The place the Las Vegas Aces, Connecticut Solar and each different staff test in

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UNCASVILLE, Conn. — The 2022 WNBA season ended with a franchise successful its first title. The Las Vegas Aces, who originated because the Utah Starzz when the WNBA debuted in 1997, received the WNBA Finals in a sweep towards the Connecticut Sun on Sunday, and the Aces present no indicators of slowing down for 2023.

Two of the WNBA’s largest legends — Seattle Storm guard Sue Chook and Minnesota Lynx heart Sylvia Fowles — have retired. This offseason, we are going to wait to see if two different 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 hold their ideas on Phoenix heart Brittney Griner, who has been imprisoned in Russia since February.

There are at the very least 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 choose for the primary time in franchise historical past.

We up to date our WNBA Energy Rankings each Monday of the common season. Right here we checklist the place groups had been in ultimate regular-season rankings a bit over a month in the past and the place we mission they could begin the 2023 season — realizing loads can change with trades, free company, the draft and prioritization guidelines that might influence gamers’ eligibility for the season relying on their abroad commitments.

MORE: Complete WNBA Finals coverage


1. Las Vegas Aces
2022 file: 26-10
End result: WNBA champion
Last regular-season Energy Rating: 2

The Aces have a good time a championship with a core 5 — A’ja Wilson, Chelsea Gray, Kelsey Plum, Jackie Young and Dearica Hamby — who’re all 30 or youthful (Grey turns 30 on Oct. 8) and beneath contract for subsequent season. Many observers pointed to depth as a possible drawback this season, nevertheless it did not cease the Aces from successful each the in-season Commissioner’s Cup and the general title. Now can they turn into the primary WNBA staff to repeat since Los Angeles in 2001 and 2002?

2. Connecticut Sun
2022 file: 25-11
End result: Misplaced to Las Vegas in WNBA Finals
Last regular-season Energy Rating: 3

Contemplating they had been with out ground normal Jasmine Thomas (ACL) virtually all season, the Solar don’t have anything to hold their heads about with a runner-up end. Nevertheless, it’s the fourth time the franchise has misplaced within the Finals (the others had been 2004, 2005 and 2019) they usually have some considerations about subsequent season’s personnel. Will they have the ability to hold ahead Brionna Jones, the Sixth Girl of the 12 months 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 robust contenders once more.

3. Washington Mystics
2022 file: 22-14
End result: Misplaced to Seattle within the first spherical
Last regular-season Energy Rating: 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 be able to play, Delle Donne is without doubt one of the finest offensive gamers within the WNBA. However she simply turned 33, so her availability — together with her again damage historical past — will possible be restricted to a point the remainder of her profession. Washington’s high 5 scorers in 2022 — Delle Donne, Ariel Atkins, Natasha Cloud, Myisha Hines-Allen and Shakira Austin — are all beneath contract for subsequent season.

4. Seattle Storm
2022 file: 22-14
End result: Misplaced to Las Vegas in semifinals
Last regular-season Energy Rating: 4

We’re rolling the cube placing the Storm this excessive, as a result of issues might look dramatically completely different by subsequent season. As my colleague Kevin Pelton wrote recently, the Storm face an unsure future. Chook has been the staff’s chief for 20 years, and nobody individual will ever exchange her. However ahead Breanna Stewart, a free agent within the prime of her profession, can be irreplaceable. In all, there are seven free brokers, and guard Jewell Loyd is the one key participant from 2022 beneath contract for subsequent season. Stewart’s return would solidify loads. But when she would not come again, the Storm will begin subsequent season with a a lot decrease projection.

5. Chicago Sky
2022 file: 26-10
End result: Misplaced to Connecticut in semifinals
Last regular-season Energy Rating: 1

For a very long time, the Sky can be reliving the nightmare of the final 4 minutes of Recreation 5 towards the Solar, questioning how that recreation, that sequence and their probability at repeating all acquired away in a single horrible scoreless stretch. However coach/normal supervisor James Wade additionally has plenty of work to do within the offseason. As is the case with Seattle, the Sky won’t be this excessive within the Energy Rankings subsequent season if they give the impression of being considerably completely different. Will Parker return? What concerning the franchise’s longest-tenured participant, Courtney Vandersloot, and her spouse, fellow guard Allie Quigley? Kahleah Copper is the important thing participant the Sky have on contract for 2023.

6. New York Liberty
2022 file: 16-20
End result: Misplaced to Chicago within the first spherical
Last regular-season Energy Rating: 10

We’re bullish on the Liberty primarily based on the most effective issues we noticed from them this season, when guard Sabrina Ionescu broke by to be the form of triple-double menace we had been anticipating. The Liberty’s key gamers are beneath contract, and they’re going to have had a 12 months of taking part in in coach Sandy Brondello’s system. The Liberty are positive to nonetheless be making an attempt to enhance within the offseason, however this staff may very well be able to make a optimistic step ahead that features a longer playoff run.

7. Dallas Wings
2022 file: 18-18
End result: Misplaced to Connecticut in first spherical
Last regular-season Energy Rating: 6

The Wings had been the lone .500 staff within the WNBA in 2022, and that was a step in the proper course for Dallas. Arike Ogunbowale was injured on the finish of the season and wasn’t in a position to contribute within the playoffs, however Dallas nonetheless pushed the Solar to a few video games of their sequence. However can Dallas break into that group of title contenders, versus simply being a staff that may make the playoffs? Ahead Isabelle Harrison is an unrestricted free agent. Guard Marina Mabrey, who took over an enormous management position particularly when Ogunbowale was harm, and heart Teaira McCowan, who stored bettering because the season went alongside, are restricted free brokers. It will assist if the Wings might get something near a full season in 2023 from ahead Satou Sabally, who has been restricted every of her three years within the league with accidents.

8. Atlanta Dream
2022 file: 14-22
End result: Missed playoffs
Last regular-season Energy Rating: 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. But they almost nabbed a playoff spot, thanks largely to a Rookie of the 12 months season from guard Rhyne Howard, the No. 1 draft choose. She shortly answered no matter questions folks might need had about how quickly she would regulate to the professional recreation. This was an overachieving squad, which is a superb one-year story within the WNBA however not one thing you wish 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 within the offseason so as to add extra expertise.

9. Minnesota Lynx
2022 file: 14-22
End result: Missed playoffs
Last regular-season Energy Rating: 9

Just about the whole lot that might go unsuitable in Fowles’ final season did go unsuitable, 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 when it comes to roster development simply did not work. Additionally, ahead Napheesa Collier performed solely 4 video games in 2022 after giving beginning to her daughter. She is predicted to be again to her regular self in 2023. Collier, Kayla McBride and Aerial Powers are all beneath contract for 2023, however the Lynx are going to wish extra assist inside. Getting again to the postseason could be a really optimistic step. Issues the Lynx as soon as simply anticipated of their dynasty years cannot be taken without any consideration anymore.

10. Phoenix Mercury
2022 file: 15-21
End result: Misplaced to Las Vegas in first spherical
Last regular-season Energy Rating: 7

Even should you did not bear in mind the truth 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 damage, to Skylar Diggins-Smith leaving the staff for private causes whereas the Mercury had 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 beneath contract for 2023. It appears laborious 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
End result: Missed playoffs
Last regular-season Energy Rating: 12

The Fever parted methods with coach Marianne Stanley early within the 2022 season, nevertheless it did not change something. Indiana was very younger, and whereas the Fever battled to at the very least problem groups, they simply did not have the developed expertise to do it. Their subsequent coach has to assist nurture that progress in 2023. No. 2 draft choose 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 resembling South Carolina put up participant Aliyah Boston.

12. Los Angeles Sparks
2022 file:> 13-23
End result: Missed playoffs
Last regular-season Energy Rating: 11

The Sparks have simply two key gamers beneath 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 among the many 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 crammed since coach/GM Derek Fisher was fired in June. Will the Sparks attempt to exchange coach/GM with one individual once more, or will they rent for each jobs? Previous 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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