Who are the best WNBA teams in 2023?
Who are the best WNBA teams in 2023? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The Las Vegas Aces aced 2022, but 2023 will be a new dawn with fresh competitors vying for the title.
Becky Hammon and Co. added one of women’s basketball’s greatest ever talents in free agency, but teams around the league responded by making significant title-contending moves, too.
With the regular season starting on Friday, May 19, which teams are beginning the campaign as one of the best?
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Let’s take a look at five of the top WNBA teams – in no particular order – going into 2023:
Las Vegas Aces
The top four scorers for Las Vegas are all returning in 2023 hoping to cash in again. Last year’s league MVP A’ja Wilson (19.5 points) will be hoping to retain the crown again, with Kelsey Plum (20.2 points), Jackie Young (15.9 points) and Chelsea Gray (13.7 points) all also in the mix.
But then they signed Candace Parker in free agency to further bolster their two-way dominance. The 6-foot-4, 37-year-old forward averaged 13.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists last season with the Chicago Sky, and will need to bestow a similar impact in Sin City in their repeat bid.
New York Liberty
Natasha Howard may be gone, but New York did more than enough to replace the 31-year-old forward’s production. Sabrina Ionescu, Betnijah Laney and Marine Johannes are all still in the fold, and they also acquired multiple top stars to bounce back from a 16-20 record last year.
Jonquel Jones, the 2021 league MVP, arrived via trade from Connecticut, while Breanna Stewart and assist-savvy Courtney Vandersloot joined via free agency. Given the collective starpower and depth on display, look out for the Liberty to make serious noise in 2023.
Los Angeles Sparks
There were no sparks in Los Angeles after the franchise went 13-23 in the regular season, but there’s reason to believe they’ll ascend the ladder given their offseason moves.
Dearica Hamby came via trade from Las Vegas as a likely Liz Cambage replacement down low, while 33-year-old guard Jasmine Thomas signed from Connecticut to provide a reliable initiating presence. Azura Stevens also came from Chicago and will look to build on her 3-point shooting to spread the floor.
And while the Indiana Fever drafted Aliyah Boston first overall from South Carolina, Los Angeles landed crafty guard Zia Cooke with the 10th overall pick. Cooke learning from Thomas and Co. could go a long way for her development in Southern California.
The Mystics’ trio of Elena Delle Donne, Natasha Cloud and Ariel Atkins are all intact, while the 2022 No. 3 overall pick Shakira Austin will look to further enhance her on-court production to take the team to a new level.
After finishing 22-14 in 2022 and having solid reserves with players like Myisha Hines-Allen and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough to call upon, expect Washington to be in the conversation in 2023. Brittney Sykes will be another player to watch for after coming from Los Angeles.
The Sun lost the aforementioned Jones via trade and starting guard Courtney Williams to Chicago, but Brionna Jones could be in for a bigger role after re-signing and DeWanna Bonner, Alyssa Thomas, Natisha Hiedeman and DiJonai Carrington are among their key players still on the roster.
They also drafted LSU breakout star Alexis Morris in the second round, but waived her due to roster limits. If they’re able to bring Morris back at some point in the season, she could reinforce Connecticut’s bench.