Everyone else is sharing their opinions today, so I will drop some rather random and unprepared thoughts.
They have a fantastic backcourt in Katie Smith and Deanna Nolan with veteran backup Elaine Powell and some youth in two time national champion, rookie, Alexis Hornbuckle. The losses of Ivory Latta and Pee Wee Johnson shouldn't hurt as much with a long, strong defensive minded combo guard joining the mix. Hornbuckle should fit right in with the system since she is the type of guard Lambier prefers. Up front, the new face of the franchise, Cheryl Ford forms the rock with returning center Kara Braxton. They are backed up by sixth woman Plenette Pierson and rookie Tash Humphrey. They added some veteran savvy in former Storm, Sheri Sam, but they WILL miss Swin Cash, and they are small with Braxton the only player over 6'2". Still, with Lambier as coach and the big three, they have a real edge in the east while Tamika Catchings recovers.
It is only their third year, and they have a new head coach, but I think the addition of Sylvia Fowles to their young core of Candice Dupree, Armintie Price and Jia Perkins could really push them to the status of a competitor in the east this year. Fowles would have been a consensus #1 pick in any draft without phenom Candace Parker. Fowles is a force down low like we haven't seen since young Lisa Leslie. She is the real deal folks, she plays defense, she rebounds, she scores and she has a competitive fire. They lost Stacey Dales, but I think the growth of Price, and Dupree will make up for that in and of itself leaving the arrival of Fowles to help them over the expansion team hump.
If Tamika Catchings were healthy I would be tempted to put this team at the top of my list for the east. With her out for most of the season, I was considering dropping them even further than third. Katie Douglas will easily replace the offense lost with Anna DeForge, and one of the best defenses in the league just got significantly better. Tan White showed in the preseason that she has just gotten better and I also liked the the look of former Duke Blue Devil, Alison Bales. When Catchings returns this will be a hard team to beat, simply because they won't ever let you score...and now they have more than one scorer of their own on the roster. Unfortunately they may have a significant upward batttle to get playoff positioning depending on how long their star is forced to sit out.
New York Liberty
I like the Liberty. They made their loyal fans proud last year, and besides, their new website is REALLY cool. They kept their core and then they added Essence Carson and Erlana Larkins to their roster. They are destined to be better this year than last year, when they surprised the league with their heart and their fire. I expect a few more surprises from them this season as well.
Two seasons ago this team looked poised to make a third WNBA Finals appearance. They came within a shot of winning the 2004 WNBA finals and then fought hard in the 2005 finals. Detroit regained its crown in the east in 2006 and 2007, and Connecticut has suffered serious blows in the off season. First Katie Douglas has moved on. The tallest woman in the league had a baby this offseason, so the Sun lose the long arms that stood between shooters and the basket. To top it off, their heart and soul, Nykesha Sayles decided to sit out the season to rest her injured body. They have a great point guard in Lindsay Whalen, and they are full of Husky players with Asjha Jones, the return of Barbara Turner and the drafting of Ketia Swanier, but this is a new team that we will have to re-evaluate from scratch.
Hello kids, this is not your big sister's expansion team. With former Storm starters Izi Castro Marques and Betty Lennox joining Katie Feenstra, Ivory Latta, Kristin Haynie, Chantelle Anderson and Camille Little, the Dream have a great start for a rookie franchise. I count five championship rings on this roster without doing anything other than looking at the names infront of me. They aren't a contender, but they will beat some good teams this year and they will surprise a few folks.
I'm sorry 'Stics fans. I don't know who this team is without Alana Beard playing. Taj McWilliams-Franklin is a nice pick-up, Monique Currie is a good player, but I just don't see this roster or this team winning many games while Beard is out, and only a few more after she gets back. I hope they surprise me like the Liberty did last year.