LOS ANGELES, CA – AUGUST 04: Seattle Storm forward Natasha Howard #6 during the Seattle Storm vs Los Angeles Sparks game on August 04, 2019, at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire)
- A four-team trade headlined the WNBA offseason today
- This was the latest stunning move in the league’s offseason
- Read below to see the updated 2021 WNBA Championship odds and what to expect
The WNBA offseason just keeps getting busier and busier. For the second year in a row, WNBA free agency has included high profile player moves, and this year there are some big trades headlining it as well. Candace Parker kicked it off by signing with her hometown team, the Chicago Sky at the beginning of the month, and a blockbuster four-team trade just happened on Wednesday.
Let’s take a look at the updated 2021 WNBA championship odds and how these moves might affect the teams involved.
2021 WNBA Championship Odds
|Las Vegas Aces||+350|
|Los Angeles Sparks||+1000|
|New York Liberty||+5000|
Odds taken Feb. 10th
Who’s Going to Phoenix?
Kia Nurse, the New York Liberty’s 10th overall pick in the 2018 WNBA draft, will be joining fellow UCONN alum Diana Taurasi in Phoenix this upcoming season. During her three years in New York, Nurse had 59 starts, averaged 11.6 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game over 89 appearances.
Adding an All-Star caliber player in Nurse to their roster is huge for the Mercury. An overall great player, with a sharp shot, Nurse is sure to make an impact in Phoenix once the season starts
Sources have told @winsidr that the New York Liberty have traded Kia Nurse and Megan Walker to the Phoenix Mercury in exchange for the #6 2021 draft pick and 2022 first round pick.
— Rachel Galligan (@RachGall) February 10, 2021
Another Huskies alum, Megan Walker, who entered the draft after her junior year will be making her way to Phoenix, after one year with the Liberty. The ninth overall pick in the 2020 draft, appeared in 18 games with New York, and averaged 11.4 minutes per game as well as 3.3 points and 1.5 rebounds. In her final season at UCONN she was named the 2020 American Athletic Conference Player of the Year, and was a 2020 AP and USBWA First Team All-American.
The addition of Nurse to the Mercury is what’s going to make the larger impact off the bat, but the addition of Walker isn’t one to overlook either. If these two players click with the team Phoenix already has in place, and there’s nothing indicating that won’t happen, I would say the Mercury should be able to make a deep playoff push. Championship? Not just yet.
Who’s Going to New York?
Arguably the biggest name in this trade is All-Star Natasha Howard. The 2020 WNBA champions, Seattle Storm are continuing to rebuild their roster this offseason. In exchange for Howard, they received two first-round picks in 2021, including the No.1 overall, which they eventually traded to Dallas, and a second-round pick in 2022.
With the Storm being the center of this trade, and still the heavy favorite to win the championship, the below graphic might give you a better understanding of what they did today.
So if you’re having trouble keeping up with the Storm’s moves today, this should be helpful. pic.twitter.com/5dNtXjVfWj
— Percy Allen (@percyallen) February 10, 2021
Since being traded to Seattle in 2018, Howard has been a great asset to the team. In 2019 she won the WNBA Defensive Player of the Year, and was invited to her first All-Star game. In the 2020 bubble, she helped the Storm secure their fourth championship by averaging 9.5 points, 7.1 rebounds and 21.0 minutes, while admitting that she wasn’t the most physically prepared.
I do think the addition of Howard will make an impact for the Liberty, but with a few super teams in the league, it’s a tough argument to make that they’ll be a top contender for the championship in 2021.
Where’s the First Overall Pick Going?
Sources have informed @winsidr the New York Liberty have acquired Natasha Howard in a trade with the Seattle Storm in exchange for the #1 2021 draft pick, 1st round 2022 (PHX), and 2nd round 2022 (NY).
— Rachel Galligan (@RachGall) February 10, 2021
Just when the deal looked to be done, the Storm decided to trade away the 2021 No. 1 draft pick to the Dallas Wings for Katie Lou Samuelson and Dallas’s 2022 2nd round pick.
The addition of the No.1 draft pick is huge for Dallas, as that opportunity doesn’t happen often. But it’s not going to drastically change the outcome of their 2021 season, especially in a year where the NCAA granted every player an extra year of eligibility, making the draft class uncertain. Samuelson to the Storm is definitely a bigger immediate impact.
What Does it all Mean?
A lot happened today. And if the past week and a half has been any indication, I’m sure there will be more that happens in the WNBA before the season starts.
I think the impact of Nurse and Walker to Mercury will have the biggest pay off in the 2021 season. The Liberty has seven players with only one season under their belt, making them a very inexperienced team. The presence of a veteran like Howard will definitely make an impact on the younger players, but I don’t think her presence could dramatically change their +5000 odds to win the championship.
A graduate of Sport Media at Ryerson University, Hayley is the ultimate student of sports. Whether she is playing it, watching it, debating it, or writing it, it’s safe to assume sport consumes the majority of her life. She has worked both internationally and with the NBA.