Athletes Unlimited’s (AU) second season tips off tomorrow from Dallas, TX
The GIST: Hoops fans, rejoice, because Athletes Unlimited’s (AU) second season tips off tomorrow from Dallas, TX. Amid lingering uncertainty about WNBA players playing overseas in the offseason, AU’s (literally) changing the game.
The setup: Basketball was AU’s fourth sport, following successful softball, volleyball and lacrosse seasons. Instead of a traditional franchise vs. franchise format, AU uses a fantasy-inspired system, with four captains selecting new squads each week over the course of a five-week season.
- Scoring is based on both individual and team performance. Athletes at the top of the weekly leaderboard become one of the four captains and are tasked with drafting their team for the following week. It’s giving middle school kickball, in the best way.
Players to watch: The 44-player roster features 18 athletes with significant WNBA experience, headlined by Washington Mystics standout Natasha Cloud, Olympic 3x3 gold medalist Allisha Gray, 2021 W All-Star Courtney Williams and WNBA trailblazer Layshia Clarendon. Talk about starpower.
Zooming out: WNBA players have traditionally cashed in by playing overseas in the offseason, but in the wake of (newly re-signed) Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner’s wrongful detainment in Russia and with the league cracking down on new prioritization rules, that trend could be on the decline.
- AU offers W talent a chance to tune up before the season tips off in May, provides bubble players a platform to showcase their skills and, most importantly, affords them the opportunity to do it domestically. There’s no place like home, afterall.