We’re officially at the midway point of the WNBA season, and the All-Star festivities have wrapped up. Sabrina Ionescu lit the three-point contest on fire, and Jewell Loyd took home All-Star MVP honors, but now it’s time to focus on the playoff push and separate the contenders from the pretenders. The Las Vegas Aces and their star-studded lineup have separated themselves from the pack, but the middle is very murky. Who can challenge them? Who should be looking ahead to the loaded 2024 Draft?
Tier 1: The Aces
- Las Vegas Aces (19-2)
Photo Cred: KTNV
It’s no secret that the Aces are head and shoulders above every other team in the WNBA, and it’s hard to see that changing. Their All-Star starting lineup, led by defending MVP and Finals MVP A’ja Wilson, is unstoppable when they are clicking, and the defensive tandem of Wilson and Candace Parker inside is a handful to deal with. Guard Jackie Young has taken a leap this year and has become one of the elite guards in the league alongside Kelsey Plum and Chelsea Gray.
The work that the Aces have done on the fringes, however, is what puts them over the top. The signing of Alysha Clark gives them another versatile guard off the bench, and Kiah Stokes gives them frontcourt depth. Add in the genius of head coach Becky Hammon and the championship experience they gained last year. It’s hard to see anyone knocking them off of this spot.
Tier 2: The Contenders
2. New York Liberty (14-4)
Liberty is the new “superteam” on the block this year after the additions of Breanna Stewart, Jonquel Jones, and Courtney Vandersloot, but haven’t quite been able to match the Aces’ level yet. Stewart is the MVP favorite, Sabrina Ionescu is shooting the lights out, and Benitjah Laney is filling in the gaps and defending like her hair is on fire.
New York’s talent is undeniable, but they’re still figuring out how the pieces fit together, and their backcourt defense is an issue. Marine Johannes has been struggling mightily off the bench, and Jones has struggled to fit in. But if they put it all together? Watch out.
3. Connecticut Sun (15-5)
Photo Cred: Fox Sports
Brionna Jones’ injury has thrown a wrench into things for the Sun, and her loss means they can’t match the top two teams’ body-for-body anymore. But when they get good guard play, they can still be dangerous. The do-it-all force is Alyssa Thomas, and she’s driving them, serving as a constant triple-double threat who is also arguably the best defender in the league. DeWanna Bonner provides the swag that they need to compete. Tiffany Hayes and Natisha Heideman have been solid in the backcourt. If they’re making shots from the perimeter, they will be a tough out for anyone.
4. Washington Mystics (11-8)
The Mystics get the benefit of the doubt for their drop in the standings due to injury issues. They remain in the contender tier for now. The defense is still good (tied for first in opponent points per game, first in FG% defense, and second in forcing turnovers), and the talent is there to make it work on the other end. Elena Delle Donne is still one of the best offensive players in the league when she’s healthy, and Ariel Atkins has started to heat up from the outside after a cold start to the season. Throw in the versatility of Brittany Sykes and Shakira Austin and the experience of Natasha Cloud, and you have a dangerous team.
Tier 3: The Playoff Push
5. Dallas Wings (11-9)
Photo Cred: ESPN
The Wings have holes, but their star power is undeniable. Arike Ogunbowale and Satou Sabally can get buckets with anyone, and Natasha Howard is quietly filling it up and dominating the glass alongside them. The combination of Howard and Teaira McCowan dominates the boards (first in rebound margin) and makes the Wings a nightmare for opposing frontcourts. The defense needs to get better, and the bench will be a problem late in the year, but the Wings have the kind of firepower that can get hot and scare some people higher on this list.
6. Atlanta Dream (11-8)
They may fly under the radar, but the Dream has three All-Stars. Rhyne Howard has continued to emerge as a future star in her second season, and Allisha Gray has leveled up in her first season in Atlanta. Cheyenne Parker is having a career year, and the Dream is firmly in the playoff mix. The roster thins out significantly after that, however, and Aari McDonald’s injury issues have exposed the guard room. Is Atlanta ready to compete with the big girls? No. But adding playoff experience to this core will toughen them up for the future.
7. Los Angeles Sparks (7-13)
Photo Cred: SI
The Sparks have surrounded Nneka Ogwumike with a solid core; that has talent at all positions and good depth for a team with a losing record. Part of that comes back to the health of their rotation. Lexie Brown has missed a lot of time with an illness. With her returning healthy and paired with Jordin Canada in the backcourt, it should help the Sparks thrive. Chiney Ogwumike and Azura Stevens both are hurt. Getting them back gives LA the depth they need to get into the playoffs.
8. Chicago Sky (8-12)
The year is a lost season in Chicago. It would have been unfair to expect more after the loss of Candace Parker, Courtney Vandersloot, and Azura Stevens in free agency. But does any top seed want to deal with the backcourt of Kahleah Copper and Marina Mabrey in the first-round? They’re much too thin in the front court, but Copper and Mabrey provide an explosive combination of bucket-getting, driving, and playmaking.
9. Minnesota Lynx (9-11)
Photo Cred: ESPN
After playing only four games in 2022, Napheesa Collier has blossomed into one of the best players in the W this season. The roster around her is extremely thin, and any playoff push for the Lynx this year would be a bonus. Diamond Miller has shown she can be a foundational piece in her rookie year, so this year is already a win in Minnesota.
Tier 4: Caitlin Clark Watch
10. Indiana Fever (5-15)
2023 was always going to be an uphill battle for the Fever after a dismal 5-31 record in 2022. They have shown flashes and been much more competitive this year, but the young core is still trying to learn how to win. The good news is that Aaliyah Boston already looks like a superstar, earning All-Star honors as a rookie. Kelsey Mitchell is still one of the more solid lead guards in the W, and Nalyssa Smith has leveled up in her second year. Overall, this is still one of the most talented young cores in the league.
11. Phoenix Mercury (4-15)
Photo Cred: Logowik
There’s no way around it; 2023 has been a major disappointment in Phoenix. Former head coach Vanessa Nygaard was fired 12 games in. The Mercury have remained at the bottom of the standings since. Brittany Griner hasn’t missed a beat since coming back, and Diana Taurasi has a throwback game every once in a while. But there isn’t much to cheer for in Phoenix outside of that.
12. Seattle Storm (4-16)
The Storm is predictably in the basement after losing Breanna Stewart to free agency and Sue Bird to retirement. Watching Jewell Loyd get buckets has been fun, and Ezi Magbegor has been assessing the limits of her game. The Storm doesn’t have the talent to compete right now. They will be in a good position for the loaded 2024 draft.