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Favorites, sleepers for 2021 WNBA championship

The WNBA will begin its 25th season on Friday as the Seattle Storm look to repeat as champions.

Breanna Stewart #30 of the Seattle Storm and A’ja Wilson #22 of the Las Vegas Aces look for the ball during Game Three of the WNBA Finals on October 6, 2020 at Feld Entertainment Center in Palmetto, Florida. Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

After a truncated 2020 season in the Wubble down in Florida, the WNBA is set to tip-off its 25th season on Friday. Last season, the Seattle Storm swept the Las Vegas Aces in three games to win the WNBA championship.

This season, the Aces will look to win that elusive WNBA title with Liz Cambage returning and the free-agent signing of Chelsea Gray. However, do not discount the Storm in their quest to repeat and defending their WNBA crown. They still have a Hall of Fame lock in Sue Bird and a Hall of Famer to be in Breanna Stewart. And Seattle signed another likely Hall of Famee in Candace Dupree to a one-year deal this offseason.

With the season on the horizon, we are going to look at a couple of favorites and sleepers to win the 2021 WNBA championship, courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.

Favorites

Seattle Storm (+175)

It’s hard to not list the Storm as a title favorite with tremendous odds at +175. Seattle still has Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart, and Jewell Loyd leading the charge. However, they did lose a couple of key players from last year’s squad in Natasha Howard and Alysha Clark. Howard, who is now with the New York Liberty, will be missed on offense and defense. But to replace those losses, the Storm signed future Hall of Fame forward Candace Dupree. In her 16-year career, Dupree has averaged 14.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.

When you add Dupree into the fold with Stewie dominating both the WNBA and international competition since returning from a torn Achilles, it’s hard not to like the Storm this year.

Las Vegas Aces (+300)

The Aces were tied with Seattle Storm for the best record in the WNBA last season at 18-4 and had the league MVP in A’ja Wilson. And despite not having Liz Cambage, who opted out and spent last fall in the WNBL, the Aces went to their second-straight WNBA Finals. However, they fell just short of capturing the vaunted WNBA championship.

Heading into this season, it is not a surprise to see the Aces with the second-best odds to bring home the title. Cambage is back and Wilson is coming off a tremendous 2020 season, where she averaged 20.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 2.0 blocks in 31.7 minutes per game. However, the Aces did lose some firepower with Kayla McBride signing with the Minnesota Lynx in free agency, and Angel McCoughtry suffering a torn ACL and meniscus, ending her season. But they did sign Chelsea Gray in the offseason from the Sparks and still have Dearica Hamby, Kelsey Plum, and Jackie Young.

Sleepers

Chicago Sky (+1000)

The Sky might be a championship sleeper for lot of fans and bettors. Chicago signed future Hall of Fame forward Candace Parker in one of the more surprising moves this offseason. In her final season with the Los Angeles Sparks, Parker averaged 14.7 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 4.6 assists in 30 minutes per game.

With Parker in the fold, Chicago’s roster is loaded with Allie Quigley, Courtney Vandersloot, Kahleah Cooper, Diamond DeShields, Stefanie Dolson, and Azura Stevens. Now granted, the Sky only have 11 players due to the salary cap. But with this collection of talent, they should be able to make some noise and improve from their 12-10 record last season.

Connecticut Sun (+1000)

I was debating on putting either the Phoenix Mercury or Minnesota Lynx as my second sleeper, but a team that not a lot of people are paying attention to is the Connecticut Sun. The Sun finished last season with a record of 10-12 and the seventh spot in the WNBA playoffs.

Connecticut did not have Jonquel Jones last season — who opted out — but still made it the semifinals. DeWanna Bonner was one the Sun’s top-two scoring threats along with Alyssa Thomas. Bonner averaged 19.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 3.0 assists in 33.3 minutes per game. Meanwhile, Thomas had a career-high 15.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 4.8 assists in 32.8 minutes per game. The Sun will not have Thomas due to a season-ending Achilles injury, but with Jones back in the frontcourt, Curt Miller’s squad can make some noise.

2021 WNBA odds

1. Seattle Storm: +175
2. Las Vegas Aces: +300
3. Washington Mystics: +350
4. Los Angeles Sparks: +550
5. Chicago Sky: +1000
6. Phoenix Mercury: +1000
7. Connecticut Sun: +1000 (via BetMGM, no odds at DK due to Mohegan Sun relationship)
8. Minnesota Lynx: +1400
9. Atlanta Dream: +6000
10. Dallas Wings: +6000
11. New York Liberty: +6000
12. Indiana Fever: +8000

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