2023 WNBA season preview, championship odds, and power rankings

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WNBA 2023 season preview

The 2023 WNBA season is sure to be the most electric yet with two superteams hitting the court –  the reigning champion Las Vegas Aces and the New York Liberty. 

 

The Aces held together nearly every piece of their championship team and then decided to add yet another star to their superteam in Candace Parker. So, it’s no shock they are the favorites to run it back and win it all again at +110. 

Meanwhile, the Liberty signed two MVPs and added a seasoned point guard to shoot them up to second in the title odds at +130.

WNBA Championship Odds

Las Vegas Aces +115
New York Liberty +125
Washington Mystics +1400
Phoenix Mercury +2500
Dallas Wings +3500 
Atlanta Dream +4000
Chicago Sky +4500
Connecticut Sun +4500
Minnesota Lynx +4500
Seattle Storm +5000 
Los Angeles Sparks +6000
Indiana Fever +10000

The top teams are expected to be so dominant that there are even odds up (at FanDuel) for the Aces or the Liberty to win the title at -650 or any other team to win at +400. 

Nevertheless, I also have my sights set on a few of those other teams that could cause some commotion. It’s important to note that WNBA teams played a then-record 36-game schedule last season and this year it has been bumped up to 40 games, which means seven of the 12 teams will play games on back-to-back days. There are also season win totals posted this year and some of them are just too tempting to pass up. 

Here are my 2023 WNBA Power Rankings:

1. Las Vegas Aces +110

Never has a WNBA team so perfectly demonstrated what happens when you actually invest in it. The defending champion Aces are reaping the rewards of a series of stellar moves by owner Mark Davis. To put it simply, this team is loaded. 

Signing Becky Hammon as head coach was a major coup, as demonstrated by her leading the Aces to their first championship last year and becoming the first rookie head coach to win a WNBA Title. The championship was also the first major professional title for the city of Las Vegas. 

A’ja Wilson is a two-time MVP, former WNBA Defensive Player of the Year, and four-time All-Star. Chelsea Gray was awarded Finals MVP after several lights-out performances in their championship run. Kelsey Plum ranked second in the league with 20.2 points per game last year and Jackie Young ranked third in the league in 3-point shooting percentage. Aside from trading away Dearica Hamby to the Los Angeles Sparks, this championship team has managed to stay whole — and then some — by adding two-time MVP and two-time WNBA Champion, Candace Parker. 

Last season, the Aces led the league in points per game, field goal percentage, and offensive rating. Hammon also made it a point to expand their perimeter game, with the Aces leading the WNBA in 3-pointers made and 3-point percentage. They won 26 games last season and this year four more games were added to the WNBA season, so it’s possible we see them exceed their 30.5-game win total, but I lean under. 

The chief issue of this Aces team last season was their lack of bench depth, which clearly wasn’t a big enough issue to stop them from winning the title. Now, they have TWO MVPs on their roster- which team could possibly compete with that? 

(Editor’s note: It was announced on May 16 that Head Coach Becky Hammon will be suspended for the first two games of the season (May 20 vs. Seattle Storm & May 25 vs. LA Sparks)

2. New York Liberty +130 

New York had as monumental of an offseason as Lady Liberty herself. The Liberty are now the superteam of the East thanks to the addition of two WNBA MVPs of their own — Breanna Stewart and Jonquel Jones, plus a veteran WNBA champion point guard in Courtney Vandersloot. Add in a healthy Sabrina Ionescu and Betnijah Laney, WNBA All-Star and 2020 Most Improved Player, and suddenly a team that took a first-round exit in playoffs is (narrowly) second in the odds to win it all. 

Head Coach Sandy Brondello will have a bevy of offensive options at her disposal, but winning 31 games is a tall task for any team in a 40-game season, so I lean under 30.5 wins here. 

3. Washington Mystics +1400 

In all the Aces and Liberty hype, I beg of you, do not forget about the Mystics. They return a core that includes two-time MVP Elena Delle Donne, Ariel Atkins, Natasha Cloud and last year’s No. 3 draft pick, Shakira Austin.  

Last year, the Mystics were the only team to successfully sweep the Aces in the regular season and Delle Donne said she’s “by far” the strongest she’s ever been and doesn’t plan on missing any games. She also noted that there is a lot of “hype around New York and Vegas” and that “in the best movies, the underdog ends up on top. Remember that.” 

This season, they debut new Head Coach Eric Thibault, who may be looking to speed up and space out the safe and slow offense we saw from the Mystics last season. I’ll be happy to see it as long as they keep their signature, suffocating defense that led them to finish 23-13 to the under last season.

I’m in on the Mystics to win the title at 14/1 and am looking forward to betting more unders on a game-by-game basis, but I’ll look over as far as their season win total of 24.5. 

4. Connecticut Sun +4500 

The Sun were not immune to the offseason chaos and saw their fair share of losses, but new GM Darius Taylor said the team isn’t going through a rebuild.

Jonquel Jones, 2021 WNBA MVP, requested a trade to New York and Jasmine Thomas was traded to Los Angeles. The Sun also parted ways with Head Coach Curt Miller, who left to coach the Sparks. They now welcome in new coach, Stephanie White, who has a combined 15 seasons of experience as a player and coach in the WNBA and most recently spent two seasons as the head coach of the Indiana Fever (2015, 2016).

They did retain two-time All-Star Brionna Jones and guard Natisha Hiedeman, who was successfully pushed into the Sun starting lineup early last year following Thomas’s season-ending ACL injury. Tiffany Hayes was also traded to the Sun from the Atlanta Dream for the No. 6 pick in the 2023 draft and will join Hiedeman in a backcourt that will demand defense. DeWanna Bonner is also in the final year of her contract with the Sun and all-around playmaker, Alyssa Thomas, will be an important piece of their success.

Despite the universe’s best effort to dim their shine, I think the Sun have put themselves in a position to compete, but I still think they fall under their win total of 22.5.

5. Phoenix Mercury +2500 

The can’t-miss storyline of the Phoenix Mercury’s season will undoubtedly be the homecoming of two-time Defensive Player of the Year, Brittney Griner, who returns to the league after a 10-month detainment in Russia last year. 

She rejoins a Mercury team that is home to Griner-proclaimed “walking fossil” Diana Taurasi (or the WNBA All-Time Scoring Leader to some) and a sprinkle of new talent including Moriah Jefferson from the Lynx and 2021 WNBA Rookie of the Year, Michaela Onyenwere. But Shey Peddy is coming back from an Achilles tear and Skylar Diggins-Smith may miss most of the season on maternity leave, so the depth of this team is questionable. In 2021, Griner helped lead the Mercury to a Finals appearance, but realistically this team may be just one injury away from trouble. 

I lean under their 21.5-game win total, but Griner at 16/1 to win MVP may be worth a look. Last time we saw her on a WNBA court she was averaging 20.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.9 blocks. 

6. Atlanta Dream  +4000

This Dream team is full of young promise including 2022 Rookie of the Year, Rhyne Howard and 2023 No. 6 overall pick Haley Jones. They also have an accomplished leader at the helm in Head Coach Tanisha Wright, who finished second in the Coach of the Year voting last season.

Adding Allisha Gray this offseason was a savvy move for a team that certainly needed to add some scoring to complement their tough defense. Gray was a starter for the Wings last year, averaging 13.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists in nearly 33 minutes per game. They also added another veteran guard in Danielle Robinson who can help to open things up even more for Howard. 

They may not be title-run ready, but over 19.5 wins seems entirely doable for this team.

7. Dallas Wings +3500 

You can say a lot of things about the Wings, but you can’t say they don’t have firepower. Arike Ogunbowale is a walking bucket and now they’ve drafted Maddy Siegrist, who led the NCAA in scoring last season. Teaira McCowan is a force at center, plus they now have Natasha Howard, Crystal Dangerfield, and Diamond DeShields. This is a loaded and potentially dangerous roster, but as many have pointed out, there is only one ball to go around.

They did lose three of their top five leading scorers from last season, and they’ve also added a new head coach in Latricia Trammell. They won just 18 games in 2022, and this year I’ll take under 20.5 wins for this volatile Wings team. 

8. Chicago Sky +4100

The Chicago Sky have been on a roller coaster the last few seasons. In 2021, they signed Candace Parker who only needed one season to bring a championship home to the state she grew up in. Then the championship hangover set in last season, as the Sky looked disenchanted in their WNBA Semifinal exit handed to them by the Connecticut Sun, who managed to battle back despite starting the five-game series down 2-1. Then came the roster-gutting offseason. 

Parker set off to dustier pastures in the desert of Las Vegas, joining the reigning WNBA champs and, most importantly, FINALLY has her very own locker for the first time in her WNBA career. (Shout out to Aces’ owner, Mark Davis, on the brand new, top-of-the-line Aces facility that was recently unveiled.) The Sky have no such new facility, no Parker, AND lost two hometown legends in veteran point guard Courtney Vandersloot (to New York) and legendary 3-point shooter Allie Quigley, while forward Azura Stevens departed and signed with the Los Angeles Sparks. In total, they lost their number two, three, four, and five-ranked scorers.

What they do have left is 2021 WNBA Finals MVP Kahleah Copper and 2019 Coach of the Year James Wade. The Sky also added former Sun veteran guard Courtney Wiliams and Marina Mabrey from the Wings. Copper was the leading scorer on the 2021 championship team with Parker, Vandersloot, Quigley, and Diamond DeShields and she earned her first All-Star nod that year. She enters the 2023 season in the second year of a two-year deal and will be looking to lead the team and turn some heads. 

Nevertheless, I don’t see them going over their 16.5-game win total.

9. Minnesota Lynx +4500

Last year, the Lynx only won 14 games and missed the playoffs. Now, they’ve lost their starting point guard, Moriah Jefferson, to the Mercury, and WNBA MVP and two-time WNBA champion, Sylvia Fowles, to retirement. Fowles was the league’s career leader in field-goal percentage, total rebounds, defensive rebounds, and double-doubles.

The Lynx do have the full-fledged return of newly-anointed team captain, Napheesa Collier, to look forward to, who missed most of last season due to her pregnancy. Also, 2023 No. 2 overall draft pick, Diamond Miller, has impressed us in preseason and sits second in the odds behind Aliyah Boston for Rookie of the Year at +195. Beyond that, there isn’t a lot to be excited about, so I expect we see the Lynx fall under their 17.5-game win total. 

10. Seattle Storm +5000

Let’s just call this a rebuilding season for the Storm. The Storm managed to finish fourth last season and now return only three players. With Sue Bird officially retired (after 580 professional games played, the WNBA career record) and Breanna Stewart off to “Stew York”, there are some seriously big, signature shoes to fill on this team. 

Tina Charles left the Mercury midseason last year to join the Storm in an unsuccessful title run but now remains unsigned (except by my WNBA Fantasy team, and even though drafting her with my last pick was a full-on accident; it could nevertheless make me look very savvy later). Kia Nurse and Mercedes Russell combined to play five games last season, but they will return to action following a knee injury and surgery to address atypical headache syndrome, respectively. 

There is a bright spot in 4x WNBA All-Star Jewell Loyd, but overall, this young team is likely looking at major growing pains. Still, a 12.5-game win total may be underestimating this team. At least they’ll have their supportive fans, as the Storm is the team with the highest average regular season attendance in the entire WNBA. 

11. LA Sparks +5500

The Los Angeles Sparks are another team in rebuilding mode after missing the postseason the past two years. Last year was a disaster with mid-season departures from former Head Coach Derek Fisher and center Liz Cambage. Looking for a fresh start, the Sparks hired Karen Bryant as General Manager and promoted Eli Horowitz to Assistant GM this offseason while Curt Miller will take over as head coach. The former Connecticut Sun head coach has an impressive resume and could put together a competitive team with the talent at hand. 

The Sparks re-signed both Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike while adding Azura Stevens from Chicago, Dearica Hamby from the Aces, and Jasmine Thomas from the Sun. They also drafted South Carolina’s Zia Cooke 10th overall who was one of the best two-way players in the draft. While my hopes are not high for this team, they may surprise us by season’s end. Nevertheless, I lean under 16.5 wins. 

12. Indiana Fever +11000

Last year, I dubbed this young, feisty team the “Baby Fever” and the moniker still fits. Now, No. 1 overall pick Aliyah Boston joins the ranks and is expected to make an immediate impact. 
Unfortunately, the Fever have cut their last three first-round picks, which is more a symptom of limited spots in the league than an indicator of any dearth of talent. Drafting Grace Berger should add some additional scoring, but may not help on the defensive end where the Fever struggle the most. New head coach Christie Sides certainly has her work cut out for her.

As for more experienced players, they have guard Kelsey Mitchell, and they signed 2019 All-Star Erica Wheeler. Last season, they went 5-31, well under this season’s projected win total of 10.5 
As much as I hate to say it, 11 wins will be hard to come by for the Baby Fever who still have some growing to do. They were also the worst team ATS last year at 13-22-1. On a positive note, Boston is the heavy favorite to win Rookie of the Year at -250.

The WNBA regular season begins on May 19 and concludes on September 10. Our Bet the W podcast is coming soon to stay updated on all things WNBA.