WNBA Betting Roundtable – Picks and Expert Advice for the 2022 Season
The 26th season of the WNBA begins Friday night. Twelve teams will play a 36-game regular season schedule over a three-month period to try their luck in the playoffs.
Who are the MVP favorites, long shots and favourites?
Our analysts break down everything you need to know ahead of the start of the season.
Odds from Caesars Sportsbook and FanDuel.
Who is your favorite to win the WNBA title this year and why?
André Snellings, ESPN Fantasy Basketball and betting analyst: Connecticut Sun (+350)
The Sun dominated the regular season in 2021, going a WNBA-best 26-6 record 10 games ahead of the second-place team in the Eastern Conference. They were strong at home (15-1) and away (11-5) and finished the season on a 14-game winning streak. They fielded arguably the most dominant frontcourt in the league, built around WNBA MVP Jonquel Jones, and used their size to dominate the half-court offense (highest offensive rating in the WNBA) and defense. (3rd in the defensive ranking) against their opponents.
That all came to an end in their first playoff game, against eventual champion Sky. Several things seemed to be working against them… their long winning streak to end the season may have taken away their advantage; they had a playoff bye that maybe got them a little rusty to start the series; and the Sky had the length in the paint to counter the Sun’s front line, and the Sun didn’t seem to have the backcourt strength to defeat.
This season, things look different. The Sun re-signed Jones to maintain his role as the cornerstone of the franchise, but they also signed explosive guard Courtney Williams to come in and punch them from the backcourt. They also enter this season with a healthy Alyssa Thomas, who tore her Achilles tendon in January 2021 and missed most of last season. The Sun’s dominant frontcourt is now even deeper, they have more balance and depth, and as a team that is now used to the expectations and demands of playing at Championship level, they should be better prepared for breakthrough this season. They’re co-favorites for the championship, but for good reason, so there’s always some value in betting they win even without much juice.
Eric Moody, ESPN Fantasy Basketball and betting analyst: Seattle Storm (+425)
As the Storm big three, Sue Bird, Jewell Loyd and Breanna Stewart prepare for their final race, the stage is set. When that trio was healthy, Seattle won two championships in 2018 and 2020. Bird is a 12-time WNBA All-Star who assisted or scored on 32.9% of Storm field goals in 18 seasons with the franchise. Stewart became the fourth fastest player in league history to rack up 2,500 points and 1,000 rebounds. Loyd is the 12th youngest WNBA player to reach 3,000 career points.
Last season, the Storm averaged 85 PPG, ranking second in the league. In transition, Seattle averaged nearly 12 points per game. Additionally, the Storm had an effective field goal percentage of 51%. As long as they all stay healthy, they could add to their collection of championships. With what should be Bird’s final season, the team seems to be working on it.
Who do you think is a long shot that could surprise everyone and win the title this season?
Snellings: Washington Mystics (+2000)
The Mystics were the WNBA champions in 2019, with a team built around MVP Elena Delle Donne in the frontcourt with a starting backcourt of Natasha Cloud and Ariel Atkins. This 2019 squad led the WNBA in team offensive rankings with a whopping 12.6(!) points per 100 possessions over second place Sky…a bigger gap than between the Sky and last place Dream (11.7 points per 100 possessions). Unfortunately, 2019 was the last season Delle Donne was healthy as she played a total of three games since then, and the team struggled without her.
This season’s squad is different than 2019’s, but if Delle Donne can stay healthy, they would still have Cloud and Atkins as their starting backcourt. Atkins was a sophomore in 2019, and has matured and grown to be a better player now than she was then. Cloud is still at his peak and is coming off a season of career highs in assists, rebounds and steals. Myisha Hines-Allen, also a second year on that 2019 squad, has become a star in her own right in 2020 and is returning healthy after injury issues last season. Alysha Clark also missed all of 2021 with an injury to Lisfranc, but was a unanimous All-Defensive Team selection in 2020 as a member of the Champion Storm. And they also added young talent in 2022, third overall pick Shakira Austin, a 6-5 post player with an explosive advantage.
All told, if Delle Donne can stay healthy, the Mystics are turning over much of the backbone of the 2019 WNBA champions with some intriguing new talent thrown into the mix. Delle Donne’s risk of injury is real, but the Mystics have a realistic chance of returning to the Championship this season… which is good value at 20-1 odds.
Moody: Freedom of New York (+3000)
For punters, the Liberty has a nice payout at +3000 odds. Despite going 12-20 last year, New York made the playoffs. There has never been a team in league history to make the playoffs with a worse regular season record. Even though the Liberty lost to the Phoenix Mercury, who would eventually advance to the WNBA Finals, their performance showed New York’s potential, especially with the return of Betnijah Laney and Sabrina Ionescu.
Sandy Brondello can bring this team to their potential as soon as possible because they are the second youngest team in the league. In 2014, she led the Mercury to a WNBA championship, and her 164 regular season wins rank third among active WNBA head coaches behind only Mike Thibault of Washington (357) and Cheryl Reeve of Minnesota ( 267).
Who do you think will win the WNBA MVP award this season?
Moody: A’ja Wilson (+310)
The WNBA Most Valuable Player award has been won by a forward or center in the past decade. Wilson averaged 18.3 PPG, 9.3 RPG and 3.1 APG in 32 MPG for the Aces last season. With Liz Cambage now with the Los Angeles Sparks, she could be used even more in 2022 thanks to the supporting cast in Las Vegas.
In my opinion, new head coach Becky Hammon is an improvement over Bill Laimbeer. After spending eight seasons with the franchise while located in San Antonio, she is the franchise’s all-time leader in assists, 3-pointers made, as well as games played, assists and flights. Hammon and the Aces aim to play fast and share the ball. Additionally, Las Vegas plans to use more pick-and-rolls and draw more 3s. Wilson should have an MVP-caliber season with these changes. It’s hard to make it go away.
Snellings: Sabrina Ionescu
I agree with Moody’s that A’ja Wilson deserves her place as the favorite to win MVP this season. Winner of the 2020 MVP award in her third season in the league, she is approaching this season still on the rise at just 25 years old. This is in many ways shaping up to be her best season yet, and she’s already atop the league.
To change things, then, I will propose a longer candidate: Ionescu. Ionescu entered the WNBA as the 2020 No. 1 overall pick, fresh off of one of the most celebrated college careers in recent memory. In her second WNBA game, she exploded for 33 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists and 6 3-pointers. Then, in her third game, she suffered a catastrophic ankle injury that ended her 2020 season and lingered for much of 2021. Ionescu is healthy to enter this season, in a team of Liberty whom Moody highlighted as a dark horse candidate to return to competition after years. bad game.
If Ionescu is able to bring the big market, New York team back to the fore while showcasing the type of nighttime triple-double-threat brilliance that would be her upside potential, she could build an MVP narrative. strong. At +2000 to win the prize, she makes an intriguing choice.
Anything else to look for when betting on the WNBA?
Moody: If you’re venturing into WNBA betting for the first time, here are three tips. Be proactive in seeking information. You have a big advantage in sports betting if you know this information. There are fewer beatwriters covering WNBA teams than in the NBA. Enjoy it. Another tip is to avoid betting against the public.
While this strategy is popular in other sports, let me remind you that there aren’t enough casual bettors in the WNBA to have any effect on the line. This brings me to my last tip. WNBA trends last longer. Betting trends tend to persist longer in smaller market sports than in more scrutinized leagues. For example, if home favorites consistently cover, I would lean on that trend longer than you would if it happened in the NBA.
Snelling: As Moody alluded to, the information gradient works to the advantage of the best potential. Gathering facts, reading informed analysis, and watching plenty of game action to get your own personal impression are all tangible ways to improve your odds. And, in a real sense, the most knowledgeable have a reasonable chance of beating the books, whose algorithms don’t have as much information or history to work with as other sports/leagues.
So watch as much of the WNBA as you can, stay on top of trends and team situations, and just have fun exploring this league. The more you do, the better your chances of getting ahead of the books and successfully betting on the league.