Which WNBA teams have the best outlook over the next three seasons?
We’ve answered the NBA version of that question with our Future Strength Rankings, which rates teams based on five categories — players, management, cap space, market and draft picks — to predict which teams go up or down in the not-too-distant future. .
For the first time, WNBA writers performed the same exercise, with a slight modification. Unlike the NBA Future Power Rankings, which are based on a formula that weighs scores in the five categories, in the WNBA version, they are only used as explanations for how we arrived at our overall rating from 1 to 12.
WNBA teams have never had to be more mindful of how they manage their pay cap and choose the future draft, making this a good time to begin the league’s future strength rankings. The current collective bargaining agreement signed in 2020 heralded the start of an era of increased player mobility, but with old decades gone from the books, cover space is more precious than ever.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the top contenders in the WNBA over the 2023-25 timeframe.
Our unanimous #1 pick, aces seem poised to compete for additional championships after bringing in their first in franchise history. The main players in Las Vegas – Chelsea GrayAnd the Derica HampiAnd the Kelsey BloomAnd the Aja Wilson And the Jacky Young All are under contract until next season, with all five taking less than they were likely to be able to as free agents.
With five players earning at least $165,000 next season, the Aces will continue to play off the bench. However, we trust our top-ranked management team to find solutions, especially with the potential to attract ring-chasing players to a market that ranks as well. – Pelton
Admittedly, a lot depends on the health Elena Delle Donne. But she passed the 2022 season successfully enough with strategic rest. Now 33, she said she hopes to play for at least a few more years. It is uncertain how long Mike Thibault will remain as coach, but he is expected to be replaced by his son, longtime assistant Eric Thibault, while he remains general manager. So the mental confidence that kept the mystics competitive must remain in place for much longer.
Washington did well in selecting the midfield/attacker Shakira Austin In the 2022 draft, and Mystics has another lottery selection (via trade) in the 2023 draft. Voepel
The Sun has made playoffs in all but the first year of coach/general manager Kurt Miller’s tenure, which began in 2016. There’s no reason to believe they won’t be a title contender again in 2023, with most of their core. under contract. They might have trouble keeping the sixth player of the year Briona Jonesanyway.
star ahead Jonquil Jones Become a free agent in 2024, when the current window of the sun will be closed. Miller acknowledges that there has always been some conflict in coaching/GM hats regarding “win now” versus “plan ahead” mentalities. – Voepel
It’s been 20 years and a lot of water under the bridge since New York was last in the WNBA Finals in 2002. Now Liberty is under new ownership, plays in Brooklyn and has a young guard in Sabrina Unescu to build around it. But Liberty doesn’t have the talent yet to be a championship team.
That could change with commerce and free agency – it could be a Syracuse native Brianna Stewart End up in her home? And there is every indication that the Liberty management wants the franchise back to what it was in the early years of the WNBA. – Voepel
The change of ownership in 2021, the addition of new coach Tanesha Wright and the arrival of general manager Dan Padover, have had a renewed impact on Atlanta. The dream is a young team, led by the 2022 Rookie of the Year Ryan Howardwith plenty of room to make moves for 2023 and beyond.
Dream reached the playoffs six of the first eight seasons, making three trips to the WNBA Finals. But they have made post-season only twice in the past seven years, and have not stayed in the past four seasons in a row. Last season 14-22 showed progress and some stability, and that’s something to build on. – Voepel
The most difficult teams to rank for in FPR are those with a free marquee agent whose decision will impact the fortunes of the franchise for years to come. Seattle and Brianna Stewart fit the bill. If Stewart returns and Storm manages to successfully replace now-retired Sue Bird with a base guard via free agency, they will remain rivals behind the Stewart and fellow All-Star duo. Joel Lloyd.
Even if Stewart leaves — or decides not to play in the WNBA next season due to the league’s prioritization rule — Seattle is unlikely to stumble to the bottom of the standings. The franchise earned high marks for both Marketplace (3rd) and Management (4th), demonstrating a proven track record of success, albeit all with Baird on the list. – Pelton
Like Storm, Lynx hopes to extend a successful run without the Hall of Famer into the future. Silvia Fowles The last link on the field was to the Minnesota dynasty, leaving head coach and GM Sheryl Reeve (the main reason for our second highest managerial score) to rearrange the roster around the budding star. Nafisa Collier.
Although the Lynx remained a playoff team until last season, with Collier almost absent after giving birth, Minnesota needs to find a long-term option at the point guard after cycling through the options quickly for the past two years. If that happens, Lynx could quickly get back into the fray. – Pelton
The Sky surprised itself a little in a good way by winning the WNBA title in 2021, and in a bad way by losing the semi-final series this year. Depending on the free agency and other moves, 2023 Sky could look very similar to 2022 – or it could look really different.
How long will it Candice Parker game? Will Courtney Vanderslot Staying with the only WNBA franchise you’ve played with? Sky coach and general manager James Wade is facing some of the same questions as other teams in building the future while also trying to capitalize on the current window of potential for victory. – Voepel
After collecting a treasure chest of first-round picks as they rebuild, the Wings now find themselves at a defining moment as most of these junior contracts begin to expire. Dallas extended all-star guard Eric Ogunpoel As for the Supermax, but I actually played better without it when she got injured at the end of the regular season and the start of the playoffs.
Tierra McEwanWings’ dominance of paint has largely fueled that late increase, and position is now one of the major free-limiting factors for the wings along with the production guard. Marina Mabry. Given the potential increases for both players, Dallas no longer scores as well in terms of future cap space. – Pelton
The Wings must also find a new coach after deciding not to exercise an option in the final season of Vicki Johnson’s contract despite Johnson leading the team for back-to-back games.
Where Diana Taurasi Sitting in the 2012 season, and giving Phoenix the first pick the following year, Mercury was perhaps the most successful WNBA franchise ever. Phoenix managed to extend its 10-year playoff streak, but left a turbulent season with more questions than answers. Will Torassi return before a season in which she turns 41? We have seen another of Skylar Diggins Smith In a Mercury costume?
Unfortunately, the biggest question of all is when Britney Greiner They may be released from detention in Russia. Greiner’s absence loomed large during the unplanned 2022 campaign in Phoenix. We’ll see if Mercury can get back on track without the benefit of this year’s first round pick, which would have been No. 5 overall. – Pelton
Fever needs the #1 pick in the worst way, and the lottery odds for the 2023 draft favor them. But that alone won’t be enough: They have to make an intelligent decision on a new coach, and then figure out how much of their young core they want to keep.
Bad The Fever is clear: they have won only five games this season and haven’t been in the playoffs since 2016. But there are some positives, such as the performance of the rookie player Nalissa Smith This year has a chance to reset in terms of their coaching philosophy. – Voepel
Once a prominent WNBA franchise, Sparks was in limbo after two years in the lottery commissioning Derek Fisher for his dual roles as head coach and GM. To make matters worse, Los Angeles has had to see co-stars Parker and Gray win titles in the past two years after leaving at free agency. Even worse, Sparks will not get a lottery pick for its lost season, after it has been traded Shenedy Carter Post offseason.
There is still talent on hand in Los Angeles, starting with Nika Ogomec, was correctly selected to the All-WNBA Second Team. Ogwumike, who has played her entire career with the Sparks, vowed after the season to return alongside her sister Chiney. But Los Angeles needs to install replacement (or substitutions) for Fisher to upgrade our 11th-ranked management team. – Pelton
Alexa Filippo contributed to this report.