No. 1 South Carolina basketball is off to a historic start. The Gamecocks are averaging 107.0 points per game through their first two games of the season, shooting them up the AP Top 25 from No. 6 to No. 1. 

Such high-quality play is not uncommon under head coach Dawn Staley. And it shows in the program’s WNBA legacy. 

Staley has coached the Gamecocks since 2008, and since then, she’s helped produce multiple WNBA stars. Reigning WNBA Finals MVP A’ja Wilson, 2023 Rookie of the Year Aliyah Boston, Tiffany Mitchell, Allisha Gray, Laeticia Amihere and more professional players came from Staley’s program.

“We produce pros,” Staley said. “The very best in the league. And if that’s not proof in the pudding, then this isn’t the place for you.”

South Carolina women’s basketball didn’t have this winning reputation when Staley took the helm in 2008, though. 

In 2008 and 2009, Staley and the Gamecocks had losing seasons. But every season thereafter, their record improved. South Carolina secured its first No. 1 ranking and its first Final Four appearance during the 2014-15 season. By 2022, the Gamecocks have appeared in four Final Fours and they’ve collected seven SEC tournament victories and two NCAA championships, among other accolades. 

Staley referred to her players as “the storytellers of the program.” While that may be true, South Carolina basketball likely would not have the WNBA pedigree that it has today without Staley’s coaching and guidance. 

Dawn Staley has built a pipeline to the WNBA at South Carolina, and that has been on full display during the 2023 WNBA season.

From rookies Aliyah Boston and Zia Cooke to MVP candidate A’ja Wilson, nine former Gamecocks currently grace WNBA rosters, The Athletic reported. That is the third-highest total in the league behind Notre Dame (10) and UConn (16).

“To see all of us achieving our goals and being able to play against each other, it’s special,” Cooke told The Athletic. The 22-year-old guard played in 39 games for the Los Angeles Sparks in her first professional season.

Players say that Staley’s coaching style helps to prepare them for the WNBA from the moment they step on campus as freshmen. She instills “pro habits,” including mental toughness and work ethic, to help her players flourish at the next level.

The formula has worked. On top of having nine players on rosters, three of the last seven Rookie of the Year winners will have come from South Carolina – Allisha Gray, Wilson and, soon, Boston. A shoo-in for the 2023 award, Boston averaged 14.5 points and 8.4 rebounds per game for the Indiana Fever.

“That South Carolina program really grooms these guys to compete,” Sparks coach Curt Miller said.

And former Gamecocks returning to campus and helping out the program helps too.

“When they come back, I try to get them to practice with us,” Staley said. “I try to get them to impart knowledge on how to play at the next level, the type of habits they’ve created to have staying power and to have dominating power once they’re in the league.”

Wilson sees the wisdom Staley has imparted on her as a “huge key” to her success with the reigning champion Las Vegas Aces. That includes twice being named WNBA MVP – with a potential third accolade coming. And she’s been happy seeing her fellow South Carolina alums find success in the WNBA as well.

“To see it all unfold and to see us all here being successful across the league, it’s truly something special,” Wilson said. “I’m always proud to say, I’m a product of Dawn Staley, and that’s the stamp. That’s a big stamp for me and I love it, and you can see it carries out throughout my college teammates. And it’s just a type of vibe that we give, the culture that we built there. It’s no surprise that we’re being very successful in this league.”

The Las Vegas Aces and New York Liberty have dominated the headlines and conversations since last year’s playoffs. On the court, the Aces and Liberty have had similar success, earning the top two seeds in the 2023 postseason.

Six other squads, though, are ready to challenge the superteams, starting with four intriguing first-round matchups. Just Women’s Sports has insights and predictions for each three-game series.

(1) Las Vegas Aces vs. (8) Chicago Sky

Defending champion Las Vegas set a WNBA regular-season record with 34 wins in 40 games. And after ending the season on a four-game winning streak, the Aces are in prime position to start the playoffs.

Meanwhile, the Sky made the postseason against all odds in a season that saw the departure of their head coach and general manager, James Wade, who left for an assistant coaching position in the NBA. Chicago needed a late-season push to edge out the Los Angeles Sparks for the final playoff spot, and they got it by winning four of their last five contests.

These two teams are in completely different places, and while the Sky should be proud of their resilience in even making the playoffs, this series should be dominated by the Aces.

The teams played three times in the regular season, with the Aces taking all three matchups, 93-80, 107-95 and 94-87. In each matchup, Las Vegas had a different leading scorer, with the team’s four stars – A’ja Wilson, Jackie Young, Chelsea Gray and Kelsey Plum – all hitting double-digits each time. Chicago will have to find a way to limit one or two of those scorers to have a chance against the potent Las Vegas offense.

Prediction: Las Vegas in 2

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Chicago's Alanna Smith and Las Vegas' Jackie Young go after a loose ball. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

(2) New York Liberty vs. (7) Washington Mystics

This series shows the importance of the fight for the No. 1 seed. Neither the Aces nor the Liberty wanted to play the Mystics.

Washington may be a No. 7 seed, but the team ranks much higher in terms of talent. Injuries throughout the season prevented the Mystics from ever getting on a roll, but when healthy, they boast Elena Delle Donne, Natasha Cloud, Shakira Austin, Ariel Atkins and Brittney Sykes in the starting lineup.

Washington is certainly feeling good about itself after beating New York, 90-88, in the final game of the regular season. Yet while the Mystics can challenge the Liberty, New York is the better team and should win the series – though it may take three games to do so.

The Liberty also come into the playoffs on a high, despite the loss to Washington. They started the regular season with a ton of talent and ended it as a cohesive team that looks hard to stop in a playoff series.

Sabrina Ionescu has been particularly tough for the Mystics to stop, as she’s been New York’s leading scorer with 20-plus points in three of their four regular-season meetings. Washington needs to lean on a stellar defensive performance across the court, but particularly from Sykes and Cloud to defend New York’s guards. After that, it will be up to Austin and Delle Donne to slow down Breanna Stewart and Jonquel Jones. So a lot needs to go right for Washington. Ultimately, even healthy, it will be challenging for Washington to contend with New York’s talent across all five positions.

Prediction: New York in 3

(3) Connecticut Sun vs. (6) Minnesota Lynx

The Sun and the Lynx played four times this season, with Connecticut holding a 3-1 advantage, but the series featured several close games. Two of the Sun’s wins came by 10 points and 5 points.

Led by MVP candidate Alyssa Thomas and her 15.5 points, 9.9 rebounds and 7.9 assists per contest, Connecticut has been consistent all season. Slowing down Thomas is the first challenge the Lynx will have to tackle. She runs the court for the Sun, and no squad has had an answer for that. Meanwhile, DeWanna Bonner is having the best season of her career, averaging 17.4 points per game. Her length also provides a challenge for Minnesota’s defense.

Meanwhile, the Lynx are peaking at the right time. They started the season 0-6 but have turned their season around. Napheesa Collier has been a huge part of that success, averaging 21.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. She was huge in the most recent matchup, finishing with 30 points.

The Lynx have come a long way, particularly with the development of rookies Diamond Miller and Dorka Juhász, and they have the ability to make this series interesting. But ultimately, the one-two punch of Thomas and Bonner is too big of a challenge to overcome, and the Sun should take this series.

Prediction: Sun in 3

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Connecticut's Alyssa Thomas goes up for a shot against Minnesota's Napheesa Collier. (David Berding/Getty Images)

(4) Dallas Wings vs. (5) Atlanta Dream

Dallas and Atlanta come into the playoffs as two similar squads — not in the way they play, but in their ability to beat anyone on a given night. Both these teams are bursting with talent, and when things go right, they go really, really right.

Yet while the Wings continue to mesh, the Dream struggled down the stretch. Still, if Atlanta puts everything together, it can compete with Dallas, though the Dream are 0-3 in the regular-season series.

To have a chance against the Wings in the playoffs, Rhyne Howard, Cheyenne Parker and Allisha Gray will all need to have big games, and Atlanta will likely need a lift from someone unexpected as well.

Dallas will lean on its big three – Satou Sabally, Arike Ogunbowale and Natasha Howard – to do most of the scoring. But the team’s inside presence is where the Wings can separate themselves. Both Teaira McCowan (6-7) and Kalani Brown (6-7) can do damage on both ends, and alongside the length of Awak Kuier (6-6), they make it difficult for opponents to attack the rim.

Prediction: Dallas in 2

Alyssa Thomas, Elena Delle Donne and Napheesa Collier headline the 12 reserves who will compete at the 2023 WNBA All-Star Game. The reserves were announced on Saturday following a vote by WNBA head coaches. They will join the 10 All-Star starters — voted on by fans, media, and players — who were revealed last week.

2023 WNBA All-Star Game Reserves

  • DeWanna Bonner (Connecticut Sun)
  • Napheesa Collier (Minnesota Lynx)
  • Kahleah Copper (Chicago Sky)
  • Elena Delle Donne (Washington Mystics)
  • Allisha Gray (Atlanta Dream)
  • Sabrina Ionescu (New York Liberty)
  • Ezi Magbegor (Seattle Storm)
  • Kelsey Mitchell (Indiana Fever)
  • Cheyenne Parker (Atlanta Dream)
  • Kelsey Plum (Las Vegas Aces)
  • Alyssa Thomas (Connecticut Sun)
  • Courtney Vandersloot (New York Liberty)

Five players will make their All-Star debut in 2023: Gray, Magbegor, Mitchell and Parker, plus starter Aliyah Boston.

Sabrina Ionescu will make her second All-Star appearance thanks to the coach vote after she was ranked 19th amongst guards by her fellow players.

Of the reserves, Elena Delle Donne boasts the most All-Star Selections (nine), while Brittney Griner leads all All-Stars with nine.

While much fan and media attention is spent on comparing starters vs. reserves, that division becomes much less important once the All-Star game tips off. Both starters and reserves earn the “All-Star” label, playing time is typically divided more evenly than regular games, and there’s nothing to keep a reserve from being named All-Star MVP. Erica Wheeler (2019) was the most recent reserve to accomplish the feat.

All-Star captains A’ja Wilson and Breanna Stewart will draft their teams during a special WNBA All-Star selection show on Saturday, July 8 (1 p.m. ET, ESPN). The WNBA All-Star Game will be played at Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday, July 15, with the game airing on ABC (5:30 p.m. PT/8:30 p.m. ET).

Also on Saturday, the WNBA confirmed that Las Vegas head coach Becky Hammon (14-1) and Connecticut Sun head coach Stephanie White (12-4) will serve as All-Star head coaches thanks to their records through June 30. Hammon will coach Team Wilson, while White will coach Team Stewart.

The polls are closed for 2023 WNBA All-Star voting, and the game’s starters will be announced Sunday. From there, the WNBA’s 12 head coaches will select the 12 reserves, and the two top vote-getters will serve as captains and draft their respective All-Star teams on July 8.

For the first part of the process, media members were tasked with selecting four guards and four forwards/centers on their ballots. Whoever receives the most votes will start in the All-Star Game on July 15 in Las Vegas.

Here’s how I voted.

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Jackie Young has been one of the best players on a star-studded Aces team. (Adam Hagy/NBAE via Getty Images)

Guards

Jackie Young, Las Vegas Aces

Young took home the Most Improved Player award last season, and so far this year, she’s been even better. Las Vegas is bursting with talent, but Young has often been the best player on the court for her team and has turned herself into one of the best guards in the league. The Notre Dame product is averaging 21 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.6 steals per game. She’s shooting 50% from beyond the arc, making 2.3 3-pointers per contest, and has also been aggressive on the attack and in transition.

Young has been consistent in her play since she opened the season with 23 points in a win over Seattle. Of all the guards, she was the easiest All-Star selection for me.

Jewell Loyd, Seattle Storm

The Storm may be struggling, but Loyd certainly isn’t. She’s leading the WNBA with 26.2 points per game and leading Seattle with 3.7 assists per game. The 29-year-old guard is a prolific shot creator, and without Breanna Stewart in Seattle this season, she’s taken on a bigger scoring role. Last year, Loyd was one of the league’s top guards, averaging 16.3 points per game. This year, she’s increased that number by 10 points. So far, Loyd has recorded four 30-plus point games, including a career-high 39 in a 109-103 win over Dallas on June 17.

Chelsea Gray, Las Vegas Aces

Last season’s Finals MVP is picking up right where she left off. The Aces rank first in the league in scoring, and their offense starts with Gray. She leads the team and is third among all WNBA players with 6.3 assists per game. Gray can also create shots for herself, averaging 13.6 points per game. Of all those qualities, it’s the veteran’s efficient scoring that makes her stand out to me. Gray is making 51.8% of her 2-point shots, 51.2% of her 3-point shots and 92.3% of her free-throw attempts.

Allisha Gray, Atlanta Dream

After playing her first six seasons with the Dallas Wings, Gray is wasting no time establishing herself with the Dream. The guard is averaging 17.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game, all of which are career-high marks. Gray is also an excellent on-ball defender, meaning she impacts nearly every aspect of the game for Atlanta.

Gray is aggressive when both driving to the rim and attacking the glass. She’s the third-best rebounder among guards in the WNBA and has recorded two double-doubles this season. This is the best season of Gray’s career, and she is certainly worthy of making her first All-Star appearance.

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Brittney Griner was playing at an All-Star level until she got hurt on June 13. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Forwards/centers

Brittney Griner, Phoenix Mercury

I expected Griner to take some time getting reacclimated to the WNBA after she returned home in December from wrongful detainment in Russia, but that was not the case. She opened the season with 18 points on 7-for-9 shooting from the field and four blocked shots. Since then, the Mercury center has been consistent on both ends of the floor. She’s averaging 20.1 points per game, which is sixth in the league, and 2.5 blocks per game, which is first.

Until getting injured in an 83-69 loss to Seattle on June 13, when she played just nine minutes and scored two points, Griner had scored at least 18 points in every appearance.

Alyssa Thomas, Connecticut Sun

Connecticut coach Stepahnie White calls Thomas the “most underrated superstar in the WNBA.” While Thomas may fly under the radar, her impact on the court cannot be overstated.

Thomas does everything for the Sun. She averages 14.8 points, 10.5 rebounds, 8.0 assists and 2.1 steals per contest, leaving her just two assists shy of averaging a triple-double for the season. She recorded the fifth triple-double of her career on June 20, with 15 rebounds, 13 points and 12 assists in an 85-79 win over the Storm. Thomas is also efficient with her decision-making, averaging just three turnovers per contest.

Satou Sabally, Dallas Wings

Injuries plagued Sabally in the first few seasons of her career, but now the Oregon product is healthy and playing her best basketball. Sabally is a versatile scorer who, at 6-foot-4, can get points from inside or outside, off a post-up or off the dribble. She’s averaging 20 points (up from 11.3 last season), 10.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Sabally is one of just three players in the WNBA averaging a double-double on the season. The forward should be a shoe-in All-Star selection.

Nneka Ogwumike, Los Angeles Sparks

The Sparks have battled injuries so far this season, but with different lineups nearly every night, Ogwumike has been the consistent bright spot. In her 12th season in the WNBA, Ogwumike is averaging a career-best 19.6 points and 9.7 rebounds per game, nearing a double-double. She is also averaging a career-high 3.6 assists per game, showing off her ability to read defenses and find open shooters. Ogwumike also has six double-doubles so far this season.

A’ja Wilson, Las Vegas Aces

The reigning WNBA MVP has continued her dominance for the Aces, leading her team to a league leading 11-1 record so far. Wilson has led her team in either points or rebounds in 10 of those 12 games. She’s averaging 18.6 points and 9.3 rebounds per contest, while also making a difference on the defensive end with 2.2 blocks and 1.3 steals per game.

Wilson has been held to single-digit scoring just once this season, with eight in a win over Minnesota on June 18. But in that game, she proved her ability to impact the Aces in multiple ways, recording season-highs in rebounds (14) and blocks (four).

Breanna Stewart, New York Liberty

It’s taking the WNBA’s newest superteam time to develop chemistry, but through the growing pains, Stewart has been one of the league’s best players. In her first home game for the Liberty, Stewart recorded a double-double with 45 points and 12 rebounds, setting a new franchise record. She’s averaging a team-high 23.9 points, 10.8 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 1.7 steals per game, while also dishing out four assists per game. Stewart is second in the WNBA in scoring and first in rebounding.

Eden Laase is a Staff Writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @eden_laase.

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.

1. A’ja Wilson, F, Aces

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.

2. Breanna Stewart, F, Liberty

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.

3. Jonquel Jones, F, Liberty

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.

4. Elena Delle Donne, F, Mystics

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.

5. Chelsea Gray, G, Aces

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.

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Nneka Ogwumike (Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)

6. Nneka Ogwumike, F, Sparks

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.

7. Jewell Loyd, G, Storm

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.

8. Kelsey Plum, G, Aces

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.

9. Candace Parker, F, Aces

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.

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Sabrina Ionescu (David Becker/NBAE via Getty Images)

10. Sabrina Ionescu, G, Liberty

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.

11. Napheesa Collier, F, Lynx

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.

12. Kahleah Copper, G, Sky

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.

13. Alyssa Thomas, F, Sun

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.

14. Courtney Vandersloot, G, Liberty

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.

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Arike Ogunbowale (Adam Hagy/NBAE via Getty Images)

15. Arike Ogunbowale, G, Wings

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.

16. Rhyne Howard, G, Dream

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.

17. Ariel Atkins, G, Mystics

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.

18. Skylar Diggins-Smith, G, Mercury

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.

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DeWanna Bonner (Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

19. DeWanna Bonner, F, Sun

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.

20. Allisha Gray, G, Dream

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.

21. Brittney Griner, C, Mercury

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.

22. Brionna Jones, F, Sun

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.

23. Natasha Howard, F, Wings

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.

24. Kelsey Mitchell, G, Fever

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.

25. Diana Taurasi, G, Mercury

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.

Allisha Gray is on the move to the Atlanta Dream.

The 2017 WNBA Rookie of the Year, Gray averaged 13.3 points and 4.8 rebounds per game for the Dallas Wings in 2022. The Wings are sending Gray to the Dream in exchange for the No. 3 overall pick this year and a 2025 first-round pick. The trade was first reported by ESPN’s M.A. Voepel on Wednesday night.

The 28-year-old guard was selected by Dallas with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2017 draft. She averaged 13.0 points and 3.9 rebounds per game as a rookie.

While she saw a dip in production in her sophomore season, her stats have remained relatively consistent through her six seasons in Dallas. For her career, she has averaged 11.7 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.0 assists across 180 games. She also won an Olympic gold medal in 2021 as part of Team USA’s 3×3 basketball team.

She will join a Dream squad that went 14-22 last season under first-year coach Tanisha Wright. But she could find more stability in Atlanta than she had in Dallas. Wright is signed through 2027, and the team has a franchise player in 2022 top draft pick and Rookie of the Year Rhyne Howard.

The Wings enter 2023 with yet another new coach.

Los Angeles Sparks assistant Latricia Trammell took the helm from Vickie Johnson, who held the position for two seasons. The team opted not to exercise the option on Johnson’s contract after she led the Wings to back-to-back playoff appearances — but also back-to-back first-round exits.

In Gray’s six seasons in Dallas, she worked with four different head coaches — not including Trammel.

A game-sealing block proved to be enough to send the Dallas Wings to the playoffs.

Allisha Gray came up clutch for the Wings, denying Sabrina Ionescu to defeat the New York Liberty 77-76 on Saturday night.

Marina Mabrey led Dallas in points with 21, adding eight rebounds and six assists. Gray, making the game-winning defensive stop, also added 13 points and 11 rebounds to Dallas’s win.

The Wings now sit in seventh, while the Liberty fall a half-game behind the Washington Mystics for the last playoff spot.

Next up: New York will take on the Connecticut Sun on Wednesday. Dallas will travel to Las Vegas to face off against the Aces on Monday.