Which WNBA groups have the perfect outlook over the following three seasons?
We’ve answered the NBA model of that query with our Future Power Rankings, which consider groups on the premise of 5 classes — gamers, administration, cap area, market and draft picks — to foretell which groups are trending upward or downward within the not-so-distant future.
For the primary time, our WNBA writers have undertaken the identical train, with a slight tweak. Unlike the NBA Future Power Rankings, that are primarily based on a formulation that weights scores within the 5 classes, within the WNBA model they’re merely used as explanations of how we arrived at our total 1-12 rating.
WNBA groups have by no means needed to be extra conscientious of how they handle their wage cap and future draft picks, which makes this a becoming time to start Future Power Rankings for the league. The present collective bargaining settlement signed in 2020 ushered in an period of elevated participant motion, however as previous contracts have cycled off the books, cap area has develop into extra valuable than ever.
At the identical time, trades reshuffled the order of this 12 months’s WNBA draft, with two contenders (the Chicago Sky and Washington Mystics) including picks final offseason that landed within the prime 5.
With that in thoughts, let’s take a look at the WNBA’s prime contenders throughout the 2023-25 timeframe.
Our unanimous No. 1 alternative, the Aces look poised to contend for extra championships after bringing residence the primary in franchise historical past. Las Vegas’ core gamers — Chelsea Gray, Dearica Hamby, Kelsey Plum, A’ja Wilson and Jackie Young — are all underneath contract via subsequent season, with all 5 taking lower than they might have probably commanded as free brokers.
With 5 gamers making a minimum of $165,000 subsequent season, the Aces will proceed to need to scrimp on their bench. Still, we belief our top-ranked administration group to search out options, significantly with the opportunity of attracting gamers chasing rings to a market additionally ranked first. — Pelton
Admittedly, quite a bit relies on the well being of Elena Delle Donne. But she bought via the 2022 season efficiently sufficient with strategic relaxation. Now 33, she has stated she hopes to have a minimum of a number of extra years of taking part in. It’s unsure how lengthy Mike Thibault will keep as coach, however he is anticipated to get replaced by his son, longtime assistant Eric Thibault, whereas remaining as basic supervisor. So the mind belief that has saved the Mystics aggressive ought to be in place some time longer.
Washington did effectively in selecting heart/ahead Shakira Austin within the 2022 draft, and the Mystics have one other lottery choose (by way of commerce) within the 2023 draft. — Voepel
The Sun have made the playoffs in all however the first 12 months of coach/basic supervisor Curt Miller’s tenure, which started in 2016. There’s no motive to suppose they will not be one of many title contenders once more in 2023, with most of their core underneath contract. They may need a problem conserving Sixth Player of the Year Brionna Jones, although.
Star ahead Jonquel Jones turns into a free agent in 2024, and that is when the present window for the Sun might be closing. Miller acknowledges that there’s at all times some battle sporting each the coach/GM hats relating to the “win now” vs. “plan for the long run” mentalities. — Voepel
It’s been 20 years and lots of water underneath the bridge since New York was final within the WNBA Finals in 2002. Now the Liberty are underneath new possession, play in Brooklyn and have a younger guard in Sabrina Ionescu to construct round. But the Liberty do not but have the expertise to be a championship group.
That might change with trades and free company — might Syracuse native Breanna Stewart find yourself again in her residence state? — and there is each indication that Liberty administration needs the franchise to return to the place it was within the WNBA’s early years. — Voepel
The change in possession in 2021, the addition of latest coach Tanisha Wright and the arrival of basic supervisor Dan Padover all have had a rejuvenating impression on Atlanta. The Dream are a younger group, led by 2022 Rookie of the Year Rhyne Howard, with lots of cap room to make strikes for 2023 and past.
The growth Dream reached the playoffs six of their first eight seasons, making three journeys to the WNBA Finals. But they’ve made the postseason simply twice prior to now seven years, falling brief the previous 4 seasons in a row. This previous 14-22 season confirmed progress and a few stability, and that’s one thing to construct on. — Voepel
The most troublesome groups to rank in FPR are these with a marquee free agent whose resolution will have an effect on the franchise’s fortunes for years to return. Seattle and Breanna Stewart match the invoice. If Stewart returns and the Storm can efficiently exchange the now-retired Sue Bird with some extent guard by way of free company, they will stay contenders behind the duo of Stewart and fellow All-Star Jewell Loyd.
Even if Stewart leaves — or decides to not play within the WNBA subsequent season due to the league’s prioritization rule — Seattle is unlikely to tumble to the underside of the standings. The franchise obtained excessive marks for each market (rating third) and administration (fourth), testomony to a monitor document of success, albeit all of it with Bird on the roster. — Pelton
Like the Storm, the Lynx are hoping to increase a profitable run with out a future Hall of Famer. Sylvia Fowles was the final hyperlink on the courtroom to Minnesota’s dynasty, leaving head coach and GM Cheryl Reeve (the first motive for our second-highest administration rating) to retool the roster round budding star Napheesa Collier.
Although the Lynx remained a playoff group till this previous season, with Collier absent practically all the means after giving start, Minnesota must discover a long-term possibility at level guard after biking via choices quickly the previous two years. If that occurs, the Lynx might shortly return to rivalry. — Pelton
The Sky shocked themselves a bit in a great way by profitable the WNBA title in 2021, and in a foul means by shedding their semifinal collection this 12 months. Depending on free company and different strikes, the 2023 Sky might look fairly much like 2022 — or they might look actually completely different.
How for much longer will Candace Parker play? Will Courtney Vandersloot stick with the one WNBA franchise she has performed with? Sky coach and basic supervisor James Wade faces a number of the identical questions different groups do in constructing for the long run whereas additionally making an attempt to make the most of the potential present window to win. — Voepel
After amassing a treasure chest of first-round picks throughout their rebuild, the Wings now discover themselves at a key second as most of these rookie contracts start to run out. Dallas prolonged All-Star guard Arike Ogunbowale for the supermax, however truly performed higher with out her when she was injured in direction of the top of the common season and starting of the playoffs.
Teaira McCowan’s dominance within the paint largely fueled that late surge, and the middle is now one of many key restricted free brokers for the Wings together with productive guard Marina Mabrey. Given seemingly raises for each gamers, Dallas not scores as effectively by way of future cap area. — Pelton
The Wings additionally should discover a new coach after deciding to not train an possibility on the ultimate season of Vickie Johnson’s contract regardless of Johnson main the group to back-to-back playoff appearances.
Since Diana Taurasi sat out the 2012 season, giving Phoenix the No. 1 choose the next 12 months, the Mercury have been maybe the WNBA’s most constantly profitable franchise. Phoenix managed to increase a 10-year playoff streak, however nonetheless left a turbulent season with extra questions than solutions. Will Taurasi return forward of a season through which she’ll flip 41? And have we seen the final of Skylar Diggins-Smith in a Mercury uniform?
Tragically, the largest query of all is when Brittney Griner is perhaps free of being detained in Russia. Griner’s absence loomed over a 2022 marketing campaign that did not go to plan in Phoenix. We’ll see whether or not the Mercury can get again on monitor with out the good thing about this 12 months’s first-round choose, which might have been No. 5 overalls. — Pelton
The Fever wants a No. 1 choose within the worst means, and the lottery odds for the 2023 draft favor them. But that alone will not be practically sufficient: They need to make a smart move on a brand new coach, after which determine how a lot of their younger core they wish to preserve.
The unhealthy concerning the Fever is apparent: They gained simply 5 video games this season and haven’t been to the playoffs since 2016. But there are some positives, just like the efficiency of rookie NaLyssa Smith this 12 months and the possibility for a reset by way of their teaching philosophy. — Voepel
Once the WNBA’s preeminent franchise, the Sparks are in an unsure state after two years within the lottery costing Derek Fisher his twin roles as head coach and GM. Making issues worse, Los Angeles has needed to see stars Parker and Gray win titles the final two years after departing in free company. Worse but, the Sparks will not get a lottery choose for his or her misplaced season, having traded it for Chennedy Carter final offseason.
There’s nonetheless expertise readily available in LA, beginning with Nneka Ogwumike, rightfully chosen to the All-WNBA second group. Ogwumike, who has performed her total profession with the Sparks, pledged after the season to return alongside sister Chiney. But Los Angeles must nail the substitute (or replacements) for Fisher to improve our Eleventh-ranked administration group. — Pelton
Alexa Philippou contributed to this report.