WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert announced Friday that the league is pushing back the start of its 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
While the league is delaying most activities, the WNBA will still hold its draft on April 17, though it will use a virtual format with players participating remotely.
Olympic Cancellation Gives WNBA Scheduling Flexibility
WNBA teams planned to start their training camps on April 26, with the opening day of games set for May 15.
“As developments continue to emerge around the COVID-19 pandemic, including the extension of the social distancing guidelines in the United States through April 30, the WNBA will postpone the start of its training camps and tip off the regular season originally scheduled for May 15,” Engelbert said in a statement. “We continue to send our thoughts and prayers to our players, fans, and all of those in the community impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and are grateful to those selfless health care workers and first responders who work tirelessly on the front lines.”
Engelbert did not announce any timeline for the WNBA season, nor did she suggest when the league would reevaluate the situation.
The WNBA joins virtually every other professional sports league in the world in postponing or canceling its season. The league gained some flexibility when the Summer Olympics were postponed by a year, however. The WNBA schedule had built in a month-long break during the Olympics so that players could represent their countries in Tokyo. The cancellation of the summer games could provide time for WNBA teams to play more games, provided the global health situation allows for that to happen in July.
Engelbert pointed to the virtual draft as a way for WNBA fans to remain engaged until the season resumes.
“Top prospects will take part remotely live on ESPN,” Engelbert said. “This virtual draft allows players who have worked so hard to have their dreams realized when they hear their names called, and provides teams the opportunity to build their rosters in anticipation of the day that we are able to move forward with our season.”
Defending Champion Mystics Enter as 2020 Title Co-Favorites
When the next WNBA season begins, the Washington Mystics will be looking to repeat as champions after winning their first title in 2019.
Regular season MVP Elena Delle Donne led the Mystics to the championship, while Emma Meesseman won the WNBA Finals MVP award, as Washington defeated the Connecticut Sun 3-2 in a five-game series.
2020 WNBA Title Odds
- Las Vegas Aces (+300)
- Washington Mystics (+300)
- Los Angeles Sparks (+400)
- Connecticut Sun (+500)
- Seattle Storm (+800)
- Phoenix Mercury (+1000)
- Chicago Sky (+1600)
- Indiana Fever (+5000)
- Minnesota Lynx (+5000)
- Atlanta Dream (+8000)
- Dallas Wings (+10000)
- New York Liberty (+10000)
Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook
Delle Donne underwent back surgery in January in an effort to repair multiple herniated discs. The forward hopes to be ready for the 2020 season, though a determination on her status wasn’t expected until training camp began.
FanDuel Sportsbook sees both Washington and the Las Vegas Aces as +300 picks to win a title this year, ahead of the Los Angeles Sparks (+400) and the Sun (+500).