Experts tab Detroit the preseason favorite

Updated: May 15, 2006, 5:21 PM ET
ESPN.com

In 2003, a young Shock squad came together at the right time to win the WNBA title. But since then, Detroit has largely been regarded as an underachiever.

"The year after the championship, Detroit's chemistry was absolutely terrible," ESPN analyst Nancy Lieberman says. "Kedra Holland-Corn's departure, Swin Cash's ACL injury and bad chemistry all struck at the same time."

And as a result, the team went 33-35 the past two seasons, with successive first-round playoff exits.

This summer, however, ESPN.com's experts unanimously pick Detroit -- which boasts five All-Stars in its starting lineup -- as the 2006 preseason favorite. Cash is said to finally be back at 100 percent after a torn ACL late in the 2004 season. Katie Smith, acquired from Minnesota for the last 13 games of last season, is over a knee injury that hampered her last summer and is fitter than ever after shedding 15 pounds (she already was one of the most dangerous perimeter scoring threats in the league). And Holland-Corn is back, too, after a season in Houston and a year off. Add in coach Bill Laimbeer, Ruth Riley, Deanna Nolan and Cheryl Ford, and the Shock start out as the team to beat when the WNBA's 10th season opens Saturday.

A look at all the experts' predictions:

WNBA PRESEASON PREDICTIONS

NANCY
LIEBERMAN

MECHELLE
VOEPEL

GRAHAM
HAYS
MVP Tamika Catchings
Catchings
Fever
Tamika Catchings
Catchings
Fever
Lauren Jackson
Jackson
Storm
Rookie of the Year Seimone Augustus
Augustus
Lynx
Seimone Augustus
Augustus
Lynx
Cappie Pondexter
Pondexter
Mercury
Scoring champion Diana Taurasi
Taurasi
Mercury
Sheryl Swoopes
Swoopes
Comets
Diana Taurasi
Taurasi
Mercury
League champion Detroit Detroit Detroit
Eastern Conference champ Shock Shock Shock
Western Conference champ Monarchs Comets Sparks
Predicted finish in East 1. Shock
2. Sun
3. Fever
4. Mystics
5. Sting
6. Liberty
7. Sky
1. Shock
2. Mystics
3. Fever
4. Sun
5. Sting
6. Sky
7. Liberty
1. Shock
2. Sun
3. Mystics
4. Fever
5. Liberty
6. Sting
7. Sky
Predicted finish in West 1. Monarchs
2. Storm
3. Sparks
4. Comets
5. Mercury
6. Lynx
7. Silver Stars
1. Storm
2. Monarchs
3. Comets
4. Lynx
5. Sparks
6. Mercury
7. Silver Stars
1. Storm
2. Monarchs
3. Sparks
4. Lynx
5. Comets
6. Mercury
7. Silver Stars
East All-Star starters Alana Beard
Beard
Mystics
Tamika Catchings
Catchings
Fever
Becky Hammon
Hammon
Liberty
Deanna Nolan
Nolan
Shock
Taj McWilliams-Franklin
McWill.-Franklin
Sun
Alana Beard
Beard
Mystics
Tamika Catchings
Catchings
Fever
Cheryl Ford
Ford
Shock
Nykesha Sales
Sales
Sun
Katie Smith
Smith
Shock
Alana Beard
Beard
Mystics
Tamika Catchings
Catchings
Fever
Deanna Nolan
Nolan
Shock
Nykesha Sales
Sales
Sun
Taj McWilliams-Franklin
McWill.-Franklin
Sun
West All-Star starters Sue Bird
Bird
Storm
Lauren Jackson
Jackson
Storm
Lisa Leslie
Leslie
Sparks
Sheryl Swoopes
Swoopes
Comets
Diana Taurasi
Taurasi
Mercury
Sue Bird
Bird
Storm
Lauren Jackson
Jackson
Storm
Lisa Leslie
Leslie
Sparks
Sheryl Swoopes
Swoopes
Comets
Diana Taurasi
Taurasi
Mercury
Chamique Holdsclaw
Holdsclaw
Sparks
Lauren Jackson
Jackson
Storm
Temeka Johnson
Johnson
Sparks
Sheryl Swoopes
Swoopes
Comets
Diana Taurasi
Taurasi
Mercury
All-league first team Sue Bird
Bird
Storm
Tamika Catchings
Catchings
Fever
Lauren Jackson
Jackson
Storm
Lisa Leslie
Leslie
Sparks
Diana Taurasi
Taurasi
Mercury
Tamika Catchings
Catchings
Fever
Cheryl Ford
Ford
Shock
Lauren Jackson
Jackson
Storm
Lisa Leslie
Leslie
Sparks
Sheryl Swoopes
Swoopes
Comets
Alana Beard
Beard
Mystics
Tamika Catchings
Catchings
Fever
Lauren Jackson
Jackson
Storm
Sheryl Swoopes
Swoopes
Comets
Diana Taurasi
Taurasi
Mercury
Team on rise Fever Lynx Lynx
Team on fall Liberty Liberty Liberty