Where the Las Vegas Aces, Connecticut Sun and every other team check in

UNCASVILLE, Connecticut — The 2022 WNBA season ended with a franchise winning its first title. The Las Vegas Aces, who originated as the Utah Starzz when the WNBA debuted in 1997, won Sunday’s championship, beating the Connecticut Sun 3-1 in the WNBA Finals, and the Aces show no signs of slowing down for 2023.

Two of the WNBA’s greatest legends — Seattle storm guard Sue Bird and Minnesota Lynx center Sylvia Fowles — have retired. This off-season, we’ll wait and see if two other iconic players, Chicago Sky’s Candace Parker and Phoenix Mercury’s Diana Taurasi, will return for 2023, having been jailed in Russia since February.

At least two head coaches must be hired for the Los Angeles Sparks and Indiana Fever. After another difficult season, the Fever awaits the draft lottery, where they’ll see if they finally get a #1 pick for the first time in franchise history.

We updated our WNBA Power Rankings every Monday of the regular season. Here we list where the teams were in the final regular season rankings just over a month ago and where we anticipate they could head into the 2023 season – knowing that with trades, freelancers, the Draft and the prioritization rules that could affect players’ eligibility for the season depending on their overseas commitments can change a lot.

MORE: Full coverage of the WNBA Finals

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1. Las Vegas Aces
Record 2022: 26-10
Result: WNBA champion
Final Regular Season Power Rankings: 2nd

The Aces are celebrating a championship with a core of five — A’ja Wilson, Chelsea Gray, Kelsey Plum, Jackie Young and Dearica Hamby — all of whom are 30 or younger (Gray turns 30 on Oct. 8) and signed for next season stand . Many observers pointed to depth as a potential issue this season, but that didn’t stop the Aces from winning both the Commissioner’s Cup and the overall title. Can they now become the first WNBA team to repeat since Los Angeles 2001 and 2002?


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2. Connecticut sun
Record 2022: 25-11
Result: Lost to Las Vegas in the WNBA Finals
Final Regular Season Power Rankings: 3rd

Considering they went without floor general Jasmine Thomas (ACL) for most of the season, the Sun couldn’t fault a second-place finish. However, it is the fourth time the franchise has lost in the finals (the others have been in 2004, 2005 and 2019) and they have some concerns about next season’s staff. Will they be able to defend sixth Woman of the Year Brionna Jones this season and Courtney Williams, both unrestricted free agents? Regardless, they should be strong contenders again with Jonquel Jones, Alyssa Thomas and DeWanna Bonner.


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3. Washington mystic
Record 2022: 22-14
Result: Lost to Seattle in the first round
Final Regular Season Power Rankings: 5th

The Mystics strategically rested star Elena Delle Donne throughout the regular season due to her back problems, and the plan worked as she averaged 17.2 points and 6.3 rebounds in 25 games. When she can play, Delle Donne is one of the best offensive players in the WNBA. But she just turned 33, so her availability — with her back injury history — will likely be limited to some degree for the rest of her career. Washington’s top five scorers in 2022 – Delle Donne, Ariel Atkins, Natasha Cloud, Myisha Hines-Allen and Shakira Austin – are all signed for next season.


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4. Seattle Storm
Record 2022: 22-14
Result: Lost to Las Vegas in the semifinals
Final Regular Season Power Rankings: 4th

We’re rolling the dice and setting the storm this high because things could look dramatically different by next season. As my colleague Kevin Pelton recently wrote, the Storm face an uncertain future. Bird has been the team’s leader for two decades and no one will ever replace her. But forward Breanna Stewart, a free agent in the prime of her career, is also irreplaceable. There are seven free agents in total, and guard Jewell Loyd is the only key player from 2022 signed for next season. Stewart’s return would solidify many things. But if she doesn’t come back, The Storm will start next season with a much lower projection.


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5. Chicago Heaven
Record 2022: 26-10
Result: Lost to Connecticut in the semifinals
Final Regular Season Power Rankings: 1

For a long time to come, The Sky will relive the nightmare of the final four minutes of Game 5 vs the Sun and wonder how that game, that series and their chance of a repeat got away in a horrific goalless stretch. But coach/general manager James Wade also has a lot to do in the offseason. As in the case of Seattle, if they look significantly different, Skies may not rank as high in the power rankings next season. Will Parker return? What about Courtney Vandersloot, the franchise’s longest-serving player, and her wife, fellow guard Allie Quigley? Kahleah Copper is the key player Sky has signed for 2023.


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6. New York Liberty
Record 2022: 16-20
Result: Lost to Chicago in the first round
Final Regular Season Power Ranking: 10th

We’re bullish on the Liberty based on the best things we’ve seen from them this season as guard Sabrina Ionescu broke through to be the kind of triple double threat we expected. The Liberty’s key players are under contract and will have played in coach Sandy Brondello’s system for a year. The Liberty will surely still try to improve in the offseason, but this team could be poised to make a positive move forward that includes a longer playoff run.


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7th Dallas Wing
Record 2022: 18-18
Result: Lost to Connecticut in the first round
Final Regular Season Power Rankings: 6th

The Wings were the only .500 team in the WNBA in 2022, and that was a step in the right direction for Dallas. Arike Ogunbowale was injured late in the season and failed to contribute in the playoffs, but Dallas still pushed the Sun to three games in their streak. But can Dallas break into this group of title contenders instead of just being a playoff-ready team? Forward Isabelle Harrison is an unrestricted free agent. Guard Marina Mabrey, who has been a big manager since Ogunbowale’s injury, and center Teaira McCowan, who has continued to improve throughout the season, are restricted free agents. It would help if forward Satou Sabally’s Wings, who has been limited each of her three years in the league through injury, could get close to a full season in 2023.


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8. Atlanta Dream
Record 2022: 14-22
Result: Missed playoffs
Final Regular Season Power Ranking: 8th

With a new coach in Tanisha Wright, a mostly young roster and veteran guard Tiffany Hayes limited to 11 games, little could reasonably be expected of Dream in 2022. Still, they nearly snagged a playoff spot, thanks in large part to a Rookie of the Year season from guard Rhyne Howard, the No. 1 draft pick. She was quick to answer any questions people had about how quickly they were adapting would get used to the pro game. This was an above-average roster, which is a great year-long story in the WNBA, but not something you’d want to franchise around long-term. Young players like Howard, Aari McDonald and Naz Hillmon came out with a lot of energy, but GM Dan Padover still has some work to do in the offseason to add more talent.


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9. Minnesota Lynx
Record 2022: 14-22
Result: Missed playoffs
Last regular season power ranking: 9th

Pretty much everything that could go wrong in Fowles’ final season did, but the Lynx didn’t make the playoffs until the final day of the regular season. Post-season, coach/GM Cheryl Reeve was candid about her assessment that many of the buttons she was trying to push for 2022 in terms of roster building just weren’t working. Striker Napheesa Collier also only played four games in 2022 after the birth of her daughter. She is expected to return to her usual self in 2023. Collier, Kayla McBride and Aerial Powers are all signed for 2023, but the Lynx will need more help inside. Returning to the postseason would be a very positive move. Things that the lynx once only expected in their dynastic years are no longer a matter of course.


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10. Phoenix Mercury
Record 2022: 15-21
Result: Lost to Las Vegas in the first round
Final Regular Season Power Rankings: 7th

Even ignoring the fact that longtime Mercury star Griner was in jail thousands of miles away, it’s been a dramatic season for Phoenix. From Tina Charles’ contract divorce around mid-season, to Taurasi’s injury late in the season, to Skylar Diggins-Smith leaving the team for personal reasons while the Mercury were battling for a playoff spot, coach Vanessa Nygaard had in hands full in the first year. Diggins-Smith, Diamond DeShields and Brianna Turner are the Mercury players signed for 2023. It seems hard to believe that Diggins-Smith and Nygaard can co-exist for another season, so what will Mercury do about it?


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11. Indiana fever
Record 2022: 5-31
Result: Missed playoffs
Final Regular Season Power Ranking: 12th

The Fever parted ways with coach Marianne Stanley earlier in the 2022 season, but it didn’t change anything. Indiana was very young, and while the Fever struggled to at least challenge teams, they just didn’t have the developed talent to do so. Your next coach needs to help fuel that growth in 2023. No. 2 draft pick NaLyssa Smith had a solid season (13.5 PPG, 7.9 RPG), but the Fever need the lottery to get their way so they can add a potential franchise switch to players like South Carolina Post player Aliyah Boston.


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12. Sparks from Los Angeles
Record 2022: > 13-23
Result: Missed playoffs
Last regular season power ranking: 11th

The Sparks have just two key players signed for next season in guard Chennedy Carter and forward Katie Lou Samuelson – and neither of them averaged double-digit goals in 2022. Face-of-the-franchise Nneka Ogwumike is part of the Free Agents. With so much to find out, you’d think the Sparks felt a sense of urgency in hiring a new GM — but you never know with this franchise. The Sparks had not filled that position since coach/GM Derek Fisher was fired in June. Will the Sparks try to replace Trainer/GM with one person again, or will they hire for both jobs? Prior to 2021-22, the Sparks had not missed the playoffs back-to-back years since 1997-98, the league’s first two seasons. The franchise now appears to be at a crossroads.

https://www.espn.com/wnba/story/_/id/34600585/wnba-power-rankings-way-too-early-edition-where-las-vegas-aces-connecticut-sun-every-other-team-check-in Where the Las Vegas Aces, Connecticut Sun and every other team check in

Emma Bowman

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