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Mystics Lead Updated WNBA Championship Odds After League Announces Return to Play in July at IMG Academy in Florida

Elena Delle Donne and Sylvia Fowles guarding each other on the court
Elena Delle Donne (left) and the Washington Mystics are favored to win the 2020 WNBA championship. Photo by Lorie Shaull (flickr).
  • The WNBA plans to hold its entire 2020 season at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fl
  • All 12 teams will be housed at the 600-acre training facility
  • The defending champion Washington Mystics are favored to win the 2020 crown

The WNBA will indeed have a 2020 season, though it will look different because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The entire season will be held in one spot and each the 12 teams will play a reduced schedule of 22 regular-season games. The league will follow its traditional playoff format, though.

Odds to Win 2020 WNBA Championship

Team Odds
Washington Mystics +300
Las Vegas Aces +350
Los Angeles Sparks +450
Connecticut Sun +500
Phoenix Mercury +900
Seattle Storm +900
Chicago Sky +1600
New York Liberty +2000
Minnesota Lynx +2800
Indiana Fever +5000
Dallas Wings +7500
Atlanta Dream +8000

Odds taken June 15.

Heading to Bradenton

Beginning in July – an exact date has not been determined – each of the teams will begin training camp at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, a 600-acre athletic training facility located about 45 miles south of Tampa.

The season then would be played at the IMG facilities, though there is a chance some games could be held at other gyms in the Bradenton/Sarasota area. Opening day is tentatively set for July 24, though the WNBA has yet to release a schedule.

Teams would play each other twice in the abbreviated schedule, which the league said would be released later. The IMG facility has four courts, but the WNBA is exploring options to play games at other sites better for broadcasts.

Players and team officials would be housed at IMG and tested regularly for coronavirus.

The season was originally scheduled to begin in April but was postponed because of the pandemic.

The regular playoff format would be followed in which the top eight teams qualify, the #1 and #2 seeds receive byes to the semifinals, and the first two rounds are single-elimination games.

The postseason would begin in mid-September and end in early October.

“We are finalizing a season start plan to build on the tremendous momentum generated in the league during the offseason and have used the guiding principles of health and safety of players and essential staff to establish necessary and extensive protocols,” WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a press release.

How Odds Have Shifted

There has been little in the way of odds movement since the WNBA Draft was held April 17, primarily because the league’s business has been all but shut down by the pandemic.

The Washington Mystics, Las Vegas Aces, Los Angeles Sparks, and Connecticut Sun remain the top-four favorites, though each team’s odds have grown a tad longer since the draft. A shortened season increases the chance of an improbable outcome.

The day following the draft the Mystics were listed at +275, the Aces at +330, the Sparks at +400, and the Sun at +450.

Just two teams’ odds have gotten shorter: The Phoenix Mercury dropping from +1000 to +900 and the New York Liberty from +2800 to +2000.

The Liberty could benefit from playing all their games at a neutral site. They were 6-11 on the road last season but just 4-13 at home. Yet it is hard to envision a rebuilding franchise winning it all, even in a truncated season.

Conversely, in addition to the four aforementioned teams, six others’ odds have gotten longer: the Seattle Storm (+650 to +900), Chicago Sky (+1400 to +1600), Minnesota Lynx (+2200 to +2800), Indiana Fever (+4000 to +5000), Dallas Wings (+6600 to +7500), and Atlanta Dream (+6600 to +8000).

One team that could be hurt by not playing on its home court is the Sun. At 15-2, they had the best home record in the league last year. They were just 8-9 on the road.

Mystics Team to Beat

Though they are the chalk, the defending champion Mystics are the best bet to win this unique WNBA season after trading with the Liberty for center Tina Charles to team with reigning league MVP Elena Delle Donne. That gives Washington what is arguably the best frontcourt duo in the league.

Oh, Elena can cook, too.

With their odds up to +2800, the Lynx look like a good longshot play. They have some of the best young talent in the league, including last year’s Rookie of the Year, Napheesa Collier.

Minnesota made the playoffs last year with an 18-16 record and added two first-round picks in this year’s draft. It also can’t hurt that a young team won’t have to deal with the pressure of competing in true road games.

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