The Stars do not have the collection of individual talent that Minnesota, Phoenix or Los Angeles has, yet they have been holding their own in pursuing a playoff spot.
Guard Danielle Robinson is the team's top scorer and an All-Star this season. Rookie Kayla McBride, who was the No. 3 pick in April's draft, is adjusting pretty well to the pro level and has had some big scoring games.
The Stars' longtime top duo of guard Becky Hammon and post player Sophia Young-Malcolm aren't putting up the same numbers, but they are still contributing. Center Jayne Appel fills her role as a defender and rebounder. Danielle Adams is capable of scoring at a high level, but she hasn't done it much this year. The Stars might have a hard time holding off charging Los Angeles for the No. 3 spot in the West. They are good enough to get to the postseason, which they missed last year, but they have lost three in a row going into the All-Star Game.
The Sparks bumped up from a D based on their recent three-game winning streak, which seems to be more indicative of what we can expect the rest of the way from what has been an underachieving squad so far.
Los Angeles is getting another MVP-caliber season from Candace Parker, but there have been games when it seems as if she's trying to do too much. Kristi Toliver is back full time after her trips overseas for the Slovakian national team, and Candice Wiggins has returned from injury. At least theoretically, those two guards should help alleviate the stagnation and predictability the Sparks suffered on offense without them.
In Los Angeles' 86-78 victory Tuesday at Indiana, the Sparks rallied from a double-digit deficit and didn't falter when the game was close in the final minutes. It felt as if they finally had gotten over a mental hurdle -- although let's see how they do in their next three games at home, starting Thursday against Washington.
The Storm seem to be a franchise in transition. Lauren Jackson is missing the WNBA season for the second consecutive year, and you have to wonder how many more years she has left to play. In particular, how many more summers/falls the Aussie wants to commit to being in the United States.
Sue Bird is back after sitting out last year recovering from knee surgery and has not quite returned to her typical shooting percentage (38.7 percent from the field this season compared to 45.9 percent in 2012). But she's still a valuable asset for the Storm. Crystal Langhorne, in her first year in Seattle after six with Washington, might look to add a little more scoring punch the rest of the season. The Storm had a brutal schedule to start this year, but perhaps now they can benefit from having eight of their final 10 games at home.
The Shock are in their fifth season in Tulsa, and the franchise has its fourth head coach. Fred Williams has been in the WNBA a long, long time and led Atlanta to the WNBA Finals last year. But can he get the Shock into the playoffs for the first time since they moved to Oklahoma?