It may be the year of the superteams, but there is plenty of talent up and down the WNBA’s 12 teams as the league prepares to tip off its 27th season this weekend.
Still, it’s easy to see why New York and Las Vegas are the favorites to win the 2023 WNBA championship. The Aces and Liberty combine to have eight players on our list of the top 25 players in the league.
The 2022 MVP led the Aces to their first-ever title last season, averaging 19.5 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.9 blocks and 1.4 steals per contest. Wilson was an impact player on both ends of the floor, performing well in the most high-pressure situations. She had six double-doubles in 10 playoff games and played 40 or more minutes in three contests, including the championship-clinching win over Connecticut. With the Aces once again a favorite to win the WNBA title, Wilson will continue to be at the top of her game.
New team, same Breanna Stewart. The 6-4 forward brings scoring versatility to the court for New York, just like the 2018 MVP did for the Storm over her first six years in the league. Last season, Stewart averaged 21.8 points per game, tying her career-high and leading the WNBA as a whole. She also contributed 7.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.6 steals and 0.9 blocks per game. With more weapons around her in New York, Stewart likely won’t put up numbers as big, but her talent and impact won’t change.
Like Stewart, Jones will be adjusting to a new team and a new role. But with other elite scorers around her, Jones will have more freedom as defenses won’t be able to center their game plans around the 2021 MVP. The 6-6 forward averaged 14.6 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.2 blocks and 1.1 steals per contest with the Sun last season. Her ability to stretch the floor and shoot 3-pointers on offense is a major strength that opens up lanes for Jones and her teammates.
After multiple back surgeries caused Delle Donne to miss games at the start of the 2022 season, the Mystics star ended up having a solid campaign. Her 17.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game were some of her lowest totals over her nine-year WNBA career but impressive nonetheless. Now fully healthy, the 6-5 forward is poised to regain at least some of the form that vaulted her to WNBA MVP in 2015 and 2019. One highlight from last season was Delle Donne’s 2.3 assists per contest, the best mark of her career thus far.
After winning the 2022 Finals MVP award, Gray solidified herself as the best point guard in the league. She averaged 21.7 points and seven assists per game during the playoffs, up from 13.7 and 6.1 in those same categories during the regular season. Gray proved herself invaluable during the title run, and the Aces wouldn’t have claimed the trophy without her. The guard was virtually unstoppable when she wanted to score, making 63.5% of her contested shot attempts.
The Sparks had a chaotic season in 2022, but there was one bright spot: Nneka Ogwumike. The 6-2 forward put up her best numbers since 2017, averaging 18.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, two assists and 1.7 steals per game. Ogwumike helped keep the Sparks in playoff contention late into the season despite all the drama that surrounded her team. Her standout season is part of the reason new coach Curt Miller made it a priority to re-sign Ogwumike, and the 2016 MVP will be a cornerstone of the new-look Sparks this season.
Loyd has played eight years in the WNBA and accomplished a rare feat of improving every season. Now, without Stewart and Sue Bird leading the Storm, Loyd will be thrust further into the spotlight, and the 29-year-old guard is ready. Loyd is one of the best shot-creators in the league, using her speed and athleticism to score off the bounce. During the 2022 playoffs, she proved she’s ready to be the team’s primary scorer, with 26 points in Seattle’s lone win over the Aces in the semifinals.
After five seasons in the WNBA, Plum hit her stride last season, becoming a key piece to the Aces’ championship run while averaging the second-most points in the league with 20.2 per game. The guard also proved herself as more than a scorer, averaging a career-high 5.1 assists per game. As the Aces battle for another title, Plum will continue to be a cornerstone of the team’s offense.
Parker, a 15-year WNBA veteran, has said retirement is coming soon. But when she plays, the 6-4 forward doesn’t look anywhere near ready to hang it up. Parker has always been a player who impacts every aspect of the game, and that won’t change in her first year in Las Vegas. After leading the Sky to a championship in 2021, the second of her career, she put up 13.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, 4.5 assists, one block and one steal per game last season.
New York locked down their former No. 1 draft pick with a contract extension through the 2025 season this week, and it’s easy to see why the franchise wants her around. In college, Ionescu earned the title of “Triple-Double Queen,” something she showed glimpses of last season in the WNBA. Her best performance came last July, when Ionescu had 31 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists against Las Vegas to record the WNBA’s first 30-point triple-double. After trading for Jonquel Jones and signing Breanna Stewart and Courtney Vandersloot, the Liberty will be atop the WNBA this season; and if they win a title, Ionescu will be a key piece to the puzzle.
The new mom missed last season on maternity leave after giving birth to daughter Mila. Collier is back for the 2023 campaign, ready to build on the 2020 and 2021 seasons in which she averaged 16 points per game. Collier is also a skilled rebounder and passer, averaging a career-high nine rebounds and 3.3 assists in 2020. The 2019 Rookie of the Year moves well with and without the ball. She has a proven ability to get to the rim and finish with strength, or pull up for a mid-range shot.
After losing Candace Parker and Courtney Vandersloot to free agency, Copper is now the leader of the Chicago Sky. The 2021 Finals MVP is more than capable of taking on a primary scoring role after averaging a career-high 15.7 points per game last season. Copper is efficient around the rim, where her body control makes her difficult to stop. The 6-1 guard has also become more well-rounded as her career has progressed, averaging 5.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game in 2022, both career highs.
Thomas is a do-it-all player for the Sun, and they will need her even more this season after trading Jonquel Jones to the Liberty. Thomas kept Connecticut alive against the Aces in the 2022 Finals with two triple-doubles in a row, marking the first and the second triple-doubles in WNBA Finals history. Thomas averaged 13.4 points, 8.2 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 1.7 steals per game in 2022.
In 12 seasons in the WNBA, Vandersloot has solidified herself as the league’s top pass-first point guard. Last season, she averaged 6.5 assists per game, which was actually her lowest mark since 2016. Vandersloot’s ability to run an offense and set up teammates will be on full display this year alongside elite scorers in Jonquel Jones and Breanna Stewart and rising star Sabrina Ionescu.
Ogunbowale was fourth in the league last season with 19.7 points per game. The Wings guard hunts her shot at every opportunity. She can score off the bounce or the catch and has a killer step-back that is difficult to guard. Ogunbowale also averaged a career-best 3.6 assists per game in 2022. With new additions to the Wings’ offense, the guard will be relied on to score and set up her teammates this season.
The No. 1 pick in the 2022 draft made noise in her first season, earning an All-Star nod and proving herself as the future of the Atlanta Dream organization. This year, Howard will build on her Rookie of the Year numbers of 16.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.6 steals per game.
A key piece to the Washington Mystics attack, Atkins averaged 14.6 points and 2.3 assists last season, but it’s her ability to impact both ends of the floor that earns her a spot on this list. After receiving All-WNBA Second Team honors four years in a row, Atkins was named to the First Team last season.
Diggins-Smith will miss part of the season on maternity leave, but after the season she had in 2022, she’s earned a spot on this list, full season or not. Diggins-Smith was third in the WNBA in scoring last season with 19.7 points per game, her best mark since 2014. Diggins-Smith also averaged 5.5 assists, four rebounds, 1.5 steals and — despite being 5-9 — one block per contest.
Bonner has been consistent throughout her 13-year career in the WNBA. Since 2015, she’s never averaged fewer than 13 points per game. Bonner was a key piece to the Sun’s WNBA Finals run last season, and her length and athleticism at 6-4 make her a threat on offense and defense.
After six solid years with the Wings, Gray embarks on a new journey with the Dream. The guard put up some of her best numbers last season, averaging 13.3 points and 2.5 assists per game. Gray is also an excellent defender who will bring experience and poise to a young Dream squad.
Griner says it will take her a bit to get comfortable on a basketball court again after missing last season while being wrongfully imprisoned in Russia. But once she gets reacclimated, the 32-year-old should emerge as one of the top WNBA players once more. In 2021, Griner averaged a near double-double with 20.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.
The Sun made keeping Jones a priority in the offseason, clearly viewing her as the future of the franchise in the wake of other departures. She was named Sixth Player of the Year in 2022 after putting up 14.8 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. Now, without Jonquel Jones, Brionna Jones will be expected to step up even more for the Sun.
Behind Ionescu, Howard was the Liberty’s second-leading scorer last season. New York dealt her to the Wings to make room for players like Jonquel Jones and Breanna Stewart, but that’s not a knock on her talent. Howard hit her stride in Seattle in 2018 and has been a consistent scorer and defender since then, winning WNBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2019.
Since being drafted in 2018, Mitchell has been a bright spot during losing seasons for the Fever. Last year was her best yet, as the 27-year-old guard averaged 18.4 points and 4.2 assists per game.
At 40 years old, Taurasi is still one of the best scorers in the WNBA, and she proved that last season with multiple games of 30 or more points. She’s had staying power for a reason, and the veteran will continue to make an impact in Phoenix this season.
Eden Laase is a Staff Writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @eden_laase.