WNBA Championship Odds Shifts

Analyzing the changes in WNBA futures odds over the first half of the season: Part I

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With two months and 119 games in the books, there have been plenty of updates to the WNBA futures odds. Both public opinions and analytics have much more informed views of teams and players than they did at the beginning of May.

There is sure to be more movement to come, but as the WNBA pauses for the Olympics, let’s look back at how the championship odds have evolved throughout the season. Odds are courtesy of PointsBet.

The defending champion Storm opened at most books as the favorites to repeat, and last year's runners-up Aces were slotted just behind them. After that, however, some of the opening odds didn't seem to fully account for all of the free agent signings that took place over the offseason. As games got underway, the books began to get wise to the WNBA landscape.

Biggest risers

The teams whose odds have increased the most include the Aces, Sun, Lynx, Liberty, and Wings. After splitting a pair of games with the Storm to open the season, the Aces’ odds inched closer and closer until moving into a dead heat with Seattle on June 17. On June 25, Las Vegas overtook the Storm as the favorites and has since widened the gap thanks in part to another head-to-head victory two days later.

The Sun began the season in a three-way tie for fifth, but a hot start quickly solidified their spot among the league’s top tier. Less than two weeks into the season, Connecticut moved into third on the board — a spot it still occupies.

Minnesota’s rise can be largely attributed to the lack of attention the books gave to the WNBA offseason. After a top-four finish last year, the Lynx returned nearly everyone in the rotation while adding Aerial Powers, Kayla McBride, and Natalie Achonwa and drafting Rennia Davis. Despite several key injuries and a late start to the season for Napheesa Collier, the Lynx again sit in fourth place at the break. Even after an 0-4 start, however, PointsBet appeared to become aware of the moves and subsequently shortened Minnesota’s odds before it even won a game.

The Liberty and the Wings both missed the playoffs in each of the last two seasons, and both responded with a youth movement with an eye towards the future. New York also brought in Sami Whitcomb, Natasha Howard, and Betnijah Laney over the offseason to help speed up the rebuilding process, and it paid dividends early — the Liberty’s 5-1 start skyrocketed them up the odds leaderboard as well as nearly everyone’s power rankings. Injuries and regression to the mean have since struck, but New York still finds itself in the top half of the standings. Dallas, on the other hand, would be on the outside looking in if the playoffs began today, but a positive point differential reveals that its 9-12 record doesn’t do it justice. Both teams have made significant improvements since 2020, and the odds reflect that.

Biggest fallers

The Mystics and the Sparks have taken the biggest tumbles in the odds, but the Storm have been an under-the-radar addition to this group as well.

In Seattle’s case, it probably has as much to do with the success of the Aces as it does with the Storm’s own performance. After all, the Storm do still sit in first place for the time being. When the Storm opened at +175 and the Aces at +400, the books were treating Seattle as a tier of its own. As they adjusted to make it closer to a dead heat between the two teams, naturally that meant a drop for the Storm.

The Sparks may be another case of the books failing to react enough to offseason news. Los Angeles lost two of its three superstars to free agency in Candace Parker and Chelsea Gray and didn’t bring in nearly the same level of talent to replace them. Injuries to the Ogwumikes, among others, have only compounded the issue, but the Sparks were never going to live up to the expectations PointsBet placed on them by giving them the fourth-best odds.

Washington’s drop can be mostly blamed on the injury bug as well. This team looked like it could return to its 2019 form after signing Alysha Clark over the offseason and with the expected return of Elena Delle Donne. Then Clark got hurt, and Delle Donne has yet to take the court. There’s still hope for a title run if she can come back after the Olympics, and a potential return of Emma Meesseman would only provide even more of a boost. But for now, it’s taken a career year from 32-year-old former MVP Tina Charles to keep this team afloat — Charles’ prolific scoring has allowed her team to enter the break barely hanging onto the eighth and final playoff spot by half a game.


This is Part 6 of our 2021 WNBA betting series. Here are our previous installments:

This series is about learning, so we want to hear from you! If you have any questions or any betting topics you’d like to see covered, please feel free to let us know in the comments or tweet at us @herhoopstats.


Thanks for reading the Her Hoop Stats Newsletter. If you like our work, be sure to check out our stats site, our podcast, and our social media accounts on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram. You can also buy Her Hoop Stats gear, such as laptop stickers, mugs, and shirts!

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