1. LOS ANGELES
Lisa Leslie and Candace Parker have grabbed the headlines, but the trade for All-Star forward DeLisha Milton-Jones—the defensive stopper on back-to-back Sparks title teams in 2001 and '02—could make all the difference.
Reigning league MVP Lauren Jackson set career highs in scoring (23.8 points per game) and rebounding (9.7) in her seventh season, and, along with All-Star guard Sue Bird, she'll get help from new additions Sheryl Swoopes, Swin Cash and Yolanda Griffith.
3. SAN ANTONIO
After reaching the conference final in '07, guard Becky Hammon (last year's MVP runner-up after averaging 18.8 points and 5.0 assists) will benefit from the return of guard Erin Buescher (11.3 points and 6.1 rebounds) from a torn left ACL.
Guard Lindsey Harding is out with a stress fracture in her left kneecap, but the Lynx should make the playoffs for the first time in four years as Seimone Augustus (22.6 ppg) gets a lift from the addition of rookie Candice Wiggins.
Even with the high-scoring backcourt of Diana Taurasi (19.2 ppg) and Cappie Pondexter (17.2), a second straight title may be out of reach for the Mercury after losing coach Paul Westhead (to the Sonics, as an assistant coach) and forward Penny Taylor (to the Australian national team until after the Olympics).
With Griffith gone to the Storm, fiery guard Kara Lawson will have to spark this team from the backcourt. Keep an eye on rookie Charel Allen, a 5'11" gunner out of Notre Dame who has a silky-smooth stroke.
Impact rookies Matee Ajavon (from Rutgers) and Marcedes Walker ( Pittsburgh) join the Comets' go-to veteran posts Michelle Snow and Tina Thompson, but it won't be enough in a tough conference.
Cheryl Ford, the East's top center, who is at full strength after microfracture surgery on her left knee, and seventh-year guard Deanna Nolan (16.3 ppg) will lead the Shock to its third straight Finals.