Spring is here, and training camp is underway. We made it through another long WNBA winter, buoyed by a frenetic free agency and enthralling NCAA tournament that fed into an enticing draft class. Now, as teams solidify their rosters, cutting down to their final dozen (or fewer) before games tip off on May 19, it’s time to project performance, based solely on roster construction.
If this is your first time reading our rankings, welcome; if not, welcome back! As a refresher, we do this somewhat unconventionally. While most of the words are mine (and I note when I tap in some of our other resident experts), the rankings themselves are aggregated by our entire staff. You’re not just reading my takes, but the averages of where the entire Winsidr staff believe the teams shake out. We’ll periodically poll our staff throughout the year to update how each team has performed since our most recent check-in.
These rankings will be a biweekly feature throughout the season, though not quite as robust as this one. Generally, I’ll highlight the hottest and coldest teams, but for this first one, we’ve got the whole dozen accounted for. I even tagged in a few of my teammates, so you’ll get some of their expertise for your squad!
While so much of the offseason talk has been the formation of the East/West superteams in New York and Las Vegas, we’re entering a season with incredible parity throughout the rest of the league. Every single team notched at least three top-eight votes, a far cry from recent years that have seen the Indiana Fever tucked into the bottom of the standings with a gulf between them and the rest of the W. In our tabulation, several slots charted out like a malformed pizza pie, with uneven distributions and a majority of the league represented.
What does all that mean? It means that, while there’s a significant gap between the top two teams and the rest of the league, these rankings very rapidly descend into chaos. Expect a ton of movement throughout the course of the WNBA season, because the margins for the back end of the playoffs might be tighter than ever.
1. Las Vegas Aces (2022 record: 26-10)
The defending champs should always start the next campaign atop the Power Rankings, sure, but the Aces didn’t spend their offseason sitting back and drinking “too much champagne.”
While the team remains under league investigation for both paying its players beyond the salary cap ceiling and its treatment of Dearica Hamby ahead of her trade to the Los Angeles Sparks—serious issues that are running their course behind the scenes—we’re going to focus here on the roster that will suit up for Vegas in 2023.
Ahead of last year’s championship run, the lingering question throughout the season was the team’s depth. Some strong injury luck helped the Aces avoid that possibility, but offseason additions have added insurance to a squad trying to win the WNBA’s first back-to-back titles in over two decades. Adding Candace Parker, one of the greatest of all time, brings a dynamic court general who can both operate within the existing offense or run it herself. (I’m not sure if I’m more excited to see her play high-low with A’ja Wilson or reunited with Chelsea Gray for unstoppable pick-and-rolls.) Vegas also brought in Alysha Clark, who is another year removed from the Lisfranc injury that cost her the 2021 campaign. A defensive stopper on the wing capable of both exploiting mismatches with her back to the basket and stretching out to the perimeter, Clark could be hugely impactful for this team as she continues to work back to pre-injury form. Ahead of the 2023 season, it’s safe to bet on red-and-black as the league’s standard.
2. New York Liberty (2022 record: 16-20)
The Liberty’s ascendancy, after squeaking into the playoffs as the eighth and seventh seeds in the last two seasons, is a testament to just how historic this offseason has been in Brooklyn. The additions of Breanna Stewart and Jonquel Jones, a couple of MVPs still in their prime, likely already secured the Executive of the Year award for GM Jonathan Kolb. The team also added premier point guard Courtney Vandersloot and defensive stalwart Kayla Thornton, forcing the superteam conversation to the forefront of every WNBA offseason article.
Still, despite having a starting five composed of players that have made All-Star appearances over the past two seasons (with Jones, Stewart, and Vandersloot joining Betnijah Laney and Sabrina Ionescu), a lot of the existing roster had to be scrambled to make room. Bec Allen, Crystal Dangerfield, Natasha Howard, and Michaela Onyenwere were already dealt alway to make room for these additions, and more difficult cuts loom in what promises to be one of the W’s most competitive camps. Broken record and all that, but the amount of talent competing for just a couple of roster spots is wild, and the names we’ll see on the transactions page in the coming weeks already stresses me out. All that said, not knowing which super-talented players crack your superteam is a good problem for the team to have, as they look to bring a basketball championship to New York City for the first time in WNBA history.
3. Washington Mystics (2022 record: 22-14)
I turned to Owen Pence for an assist on the Mystics write-up, one of the most exciting rosters in the W this year. This team had the luxury to trade back out of the lottery for a future pick because of how well constructed the existing rotation already projects to be. Here’s his breakdown:
“Everyone knows that Las Vegas and New York have championship aspirations and are the co-favorites entering the 2023 season. There are only two other teams with realistic title hopes, who currently dream of upsetting the top dogs. Washington is one of those teams.
The 2019 champions, frankly put, are stacked entering 2023. If Elena Delle Donne can stay healthy, this team has a better chance of hoisting the trophy than most realize.
Depth, defense, and a whole lot of continuity are the pillars with which Washington supports its exceptional basketball team. Point guard Natasha Cloud is the perfect leader and floor general. Ariel Atkins personifies everything great and understated about Mystics basketball; she’s an exceptional two-way player who rarely gets the credit she deserves, but who grinds every day. Washington added arguably the best perimeter defender in the league—Brittney Sykes—this offseason, bolstering what was already the league’s best defense in 2022.
Entering her second professional season, few hold more potential than Mystics center Shakira Austin. Speaking to Austin, one gets the sense that she’ll be a surefire star in this league. Her defense is limitless; she loves guarding every position on the floor and is exceptional holding down the painted area. Offensively, she still has much room to grow but is already a force on the interior.
Depth? This team has a host of supporting players that often prove key to deep playoff runs. Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, Kristi Toliver, Amanda Zahui B, Myisha Hines-Allen, and Tianna Hawkins all bring their own skill sets to a roster loaded with talent.
One of the only question marks for the Mystics in 2023 is how the team will adjust to its head coaching transition. Longtime sideline stalwart Mike Thibault has transitioned to the general manager role, allowing his son, Eric, to fill his massive shoes on the bench. If son is half as good as father, the Mystics will be a mighty tough out this season.”
4. Connecticut Sun (2022 record: 25-11)
The Connecticut Sun made several huge moves this offseason. After several promising campaigns that never culminated in a championship, there had to be a shakeup to break the cycle of undulation in Uncasville. First, Curt Miller left to take the Sparks job, freeing up the chair for Stephanie White, who returns to the W as a head coach after previously leading the Indiana Fever in the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Two longtime on-court Sun leaders were dealt, as well: Jasmine Thomas joined Miller in Los Angeles, and Jonquel Jones traveled down I-95 to join the aforementioned Liberty superteam.
While those three are huge losses—all integral to the culture of stability that fans have grown used to—I’m excited at the versatility they’ve acquired to fill out the roster. Some of the new faces in training camp: Bec Allen, Lauren Cox, Ty Harris, Tiffany Hayes, Kiki Herbert Harrigan, (recent NCAA champ) Alexis Morris, and Olivia Nelson-Ododa. Allen, Hayes, and Harris are three names that especially intrigue me as pieces that complement the remaining Bri Jones/Alyssa Thomas/DeWanna Bonner core. Health will be key for these new reinforcements, with a particular eye to Allen (who suffered a collapsed lung in last fall’s FIBA games and hasn’t played since, though she’s been practicing independently) and Hayes, who has appeared in just 32 games over the past three seasons due to a myriad of injuries. Despite some new faces in 2023, I’d project the Sun to be a cut above the remaining teams on this list.
5. Phoenix Mercury (2022 record: 15-21)
It’s impossible to overstate how unprecedented and chaotic last season was for the Mercury. With Brittney Griner’s wrongful detainment in Russia a dark cloud hanging over everything, it’s easy to understand the shared trauma that group faced, and it’s remarkable they rallied together to make their tenth consecutive postseason appearance. Though we’re just a single offseason removed, it feels like a lifetime since Phoenix was crowned a WNBA superteam. Already, Tina Charles and Diamond DeShields are gone, and Skylar Diggins-Smith is out (possibly indefinitely?) on maternity leave; BG’s return, though, brings optimism, even if it takes her a while to work back up to game speed.
The additions of Moriah Jefferson and Onyenwere will help to fill vacancies, and Griner patrolling the paint shuffles Bri Turner back to the four full-time, re-establishing that dominant back line. Shey Peddy, who tore her Achilles in the 2022 postseason, is targeting a (remarkably rapid) return at the start of the season. Sophie Cunningham has continued to improve her game each year, stepping up time and again for last year’s depleted roster. Diana Taurasi is still Diana Taurasi. If this team can rally around BG’s return to the court, it could be a catalyst that makes the Merc a dangerous team on any given night.
6. Atlanta Dream (2022 record: 14-22)
Nobody at Winsidr was more hyped about the Dream’s offseason than Owen, so I brought him back to talk about some of their moves:
“A new era of Dream basketball is upon us, and oh is the forecast promising. Remember, not even two years ago, when this organization seemed to be crumbling, a picture of turmoil and frustration? Now, one must squint into the brightness of their future.
Last year, new head coach Tanisha Wright propelled Atlanta to a far more competitive season than most had anticipated. The Dream competed for a playoff spot up to the final day of the regular season, when a loss to New York halted their postseason dreams. But this year? Anything short of a top-eight seed would be a disappointment.
Rhyne Howard is the headliner. A future superstar, Howard is already an All-Star caliber player capable of leading her team to the playoffs. Now, she has the reinforcements to truly compete. This offseason, general manager Dan Padover traded for Allisha Gray, a stellar two-way shooting guard who relishes the challenge of guarding the league’s top scorers, and who herself can score at will from anywhere on the floor.
Atlanta nailed the draft, taking Haley Jones and Laeticia Amihere in the first round. Aari McDonald, the 2021 No. 3 overall pick, has steadily improved throughout her career and figures to be a massive part of the Dream’s two-way attack. When healthy, Cheyenne Parker is a defensive force who can shoot proficiently from three at the center position. Naz Hillmon may be the most underrated player in a league full of underrated players.
Simply put? Atlanta’s trajectory is squarely on the up-and-up, and, moreover, this team will ooze fun. Dream games project as must-watch TV in 2023.”
7. Los Angeles Sparks (2022 record: 13-23)
Miller’s arrival signaled the beginning of a new era for the Sparks—commitment to a rebuild that didn’t need to happen overnight. Still, I loved the moves LA made in free agency, but they’ve already had to adjust expectations before even arriving at camp. Steph Talbot tore her ACL playing for the WNBL’s Adelaide Lightning (wishing her a speedy recovery!); Katie Lou Samuelson announced she’d miss the 2023 campaign as she awaits the birth of her daughter (wishing her congratulations!). Both players projected to be important perimeter threats for this roster, so their absences are big ones. Lexie Brown will be integral as a shooter and floor spacer in their absences.
Still, other additions make the Sparks a team to watch. Azurá Stevens and Hamby arrive to fill out an already formidable frontcourt, offering athleticism and versatility. Thomas brings her knowledge of Miller’s system, fully recovered from the ACL injury she suffered last May with the Sun. Perhaps she plays mentor to Zia Cooke, selected in the first round of this year’s WNBA draft? Nearly every W team has a star talent, which is exactly what makes these rankings so chaotic. For the Sparks, that’s Nneka Ogwumike, who’s about as steadying a franchise cornerstone as one could find, on and off the court. With Miller at the helm, do the Sparks end their two-year playoff drought, or does it extend anew?
8. Dallas Wings (2022 record: 18-18)
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: the Dallas Wings enter training camp with a whole bunch of rookies. This year’s crop of talent—Maddy Siegrist (the No. 3 selection), Stephanie Soares (No. 4, out for 2023), Lou Lopez Sénéchal (No. 5), Abby Meyers (No. 11), Ashley Joens (No. 19), and Paige Robinson (No. 31)—all enter camp knowing there are positions to be filled. While new veteran talent—Natasha Howard and Diamond DeShields—has entered, the exodus of players leaving (a trend in recent years) has continued.
Five of the Wings’ top eight scorers from 2022 have moved on: Marina Mabrey (Chicago), Gray (Atlanta), Izzy Harrison (Chicago), Thornton (New York), and Harris (Connecticut). This quintet accounted for 58.6 percent of Dallas’ points last year, and an argument could be made that Gray, Harrison, and Thornton were also their three most impactful defenders. Efficiency might be key for these newcomers trying to crack the rotation, as shot selection is something Arike Ogunbowale (and both newcomers Howard and DeShields) has struggled with in the past. It will help that they brought back the ever-steady Teaira McCowan, whose 58.5 effective field goal percentage ranked seventh among players with 100+ possessions last year, per Synergy. Does she leave enough room for Howard or Satou Sabally to operate down low, too? If Siegrist can utilize her size to create looks from all over at this level, perhaps there is enough room for it all to work, but there could be some growing pains for a squad with this much turnover, despite all the talent.
9. Minnesota Lynx (2022 record: 14-22)
The Lynx are another franchise in transition. Add them to the pile of teams that can win any game on any given night, based on the fact that they’ve got an All-W talent in Napheesa Collier fronting the roster (see also: Kahleah Copper, Chicago Sky; Ogunbowale, Dallas Wings; Jewell Loyd, Seattle Storm). After failing to make the postseason last year—largely without Collier—Minnesota enters 2023 sans Sylvia Fowles, ushering in a new era of Lynx lineage.
Critics will say we’ve already seen this squad’s ceiling, because much of the roster remains the same (let’s pencil in, for now, Collier alongside Damiris Dantas, Kayla McBride, Aerial Powers, and the newly-arrived Tiffany Mitchell). That ignores the fact that Collier, who possesses one of the most unique two-way skillsets in the league, will be back fully healthy, and ignoring the addition of No. 2 overall pick, Diamond Miller, whose downhill athleticism will compete from day one.
In what has become an annual occurrence, Cheryl Reeve will need to get creative in establishing the point guard on the roster, with Jefferson off in Phoenix after stepping in admirably last season. Adding that Minnesota is trying to fill the void left by Mama Syl as well…there are some big questions to answer, even with the veteran talent at the top of the Lynx rotation.
10. Chicago Sky (2022 record: 26-10)
The winds of change swept through the Windy City during free agency, and the resulting roster reconstruction saw the Sky tumble down the rankings, after finishing 2022’s regular season tied with Vegas for the most wins. For a deeper glimpse at the new-look Sky, I turned to our Chi-Town correspondent, Dani Bar-Lavi:
“Having been caught in the complex machinations of superteam formations, the Chicago Sky had a difficult offseason, losing much of their 2021 championship core amid what was a transformative free agency period across the WNBA. One of the first seismic developments was Parker’s departure from Chicago, joining the reigning champion Aces. The Sky then lost longtime starting point guard Vandersloot to the now-stacked Liberty, where she joins her past Euro teammates Stewart and Jonquel Jones. Chicago will also notably be without the services of several players: Allie Quigley, who is taking the season off; rising star Stevens, lost to the Sparks; and Belgians Emma Meesseman and Julie Allemand, who both currently projected to miss the season to focus on commitments in Europe.
While this was without a doubt a net loss offseason for the Sky, general manager James Wade has done well to make some moves to right the ship some amid the mass exodus. Building around 2021 Finals MVP Copper, Wade has built a roster of tough, young veterans including Courtney Williams, Mabrey, Harrison, Elizabeth Williams, and Rebekah Gardner, who returns to the Sky after another solid EuroLeague season. While the Sky roster doesn’t have the star power it has boasted in the past two years, this is a solid roster of skilled, gritty players who can make noise around a dynamic player like Kah, standing well-positioned for a breakout season in an expanded role on offense. A standing question mark for this Sky roster is the lack of a clear starting point guard, with Wade possibly hoping to see either a breakout for third-year player Dana Evans or more development as a facilitator from new arrival Mabrey.”
11. Indiana Fever (2022 record: 5-31)
These last few weeks, post-draft and pre-camp, have been a nonstop publicity tour for the Fever and all their new talent. I, too, brought in one of our rookies, Blake Silverman, to break down where Indiana stands:
“Following a league-worst record last season, a new era, highlighted by No. 1 overall pick Aliyah Boston, is being ushered in for the Indiana Fever.
Starting guard Danielle Robinson was traded to the Dream in exchange for Kristy Wallace. Tiffany Mitchell opted to sign with the Lynx in free agency. Emily Engstler, No. 4 pick in the 2022 draft, was waived by the Fever in advance of training camp—the third time the team has let go of a top-four pick in the past three seasons.
General Manager Lin Dunn kicked off the new direction in Indiana by bringing in Christie Sides as head coach. Previous head coach Marianne Stanley was fired after a handful of games in the 2022 season, with Carlos Knox taking over as interim.
As a young team looking to right the ship, both Sides and Dunn brought in talent to shift the culture in Indiana, aiming to be the hardest working team in the league while focusing on the defensive end of the floor. ‘I don’t think Lin would’ve hired me had I not said that defense was my main focus, now our main focus,’ Sides said.
And did they ever get defense. Boston, the clear top prospect in this year’s draft class, was one of the NCAA’s leading shot-blockers and rebounders last season. Indiana also brought in the hometown Hoosier hero Grace Berger in the first round to add strength at the point. Taylor Mikesell, LaDazhia Williams, and Victaria Saxton were drafted in later rounds, hoping to prove themselves in training camp.
Erica Wheeler, who spent a number of seasons with the Fever, came back to the team in free agency, replacing Robinson as a lead guard. Kelsey Mitchell led Indiana in scoring and assists last season and will continue to see high usage, even with the added young guns. NaLyssa Smith is ready to grow even further in year two after a strong rookie campaign.
The Fever seem to be headed in the right direction. However, they may struggle to see that growth turn into wins this season against other teams who have already developed a cohesive core and are ready to compete immediately. Futures are shining for the young Fever, but they may still be a year away, or a year away from being a year away.”
12. Seattle Storm (2022 record: 22-14)
It feels wrong to have Seattle at the bottom of the rankings, and it very well might be! (Fans and Storm PR, a friendly reminder that all of the Winsidr staff voted here, so don’t direct any outrage directly in my direction, please!) This is a team that pushed the Aces in a thrilling playoff series, after all! Is this an overcorrection to losing two of the franchise’s most iconic and important players, in Stewart and the now-retired Sue Bird? (And, if you add Gabby Williams and Tina Charles, that’s four UConn alums—or an entire dog sled team of Huskies—that won’t be returning to this year’s roster.)
It’s a hard transition to make for a team that has been in the annual title conversation for the better part of two decades, but this season also projects as one for growth. Can Loyd be that superstar, night in and night out, that keeps Seattle competitive? Can Ezi Magbegor bring the two-way intensity that had her in all the Most Improved conversations before a midseason signing significantly cut her role last year? Do the returns of veterans in Mercedes Russell (injured for all of 2022) and Sami Whitcomb (back after two years in New York) help steady a roster with lots of developing young talent?
Regardless of where Seattle—or any other team—fell in these way-too-early rankings, there are tons of decisions still to be made at camp, lots of development to happen in the weeks leading up to the games that count. Every roster overflows with talent, as more and more W-caliber players lace up their sneakers to compete each year.
Do you like where your team ranked, or do you contest our evaluations? Let us know on Twitter, and let’s keep these conversations going as we count down to the opening tip!