

The top-ranked Korda missed the cut in her past two starts, the U.S. Women’s Open and the Meijer LPGA Classic, after winning six of seven events in a row, beginning with a record-tying five straight wins.

Korda started on the back nine, making four birdies in her first five holes. However, the Douglass fir, red cedar, and hemlock trees of Sahalee sometimes made it difficult for Korda. A double bogey on the par-4 fourth hole brought her back to two under.

“If you try and be aggressive when you’ve hit it offline, it just bites you in the butt,” according to Korda. “Overall, I played fairly well. I took my chances when I could and stayed safe for most of the round.

Korda took an early lead by making a 15-foot putt on the par-3 ninth hole, her final shot.

Thompson AP Image

Lexi Thompson Shoots 68 To Take 1st-Round Lead At The Women’s PGA Championship

Another group of players at two under included Allisen Corpuz, Celine Boutier, Charley Hull, and Leona Maguire. Maguire led this tournament after the third round last year at Baltusrol but shot 74 on the final day to finish four strokes behind the champion, Ruoning Yin.

Playing with Korda, Yin recovered from a slow start by shooting 33 on the second nine to finish 71.

“Fortunately, I hit it quite straight today. Hit several fairways and greens. But it does feel like a course where if you’re out of position, it’s difficult to get back on track,” said Corpuz, who has an outside chance of making the Olympics for the United States if he finishes well this week.

The third major of the year on the LPGA Tour returned to Sahalee, which had previously hosted in 2016. And the tree-lined course demonstrated its complexity.

Lilia Vu, who won last week on her comeback from a back injury, shot 75. Yuka Saso, who won the U.S. Open three weeks ago, hit four straight bogeys on the back nine and finished at 2-over 74. Brooke Henderson, who won in 2016, scored 73.

Lexi Thompson Shoots 68 To Take 1st-Round Lead At The Women’s PGA Championship

Korda got off to a much better start than her previous major, when she shot 80 in the first round of the U.S. Women’s Open three weeks earlier.

Korda’s early run of birdies included three straight between Nos. 13 and 15, and she finished in 33. She advanced to 4 under after birdieing the third hole, her 12th of the day, then dropped two strokes on the fourth.

“This entire golf course is so demanding,” Korda added. “I had to make some pretty good up-and-downs.”

SOURCE – (AP)

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