Chiney Ogwumike, the No. 1 overall pick in April's draft, is having a rookie-of-the-year-caliber season. And veteran Katie Douglas, who this year returned to the Connecticut franchise she played for from 2003 to 2007, is averaging 13.1 points and earned another All-Star nod.
The season started with a lot of promise, even with star center Sylvia Fowles sidelined with injury and guard Epiphanny Prince taking some time off. Elena Delle Donne, building on her Rookie of the Year season in 2013, was clearly stronger and even more assertive her second season. Point guard Courtney Vandersloot seemed to have really figured things out in her fourth WNBA season.
But now, even though Fowles and Prince are back, Delle Donne is out with a recurrence of Lyme disease, and Vandersloot is out with a knee injury. These are tough holes for the Sky to try to fill.
Players like Jessica Breland, who earned an All-Star spot, and Allie Quigley are having their best WNBA seasons. Jamierra Falkner is proving to be a better-than-expected third-round draft pick. But the biggest unknown is when Delle Donne might return. Can the Sky hang on for a playoff spot if she doesn't?
The Mystics have seemed nearly lifeless a few times this year, only to roar back and be better than their opponents seem to expect. Washington doesn't have a big-time scorer. The Mystics have to depend on everyone doing her part on offense, and hope that the team defends well enough to compensate.
Guard Ivory Latta's numbers are down a bit from last year, but she's still leading the Mystics in scoring and is their on-court spark plug. Rookies Bria Hartley and Stefanie Dolson out of UConn are starting to get the hang of the pro game.
Veteran Monique Currie has her ups and downs as a scorer, but when she's on, she can still do damage. The player the Mystics would most like to see let loose and show her stuff is the 21-year-old center from Belgium, Emma Meesseman. She has taken a big jump from her rookie season, but she could be on her way to being one of the best players in the league if she develops more confidence.
With two of the best players in the league in guard Cappie Pondexter and center Tina Charles, why are the Liberty in the East's cellar? Because coach Bill Laimbeer is still trying to find the right pieces of the puzzle to fit around the two superstars. That endeavor will continue into next year, even if the Liberty scramble to a playoff spot this season.
Spain's Anna Cruz, a WNBA rookie who has considerable pro experience overseas, has done a good job at point guard. And consistency from her will be crucial if the Liberty are to make a run at the postseason.
But there is no third "star" player beyond Charles and Pondexter. The Liberty, in their return this season to refurbished Madison Square Garden are a little like a theater troupe that has a show on Broadway without enough supporting talent to back the headliners. The Liberty go into the All-Star Game on a high, as Pondexter's last-second jumper beat Atlanta on Wednesday. But can New York carry that momentum into its remaining 13 games?