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

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

Two of the WNBA’s largest legends — Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird and Minnesota Lynx middle Sylvia Fowles — have retired. This offseason, we’ll wait to see if two other iconic gamers, the Chicago Sky’s Candace Parker and the Phoenix Mercury’s Diana Taurasi, will return for 2023. And the league and its gamers will preserve their ideas on Phoenix middle Brittney Griner, who has been imprisoned in Russia since February.

There are a minimum of two head-coaching hires to be made, for the Los Angeles Sparks and Indiana Fever. After one other troublesome season, the Fever will await the draft lottery, the place they’ll see in the event that they lastly get a No. 1 decide for the first time in franchise historical past.

We up to date our WNBA Power Rankings every Monday of the common season. Here we listing the place groups have been in remaining regular-season rankings a bit over a month in the past and the place we undertaking they could begin the 2023 season — realizing rather a lot can change with trades, free company, the draft and prioritization guidelines that would impression gamers ‘ eligibility for the season relying on their abroad commitments.

MORE: Complete WNBA Finals protection

1. Las Vegas Aces
2022 file: 26-10
Result: WNBA champion
Final regular-season Power Ranking: 2

The Aces have fun a championship with a core 5 — A’ja Wilson, Chelsea Gray, Kelsey Plum, Jackie Young and Dearica Hamby — who’re all 30 or youthful (Gray turns 30 on Oct. 8) and underneath contract for subsequent season . Many observers pointed to depth as a possible downside this season, but it surely did not cease the Aces from successful each the in-season Commissioner’s Cup and the total title. Now can they turn out to be the first WNBA team to repeat since Los Angeles in 2001 and 2002?

2. Connecticut Sun
2022 file: 25-11
Result: Lost to Las Vegas in the WNBA Finals
Final regular-season Power Ranking: 3

Considering they have been with out flooring basic Jasmine Thomas (ACL) nearly all season, the Sun don’t have anything to hold their heads about with a runner-up end. However, it’s the fourth time the franchise has misplaced in the Finals (the others have been 2004, 2005 and 2019) and they’ve some considerations about subsequent season’s personnel. Will they have the ability to preserve ahead Brionna Jones, the Sixth Woman of the Year this season, and guard Courtney Williams, who’re each unrestricted free brokers? Regardless, with Jonquel Jones, Alyssa Thomas and DeWanna Bonner again, they need to be sturdy contenders once more.

3. Washington Mystics
2022 file: 22-14
Result: Lost to Seattle in the first spherical
Final regular-season Power Ranking: 5

The Mystics strategically rested star Elena Delle Donne all through the common season resulting from her again points, and the plan labored, as she averaged 17.2 factors and 6.3 rebounds whereas taking part in 25 video games. When she will play, Delle Donne is considered one of the finest offensive gamers in the WNBA. But she simply turned 33, so her availability — along with her again harm historical past — will probably be restricted to some extent the remainder of her profession. Washington’s prime 5 scorers in 2022 — Delle Donne, Ariel Atkins, Natasha Cloud, Myisha Hines-Allen and Shakira Austin — are all underneath contract for subsequent season.

4. Seattle Storm
2022 file: 22-14
Result: Lost to Las Vegas in semifinals
Final regular-season Power Ranking: 4

We are rolling the cube placing the Storm this excessive, as a result of issues might look dramatically totally different by subsequent season. As my colleague Kevin Pelton wrote not too long ago, the Storm faces an unsure future. Bird has been the team’s chief for twenty years, and nobody individual will ever substitute her. But ahead Breanna Stewart, a free agent in the prime of her profession, can also be irreplaceable. In all, there are seven free brokers, and guard Jewell Loyd is the solely key participant from 2022 underneath contract for subsequent season. Stewart’s return would solidify rather a lot. But if she would not come again, the Storm will begin subsequent season with a a lot decrease projection.

5. Chicago Sky
2022 file: 26-10
Result: Lost to Connecticut in semifinals
Final regular-season Power Ranking: 1

For a very long time, the Sky shall be reliving the nightmare of the final 4 minutes of Game 5 towards the Sun, questioning how that sport, that sequence and their likelihood at repeating all received away in one horrible scoreless stretch. But coach/basic supervisor James Wade additionally has plenty of work to do in the offseason. As is the case with Seattle, the Sky won’t be this excessive in the Power Rankings subsequent season if they give the impression of being considerably totally different. Will Parker return? What about the franchise’s longest-tenured participant, Courtney Vandersloot, and her spouse, fellow guard Allie Quigley? Kahleah Copper is the key participant the Sky have on contract for 2023.

6. New York Liberty
2022 file: 16-20
Result: Lost to Chicago in the first spherical
Final regular-season Power Ranking: tenth

We’re bullish on the Liberty primarily based on the finest issues we noticed from them this season, when guard Sabrina Ionescu broke by way of to be the type of triple-double menace we have been anticipating. The Liberty’s key gamers are underneath contract, and they’ll have had a 12 months of taking part in in coach Sandy Brondello’s system. The Liberty are positive to nonetheless be attempting to enhance in the offseason, however this team might be able to make a constructive step ahead that features a longer playoff run.

7. Dallas Wings
2022 file: 18-18
Result: Lost to Connecticut in the first spherical
Final regular-season Power Ranking: 6

The Wings have been the solely .500 team in the WNBA in 2022, and that was a step in the proper path for Dallas. Arike Ogunbowale was injured at the finish of the season and was not capable of contribute in the playoffs, however Dallas nonetheless pushed the Sun to a few video games in their sequence. But can Dallas break into that group of title contenders, versus simply being a team that may make the playoffs? Forward Isabelle Harrison is an unrestricted free agent. Guard Marina Mabrey, who took over an enormous management function particularly when Ogunbowale was damage, and middle Teaira McCowan, who saved enhancing as the season went alongside, are restricted free brokers. It would assist if the Wings might get something near a full season in 2023 from ahead Satou Sabally, who has been restricted every of his three years in the league with accidents.

8. Atlanta Dream
2022 file: 14-22
Result: Missed playoffs
Final regular-season Power Ranking: 8

With a brand new coach in Tanisha Wright, a principally younger squad and veteran guard Tiffany Hayes restricted to 11 video games, little was moderately anticipated from the Dream in 2022. Yet they almost nabbed a playoff spot, thanks in giant half to a Rookie of the Year season from guard Rhyne Howard, the No. 1 draft decide. She shortly answered no matter questions individuals might need had about how quickly she would regulate to the professional sport. This was an overachieving squad, which is a good one-year story in the WNBA however not one thing you need to construct a franchise round long run. Youthful gamers like Howard, Aari McDonald and Naz Hillmon competed with plenty of vitality, however GM Dan Padover has work to do in the offseason so as to add extra expertise.

9. Minnesota Lynx
2022 file: 14-22
Result: Missed playoffs
Final regular-season Power Ranking: 9

Pretty a lot every part that would go improper in Fowles’ final season did go improper, but the Lynx nonetheless did not get eradicated from playoff competition till the final day of the common season. Coach/GM Cheryl Reeve was frank in her evaluation after the season that plenty of the buttons she tried to push for 2022 in phrases of roster building simply did not work. Also, ahead Napheesa Collier performed solely 4 video games in 2022 after giving beginning to her daughter. She is anticipated to be again to her typical self in 2023. Collier, Kayla McBride and Aerial Powers are all underneath contract for 2023, however the Lynx are going to want extra assist inside. Getting again to the postseason can be a really constructive step. Things the Lynx as soon as simply anticipated in their dynasty years cannot be taken as a right anymore.

10. Phoenix Mercury
2022 file: 15-21
Result: Lost to Las Vegas in the first spherical
Final regular-season Power Ranking: 7

Even should you did not consider the proven fact that longtime Mercury star Griner was in jail 1000’s of miles away, it was a drama-filled season for Phoenix. From Tina Charles’ contract divorce round midseason, to Taurasi’s late-season harm, to Skylar Diggins-Smith leaving the team for private causes whereas the Mercury have been combating for a playoff spot, first-year coach Vanessa Nygaard had her fingers full. Diggins-Smith, Diamond DeShields and Brianna Turner are the Mercury gamers underneath contract for 2023. It appears arduous to imagine that Diggins-Smith and Nygaard can co-exist for an additional season, so what is going to the Mercury do about that?

11. Indiana Fever
2022 file: 5-31
Result: Missed playoffs
Final regular-season Power Ranking: twelfth

The Fever parted methods with coach Marianne Stanley early in the 2022 season, but it surely did not change something. Indiana was very younger, and whereas the Fever battled to a minimum of problem groups, they simply did not have the developed expertise to do it. Their subsequent coach has to assist nurture that development in 2023. No. 2 draft decide NaLyssa Smith had a strong season (13.5 PPG, 7.9 RPG), however the Fever want the lottery to go their manner to allow them to add a possible franchise-changing participant akin to South Carolina publish participant Aliyah Boston.

12. Los Angeles Sparks
2022 file:> 13-23
Result: Missed playoffs
Final regular-season Power Ranking: 11

The Sparks have simply two key gamers underneath contract for subsequent season in guard Chennedy Carter and ahead Katie Lou Samuelson — and neither of them averaged double-figures scoring in 2022. Face-of-the-franchise Nneka Ogwumike is amongst the unrestricted free brokers . With a lot to determine, you’ll assume the Sparks really feel a way of urgency in hiring a brand new GM — however you by no means know with this franchise. The Sparks have not had that place stuffed since coach/GM Derek Fisher was fired in June. Will the Sparks attempt to substitute coach/GM with one individual once more, or will they rent for each jobs? Prior to 2021-22, the Sparks hadn’t missed the playoffs two years in a row since 1997-98, the league’s first two seasons. The franchise looks like it’s at a crossroads now.

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