As the NBA Finals get set to kick off on Thursday, the WNBA is almost two full weeks into its 27th season.
It’s been a special start thus far after an offseason of unprecedented player movement, one of the league’s biggest stars returned to the game, and viewership was at record highs on opening weekend. To collect and own officially licensed WNBA highlights as limited edition collectibles, shop for your favorite players today.
Let’s break down some of the WNBA action.
The story of the WNBA offseason was the continuation of unprecedented player movement in recent years. Dozens of players found new homes, but the two biggest winners were the Las Vegas Aces and New York Liberty.
The Liberty brought in one of the game’s best players in Breanna Stewart, the 2021 MVP Jonquel Jones, and former Chicago Sky point guard Courtney Vandersloot, who played a pivotal role in the Sky’s 2021 championship run. This talented trio joined former No. 1 pick Sabrina Ionescu to form one of the league’s most talented squads.
After a surprising opening loss to the Washington Mystics, the team has rattled off three straight wins, led by Stewart’s torrid scoring pace. It only took her two games to rewrite the Liberty record books, rattling off a franchise record 45 points on a ridiculous 15/21 from the field, including 6 of 9 from three, against the Indiana Fever in a 90-73 victory.
The Liberty followed that up with an 81-65 win against Jones’s former team, the Connecticut Sun, and a 86-78 victory against the Seattle Storm, Stewart’s former home where she won two titles with WNBA legend Sue Bird.
“It was really great to see Stewie back in the building,” Bird said after the game. “It was a perfect way for her to be celebrated again. It’s a little bittersweet that she doesn’t have that Storm uniform on, but that does not take away from all the things she did here.”
The Liberty will complete their new-player-reunion tour in Chicago on Friday, where they’ll face Vandersloot’s former squad, now led by Kahleah Copper.
Meanwhile in Las Vegas, the Aces followed up winning the WNBA championship last year by adding one of the greatest players of all time in Candace Parker.
Their leading quartet of MVP A’Ja Wilson, Kelsey Plum, Chelsea Gray, and Jackie Young, who’s pacing the team in scoring at 23 points per game thus far, have powered them to a 4-0 start with two convincing wins over the Los Angeles Sparks, and victories against the Seattle Storm and Minnesota Lynx.
Add Parker to their already talented core, and this team has the makings of a squad threatening a repeat.
Mark your calendars for June 29 — the Liberty visit Vegas for the first showdown of the year between these two superteams.
The Aces also had their championship ring ceremony on May 28 in their home opener against the Sparks, with former Aces player (now a member of the Sparks) Dearica Hamby returning to receive her ring along with the team.
The champions received a ring adorned with more than 500 diamonds, with 26 special cut gemstones to represent their 26 wins last season.
It was also Aces coach Becky Hammon’s first game back from a suspension, allowing her to join the team for their ring ceremony.
Brittney Griner Returns
In one of the most watched WNBA games in recent memory, Phoenix Mercury superstar Brittney Griner returned to the league in spectacular fashion. After missing last year’s season following her detention in Russia, Griner made it back to the court for the start of the season. And she hasn’t missed a beat thus far.
The Mercury have played three games so far — Griner is averaging more rebounds per game than total missed shots, at eight per game (she’s missed eight total shots).
In the Mercury’s emotional home opener, Griner dominated from the opening tip, with 27 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks in a 75-69 loss to the Chicago Sky. Despite the loss, Griner clearly has an eye toward the future of the WNBA and her role in bringing more visibility to the league.
“We didn’t get the outcome that we wanted, but definitely feel like we can finally get back to basketball. I hope you all keep coming out to these games,” she told reporters postgame. “We have a great product and need all the coverage we can get.”
Indiana Fever break 20-game losing streak
The Fever avoided all-time futility by breaking their WNBA-record-tying 20-game losing streak dating back almost a full calendar year. They beat the Atlanta Dream 90-87 on May 28, led by second-year forward NaLyssa Smith’s 23-point, 12-rebound double-double.
The 2023 No. 1 overall pick, Aliyah Boston, has also proven to be an immediate contributor for the Fever. She’s averaging 15.8 points, six rebounds, two assists and 1.3 blocks per game through four games, all starts. She added 13 points and seven rebounds in the Fever’s victory over the Dream.
“We’re trying to change the culture. That takes steps, and getting our first win was one of them,” Boston said after the Fever’s win. “It was really special to get this first win.”
Bonus: Commissioner’s Cup watch
The Commissioner’s Cup is in full swing less than two weeks into the season. The Cup is an in-season competition throughout the regular season that incentivizes victories in conference games, with players competing for cash prize pool and funds allocated for their preferred nonprofit organizations.
The Connecticut Sun sit atop the Eastern Conference at 4-1 in their conference standings with the New York Liberty in second at 2-1. The Las Vegas Aces lead the Western Conference at a perfect 4-0, just ahead of the 2-0 Dallas Wings.
Learn more about the Commissioner’s Cup at this link.
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