The 2023 WNBA season is set to begin this Friday and it’s already setting up to be one of the most compelling campaigns the league has had to date. From MVP candidates to up-and-coming rookies, there are several players that are worth keeping tabs on as the season progresses. We’ll go over some of them below.
A’ja Wilson, Las Vegas Aces
Las Vegas Aces forward A’ja Wilson has won two out of the last three MVP awards and has a good shot at becoming just the third three-time winner of the award in league history. Putting up 19.5 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, she played a central role in the Aces winning the WNBA Championship last season. With a star-studded cast surrounding her in Vegas, she’ll have a chance at cementing herself as the face of the entire league.
Breanna Stewart, New York Liberty
New York Liberty forward Breanna Stewart enters the season as the MVP favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook with odds at +280. The 2018 MVP winner is coming off a career season with the Seattle Storm, where she averaged 27 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game. She signed with the Liberty in the offseason and will be part of a suddenly loaded squad that was built to counter the Aces “superteam” out west. It will be interesting to watch as she steps into this role as the leader of a new franchise.
Elena Delle Donne, Washington Mystics
Last season marked the re-emergence of Washington Mystics forward Elena Delle Donne, who led the team to the playoffs by averaging 17.2 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. She had missed the entire 2020 season due to health concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and most of the 2021 season due to a back injury that eventually required surgery. Just like Wilson, she will try to become a rare three-time MVP award winner and she’ll be someone to pay attention to throughout the season.
Brittney Griner, Phoenix Mercury
Arguably the biggest on-court story for the entire league this season is the return of Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner, who was detained in Russia for 10 months last year on drug-related charges. The league and athletes from other sports advocated for her release throughout the year and in December, she was finally released in a prisoner swap. In her first public statement after returning home, she announced her intent to play during the 2023 season and re-signed with the Mercury on a one-year deal in February.
Griner’s return to the court will be something to keep tabs on throughout the summer as the two-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year plays her first competitive games in nearly two years.
Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury
Another Mercury veteran to watch this season is guard Diana Taurasi, who is entering her 19th season in the league. The five-time league scoring champion averaged 16.7 points per game last season and put down retirement speculation last November by announcing her intent to play in 2023. Taurasi is arguably the most decorated player in WNBA history and the fans should savor the chance to watch her play while they still can.
Rhyne Howard, Atlanta Fever
Atlanta Dream guard Rhyne Howard was the No. 1 pick of the 2022 WNBA Draft and held her own in her first year as a pro. She averaged 16.2 points and 4.5 rebounds per game and that was good enough to net her Rookie of the Year honors. Her progression in Year 2 will be something to watch this season as she tries to lead the Dream to the playoffs.
Aliyah Boston, Indiana Fever
The Indiana Fever selected forward Aliyah Boston with the No. 1 pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft and she’ll be tasked with helping turning around the fortunes of the struggling franchise. Boston just wrapped up a dominant four-year career at South Carolina, where she was a three-time unanimous All-American, a two-time Naismith Defensive Player of the Year, the 2022 Naismith Player of the Year, and helped the Gamecocks win the NCAA Tournament in 2022. Her development as a pro will be something to monitor throughout the summer.