WNBA Preseason Power Rankings

By: Ashley Buschhorn, COO of More Than Just Balls

1. Seattle Storm

Seattle had a lot of new faces at training camp this year. During the off-season they lost key players Natasha Howard, Alysha Clark, and 3-point sharp-shooter Sami Whitcomb; however, Seattle still has arguably the best player in basketball right now with Breanna Stewart alongside veteran point guard Sue Bird and elite Australian Ezi Magbegor. Seattle will also bring in Katie Lou Samuelson, fresh off her Finals MVP, and veteran forward Candice Dupree to the core group. The Storm are missing some key pieces that contributed to the 2018 and 2020 Championships, but they are still looking to be the front-runner for the title. If the chemistry is there a repeat looks probably for the Storm.

Storylines to follow:

  • Following her Finals MVP in 2020, will Stewie reclaim her MVP title?

  • How do Katie Lou Samuelson and Mikiah Herbert Harrigan fit into the Storm system?

  • After losing Alysha Clark and Natasha Howard who’s next on defense?

2. Chicago Sky

With the addition of Candace Parker and the return of Diamond DeShields, the Sky are poised to take a leap this year in the WNBA standings. With a tremendous backcourt in Courtney Vandersloot and Allie Quigley and the combination of Parker and Stephanie Dolson, the Sky will be able to attack from all angles. The release of Gabby Williams has opened Chicago up to being able to keep rookie Shyla Heal from Australia and bring back Astou Ndour whose 2019 performance with the Sky made her a household name in Chicago. The Sky have all the star-power they need to win a championship, it’s going to come down to chemistry and whether or not they can stay injury-free.

Storylines to follow:

  • Can Parker create her own Chicago Legacy?

  • Vandersloot and Quigley: can they get any better?

  • Can Diamond Deshiends get back to peak form like that of 2019?

3. Las Vegas Aces

This may seem like a low seed for the Aces but because of their shallow bench, especially with the loss of Angel McCoughtry, they will have to ride their starters hard. I don’t blame them. If I had Chelsea Gray, Liz Cambage, and Kelsey Plum I would ride them as far off into the distance as possible. However, towards the end of the season, Vegas may have a hard time keeping up with other teams, like Chicago and Seattle, who have a deeper bench. For the Aces, it will come down to whether or not they can win the close games and stay fresh in a long season.

Storylines to follow:

  • Returns of Liz Cambage, Kelsey Plum

  • Chelsea Gray new PointGod of Vegas?

  • Loss of Kayla McBride, who brings in the scoring?

4. Connecticut Sun

Curt Miller will have two of the best forwards in the league with Dewanna Bonner and Jonquel Jones at his disposal this season. Along with Alyssa Thomas and Jasmine Thomas Connecticut is poised to make another deep playoff run after losing to the Aces in the semifinals in 2020. The key with the Sun is that they don’t have a true star player like that of Seattle with Breanna Stewart and Vegas with Aja Wilson, instead, they have a group of 12 consistent dynamic players that are extremely effective both offensively and defensively. The Sun have all the pieces they need to have a shot at a championship.

Storylines to follow:

  • How many Hawaiian shirts will Curt Miller wear?

  • The combination of Jonquel Jones and Dewanna Bonner

  • How will rookie DiJonai Carrington make an impact in the Sun system?

5. Minnesota Lynx

With the last two reigning Rookie of the Year’s in Crystal Dangerfield and Napheesa Collier and the return of leader Sylvia Fowles, the Lynx are set for an impressive season. Additions of Kayla McBride and Aerial Powers will sure up Minnesota on both ends of the court. Cheryl Reeves and the Minnesota front office did an excellent job in the offseason of recruiting players that could fill in the gaps of their roster. Minnesota’s potential this season is limitless, if they can put it all together there is no reason that they cannot go toe-to-toe with the top four teams.

Storylines to follow:

  • How will Cheryl Reeves integrate Kayla McBride?

  • Crystal Dangerfield, true ROY or luck?

  • Combination of Sylvia Fowles and Natalie Achonwa

6. Phoenix Mercury

You can never count the Phoenix Mercury out with their big three of Diana Taurasi, Brittany Griner, and Skylar Diggins-Smith. Add to that Brianna Turner and new addition Kia Nurse and the Mercury are sure to be a scoring menace this season. Head coach Sandy Brondello and her team nearly missed out on the semifinals last season with a one-point loss to Minnesota. Phoenix will be looking for revenge this season and should have no problem finding that in the scoring column; however, their defense is somewhat questionable. Griner can obviously shut down the blocks but beyond that Phoenix is pretty flimsy on their defense. Phoenix can win a shoot-out but if it comes down to a defensive stop they have work to do.

Storylines to follow:

  • How many technical fouls will Diana Taurasi have?

  • Kia Nurse, DT, and Sky: who scores the most?

  • Can Griner stand out as the elite post of the WNBA?

7. Washington Mystics

The return of Elena Delle Donne and Tina Charles is sure to strengthen a Washington team that struggled at times in the bubble. Head coach Mike Thibault will have a good mix of veterans and young players to choose from on game days. Guard Ariel Atkins will play an even more important role this season with the exit of Aerial Powers and no Emma Messeman until further into the season. Washington is only two years removed from their championship run and the return of their key pieces could bring an impressive run in the playoffs. The Mystics will have to build up chemistry in their bench and stay injury-free to have a successful season.

Storylines to follow:

  • Is EDD fully recovered from multiple back surgeries and sitting out the Wubble?

  • Missing Alysha Clark and without defensive powerhouse Ariel Powers to Minnesota who steps up?

  • Will this be Ariel Atkin’s breakout season?

8. Los Angeles Sparks

With the loss of Candace Parker LA starts a new chapter in the franchise. With Nneka Ogumike and sister Chiney LA is set to still have a dynamic and savvy offense, however, there may not be enough chemistry for LA to really thrive this year. The Sparks have brought in some really impactful players such as Amanda Zahui B, Erica Wheeler, and, after she sat out the 2020 season, Kristi Toliver. If LA can put it all together they can be a powerful team, but I don’t know if Derek Fisher is really prepared to rebuild the franchise. Additionally, the veteran leadership will come down to Nneka Ogumike, which if the team follows her lead they may be able to be successful. For the Sparks, it may simply be their year to rebuild and figure out who they are without Candace Parker.

Storylines to follow:

  • Without Candace Parker how does Nneka Ogumike’s leadership change?

  • Is Zahui B ready for the City of Angels after an impressive season with the Liberty?

  • Can Derek Fisher figure out how LA succeeds without Candace Parker?

9. New York Liberty

New York was prepared to take the W by storm last season with the once-in-a-decade pick of Sabina Ionescu, but their potential was halted with Ionescu went down with an ankle injury. This season Ionescu as well as Layshia Clarendon and new additions Natasha Howard and Sami Whitcomb look ready to fulfill the potential they couldn’t last season. We never truly got to see Ionescu’s talent in the WNBA but this season she has a chance to retake her claim as a great. The Liberty have incredible talent up and down their roster but they, along with Dallas, still have such a young roster that it is hard to see them go far in the playoffs. In our rankings, they would just miss the playoffs, but we expect it to be pretty close for the final playoff spot.

Storylines to follow:

  • Sabrina missed out on ROY, can she be MVP?

  • How will Natasha Howard fit into Walt Hopkins' system?

  • How much does the loss of Jocelyn Willoughby to a torn Achilles affect the Liberty’s bench?

10. Dallas Wings

The land of the rookies remains Dallas’ title this year as they bring in number one draft pick Charli Collier, Awak Kuier, Chelsea Dungee, and Dana Evans to join the scoring leader Arike Ogumbowale and new head coach Vickie Johnson. This team is not void in talent in any way but the veteran experience is not plentiful. Kayla Thornton is their most veteran player with four prior years of experience in the W. Dallas’ success will come down to how all of these powerhouse scorers can come together under Johnson’s new system.

Storylines to follow:

  • Is Collier a shoo-in for ROY?

  • Can the rookies find the veteran they need?

  • How does coach Vickie Johnson bring together the rookie ruckus?

11. Atlanta Dream

The Atlanta Dream are coming into this season arguably the most talked-about team, off the court. From the new ownership group, including former Dream player Renee Montgomery, to the surprising exit of former head coach Nicki Collen less than two weeks before the season begins, the Dream have a lot of changes coming this year. Although interim head coach Mike Peterson has said he doesn’t see much of a difference in how the team will run, the void still remains. Atlanta did pick up some excellent draft picks including Aari McDonald who rose to fame in this year’s NCAA Tournament when she led her Arizona Wildcats to the Championship game. McDonald along with Chennedy Carter will be a lethal combination of scorers. Atlanta does have some veteran leadership but with their head coach in the wind and plenty of new faces, the Dream will have a lot of work to do this season.

Storylines to follow:

  • No Nicki Collen, what happens now?

  • Aari McDonald and Chennedy Carter the best backcourt in the league?

  • How will Renee Montogomery and the new ownership group change the franchise?

12. Indiana Fever

After an 11th place finish last season it appears the only place Indiana may have to go is down to last. With the loss of Candice Dupree, it will be up to Danielle Robinson and Jantel Lavendar to bring the veteran leadership Indiana needs. The number four pick of the draft Kysre Gondrezick is set to make an impact right away at Indiana as an elite shooter alongside 4-year veteran Tiffany Mitchell. Head coach Marianne Stanley will have a tough hill to climb with this team, but a rebuild of Indiana around their terrific guards seems like the way to go moving forward.

Storylines to follow:

  • Who fills Candice Dupree’s shoes?

  • Can Kysre Gondrezick rebuild the Indiana franchise with Tamika Cathchings' leading?

  • With no Julie Allemand, who takes over at point guard?

WNBA 25th Season Starts May 14th

WNBA Schedule of Games and Where to Watch:

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