3 reasons to be stoked about the new WNBA season

We have that and more in Friday’s NBA newsletter.

The 2018 WNBA season tips off on Friday with the Dallas Wings at the Phoenix Mercury (10 p.m. ET, NBA TV). There’s a single game on Saturday as well (Sky-Fever, 1 p.m. ET, NBA TV) before the floodgates open on Monday.

Here are three reasons to be stoked for this WNBA season.

1. The epic LynxSparks rivalry. Let’s cut to the chase: this is one of the best active rivalries in basketball, and even in American pro sports. Minnesota and L.A. have met in each of the past two WNBA Finals, each winning one and both going to the max five games. Candace Parker and Maya Moore are iconic players, and each has MVP-caliber teammates. Lindsay Whalen is involved. Every game between the teams feels like a heavyweight fight. Just so much to love about this rivalry. (And good news: they play on Sunday on ESPN2.)

2. Here come the Las Vegas Aces. Las Vegas became a major league sports city this year with the Vegas Golden Knights expansion team in the NHL … and the Knights are a couple wins from the Stanley Cup Finals. The WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces aren’t an expansion team — they moved from San Antonio in the offseason — but they are also set to be shockingly good in the debut Vegas season. A’ja Wilson, the South Carolina legend and No. 1 overall draft pick, is going to be a star. The Aces also star 2017 No. 1 pick Kelsey Plum, who had a rough rookie season but is a high-potential scorer. Fortunes can turn quickly, and that looks like it will be the case for the Aces.

3. All eyes on them. If it feels like there’s more media interest in the WNBA than ever, it’s because there is. You have wonderful new resources like Her Hoop Stats. (It does what it says on the box.) There’s a great team of writers led by Howard Megdal at High Post Hoops. ESPN and espnW continue to cover the WNBA well. Natalie Weiner is doing great stuff for Bleacher Report. And of course we’re covering the WNBA more and more at SBNation.com, following the lead of our incredible, popular and damn smart network site Swish Appeal. I’m no doubt forgetting others. That’s a good thing: there’s so much good WNBA coverage now that I can’t rattle it off the top of my head.

(By the way: send me links to your best WNBA work or the best NBA work you come across this season.)

Friday’s Schedule

NBA Draft Combine, 3-7 p.m. ET, ESPN

EuroLeague Final Four!
Fenerbahce vs. Zalgris Kaunas, 12 p.m. ET, NBA TV
CSKA Moscow vs. Real Madrid, 3 p.m. ET, NBA TV

Wings at Mercury, 10 p.m. ET, NBA TV

Saturday’s Schedule

Celtics at Cavaliers, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Boston leads 2-0

Sky at Fever, 1 p.m. ET, NBA TV

Links Galore

Programming note: no newsletter on Saturday. We’ll be back on Sunday.

The NBA draft combine began on Thursday, a fact that completely escaped notice and newsletter mention. (Whoops!) Fear not: Rick O’Donnell has the biggest winners and losers from Day 1, starring … Grayson Allen? Grayson Allen.

Also, Mo Bamba has a 7’10 wingspan. That’s not a typo.

There’s a report that Luka Doncic could stay in Europe another year. Really? All indications before the lottery were that he was champing at the bit to get to the NBA. It’s hard to know who to take seriously when it comes to international player rumors.

Jose Calderon is not a billionaire.

Mirin Fader profile of Candace Parker. That’s the best tease I’ll write all week.

Interviews are maybe the most important part of the Combine. How they work is kind of crazy.

I wrote about Kevin Durant’s invisible Game 2 masterpiece.

Tim Cato on the Rockets’ identity crisis that never actually existed.

Breaking down what went wrong for the Warriors in Game 2.

Word to a new basketball holiday on June 23: Go Hoop Day.

Rest in peace, Bret Bearup.

Is Sue Bird the next Becky Hammon? Is Jarron Collins too tall to be an NBA head coach?

Brian Bowen, the prospect at the center of the Louisville FBI investigation, did not have a great day at the Combine. He’s in a real pickle right now without NCAA eligibility (due to the scandal) and without a clear path to being drafted. There are concerns he might not even get playing time in the G League.

Really cool history lesson from Richard Johnson on why sports betting is illegal in most of the United States.

The American view of Luka Doncic.

Anna Horford, the Celtics’ star sister with famous Twitter fingers, talks about growing up with Al.

And finally: a nice reminder to appreciate what the Celtics are doing without getting entirely wrapped up in dreams and nightmares of the future.

Be excellent to each other.

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