AUSSIES IN THE WNBA- 2018 SEASON

AUSSIES IN THE WNBA- 2018 SEASON

With the 2018 WNBA season getting underway this weekend, take a look at who will be flying the Aussie flag as well as the range of WNBL talent on show.

CONNECTICUT SUN

Cayla George- 

Having made the move from Townsville to Melbourne for the upcoming WNBL season, George is also in new territory for the WNBA as she will play for Connecticut in 2018 after spending two seasons with Phoenix.

She had a season-best 14 points, 14 rebounds, three steals and a block in a win over Chicago late last year but fell out of the rotation in the playoffs so will be hoping the move to the Sun will bring more consistent playing time this season.

George will also be full of confidence after a successful start to 2018, coming off a WNBL Championship (her third with the Fire) and a Commonwealth Games gold medal (advancing through the tournament undefeated).

She finished the WNBL campaign with a near double-double average of 10.5 points, 9.4 rebounds (fifth in the league) and 1.2 blocks (sixth) and in the Grand Final series win over the Boomers, George had 13 points, eight boards and three blocks in Game 1 before helping to clinch the Championship with six points, 12 rebounds, three assists, two steals and a rejection in Game 3.

The Sun were playoff contenders last season, the first time they had reached the post-season since 2012 but they have only won one playoff series in the past 12 years.

DALLAS WINGS

Liz Cambage- 

Making her long-awaited return to the WNBA, Cambage will represent the Wings under assistant coach and past Opals team mate Erin Phillips.

Cambage last played in the league in 2013 when the Wings were known as the Tulsa Shock and she averaged 16.3 points and 8.3 rebounds across 20 games that year.

Since then she has represented Australia at the 2016 Rio Olympics, won a gold medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and finished Runner-Up in the WNBL MVP voting for the 2017/18 season after leading the league for points (23.1) and rebounds (10.5) while sitting fourth for blocks (1.5).

Her past issues in the WNBA are well-documented but Cambage has the ability to turn Dallas into a Championship contender and hopefully can help the Wings reach the playoffs for a second consecutive season for the first time since 2009.

NEW YORK LIBERTY

Rebecca Allen- 

Back for her fourth straight season with the Liberty, Allen shores up the team's wing position as a capable three-point shooter and at the other end of the floor she is one of New York's stronger perimeter defenders.

She will head straight to the USA after wrapping up a season with Lyon in France, her team bundled out of the Semi-Finals despite Allen recording 11.6 points, 2.3 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.1 blocks per game as one of only two players to feature in all 27 contests.

Allen's arrival at New York in 2015 coincided with the team returning to the playoffs after two years out and they have since made the post-season in each year of Allen's tenure.

They are yet to win a Championship in their 22-year history though and a coaching change from Bill Laimbeer to 2018 Naismith Hall of Fame inductee Katie Smith could be the change they need.

PHOENIX MERCURY

Led by Opals coach Sandy Brondello for the fifth year in a row, Phoenix are the only WNBA team with two Australian representatives on the court this season.

Leilani Mitchell- 

Having played for three different clubs in her WNBA career, Mitchell looks settled in Phoenix as she gets set to play her third season out of the past four with the Mercury.

Coming off the bench for a majority of the 2017 campaign, Mitchell then became an important piece of their playoff run as she recorded over 30 minutes in all five playoff games while bumping up her numbers from eight points per game in the regular season to 15.0 while also shooting 47% from the field, 48% from long range and 98% from the free-throw line.

A veteran of the team now and closing in on 300 WNBA games, Phoenix still look to the point guard to anchor their offence and her calming influence on the court will be key once again in 2018.

Stephanie Talbot- 

Playing alongside Mitchell and under coach Brondello, Talbot is back for her second year with the Mercury.

She began her debut season in the starting line-up and notched double-figures in scoring on four occasions but her minutes dwindled as the campaign wore on, playing a significant role in just one playoff game.

Talbot still finished 2017 shooting 42% from the field and 38% from the three-point line and had at least one steal in 19 games.

Despite falling in the Conference Finals last year, the Mercury have reached the playoffs in eight of the last nine seasons while also claiming the ultimate prize most recently in 2014.

SEATTLE STORM

Sami Whitcomb- 

Recently becoming an Australian citizen, Whitcomb returns to the Storm for her second season after averaging 4.5 points per game last year which included a 22-point explosion on 6-8 three-point shooting in just her third game.

She hit 36% from the field and 33% from distance for the year while drilling more than a three-pointer per game.

After another brilliant offensive season in the WNBL that saw her named in the All-Star Five, Whitcomb will be even more confident heading into 2018.

OTHER WNBL TALENT

Aside from the Aussies featuring in the 2018 WNBA season, a bevy of talent that competed in the most recent WNBL season will also be present.

Whitcomb's partner in crime at the Perth Lynx, Courtney Williams will play for the Connecticut Sun this season.

Averaging 12.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists, she is a key piece for the Sun heading into 2018 and will be playing alongside Cayla George, Kayla Pedersen of the Dandenong Rangers as well as Rachel Banham and Betnijah Laney who played for the Bendigo Spirit in 2017/18.

From the Championship winning Townsville Fire, Sydney Wiese will represent the LA Sparks and will play alongside UC Capitals' Mistie Bass.

Bass spent the last three seasons with Phoenix but for her 11th year, she will represent her fifth different team in the Sparks while also getting ready to play her 300th game mid-year.

Finally, Jordan Hooper, who has averaged 4.5 points per game over four years in the league, made the move to the Chicago Sky in 2018 after spending the most recent WNBL season with the UC Capitals.


Following on from last season, the WNBA will be streaming particular games on Twitter. Find a list of those games (in American time) involving Australians below.

May 20 (Sunday), 1 PM ET — Las Vegas @ Connecticut
May 20 (Sunday), 3 PM ET – Atlanta @ Dallas
May 20 (Sunday), 5 PM ET – New York @ Chicago
May 20 (Sunday), 9 PM ET – Phoenix @ Seattle
May 29 (Tuesday), 10 PM ET – Washington @ Seattle
June 5 (Tuesday), 11 AM ET – Phoenix @ New York (Mitchell and Talbot vs. Allen)
June 12 (Tuesday), 8 PM ET – Phoenix @ Dallas (Mitchell and Talbot vs. Cambage)
June 19 (Tuesday), 10 PM ET – Las Vegas @ Seattle
June 26 (Tuesday), 10:30 PM ET – Dallas @ Los Angeles
July 10 (Tuesday), 3 PM ET – Los Angeles @ Seattle
July 17 (Tuesday), 1 PM ET – New York @ Dallas (Allen vs. Cambage)
July 31 (Tuesday), 10 PM ET – Seattle @ Phoenix (Whitcomb vs. Mitchell and Talbot)
August 14 (Tuesday), 7 PM ET – Dallas @ Connecticut (Cambage vs. George)
August 19 (Sunday), 3 PM ET – Los Angeles @ Connecticut

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