The only thing more difficult than listing all the superlatives for Notre Dame’s Olivia Miles might be guarding her. The rising sophomore is coming off of a freshman season in which she led the Irish back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2019 and within a minute of the Elite Eight.

Big things are undoubtedly in store for Miles after she finished second in the country in assists per game with 7.4 and recorded a triple-double in her first NCAA Tournament game. She also received votes for the AP’s preseason All-America team. With the 5-foot-10 guard orchestrating the offense, Notre Dame enters the season ranked No. 9 in the AP Poll.

Just Women’s Sports’ Calvin Wetzel sat down with Miles to break down film from 2021-22 and talk about what she learned as she heads into a new season with high expectations.

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

CW: Your team runs this play a lot of times late in the clock, where you make this little hand signal. It’s basically a ghost screen pick-and-pop … What can you tell me about this play?

OM: This is one of our late shot-clock plays. It’s a very quick hitter. It’s actually pretty hard to guard when you get two shooters or a dynamic guard and a shooter that come off the brush screen because it just confuses the defense since it’s not exactly a screen. They’re usually wide open or I take it to the basket, so it really depends. It’s just a good quick hitter play. The Warriors run it a lot actually, where they’ll have two guards coming off. It’s just very hard to guard the drive and the three at the same time.

CW: Here, I like this play because you have Maddy [Westbeld] setting the screen and it looks like the opponent is jamming her. The defender can’t stay too far off of Maddy because she’s a shooter, so that lets you get downhill. When you have those shooters setting screens for you, how much does that help you?

OM: It’s so hard to guard when you have so many things to worry about. Having Sonia [Citron], having Dara [Mabrey], having Maddy, and obviously we had Sam [Brunelle] in our offense and those kind of weapons around me — I can see where the defense is rotating, like I did there, and I knew they were gonna come on Maya because she was having a good game I remember. So it’s easy to read when you have so many great shooters around you and they can’t really guard it.

CW: On this one, Miami gets switched and tries to scram switch out of it at the end, but it’s too late. Maddy has a smaller player on her, and it looks like you’re aware of that from the start. You don’t even have the ball yet, but it looks to me like you want to get the ball into Maddy and exploit that mismatch. When you see a switch like that, is that your mindset, where you’re hunting to get the ball into the mismatch, and if it’s not there, to come off some other action to find it open?

OM: We practice mismatches all the time — I feel like that’s one of our points of emphasis that we work on all the time in practice because we have bigger guards like Maddy who do get switched onto guards a lot. It all just stems from the way we screen and the way people have to guard us. Oftentimes people will switch onto Maddy on the pop or on the rolls, so our coach really emphasizes trying to get the ball inside. In that play, they switched a little late so it was kind of easy to see, but also Maddy’s just such a big target that I can see her out of my peripheral vision and whatnot. She’s just always there and in a great position to get the ball.

I feel like those kinds of plays I make up on the fly. I’m not really thinking about it too heavily, but usually I can identify the mismatch right away and we look to hit that and exploit that immediately.

CW: I have a few clips of you attacking hedges. Are you reading something when they hedge on whether to get downhill around it, hit the roller, split it, whatever? Or is it more like, you’ve been playing basketball so long you have that feel where you don’t even really need to think about it?

OM: l think most of what I try to do kind of happens on the fly, but a lot of it comes from watching film and watching the other team and their tendencies around the way they hedge. Usually I know with bigger posts, I can make my way around. What I’ve noticed with the more athletic posts is they like to try and come out a bit too high, so that’s when I like to split. So it’s all personnel, and it’s all knowing who can do what and who’s guarding you in that moment. I would say it’s, like, 70 percent me watching film and then 30 percent me making it up and just taking what the defense gives me in the game.

CW: So, you watch film beforehand and know some of their tendencies so you’re mentally prepared for a lot of that heading into the game?

OM: Yeah. Me and my position coach, we do film sessions just the two of us to break down what I’m gonna get and the areas that I can score in and work on that in practice. We drill out a lot of different personnel and playing to that with our advantages. What big can do what? Who’s good at this and that? So I feel like I’m prepared when it comes to the actual game.

CW: This one in particular I love. So, you have Mabrey cutting. It looks like she sees her defender here not recognizing her. Her defender’s focused on you mostly. And then she cuts and you see that. Obviously you’re a great ball handler and passer — you draw a lot of attention. Do you feel like you and your teammates have that chemistry where, when one of their defenders gets caught ball watching, you can make eye contact or they can make that back cut and know you’ll find them?

OM: Yeah, that play was complete luck. I honestly did not know what I was gonna do with the ball, and then I saw her and I was like, “Thank the lord.” But I feel like a lot of our team, we have such great chemistry with each other. And another point of emphasis for our coach is to just keep moving. Keep moving regardless of how much time is left on the clock. Sonia does a really, really good job of that. Her and I connect on so many backdoors and so many sneak plays like that. And Dara did a good job here.

But I feel like, to answer your question, our team — they’ve kind of gotten used to the way I play and the things that I see, and those cuts in particular are passes that I like to throw a lot, so they’re getting used to cutting like that.

CW: This one is an absolute dime. You hit Maya on the fast break, and I don’t know how that pass gets through. Watching this back, I paused it right here when you first start making the pass, and I’m counting up one, two, three, four, five red jerseys. And then there’s Maya. It doesn’t seem open, but you sneak in the pass an inch above the defender’s fingertips. What gives you the confidence to be able to make a pass like that?

OM: I mean, a lot of times it goes wrong, so I definitely kind of question myself at points. But at the end of the day, I feel like I know … and at this point in the season, I learned who I could trust and count on to catch those passes. And I feel like Maya, I knew her body, I knew her athleticism, I knew her speed, I knew she was gonna be able to rise up and get that one. And she was also looking at me like she wanted it, so I was like, “Why the heck not? Let me just heave it downcourt.”

But I feel like knowing personnel is super important, and if it were a different one of my teammates, I probably wouldn’t have thrown it. But I was like, “You know what, I’m just gonna give it a go. Why not?” It could either be a really, really good layup, or a turnover. It’s high risk, high reward.

CW: People talk about your offense all the time, but I feel like something you don’t get as much credit for is that you have good hands on defense. So on this one, you wait a little bit for the player to turn and then you time it up perfectly so you get your hands in there on the dribble without fouling. Is that another thing where you know their tendencies from film? Or do you work on timing those up and swooping in at the right moment? Or is all of that natural?

OM: Part of it is definitely tendencies — I like learning what other people are gonna do. I don’t study bigs that much; I more so study guard tendencies. But I know that, especially when we’re in zone, a lot of the bigs like to turn their back so it’s easy to get those pluck steals really quick or catch them off guard when they turn around. I feel like I’ve always had good reflexes and good hand speed, and that’s helped me get quite a few steals. I definitely could be a little better — I’m aiming for more steals this year — but I feel like that’s just something that I’ve always had. I know the timing and I’ve been playing basketball long enough to know what people like to do, so it’s easy for me to predict in certain situations where I can get the ball. Just scanning the floor, similarly to offense.

CW: I had one more question for you, unrelated to the clips. Did the extra spring semester you got for COVID-19 eligibility help you prepare for the game at the Division I level?

OM: It definitely helped me prepare more. I obviously didn’t really get that many minutes on the floor like I did this past season, but I feel like just knowing the ins and outs, starting to get that knowledge of the game, knowledge of our playbook, of our teammates a little earlier helped me and my teammates adjust to each other better. That year definitely helped me mature mentally, physically, emotionally in aspects of the game. I came in the first game [last season] more confident than another freshman who might have been a little nervous for their first game. So, while I do still get nervous and I do still get worked up for games, I feel like having that intro with no pressure on me, and just using that as a learning experience, helped me to settle my nerves and be more familiar with our playbook, our coach, and just play the game better, honestly.

CW: Are you able to manage those nerves better now? Have you learned some strategies on that?

OM: Yeah, I mean I’m still working on it, but it’s definitely something that has progressed. I’ve found that when I’m nervous, I’ve just told myself that it’s a good thing because I care and I wanna do well. And I turn those feelings into more of an excited feeling so I can just convince my brain that we’re on the biggest stage, I’m having fun, it’s just a sport. At the end of the day, I’m still the person that I am and still have the people around me that I love, so whatever happens on the court happens on the court. I’ve just been working on my mindset a lot, and I feel like that’s helped me prepare before games. And even more so this year, I hope it helps me play on a higher level than I did last year.

Calvin Wetzel is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports, covering basketball and betting. He also contributes to Her Hoop Stats, CBS SportsLine and FiveThirtyEight. Follow him on Twitter at @cwetzel31.

Few people have accomplished more in a pair of basketball shoes than Elena Delle Donne. The two-time WNBA MVP will be remembered one day as one of the greatest to ever lace them up.

And after her latest venture, she’ll also be remembered for the shoes she designed.

This fall, Delle Donne released the Nike Air Deldon. On Friday, her latest colorway, “Together We Fly,” launched as part of the release. It’s the third of six colorways, each with a special significance to Delle Donne’s life and career.

“I hope people really look into the meaning behind each colorway,” says Monique Currie, the product line manager for the Nike design team behind the Air Deldon and Delle Donne’s former WNBA teammate. “They’re all unique, and they’re really powerful stories.”

The first colorway, the “Lyme,” dropped on Oct. 6, and the “Be True” followed five days later. Each represents Delle Donne in its own way, which Currie says was one of her favorite aspects of the process.

“That was probably one of the most exciting parts, was really trying to work with Elena and come up with stories that can speak through her shoe,” Currie says.

The “Lyme,” which appropriately features lime green accents throughout, is a nod to Delle Donne’s years-long battle with Lyme disease.

“Elena has been really open with bringing awareness to how [Lyme disease] affects her and her game and so many people around the world,” Currie says. “It’s telling an important story of how people are managing their physical health as well as performing at the top or the highest level possible. So that was really fun to come up with that story and [for] that to be the first colorway to come out, because that’s just such a huge part of who Elena is.”

Delle Donne’s coming out story was the inspiration behind the “Be True,” which celebrates the LGBTQIA+ community with a gradient pattern of colors and rainbow speckles on the laces.

“When I was younger I felt like something was wrong with me because I was different,” Delle Donne says. “So I feel like this shoe can inspire every single person, whatever your story is.”

While the first two colorways tell parts of Delle Donne’s own story, the next is dedicated to one of her closest loved ones. Delle Donne has a special relationship with her older sister, Lizzie, who has cerebral palsy and autism and is deaf and blind. After committing to UConn out of high school, Delle Donne transferred to the University of Delaware before her freshman season so she could be closer to Lizzie.

“The ‘Together We Fly’ colorway is very much the story of my sister with special needs who has never had a shoe for her,” Delle Donne says. “She’s had several disabilities, [she’s] had a lot of doctors say she would never walk, she would never do this. But because she has had the support of my family and a team around her, she’s been able to fly.”

The colorway pays homage to Lizzie with purple accents on the tongue and the heel.

“The color purple has always just been a color that looks really cute on my sister,” Delle Donne says. “We all have our colors – I think Lizzie looks great in everything, but purple and pink are her colors.”

For Lizzie, the process of putting on a standard basketball shoe has never come easily. The Air Deldon also comes with Nike’s FlyEase technology, which utilizes a collapsible heel and fold-down tongue for easy, hands-free entry.

“We wanted to make sure that they were accessible to all athletes, regardless of your mobility or physical stature or anything like that,” Currie says.

Delle Donne, Currie, and the Nike design team began working on the shoe in 2019, Currie’s first year with the company. They spent the next two years making sure every detail of the shoe was true to Delle Donne, from the colorways and stories to the performance and physical features.

“We really put a lot of thought into the way Elena plays, the areas that she likes to get to, what’s important in her movements,” Currie says. “We tried to include technology that really supports making those movements in those places as easy as possible for her.”

“I wanted it to be where once it’s on, I really don’t feel it or think of it,” Delle Donne adds. “It’s just kind of part of me.”

There’s also the style component, which Delle Donne says was as important to her as the performance.

“I needed it to work with me so I can do my job and play basketball, but I also wanted it to be a shoe that you don’t just wear on court— you wanna wear it and make a fashion statement with it,” Delle Donne says. “I wanted it to be one of those shoes that, you’re walking a red carpet, you wanna wear the Deldons.”

Both style and performance, Delle Donne says, are key factors in selling the shoe, and those sales will be critical to creating more opportunities for more women down the road.

“I know the importance of this moment, and for what it needs to do and how it needs to sell in order for this to be a catalyst for other women to get their own shoes,” Delle Donne says.

Delle Donne is a WNBA champion, two-timeMVP and six-time All-Star. (Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)

Delle Donne counts that as one of the many reasons why having Currie, her former Washington Mystics teammate, on board for the design process meant so much to her. Both of them remember shopping for basketball shoes as a kid and often not feeling represented in the options that were available to them.

“I do remember that there weren’t many female shoes that I could go get, and the time that there was a Sheryl Swoopes shoe on the shelf, I was elated,” Delle Donne says. “I didn’t even care how that thing fit. It was like, ‘If Sheryl has it and it’s her shoe, I’m getting it.’”

Currie believes Delle Donne can be to young hoopers what Swoopes was to a young Delle Donne.

“So many young girls love Elena, and this is like getting a little piece of her,” Currie says. “Girls need people that look like them to look up to, to have as role models, to see themselves in them, and to know, ‘Hey one day, I can have a shoe named after me.’”

Ultimately, Delle Donne hopes her shoe will be the most inclusive one on the market. No matter your abilities, gender, sexuality, or anything else that’s part of your story, Delle Donne says, this shoe is for you.

“If that shoe’s dope and I want it, it shouldn’t have a label,” Delle Donne says. “This shoe is for everyone.”

Calvin Wetzel is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports, covering basketball and betting. He also contributes to Her Hoop Stats, CBS SportsLine and FiveThirtyEight. Follow him on Twitter at @cwetzel31.

The WNBA’s new playoff format means more games, more action, and yes, more betting options in the opening week. If you’ve been following the league but haven’t bet on it before, now is a great time to start. Be sure to check out our primer from last season to get caught up on the basics.

For those of you ready to jump in as Round 1 gets underway Wednesday, let’s break down all the ways you can get involved when it comes to betting on the WNBA playoffs.

Standard bets on games

The easiest way is still to place your typical bets on the results of a single game. Just like in the regular season, you’ll be able to bet on which team will win the game (moneyline), which team will cover the spread and how many total points will be scored.

You’ll also have what are called “derivative markets,” which are the same type of bets, just on a specific quarter or half rather than the full game. Think the Aces will get out to a hot start, but not sure you want to bet on them for the full game in case they rest their starters in the final minutes? Take them to cover the spread in the first quarter or first half instead.

All of these bets are still available during the game, with the odds updating live. There can be real value in them if you’re plugged into what’s happening on the court, so it’s a great reason to watch the games. Star player heads to the bench with foul trouble? Maybe it’s time to bet on the other team.

The best bets will change as the playoffs go on, but in the opening games, keep an eye on Dallas +10.5. The Wings have covered the spread in 20 of 28 games as road underdogs the last two seasons, and they seem to have found a groove since Arike Ogunbowale went down with an injury.

Another bet worth looking at is the over in Game 1 of the Washington-Seattle series. Sitting at 158.5 or 159 in most books, this is a number that may have made more sense a few weeks ago. With the way the Storm offense has dominated the last several games, they should be able to get this game into the 160s, even against the Mystics’ staunch defense. In addition, totals below 160 have hit the over more than 60 percent of the time this season.

Series bets

Betting on the result of a series, rather than one game, can be one of the most fun ways to bet on the playoffs. There are a few sportsbooks with these lines already posted, and more should continue to add them as we go.

The best place to find the most options is generally going to be FanDuel. As of now, FanDuel allows you to bet on each series in three different ways.

You can bet on the winner of the series, which is pretty straightforward. You can bet on the correct score of the series, so if you’re confident enough in the Sky winning that you believe they’ll win 2-0, you can place a more specific bet on that result.

You can also even bet on the exact order of the games. So, for example, not only can you bet on the Sun to beat the Wings 2-1, but you can bet on the Sun winning Games 1 and 3 while the Wings win Game 2, or you can bet on the Wings stealing Game 1 and the Sun winning Games 2 and 3.


This is also an area where Dallas may be a good bet. While the Wings’ penchant for playing well as underdogs on the road may not be enough to win the series, it might be worth a shot to bet on the 2-1 Sun result and hope that Dallas can pull off at least one upset win.

The Mystics-Storm series is another intriguing one to bet on. As the most evenly-matched series by far, there’s a good chance it gives us a Game 3. It could be worthwhile to bet on Seattle 2-1 and/or Washington 2-1.


Futures bets on who will win the championship have been available since before the season even began, but for those who are too impatient to place a bet that won’t be decided for several months, the playoffs present another opportunity.

There are a lot of factors to consider when placing these bets beyond simply who the best team is. Which team has the best odds? Are there any injuries that will come into play? Does one team have an easier path?

All of these questions need to be considered when betting on a champion. In this year’s playoffs, the injury to Dearica Hamby could loom large. The Aces are slim title favorites, and they should be able to get past an even more shorthanded Phoenix squad in the first round. But if Hamby remains out beyond Round 1, Las Vegas’ lack of depth could present a problem. During the regular season, the Aces were outscored in the minutes when at least one bench player was on the court.

Jonquel Jones and the Connecticut Sun could be the best championship bet. (Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)

A better place to look might be Connecticut, who led the league in margin per game and margin per 100 possessions. While part of the reason for that was head coach Curt Miller’s tendency to play his starters longer than most, the Sun still deserve to be in the title conversation alongside the Aces and the Sky. Considering sportsbooks are giving us much better odds on them than they are on either Las Vegas or Chicago, the Sun look like the best bet.

The other fun futures bet during the playoffs is on the Finals MVP. We don’t have odds on this yet, but we will get them when the Finals matchup is set at the very latest. A lot of sportsbooks have been posting other types of bets earlier and earlier, so it’s possible we see Finals MVP odds while the semifinals are still going on.

Betting on the Finals MVP is always tough, because the winner essentially always comes from the championship team. That means you have to account for two different factors at the same time: the chance that the player’s team wins the title, and the chance that the player is the top performer on that team during the series.

Player props

The 2022 season was the first in which sportsbooks offered WNBA player props, and you can expect these options to continue to expand. So far, only BetRivers, Unibet, Bet365 and Fanduel have posted them. Some books have had them more consistently than others, so it remains to be seen how many will be offered for the playoffs, but FanDuel, BetRivers, and Unibet have already posted some for Wednesday’s games. Keep your eye out, as there are sure to be more coming soon.

Player props are bets on a player to go over or under a certain number for a certain stat. For example, you might bet on A’ja Wilson to have over 9.5 rebounds. So far, points, rebounds and assists have been the three stats offered.

These are the bets with perhaps the most value, as they are the lines that are the most difficult for sportsbooks to properly set. So much needs to be factored in beyond a player’s average in that stat: the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses, recent lineup or rotation changes, a player’s history in that matchup, etc. If you can find something that the sportsbooks didn’t account for, you can find an edge.

For instance, when Connecticut was set to take on Las Vegas on July 17, Jonquel Jones was ruled out due to health and safety protocols. Jones’ absence naturally led to more scoring and rebounding opportunities for players like DeWanna Bonner, Alyssa Thomas and Brionna Jones, but sportsbooks didn’t increase their lines on those props until a few hours after the news was released. Betting on those overs would have been profitable that day.

FanDuel also has rolled out some brand new player prop bets just in time for the playoffs. The first, a bet on a player to score 20+ points, is simply an alternate way to bet on a player’s scoring total if you think they are in store for a big game.

The other is a bet on which player will score the first basket. This can be one of the most exciting bets, as you don’t even have to wait a full quarter for it to be decided. If you don’t want to sweat out a bet for days or even hours or minutes, you can give this a shot and you’ll probably know the result within the opening minute of the game.

When betting on first basket props, keep in mind that the team that wins the jump ball is more likely to score first. This makes players on Connecticut more valuable. Jonquel Jones is the best jump-ball winner of the centers in the playoffs, winning over two-thirds of her tips over the last three seasons, and the Sun tied for the league lead this year with 22 games in which they scored first.

With all of the growing options, there’s bound to be something for everyone who’s looking to bet on the WNBA. And with more and more states continuing to join the movement, fans in over two-thirds of the country can now get in on the action.

Whether you bet or not, make sure to tune in all postseason long. With as many as five legitimate title contenders and no runaway favorite, the next month promises to keep you on the edge of your seat.

Calvin Wetzel is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports, covering basketball and betting. He also contributes to Her Hoop Stats, CBS SportsLine and FiveThirtyEight. Follow him on Twitter at @cwetzel31.

The WNBA All-Star Game is just days away, which means soon we’ll have betting lines for one of the most unique and exciting women’s basketball events to place your money on. (Who can forget the monumental mistake sportsbooks made for last year’s event?)

For now, we can recap the last several weeks of WNBA regular season action from a betting perspective.

Team trends

Aces stumbling

If the last few weeks have reminded us of anything, it’s that even the best are always vulnerable in sports. The juggernaut Aces, once the clear and undisputed top team in the league, have come back down to earth as of late. They are still the favorites to win the championship, but they’ve generally faded in the betting landscape.

Las Vegas is just 2-9 against the spread since the start of June, and in one of those wins, they covered by a mere 1.5 points. The All-Star break couldn’t come at a better time for this squad. While it won’t be as restful for the Aces as it will be for most other teams, considering much of their starting lineup will be in the All-Star Game in Chicago, it still should give them a chance to regroup and reset.

Sky surging

Meanwhile, Las Vegas’ Commissioner Cup opponent has been trending in the opposite direction. Chicago has won 11 of its last 13, with the only two losses coming by two points each. In the process, the Sky have cashed their spread bet eight times after beginning the season 2-6 against the spread.

Your next chance to bet on the Sky will come on Wednesday against one of the other hottest teams in the league: Minnesota. These two teams played a fantastic game just over a week ago, in which Courtney Vandersloot won it at the buzzer after the Sky blew a double-digit lead. In spite of the hot streak, letting teams claw their way back in games has been a theme for the Sky, so if they take a big lead early, it could be a good opportunity to bet on the other side.

Dream riding Tiffany Hayes

Tiffany Hayes made her season debut with a bang last week against the Liberty, knocking down four of her six triples and finishing with 21 points. The Dream won outright as 5.5-point underdogs in the process, and followed that up with a blowout upset of Seattle three days later also as 5.5-point underdogs.

After an excellent May and a tough June, the returns of Hayes and Erica Wheeler could mean Atlanta is in store for a big July. Their last game before the break comes against the Mystics, who will have Elena Delle Donne and will almost certainly be favored. Don’t be surprised if Atlanta cashes another underdog moneyline, or at the very least covers for a third straight time since Hayes has returned.

League trends

Checking on trends we’ve been monitoring

While second-quarter unders have faltered, coming down to 51.2 percent on the season (although still 55.9 percent when following a first-quarter over), fourth-quarter unders may be back. The under hit in over 62 percent of fourth quarters last season, but it started out practically 50/50 through 100 games this season: 51-49.

Since then, they have gone 20-7 with one push. That trend is even stronger, albeit in a smaller sample, when looking at the second legs of back-to-backs. Sportsbooks seem to have adjusted for the overall effect of back-to-backs being lower scoring, but they haven’t necessarily adjusted far enough when it comes to the fourth quarters of those games, when players are the most tired. Those unders are 8-2 on the season.

Some totals too low?

A new trend that’s emerging this season is the tendency for low totals to hit the over. Games for which the closing line has been 161 or lower have surpassed that total 36 times and gone under just 18, good for a 67 percent hit rate.

These totals are obviously coming largely from teams that play some combination of great defense, bad offense and slow-paced basketball — teams like the Mystics, the Storm or the Dream — so it makes sense that the lines are low. But if sportsbooks are overvaluing just how slow or defensive these teams are, it gives us a chance to make some money on those overs in the 150s.

Futures update

Here are FanDuel’s biggest movers of the last three weeks.

Stock up: Sky (+440 previous to +300 current)

Chicago’s hot streak hasn’t gone unnoticed by sportsbooks, as their odds have continued to shorten and have passed up the Connecticut Sun. A win over the team the Sky are chasing in the odds — the Aces — certainly didn’t hurt, nor did taking over first place in the standings.

The Storm are a very close second here, mostly thanks to adding Tina Charles during that time frame. Charles has never won a championship, but if she can continue to buy into this “bench alpha” role rather than demanding starter-level minutes and shots that would take away volume from Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd, Seattle may be in a good position.

Stock down: Sparks (+6500 previous to +15000 current)

This one is interesting, as Los Angeles has actually been playing fairly well recently. They’ve covered in five straight games, winning four of them outright despite only being favored in one.

However, it also became more and more clear in June that there is a gap between the WNBA’s top five and the rest, and the Sparks are not in that top group. They also fired head coach Derek Fisher in June, so +6500 was probably too short to begin with.

Best bets tonight

Seattle/Indiana over 158.5

Remember when the Fever started the season playing the fastest of any team in league history? Yes, they’ve played at a more reasonable pace since then, but this is still a very low line for any game involving Indiana.

And of course, this falls into the category we talked about above: Lines 161 or below that have gone over two-thirds of the time. Expect this one to be played in the 160s.

Connecticut/Dallas under 163.5

On the other side, you have a line that may have made more sense a few weeks ago, but the Sun offense hasn’t been too impressive over this recent stretch. In fact, Connecticut’s offensive rating of 91.3 over its last five games ranks dead-last in the WNBA over that time.

The first meeting between these two teams finished under this total, and the second one eclipsed it by just a few points thanks to the Sun’s 25-for-27 night at the free throw line. It will probably take something of that magnitude to hit this high of a total again.

Calvin Wetzel is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports, covering basketball and betting. He also contributes to Her Hoop Stats, CBS SportsLine and FiveThirtyEight. Follow him on Twitter at @cwetzel31.

We still haven’t quite hit the All-Star break in real life, but in WNBA fantasy world, the season is approaching crunch time. Just two weeks remain in the default regular season schedules, meaning playoff spots will be on the line in the coming days.

With that in mind, if you’re still in the mix for the playoffs, look no further for advice and notes to use to your advantage down the home stretch.


These are the top risers in fantasy ranking since our last update. We’ve only included players who were ranked at that time, meaning they had already played a game by then.

3. Alysha Clark: 35 spots (current 50th, previous 85th)

Understandably, it took Clark a bit of time to get back into her rhythm after returning from over a year off due to injury. Prior to our last fantasy piece, she had played in five games and hadn’t reached 23 minutes in any of them.

Since then, she’s surpassed that mark in eight of her nine games, including over 40 minutes in Washington’s overtime win over the Aces on Saturday. It’s safe to say she’s back.

2. Natalie Achonwa: 36 spots (current 99th, previous 135th)

There is a small sample size to consider here, since Achonwa’s previous rank was based on a mere two games before her injury in May. She’s also played only three games for the Lynx since returning, so take this as you will.

It is still worth noting that in those three recent games, she’s averaged 15.5 minutes, 9.3 points and 3.7 rebounds per game, after recording marks of 10.5, 2.5 and 1.0 in the same categories before that. Achonwa’s current role seems to be just big enough to be fantasy relevant.

1. AD Durr: 38 spots (current 102nd, previous 140th)

The last time we were here, AD was a member of the Liberty and was a fantasy afterthought even under the most generous projections. The next day, they were traded to the Dream, and the change of scenery has done wonders.

AD’s average of 22.8 fantasy points since then would be knocking on the door of the top 40 if it were a full-season mark, and their three 21-point games since June 15 trail only Arike Ogunbowale’s four in the entire league.


On the flip side of the risers, you have the fallers — those players whose rank has dropped off since we last checked in.

3. Megan Gustafson: 23 spots (current 131st, previous 108th)

Gustafson was on the very edge of the fantasy radar anyway, so this drop probably isn’t of major significance for you unless you’re in a deep league.

It is possible, of course, that Gustafson’s fantasy stock reverses course in the coming days with Tina Charles now out of the picture. Phoenix’s first game post-Charles did nothing to give Gustafson owners hope, however, as Vanessa Nygaard opted for essentially a six-player rotation rather than upping Gustafson’s minutes.

2. Dana Evans: 27 spots (current 100th, previous 73rd)

Evans did an admirable job as Courtney Vandersloot’s backup for several weeks to start the season. Then Julie Allemand arrived.

Allemand’s role has been gradually increasing, and the point guard peaked on Sunday with season highs of 11 points and four assists off the bench in a win over Minnesota. As long as Allemand is around, Evans simply won’t get enough volume to help your team in fantasy.

1. Bria Hartley: 30 spots (current 133rd, previous 103rd)

Hartley, who didn’t play until June, is in a similar small sample size position as Achonwa — just in the opposite direction.

She was terrific in the 2020 bubble with Phoenix — good enough to earn a hefty contract with Indiana — but she hasn’t lived up to that deal in 2022. Given that it expires after this season, Hartley may find herself in the same boat as Tiffany Mitchell did: a playing time casualty of a youthful, rebuilding team.

Adds and Drops

One of the most important aspects of winning a fantasy title is attentiveness. If you want to have a shot, you’ve got to stay on top of the latest trends and news and make sure you’re fielding the best possible team at any given moment. What looked like the best combination of nine players a week or two ago may no longer be the case today.

Here, we give you the best widely-available players to consider picking up, as well as the players potentially worth cutting to free up that roster spot. Keep in mind, this may vary a little depending on your league size: A player worth rostering in a 10-team league isn’t necessarily viable in an eight-team league.


Marine Johannès

It’s understandable that Johannès wasn’t widely drafted, given her late arrival to the Liberty. What’s not understandable is why she’s not widely owned now.

Rebecca Allen’s injury has played a part to be sure, but Johannes was taking some of Allen’s minutes even before that. Her 25 fantasy points per game over the last week put her in the top 30, even ahead of players like Chelsea Gray and Sue Bird. Her ownership rate of 15.9 percent is far too low.

AD Durr

Nope, we weren’t done giving love to AD. It’s one thing to go on a run, and they’ve been on quite the run as detailed above. It’s another thing to do so precisely because of a situational change.

As opposed to a random hot streak in the former case, there’s a reason to point to in the latter, meaning you can expect the elevated production to sustain. The Atlanta version of AD is a borderline fantasy starter, and worth a bench spot at worst. You can still pick them up in over 92 percent of leagues, so it’s time.


Credit to all of you fantasy managers: There don’t seem to be any players currently rostered in over 50 percent of leagues that don’t deserve it. So instead, we’ll focus more on strategy here.

Given that there are only two weeks left of the fantasy regular season, strategy around who to drop, if anyone, centers on where you are in the standings. If you are on the playoff bubble and need wins in these final weeks, it’s definitely time to drop anyone with a remotely significant injury beyond whoever you’re keeping in your IR spot. That might mean cutting ties with someone like Erica Wheeler or Betnijah Laney.

If you have a playoff spot wrapped up, you may be in a position to pick up a player like that if someone else in your league has dropped them. You can afford a loss or two while you await their return, so it may be worth dropping an average player who is healthy in favor of a potential difference-maker in the fantasy playoffs.

Fantasy performances of the week

Elena Delle Donne, 44 fantasy points (June 25 vs. Las Vegas)

The extra five minutes helped, but it’s refreshing to see the two-time former MVP on this list after what she’s gone through over the last couple of seasons.

It wasn’t necessarily a vintage EDD game — she shot just 7-of-17 from the field and didn’t reach 20 points — but her 10 rebounds and five blocks catapulted her to an elite fantasy line while lifting her team to a signature road win in the process.

Arike Ogunbowale, 50 fantasy points (June 23 vs. Indiana)

This isn’t Ogunbowale’s first time on this list, and with the way ESPN’s scoring system values real-life scoring over peripheral stats, it won’t be her last.

To her credit, though, this 50-spot was much more well-rounded than her last, in which she poured in 37 points. In this one, she scored just 24 but dished out six assists and tied her career high with five steals.

Breanna Stewart, 50 fantasy points (June 25 vs. Los Angeles)

We couldn’t get through an entire fantasy recap without talking about arguably the fantasy GOAT. Another fixture on these leaderboards, Stewart hung 50 for the league-leading fourth time this year with a classic all-around performance.

She now owns four of the top 15 fantasy performances of the season, and her collection of 50-point fantasy games continues to climb the career ranks at remarkable speed. She currently sits in sixth at 31, and she needs just one to tie Maya Moore for fifth and two to tie Tamika Catchings for fourth. There’s really no one else who has been as consistent and reliable of a fantasy contributor since Stewart entered the league in 2016.

Miscellaneous fantasy stat of the week

While we’re talking all time greats, it seems worth taking a look at some career fantasy milestones — both recently achieved and upcoming.

Most notably, Sue Bird recorded her 13,705th career fantasy point against Connecticut one day after officially announcing her retirement. That number was significant in that it moved her ahead of Tina Thompson and into third place in WNBA history.

Another soon-to-be retired legend is within reach of some important marks. Sylvia Fowles needs 143 fantasy points to reach 13,000 for her career and another 166 to catch Lisa Leslie for sixth.

Tina Charles is not far behind Fowles, so if things work out in Seattle (Charles’ reported destination), we could see the 13,000 club grow from six to eight by season’s end.

Calvin Wetzel is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports, covering basketball and betting. He also contributes to Her Hoop Stats, CBS SportsLine and FiveThirtyEight. Follow him on Twitter at @cwetzel31.

Another week of WNBA action is in the books, and the betting world continues to give us plenty to talk about.

This past week had both the lowest and the highest over/under for a game this season — 150 in last Tuesday’s Atlanta-Seattle game and 177 in Saturday’s contest between Las Vegas and Los Angeles — and it also gave us the Liberty’s first win against the spread as road favorites in over four years.

With those highlights in mind, let’s dive into the week in WNBA betting.

Team trends

Liberty rolling

In May, the Liberty were arguably the best fade in the league. Now, they may be the best bet. The addition of Crystal Dangerfield has allowed Sabrina Ionescu to spend some of her minutes off the ball, and it’s done wonders both for Ionescu and the team.

Statistically, the newly-minted Eastern Conference Player of the Week has done a complete 180 since the calendar flipped to June. Ionescu has essentially doubled her May averages in scoring, 3-pointers per game and free throws per game, while sinking over 44 percent of her triples and all 29 of her free throws so far this month.

As you might expect, this individual breakthrough has directly coincided with a team turnaround. Since inserting Dangerfield into the starting lineup to begin the month, New York has gone from the league’s worst net rating to its best. They even pulled the biggest upset of the season when they took down Washington as 12-point underdogs on June 3.

Fever getting on the board first

In our last betting piece, we talked about BetMGM’s “first to score” prop bets. These generally only take into account the strength of each team overall, not the strength of each team’s center at winning jump balls.

Because of this, we can use jump ball data to our advantage. The Fever in particular present an interesting case. Despite owning one of the worst win-loss records in the league, Indiana is scoring first at a remarkable rate. The Fever are the only team in the WNBA to score first 11 times already this season.

While it helps that the Fever have played more games than some teams, they are even in the top three in percentage, having scored first in 68.8 percent of their games. Only the Sun and the Storm have done it more frequently.

Mystics’ second quarters

We’ve devoted plenty of words to the Mystics and their propensity for unders this season — their slow pace and elite defense have made it tough for sportsbooks to adjust their totals low enough.

Washington’s 11-4 record on unders in full games is the best in the league, but it’s nothing compared to their record on second-quarter unders. In 15 Mystics games this season, the second-quarter under has hit an incredible 14 times. If you bet on the under in every Mystics second quarter so far, you’d be nearly undefeated.

Even when they combined for 180 against the Wings, or 173 against the Sky, or 189 on Sunday against the Mercury, the second quarter still went under. There’s bound to be regression at some point, but ride this trend for as long as you can.

League trends

Checking on trends we’ve been monitoring

So far, we’ve been keeping an eye on back-to-back unders, fourth-quarter unders and live second-quarter unders.

Back-to-back unders and fourth-quarter unders continue to sit around 50-50, so it may be that books are finally making adjustments after last season. They haven’t quite figured out those second quarters though — after a first quarter goes over, the second quarter is still going under over 60 percent of the time.

Combined with the Mystics’ extreme low-scoring second quarters, any high-scoring Mystics first quarter should be an automatic trigger to open your sportsbook app and bet the under on the next quarter.

Elena Delle Donne has been sitting out some Mystics games while she works her way back to full strength. (Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images)

Late player availability updates

Usually, the earlier you can get your bets in, the better. With lines now being posted the night before, if you can place your wagers before you go to bed you can often get a better line before the lines move the day of the game.

However, there have been some exceptions to that this season. Because of the lingering effects of the pandemic, there have been occasions where a player is ruled out seemingly out of nowhere mere hours before tip. Most notably, it happened to Breanna Stewart earlier this season, but other players such as Sophie Cunningham, Natasha Cloud and Marina Mabrey have been affected.

Even aside from COVID-19, this type of thing happens in rare instances, such as Elena Delle Donne being ruled out on Sunday after carrying a probable tag into the game (she was the first probable player this season who didn’t end up playing). But the health and safety protocols have increased the frequency of last-minute scratches, so there has been some value in waiting on your bets.

Sportsbooks are doing a much better job this season of updating lines shortly after news breaks. Last season, there were times when odds didn’t change for hours even after a player as important as Candace Parker or Brittney Griner was ruled out. Sportsbooks are now moving their lines within minutes, not hours, of availability news. (That books are putting this effort in is also a great sign of progress in the game.)

Nonetheless, there’s still a small window to bet on a game after player news comes out before the lines move. As long as we’re still dealing with COVID-19 in any form, it may make more sense for those who are really on top of things throughout the day to wait on putting any money down until closer to tip.

Futures update

Here are FanDuel’s biggest movers of the last two weeks.

Stock up: Aces (+200 previous to +115 current)

It says a lot about the Aces that their stock increased the most despite already being the favorites. Even without Jackie Young for the last several days, Las Vegas has raised its value.

It’s also noteworthy to see a number as low as +115 before the halfway point of the season. If that number hits +100, the Aces will have a 50 percent implied probability of winning the championship, a mark we don’t typically see any team hit until after the playoffs have started.

From their three legitimate MVP candidates, to their league-best 9-4 record against the spread, to their ever-rising title chances, there are all sorts of ways to use betting odds to tell the same story: The Aces are flat-out awesome.

Stock down: Mercury (+1000 previous to +4100 current)

As the season has gone on, it’s become more and more apparent that Phoenix just doesn’t have a championship-level defense without Brittney Griner. The superstar backcourt of Diana Taurasi and Skylar Diggins-Smith, alongside Tina Charles in the middle, can win the Mercury games on the right night, but this team doesn’t have the interior resistance to consistently compete with the league’s top tier right now.

Even Phoenix’s opponents would welcome an improvement in that department if it meant getting Griner back home safely before season’s end. For now, it’s tough to consider Phoenix as a contender for anything more than a backend playoff spot.

Best bets tonight

Washington -6.5 vs. Phoenix

Let’s run this one back. It looked like Washington had a good shot at clearing this line on Sunday, then Delle Donne was unexpectedly ruled out just a couple of hours before tip. She’s probable again for this one, but it would be extremely surprising if she didn’t play. As long as she’s on the floor, look for Mike Thibault to make adjustments from Sunday’s loss and the Mystics to win comfortably in a revenge game.

Phoenix vs. Washington under 165.5

The total for the first leg of this back-to-back closed at 160, so we’re getting an extra 5.5 points just based on how high-scoring Sunday’s contest was. That’s an overreaction to a single game. Whether the back-to-back under effect is still around or not, this line is far too high for any Mystics game. And, of course, if you have access to a book with quarter unders, take the second-quarter under here as long as it’s at least 40.

Calvin Wetzel is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports, covering basketball and betting. He also contributes to Her Hoop Stats, CBS SportsLine and FiveThirtyEight. Follow him on Twitter at @cwetzel31.

It seems crazy to say this just a day past the one-month mark of the season, but we’re already almost halfway through the WNBA fantasy regular season in standard ESPN leagues. If your league is set to the default — nine matchups before the playoffs — you’ve already finished four of them and have just five remaining.

That means if you’re still toward the bottom of the standings, it’s probably time to start thinking about shaking things up. We’ve got you covered with who can help you do that, as well as everything else you need to know from the past week in fantasy.


These are the top risers in fantasy ranking over the past week. We’ve only included players who were ranked a week ago, meaning they had already played a game at that point.

3. Satou Sabally: 17 spots (current 42nd, previous 59th)

At this time a week ago, Sabally hadn’t started a game yet. She had played in just three games since returning from her overseas season, and she averaged just 20 minutes off the bench in those games.

Since then, she has started every game and averaged over 27 minutes per game, so it makes sense that she’s climbed the leaderboard. The third-year forward has posted two straight double-doubles and has averaged four assists since being inserted into the startling lineup.

2. Kahleah Copper: 19 spots (current 39th, previous 58th)

Copper finished May without a 25-point performance in fantasy. She has surpassed that mark in both June games thus far while averaging 18 points and, impressively for a guard, seven rebounds per game.

The reigning Finals MVP also seems to be making good on her promise to improve her outside stroke this season. She’s attempting more than three triples a game for the first time in her career and has still managed to increase her efficiency to 35 percent for the first time since 2018.

1. Elizabeth Williams: 22 spots (current 70th, previous 92nd)

Just like in our last fantasy piece, a Mystics big has landed on this list after Shakira Austin cracked the top three with a 25-spot ascent. Williams also completes the trifecta of players on this list who got a late start to their WNBA season due to overseas commitments. It appears that these players took a week or two to adjust and are starting to find their footing in the WNBA again.

Washington’s crowded frontcourt has made it difficult for Williams to get significant playing time when everyone is healthy, but her rise this week is largely due to a game in which she made the most of her time on the floor. Last Tuesday against the Fever, Williams pulled down 15 boards and blocked six shots, all in under 23 minutes.


On the flip side of the risers, you have the fallers — those players whose rank has dropped off in the last seven days.

3. NaLyssa Smith: 12 spots (current 33rd, previous 21st)

The fact that falling a mere 12 spots is enough to land on this list says more about the fact that the rankings are starting to stabilize than it does about NaLyssa Smith — although Smith’s ankle hasn’t done her any favors either.

Long term, there’s absolutely nothing to worry about with the No. 2 overall pick, who has established herself as a force for years to come. But since returning from the injury, she’s averaged under five rebounds per game after not being below five in any single game prior. She’s also coming off of her first two games below 20 fantasy points.

2. Marina Mabrey: 12 spots (current 36th, previous 24th)

Peak Marina Mabrey is a scoring machine who perfectly complements Arike Ogunbowale. This past week was not peak Marina Mabrey.

The Wings guard had reached double figures in scoring in 11 consecutive regular season games before managing fewer than seven points in three of her last four. As Ty Harris begins to eat into Mabrey’s minutes, the Wings’ lineup rotation is a situation worth monitoring.

1. Yvonne Anderson: 17 spots (current 114th, previous 97th)

Even being in the league as a 32-year-old rookie is a massive achievement, so this is nothing for Anderson to hang her head over. It also speaks to Anderson’s accomplishments that she was able to crack the top 100 at any point.

But that momentum is fading as Curt Miller has reverted to a shorter rotation. Anderson appears to be on the outside looking in, having played just nine minutes in Connecticut’s last three games.

Adds and Drops

One of the most important aspects of winning a fantasy title is attentiveness. If you want to have a shot, you’ve got to stay on top of the latest trends and news and make sure you’re fielding the best possible team at any given moment. What looked like the best combination of nine players you could put together a week or two ago may no longer be the case today.

Here, we give you the best widely-available players to consider picking up, as well as the players potentially worth cutting to free up that roster spot. Keep in mind, this may vary a little depending on your league size: A player worth rostering in a 10-team league isn’t necessarily viable in an eight-team league.


Rachel Banham

There’s sort of a cruel irony in the fact that Banham occupies this spot by virtue of an injury to the player we featured in our last fantasy piece. Without Moriah Jefferson for the foreseeable future, Cheryl Reeve will be forced to turn to Banham as a makeshift point guard.

Regardless of whether it works out in real life, it should pay big dividends in fantasy. Banham put up 24 fantasy points in 32 minutes on Sunday in Jefferson’s absence. Her 1.5 percent ownership rate is simply nowhere close to high enough.

Elizabeth Williams

Williams is owned in over 14 times the number of leagues in which Banham is owned, but 22.2 percent still seems low for a player who’s essentially scoring a fantasy point a minute.

Yes, that only helps you if the minutes are there, but despite minutes in the teens, Williams’ spot in the rotation is clearly safe. With her production and the injury/load management issues that Washington continues to deal with, don’t be surprised if Williams sees her minutes spike into the 20s at some point. You’ll be glad to have her when that happens.


Tiffany Mitchell

Mitchell has never averaged fewer than 20 minutes per game in her seven-year career, but that looks likely to change this season. The veteran is playing just 13.8 minutes a contest, but that number is in the single digits over the last seven games.

With all the rookies and young talent on Indiana’s roster, it appears that they are opting to phase Mitchell out in the final year of her contract and use those minutes to develop their potential future stars. That is not good news for Mitchell’s fantasy owners.

Jasmine Thomas

This one should be obvious: Thomas is out for the year with a torn ACL. But apparently it’s not obvious to almost half of fantasy managers because Thomas is still owned in 47.9 percent of ESPN leagues.

Yes, there is an IR spot for stashing an injured player, but that spot should be used for someone like Napheesa Collier, Riquna Williams or Tiffany Hayes. Unless you are in a keeper or dynasty league in which you’ll be retaining players for 2023, use that spot for someone who could be back this season.

Fantasy performances of the week

Diana Taurasi, 51 fantasy points (June 3 vs. Connecticut)

Of course Taurasi ended up on this list again. After becoming the first player aged 39 or older to score 30 in a game with her 31 points on May 19, she had to go and outdo herself with 32 on Friday against the Sun.

It helped that she had three stocks (steals plus blocks) as well, as those are the only two stat categories worth more than one fantasy point in ESPN standard scoring. That was tied for her highest stock total since her fourth game in the bubble.

Sabrina Ionescu, 52 fantasy points (June 5 vs. Minnesota)

When fans and media members talk about Ionescu showing “flashes of brilliance,” they are referring to games like this. The former No. 1 pick has multiple games with just two (real life) points this year, but after this one, she also has multiple games with 31.

If Ionescu can start playing like this on a more consistent basis, the Liberty may be able to dig themselves out of the cellar of the standings. For now, it’s more of a tease for New York fans and Sabrina owners alike.

Breanna Stewart, 52 fantasy points (June 3 vs. Dallas)

There was a tie this week for best fantasy performance, so we gave the last spot here to the 2022 leader in fantasy points per game. In addition to pouring in 27 points (which somehow is only mildly above average for her), Stewart also recorded seven stocks in this game.

Notably, this was Stewart’s 29th career game with at least 50 fantasy points, tying Sylvia Fowles for seventh all time. Everyone above her on the list is either retired or, at a minimum, strongly considering it very soon. Stewart, meanwhile, is 27 years old and missed an entire season due to injury. We’re witnessing greatness.

Miscellaneous fantasy stat of the week

Two days after Stewart recorded her 29th career 50-point fantasy performance, another player recorded her first.

Kelsey Plum was labeled by some as a bust after being drafted No. 1 overall in 2017 and failing to average double figures in scoring until four years later. We can put that talk to rest now.

Among all of the other stellar numbers Plum has put up this season, she joined the 50-point fantasy club against Dallas on Sunday. Perhaps more impressive? She played all 40 minutes of that one.

Most sportsbooks now have Plum in the top three of their MVP odds, behind only her teammate, A’ja Wilson, and Stewart. Give Becky Hammon an assist for unlocking the full potential of the NCAA’s career scoring leader, but it’s time to appreciate what this budding superstar is becoming in 2022.

Calvin Wetzel is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports, covering basketball and betting. He also contributes to Her Hoop Stats, CBS SportsLine and FiveThirtyEight. Follow him on Twitter at @cwetzel31.

As we close the door on May, the WNBA picture is beginning to come into focus. Almost every player is back from their overseas seasons, and the standings are looking a little bit more like what we expected before the games began.

This means we have more data to work with when placing our WNBA bets, so let’s get into what the numbers have been telling us and what it all might mean going forward.

Team trends

Last time we checked in, every team had already both won and lost against the spread. Now, every team’s already done both at least twice. Despite the parity, some clear tendencies have emerged for certain teams.

Aces covering

Becky Hammon’s masterful coaching job has been well documented, and it’s clearly leading to success on the court. It’s also leading to success for Aces bettors, as Las Vegas is currently 7-2 against the spread.

The Aces will face their toughest test yet against Connecticut on Tuesday night, but considering A’ja Wilson and company have covered the spreads by more than five points per game on average, it’s worth riding them as long as they keep cashing in.

Fever flying

Last time around in this space, we told you how Indiana was playing at a historic tempo. In theory, any time someone is on a historic pace for a certain stat a week into the season, regression is probably coming. It still might be, but it hasn’t hit yet — not even with a midseason coaching change.

In fact, Indiana has been even friendlier to over bettors since our last piece. While essentially maintaining that blazing speed over the last two weeks, the Fever have also played better offense (increasing their points per possession from 93.7 before May 17 to 103.7 since) and worse defense (from 97.4 to 115.5).

The coaching change didn’t seem to change that, as the Sparks and Fever flirted with 200 overall points in Carlos Knox’s first game at the helm last week. Don’t hesitate to pull the trigger on Indiana overs as long as this trend keeps up.

Mystics grinding

On the opposite end of the spectrum, you have the Mystics — potentially a less extreme betting version of last year’s Sun. Washington is the only team playing at a slower pace than Connecticut thus far, and Mike Thibault’s defense has been clicking despite the constant rotation flux.

The result? The Mystics have hit the under in eight of their nine games, and have come up more than eight points short of the over/under on average.

As fate would have it, the Fever and the Mystics meet Tuesday, so tune in to see who wins between the unstoppable force and the immovable object. (For what it’s worth, these two teams matched up in the season opener, and at 154 combined points remains the lowest-scoring Fever game this year.)

Connecticut jump balls

If you really want to get into some obscure bets, you can place a bet on which team will score first on BetMGM Sportsbook. Obviously team offensive and defensive strength plays a big part in this, but another factor is who wins the jump ball.

If you go that route, take a look at the Sun. Jonquel Jones has won every opening tip this season, and she won her last eight of the 2021 regular season as well, giving her a streak of 16 straight in the regular season (she only won three of four in Connecticut’s semifinal loss to Chicago).

Tuesday’s game is an interesting test as BetMGM favors Las Vegas to score first given the Aces’ edge in the overall game, but A’ja Wilson has won fewer than half of her jump balls this season. Despite Las Vegas’ overall dominance, they’ve scored first in only four games this year. It may be worth taking a chance on the Sun here.

League trends

Checking on trends we’ve been monitoring

So far, we’ve been keeping an eye on back-to-back unders, fourth-quarter unders, and live second-quarter unders.

Back-to-back unders are just 1-4, but that’s a bit misleading. Two games were a back-to-back for one of the teams, but the other team had a game in between. Both of those went way under. And the total of 153 in the New York/Seattle game went under the opening line, but by tip time the line had dropped to 152.5, so it technically went over. It’s still too early to know if this will be a trend in 2022.

We have a much bigger sample on quarter unders, and while fourth-quarter unders have continued to hover around 50/50, second-quarter unders are still sitting at 60 percent through over 50 games.

Scoring on the upswing

Two weeks ago, unders were 12-9, and the average total was not even 160. Since then, overs have gone 18-10, and the average game score has been 164.5.

Maybe we can partially blame the Fever, but it seems as though the league as a whole has picked up the scoring in recent days.

Futures update

As the season settles in, the title odds haven’t shifted quite as much in recent days. Here are FanDuel’s biggest movers of the last two weeks.

Stock up: Dream (+10000 previous to +6000 current)

These odds haven’t even changed since Atlanta’s thrashing of Phoenix on Sunday, so this number could continue to move in the coming days.

After three straight seasons of porous defense, this year’s Dream squad has done a full 180 in that department, holding opponents to an effective 42.3 field goal percentage. That mark would be fifth best in league history, and the last team to achieve it over a full season was the 2002 Houston Comets.

Stock down: Liberty (+2100 previous to +8000 current)

It’s hard to sugarcoat this one too much. Ever since opening the season with a win over the Sun, the Liberty have looked nothing like what many predicted entering the season.

A seven-game losing streak that includes three losses by 27 or more points is enough to wonder if this team has any hope of turning it around by season’s end.

Best bets tonight

Las Vegas -3.5 vs. Connecticut

Don’t overthink it. The Sun are as tough of an opponent as Las Vegas will face (it’s Connecticut’s first time being an underdog this season), but until further notice, the Aces are on autobet mode.

Besides, as good as Natisha Hiedeman has looked, Connecticut is 1-2 against the spread since Jasmine Thomas went down.

Dallas +1.5 vs. Los Angeles

This is a prime bounce-back spot for the Wings after a blowout loss to the Sun ended an impressive run of three wins in three cities in six days. The Wings have been the better team this year and should be favored here.

Don’t forget to check the injury reports before placing this bet though: Jordin Canada missed the Sparks’ last game, so if she is back for this one, you may be able to get Dallas at a better line.

Calvin Wetzel is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports, covering basketball and betting. He also contributes to Her Hoop Stats, CBS SportsLine and FiveThirtyEight. Follow him on Twitter at @cwetzel31.

We’re officially over two weeks into the WNBA season, so hopefully you’ve been getting the hang of the fantasy game by now. If you’re 2-0, congratulations! If you’re 0-2, no need to stress — there’s still plenty of time to turn your season around.

Let’s get caught up on everything you need to know from the last week in the ever-changing fantasy landscape.


These are the top risers in fantasy ranking over the past week. We’ve only included players here who were ranked a week ago, meaning they had already played a game at that point. Notably, that excludes players like DeWanna Bonner (currently ranked 15th) who returned from their overseas seasons since then.

3. Shakira Austin: 25 spots (current 46th, previous 71st)

The Mystics were willing to give up Rhyne Howard to fall back and draft Austin, so it’s no wonder they’ve been upping her playing time as she transitions to the pro game. Austin averaged 20-plus minutes in all three games this week after reaching that mark just once in her first four contests. With veteran players Elena Delle Donne and Alysha Clark continuing to sporadically miss games due to load management, you can expect the Mystics to rely upon Austin and her young energy even more as the season goes on.

Austin kicked off the week with a 20-point showing on an incredible 9-of-11 shooting, and she followed that up with two more efficient games in double figures. All told, the rookie shot over 70 percent last week while averaging nearly 15 points and seven rebounds, and she blocked more than a shot a game to boot.

2. Natisha Hiedeman: 38 spots (current 53rd, previous 91st)

Hiedeman is another player whose minutes increased this past week, despite the fact that backcourt mate Courtney Williams returned at the beginning of it. And after Tuesday’s announcement that Jasmine Thomas will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL, there may be even more minutes for the taking in Hiedeman’s near future.

Hiedeman was already the top bench producer for Connecticut prior to this week, and since then head coach Curt Miller has decided to use his bench even more. Miller has been known to ride his starters and did just that in the first two games, but if he taps into his depth this season the way he has in the most recent three games, Hiedeman may be in line for a fantasy-friendly workload.

1. Moriah Jefferson: 46 spots (current 37th, previous 83rd)

The Lynx underperformed to start the season due to a lack of ball-handling, and then signed a legitimate point guard who has immediately contributed and helped them turn their season around. Where have we heard that before?

Last year, it was Layshia Clarendon; this year, it’s Moriah Jefferson. The former Wings player has stepped into the starting point guard spot in Minnesota and paid instant dividends for Minnesota. While Cheryl Reeve’s team is still at the bottom of the standings and has a lot to figure out, the outlook looks much more promising than it did pre-Jefferson. A competitive second half against the Sky in Jefferson’s Lynx debut followed by a road win over the Sparks and a solid showing in Las Vegas have quelled the talk of a 2023 Lynx lottery pick for now.


On the flip side of the risers, you have the fallers — those players whose rank has dropped off in the last seven days.

3. Riquna Williams: 29 spots (current 73rd, previous 44th)

It’s early enough in the season that one game can still have a big impact on a player’s rankings. That’s the culprit for Riquna Williams’ slide: Williams managed just four points in her one game of the week before sustaining another foot injury that kept her out the rest of the week.

If the Aces’ prognosis is correct, Williams won’t be returning for at least a few more weeks, so she’ll have to fill your injured reserve (IR) spot or take up a bench spot for the time being if you choose to hold onto her.

2. Jasmine Thomas: 29 spots (current 77th, previous 48th)

There is starting to be a sad theme to this list. Connecticut’s perimeter defensive stalwart was unable to return after exiting Sunday’s game against the Fever due to a knee injury in the first half. Thomas recorded just eight fantasy points in eight minutes on the court, plummeting her ranking in the process.

Fantasy owners will have to look for full-time replacements now that she’s out for the remainder of the season.

1. Myisha Hines-Allen: 32 spots (current 65th, previous 33rd)

And the theme continues. The good news in Hines-Allen’s case is that she has already returned to action after her injury. The bad news is that she still hasn’t looked quite like herself in recent games. In 11 minutes against Chicago on Sunday, the Louisville product failed to make a shot and pulled down just one rebound.

For Hines-Allen fantasy owners, it will be important to closely monitor her health and production moving forward. We’ve seen Hines-Allen put up serious numbers at her peak, but a lingering injury or other factors can quickly derail that progress.

Adds and Drops

One of the most important aspects of winning a fantasy title is attentiveness. If you want to have a shot, you’ve got to stay on top of the latest trends and news and make sure you’re fielding the best possible team at any given moment. What looked like the best combination of nine players you could put together a week or two ago may no longer be the case today.

Here, we give you the best widely-available players to consider picking up, as well as the players potentially worth cutting to free up that roster spot. Keep in mind, this may vary a little depending on your league size: A player worth rostering in a 10-team league isn’t necessarily viable in an eight-team league.


Moriah Jefferson

We’ve already discussed how Jefferson has jumpstarted the Lynx, and she’s likely available to jumpstart your fantasy team as well.

Despite averaging more than 32 minutes a game over her four games with Minnesota so far, Jefferson is still available in over 80 percent of ESPN fantasy leagues. Those minutes haven’t been empty by any stretch; she’s posting averages of 15.5 points, 5.5 assists and 2.0 steals since joining the Lynx. Were it not for the one game she played for the Wings pulling her averages down, those numbers would rank 18th, 5th and 7th in the WNBA, respectively.

Go grab her while you can.

Danielle Robinson and Victoria Vivians

We’re giving you a 2-for-1 here, because these Fever teammates are putting up stats for a similar reason: volume.

In last week’s betting piece, we took a look at Indiana’s historic pace of play to start the season. Robinson and Vivians are each playing nearly 30 minutes per game over the past week, and when you see the floor that much for a team that loves to run, you’ll get plenty of opportunities to fill the stat sheet.

Vivians is owned in just 21.2 percent of ESPN leagues, while Robinson is rostered in fewer still. If you are in one of the 19.1 percent of leagues in which Jefferson is owned and you’re in need of a guard, turn to the Fever for help.


Teaira McCowan

Before ESPN entered the fold, the leading fantasy WNBA website was an obscure foreign site called That site had a system in which a player’s fantasy points per minute mattered far more than their fantasy points per game.

Under that system, McCowan was and is a beast. The former No. 3 overall pick has always been extremely efficient with her minutes, and moving to Dallas has done nothing to change that. Her per-minute scoring and rebounding averages extrapolated to 30 minutes a game would essentially make her a 15/10 player.

In Dallas, however, she’s been averaging a mere 7.6 minutes per contest, and under ESPN’s scoring system, totals rule the day. McCowan is owned in over 70 percent of ESPN leagues, and until she starts consistently seeing the floor, that number is just too high.

Layshia Clarendon

This is a tough decision considering what Clarendon has been able to do when given an opportunity (and how easy of a person they are to root for). But fantasy sports, like real sports, is a harsh business, and if you’re not on a real roster, you probably shouldn’t be on a fantasy one.

Clarendon is still owned in almost half of the ESPN leagues, which is well over double the percentage of leagues owning the player who replaced Clarendon as Minnesota’s point guard. Here’s hoping she gets signed at some point this season and shows up in the “adds” section of a later version of this piece.

Fantasy performances of the week

Diana Taurasi, 43 fantasy points (May 19 vs. Dallas)

For Diana Taurasi to still be capable of putting up more fantasy points than her age is beyond impressive. The league’s all-time leading scorer became the first player aged 39 or older to ever record a 30-point game with her 31-point showing in this one.

Shockingly, this wasn’t even one of the top two performances of the day, nor was it the best in this game. More on that in a minute.

Aerial Powers, 44 fantasy points (May 19 vs. Las Vegas)

While Taurasi was draining buckets for the Mercury, Aerial Powers was a few hours up the road putting on a Vegas-worthy show of her own. After feeling under the weather and texting Michael Jordan for advice earlier in the day, Powers had the best fantasy output of her career thanks to 25 points, six boards and six assists.

In fact, Powers is the only player thus far in 2022 to post 25/6/6 in a game, and when you factor in the two blocks and three 3s, she’s just the eighth player in league history with that line.

Arike Ogunbowale, 53 fantasy points (May 19 vs. Phoenix)

Remember when Ogunbowale showed up in the “fallers” section of our last fantasy piece and we told you not to worry? If you weren’t convinced yet, surely this game provided enough reassurance.

The young Dallas star outdueled Taurasi in this epic battle, one-upping the veteran’s 31 points with 37 of her own and carrying the Wings to a 10-point win. For good measure, she dished out five assists and made all 10 of her free throws, becoming the first player in WNBA history to do both of those things in a 37-point game.

Miscellaneous fantasy stat of the week

Candace Parker didn’t quite make the cut for top fantasy performances of the week — her 41 fantasy points on Sunday were two short of Taurasi’s aforementioned May 19 total — but it’s still worth shouting out a legend in this space for what she accomplished against the Mystics.

With her 16 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists, Parker became the first WNBA player ever with multiple regular season triple-doubles. She also joined Sheryl Swoopes and teammate Courtney Vandersloot as the only players with two of them at all, and she set a new mark for the oldest player with a triple-double at 36 years of age.

Parker has been open about contemplating retirement, so there’s a chance we are witnessing her final season. She’s proven she can still ball at a remarkably high level (the triple-double was only her second-best fantasy score of the season) so let’s enjoy the ride for however much longer we get to watch her play.

Calvin Wetzel is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports, covering basketball and betting. He also contributes to Her Hoop Stats, CBS SportsLine and FiveThirtyEight. Follow him on Twitter at @cwetzel31.

Just over a week into the season, unpredictability already abounds in the WNBA. The Lynx are 0-4 and seem to have a revolving door for a bench, the Dream are tied for first in the league at 3-1, and previously under-the-radar rookies — from the undrafted players to the 30-somethings — have come out of nowhere to have an early impact for their teams.

Building off of our guide to the 2022 season, we break down what you need to know in the WNBA this week from a betting perspective.

Team trends

One aspect of the chaos is the fact that somehow every team has already won and lost at least once against the spread (ATS). That also holds true for the over/unders, with the exception of the Sun, who have yet to hit an over in their two games.

With so much parity in terms of the small-sample records, we can dig a bit deeper and look at average points above/below the spread or total to tell the story so far. Here are the best and worst teams by each measure.

Best ATS: Washington (+5.5)

Even after losing to Dallas as 7.5-point favorites in their last game, the Mystics have covered by an average of 5.5 points over their four games. The scariest part? They have yet to play a game with their full complement of players.

Alysha Clark made her Mystics debut last week after missing just over a year due to injury, and Natasha Cloud looks set to return this Friday after clearing protocols. Once Elizabeth Williams is back, which may also be on Friday, this starting lineup will finally be whole — at least in games in which Elena Delle Donne suits up.

Worst ATS: New York (-10.6)

The Liberty looked primed to build off of last year’s momentum after bringing in Sandy Brondello and Stefanie Dolson, and a season-opening victory over Connecticut did nothing to change that.

In the week since, New York has fallen off a cliff. A 33-point beatdown in Chicago followed by home losses to the Fever and Wings have not exactly inspired confidence in this team’s ability to take the next step. It doesn’t get any easier tonight in a rematch against the Sun, who look to have Courtney Williams back for this one.

Best for Overs: Indiana (+3.6)

It’s hard to believe for a franchise that’s been around for over two decades, but Indiana has only finished in the top half of the league in pace one time: 2015. If its first five games of 2022 are any indication, however, that may not be the case by season’s end.

The Fever, with a roster full of players who were taking college classes mere weeks ago, lead the league in pace with a whopping 86.5 possessions per 40 minutes. In fact, if that number held throughout the season, they would set a new mark for the fastest team in WNBA history. When you operate at that speed, the overs will be in play whether the offense shows up or not.

Best for Unders: Connecticut (-11.5)

The Sun have played only two games thus far, but is anyone really shocked to see them once again cashing out those unders?

It was mildly surprising to see Connecticut let an opponent break 80 in its opener after returning nearly every starter from a historically good defensive unit in 2021. It didn’t take long for that unit to get back on track though — the Sparks managed a meager 60 points against the Sun in the next game.

In theory, sportsbooks should know by now how much the Sun like to grind out games, but models often regress to the mean early on in a season. If books have regressed more than the Sun have, then Connecticut may continue to hit those unders.

League trends

Aside from the team extremes, there are also always some trends worth watching across the league, a couple of which we covered in our season primer. Let’s check in on those and take a look at a new trend that may be emerging.

Back-to-back unders

Last season, unders hit over 55 percent of the time in the second leg of back-to-backs. We’ve had only one opportunity for this through 11 days, but so far, so good.

Phoenix poured it on Seattle 97-77 on Wednesday after Breanna Stewart was ruled out due to COVID-19 protocol and cleared the 162.5-point line by double figures. In the nationally-televised rematch on Saturday, the teams combined for just 133 points, a decrease of over 40 points from the first total.

If you’re interested in riding this trend, the next chance comes your way Tuesday night in the Atlanta vs. Indiana game.

Fourth-quarter unders

This trend has not held up in the same way, to say the least. Fourth-quarter unders are 10-12 after hitting over 60 percent of the time last year.

The first instinct may be to assume sportsbooks have just adjusted, but it gets curious when you look at league numbers for all four quarters. Over at least the last four seasons, average scoring has gone down in each quarter throughout a game. This season, that trend is almost completely reversed.


Historically, this has corresponded with a decline in pace quarter by quarter, and that decline is mostly still there (third quarters have been slightly faster than second quarters, but the overall downward trend still applies).

Instead, it appears that much of this is being driven by hot second-half shooting. Teams have shot a combined 32.7 percent from 3 in the first half and 38.8 percent in the second. This feels unsustainable, but it’s good to be aware of the trend if you’re planning on betting halves or quarters.

Live second-quarter unders

Fourth quarters may have let us down so far, but another quarter has been coming through for us. Second-quarter unders overall are 14-8 (63.6 percent), but when the first quarter has gone over, the proceeding second quarter has gone under all seven times. In other words, teams that light up the scoreboard in the first quarter have consistently come back down to earth in the next frame.

Obviously you won’t be able to bet on this trend before knowing how the first quarter shakes out, but if you are watching a game and interested in betting it live, consider taking a swing at the second quarter under after the first quarter surpasses its line.

Futures update

As books continue to pay more attention to women’s basketball, and thus update their odds more often, teams on hot or cold streaks are seeing more and more movement in their championship odds. Here are the biggest movers on FanDuel.

Stock up: Washington (+2000 preseason to +750 current)

The Mystics were already one of the biggest risers of the offseason after opening at +3000. The 1000-point shift in odds has been more than duplicated in the first four games of the regular season for a lot of the reasons mentioned above.

Another thing benefitting Washington this year is the new playoff format. Resting Delle Donne for certain games won’t hurt them as much this season as it would have under the old format, where seeding was so critical and the regular season standings played a huge part in playoff success.

Stock down: Minnesota (+1000 preseason to +3500 current)

Starting 0-4 and cutting players left and right has a way of doing that to a team’s championship odds. It remains to be seen whether the Lynx are headed for the Aliyah Boston sweepstakes or for becoming this year’s version of the 2021 Sky, but they certainly aren’t in a good spot for the time being.

Like the Mystics, Minnesota may be another team aided by the new playoff format. With the May losses piling up, even a great run in July or August probably wouldn’t be enough to land a No. 1 or No. 2 seed, but this year that matters a whole lot less. With no more single-elimination games or byes, as long as teams can sneak into the No. 8 spot, they have a shot.

Best bets tonight

Connecticut/New York under 158.5

We talked about Connecticut’s penchant for playing slow, low-scoring games as well as New York’s struggles over the last week. Bet on both of those to continue Tuesday night.

Atlanta/Indiana under 158.5

We mentioned the success of back-to-back unders as well, and despite the blazing pace at which Indiana has been playing, this line is still high enough to have value on the under.

Calvin Wetzel is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports, covering basketball and betting. He also contributes to Her Hoop Stats, CBS SportsLine and FiveThirtyEight. Follow him on Twitter at @cwetzel31.