Inside the Sting

Editor's note: Before the 2006 season tips off, ESPN's Nancy Lieberman and ESPN.com's Mechelle Voepel and Graham Hays each tackle one question facing all 14 WNBA teams. Here, the experts take a closer look at Charlotte.

Did offseason changes make the team better, the same or worse?

For as much as drafting Duke All-American Monique Currie was a smart move, neither the draft nor free agency additions are expected to be the difference for the Sting this season. Rather, Charlotte's success likely depends on how two players who were on the team but sidelined last summer return to action this season. Allison Feaster, who has averaged at least 11 points for four straight seasons, played in just 21 games in 2005 before becoming pregnant (she gave birth to a daughter in February). Janel McCarville, the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2005, averaged just 1.8 points and 2.7 rebounds over 28 games after being hampered by a back injury. But if both play up to their potential this season, Charlotte is headed in the right direction after winning just six games in 2005.

That said, keep an eye on those rookies. Muggsy Bogues, who was hired for the final 10 games of last season, has given his youngsters plenty of playing time in the preseason. Currie, 6-foot-5 center Yelana Leuchanka of West Virginia and Missouri guard LaToya Bond rank 1-2-3 in scoring, each averaging at least 11 points and the only double-digit scorers on the team in exhibition play. -- ESPN's Nancy Lieberman

What's the best-case scenario for the team? Worst-case?

Best-case: Rookie Monique Currie proves preseason statistics do occasionally mean something and emerges as a consistent go-to scorer at the top of the box score. Combined with a full season of Allison Feaster stretching defenses with her outside shooting, this finally gives the Sting a multifaceted offense, allowing Tangela Smith and Sheri Sam to play their game without the burden of carrying the scoring load.

Worst-case: Currie wears down or has a difficult time creating shots for herself once opponents field full rosters and play defense with regular-season intensity. The Sting's offense again disintegrates into a mess of forced shots and abysmal field-goal percentages (40.4 percent from the field last season), slowing the development of both Currie and last year's overall No. 1 pick, Janel McCarville. -- ESPN.com's Graham Hays

As the WNBA celebrates its 10-year anniversary, what does this franchise
mean to the league?

The Sting mean an organization that seems to tread water. One of the original WNBA teams, Charlotte's peak thus far was in the WNBA finals in 2001. The franchise has seemed to be in danger of dismantling more than once, and there just isn't the sense that all that many die-hard Sting fans exist. Yet, the team is still in business and there's hope Duke grad Monique Currie will spark the Sting in her rookie season. -- ESPN.com's Mechelle Voepel