WNBA 2023 preseason power rankings: defending champions reign supreme
The 27th WNBA season tips off tonight, May 19, with a four game slate starting at 7 pm eastern. Fresh new faces will make their debuts on new teams, old veterans are back in the league and a new crop of rookies are set to take the league by storm.
Rosters are officially set which means it is time for preseason power rankings. What may seem "late" to some is perfectly on time for the roster deadline yesterday evening. Every week there will be a new ranking based on the team's performance and strength of schedule for the previous week.
It's WNBA time so let's get the ball rolling.
1. Las Vegas Aces
Some people believe it's redundant to put the defending champions at number one despite roster moves. The way I see it, the Aces had one of the most exciting offseasons. They brought in star power like Candace Parker and Alysha Clark and signed Australian WNBL champion and 2022-2023 MVP, Cayla George back to the WNBA.
The return of MVP A'ja Wilson paired with a post player like Parker serves as one of the greatest post threats on both ends. Jackie Young, Kelsey Plum and Chelsea Gray will continue to steer the dynamic front court. On paper, this team seems invincible and are a clear favorite to start the year at the top.
2. New York Liberty
It is hard putting a team with the likes of Breanna Stewart, Jonquel Jones, Betnija Laney, Sabrina Ionescu and Courtney Vandersloot second. The fact of the matter is they are lacking in guard depth with the absence of Vandersloot, who is in concussion protocol, and Marine Johannes who is currently overseas.
The Liberty hold a ruthless front court with the aforementioned Stewart and Jones but their offseason addition in Kayla Thornton, traded from the Wings to the Liberty during the offseason, and Stef Dolson brings formidable grit and paint protection.
3. Connecticut Sun
The WNBA finals runner up have a team full of fresh faces in Ty Harris and Rebecca Allen; both were a part of the blockbuster trade including Jones, Thornton and Natasha Howard. They are under new leadership in head coach Stephanie White who was able to retain some key pieces from last year's team.
Natisha Hiedeman, who took over a lot of playing time when Jasmine Thomas went down with an ACL injury, is back to lead the guards. DeWanna Bonner and Alyssa Thomas return with vengeance on their mind as two of the best offensive and defensive players in the league. Olivia Nelson-Ododa is a new acquisition who starred this offseason with the Melbourne Boomers in the WNBL. This team is a mix of seasoned veterans and newer players who are looking to mesh and grow well together.
4. Dallas Wings
After years of upsetting seasons, despite making the playoffs in the last two years, the Wings look like a team who is ready to make waves. Putting them at four might seem a bit high for some people but from what I was able to see in person, this team is looking like they will shock the league. New head coach Latricia Trammell is the answer to Wings' fan's prayers are she looks to build on this new roster.
Although they traded away longtime Wing in Thornton for Howard this offseason, the Wings ultimately won by getting a defensive player of the year and past WNBA champion. Trading away Allisha Gray still stings for Wings fans but they were able to take that and put it into drafting one of the best classes in this year's draft. Veronica Burton will continue to run point, bringing more defense on the perimeter, while Teaira McCowan will tag team with Howard down low.
5. Washington Mystics
The Mystics definitely had a whirlwind of an offseason when they acquired Amanda Zahui B from the Aces after she was traded from the Sparks. Washington brought in arguably the best perimeter defender in Brittany Sykes and old friend Kristi Toliver for veteran presence.
Natasha Cloud is looking to build upon her remarkable 2022 season alongside Ariel Atkins. Elene Delle Donne looks healthy and ready to pair up with Shakira Austin full time down low. When Myisha Hines-Allen comes back from injury, them three will make one dominating post presence.
6. Phoenix Mercury
It's time to celebrate because the Mercury are finally whole again. With the return of Brittney Griner to the court and Dianna Taurasi signing a two year deal in the offseason, the family is back together. But there are some glaring issues in this Mercury team that have more questions rather than answers.
We don't know what Griner is going to look like once regular season tips off. We saw flashes of herself through clips on twitter but she hasn't played organized basketball since February 2022 prior to preseason. Sophie Cunningham, who just signed a two year extension over the offseason, is out with a knee injury so a starter is gone. Skylar Diggins-Smith is pregnant so they brought in Moriah Jefferson to replace her as point guard. Brianna Turner will still be there down low defensively but will her offense appear this year?
Depth is a big issue for the Mercury but their talent alone allows them to stay at six.
7. Minnesota Lynx
Right now the Lynx have a huge hole at forward with Natalie Achonwa out on maternity leave and the retirement of Sylvia Fowles. They partially filled in the hole by drafting Dorka Juhasz from UConn and Diamond Miller from Maryland. Both players are pro-ready but they are also rookies.
Their shooting guard/small forward position is loaded with Kayla McBride and Aerial Powers. They brought in Tiffany Mitchell during free agency who finished as runner up for the WNBL MVP award this past season. Their only true point guard in Lindsay Allen who is more than capable but depth will be an issue.
8. Atlanta Dream
The Dream narrowly missed the playoffs last season but that didn't take away from what a drastic change they went through to improve. This offseason they acquired Allisha Gray from Dallas who instantly brings a two way pedigree to Atlanta.
Reigning rookie of the year Rhyne Howard is back for another season where she is sure to dominate the league. They drafted Haley Jones who is dominant in her own right and traded for veteran Danielle Robinson to run the point. Atlanta looks like a good team right now but still have glaring depth questions that lack answers.
9. Los Angeles Sparks
The Sparks are an interesting team to look at. They have their star in Nneka Ogwumike and brought in Jasmine Thomas and Dearica Hamby who are both out with ACL recovery and pregnancy, respectively.
New head coach Curt Miller brought in Layshia Clarendon to run the point and bring some old school style play to the Sparks. Katie-Lou Samuelson is out on maternity leave which leaves post depth an issue. It's going to be interesting to see how Miller adjusts his team once the season officially starts.
10. Chicago Sky
The Sky brought in a plethora of talent in Izzy Harrison and Marina Mabrey from the Wings and Courtney Williams from the Sun. They gave Alanna Smith another chance to earn a spot in the league and she succeeded. Kahleah Copper is back and should continue her dominance like usual.
The real reason I put them this low is because they didn't really do anything to amend for the loss of Emma Meeesseman, who is likely opting out of the season in favor of overseas commitments, Azura Stevens and sharpshooter Allie Quigley. They didn't do enough to fill in a lot of those holes left by those three players but they could surprise us this upcoming week.
11. Indiana Fever
Do not sleep on this Indiana team. They brought in former Atlanta Dream assistant coach Christie Sides to take the reigns on a franchise in complete shambles. The acquired hard-nosed defender Kristy Wallace in exchange for Danielle Robinson and drafted college star Aliyah Boston with the first overall pick.
Nalyssa Smith and Kelsey Mitchell are back to continue their dominance. Queen Egbo is sure to be an even more developed paint defender. This team is full of fresh legs and youth who are eager to make a splash. Their youth is the only reason I put them at 11.
12. Seattle Storm
Never did I ever dream of finding a scenario in which Seattle would end up last in power rankings. But the truth is this team has a clear weakness in the guard position that can be taken advantage of in game. Rising star Jade Melbourne will make her long-awaited WNBA debut after a stellar season with the Canberra Capitals in the WNBL. Jewell Loyd, the return of Sami Whitcomb and new member of the Storm Kia Nurse will take on shooting guard and small forward roles and the post is already set with Ezi Magbegor and Mercedes Russell.
I don't see Seattle staying last for long. It's just a matter of who i