When the 2022 WNBA season tips off on Friday night with a four-game slate on opening night, it will have been 201 days since the Chicago Sky won the 2021 WNBA championship. A lot has happened over those 201 days.
We saw some marquee players change teams during a frenzied free agency period, we saw a new generation of players drafted into the league, and over the past two weeks, we’ve seen the teams finally come together on the court during training camp and preseason games to get ready for Friday night.
When any season starts, predictions and projections will be made by analysts and fans alike as we evaluate the moves that each team made and try to forecast what will happen over the next four months of play. At this point, all we can do is look at things on paper until we can see how the teams manifest together on the court.
Below is the first of our weekly power rankings series – which will be published every Monday morning throughout the season – looking at how the teams stack up with the season less than a week away.
- Chicago Sky
- 2021 Record + Finish: 16-16, won WNBA Finals over Phoenix 3-1
- Key Re-signings: Kahleah Copper, Courtney Vandersloot, Allie Quigley
- Key Additions: Emma Meesseman, Julie Allemand
- Key Losses: Stefanie Dolson, Diamond DeShields, Lexie Brown
- Draft Picks: None
The defending champs open the season in the No. 1 spot in the rankings as the Sky brings back much of its championship core from a season ago. With Finals MVP Kahleah Copper, assist champ Courtney Vandersloot, sharpshooter Allie Quigley, and do-everything Candace Parker all back in the Chi, the Sky are ready to run it back. Chicago did lose Stefanie Dolson (to New York), Diamond DeShields (to Phoenix), and Lexie Brown (to L.A,), but added 2019 Finals MVP Emma Meesseman and guard Julie Allemand to the roster. With Meesseman (2019), Copper (2021), and Parker (2016), the Sky have three former Finals MVPs on its roster.
- Connecticut Sun
- 2021 Record + Finish: 26-6, lost Semifinals to Chicago 3-1
- Key Re-signings: Jonquel Jones
- Key Additions: Courtney Williams
- Key Losses: Briann January
- Draft Picks: Nia Clouden (12), Jordan Lewis (24), Kiara Smith (36)
Over the past five seasons, no team has won more games in the WNBA regular season than the Connecticut Sun (101-55, .647 win percentage). Connecticut’s playoff record during that time period is 10-11 (.476), with two second-round exits, two semifinal exits, and a loss in the 2019 Finals to Washington in a great five-game series. The Sun continue to push for that elusive championship with a stacked roster headlined by reigning league MVP Jonquel Jones alongside All-Star’s Alyssa Thomas, DeWanna Bonner, and Jasmine Thomas. Connecticut did lose Briann January to Seattle but brought back Courtney Williams, who was a key member of that 2019 Finals squad.
|Los Angeles Sparks||94||62||0.603|
|Las Vegas Aces||85||71||0.545|
|New York Liberty||53||103||0.340|
- Seattle Storm
- 2021 Record + Finish: 21-11, lost 2nd Round to Phoenix
- Key Re-signings: Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart, Jewell Loyd, Mercedes Russell
- Key Additions: Briann January, Gabby Williams
- Key Losses: Katie Lou Samuelson, Jordin Canada
- Draft Picks: Elissa Cunane (17), Evina Westbrook (21), Jade Melbourne (33)
Can Sue Bird achieve the storybook ending? The veteran point guard made the decision in January to return for her 19th WNBA season. After winning titles with the Storm in 2004, 2010, 2018, and 2020, can Bird help Seattle become the first franchise in WNBA history to win five championships and join Rebekkah Brunson as the only players with five rings? The Storm return a championship-caliber roster as they re-signed Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd, while also adding veteran point guard Briann January and a versatile young wing in Gabby Williams to help offset the losses of Jordin Canada and Katie Lou Samuelson.
- Las Vegas Aces
- 2021 Record + Finish: 24-8, lost Semifinals to Phoenix 3-2
- Key Re-signings: A’ja Wilson, Riquna Williams
- Key Additions: Becky Hammon (coach)
- Key Losses: Liz Cambage, Angel McCoughtry (DNP last season), Bill Laimbeer (coach)
- Draft Picks: Mya Hollingshed (8), Kierstan Bell (11), Khayla Pointer (13), Aisha Sheppard (23), Faustine Aifuwa (35)
The Becky Hammon era of Las Vegas Aces basketball begins in 2022 as the former WNBA star returns to the league after spending the past eight seasons as an assistant coach with the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs. Hammon inherits a loaded roster centered around 2020 league MVP A’ja Wilson – one of three No.1 overall draft picks on the roster along with guards Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young. Wilson is one of three 2021 All-Stars to return for the Aces, along with point guard Chelsea Gray and forward Dearica Hamby. While the Aces saw All-Star Liz Cambage leave for Los Angeles and Angel McCoughtry leave for Minnesota (although McCoughry did not play for the Aces in 2021 due to injury), Vegas did move up in the draft to add forward Mya Hollingshed and guard Kierstan Bell in the first round of the 2022 Draft to help round out their roster.
- Phoenix Mercury
- 2021 Record + Finish: 19-13, lost WNBA Finals to Chicago 3-1
- Key Re-signings: Sophie Cunningham, Kia Nurse
- Key Additions: Vanessa Nygaard (coach), Tina Charles, Diamond DeShields
- Key Losses: Bria Hartley
- Draft Picks: Maya Dodson (26), Macee Williams (32)
GOAT season in Phoenix does not appear to be ending anytime soon. As she gets set to start her 18th WNBA season, Diana Taurasi made it known that she does not plan on retiring anytime soon. “I still feel like I have a little bit left,” Taurasi said, “and a lot to do.” After winning WNBA titles in 2007, 2009 and 2014, this is the longest championship drought of Taurasi’s career and one she is eager to end. The Mercury made it back to the Finals in 2021, but fell in four games to the Sky, which began an offseason of major changes in the Valley. The Mercury parted ways with longtime head coach Sandy Brondello – who now coaches the Liberty – and hired Vanessa Nygaard to lead the squad. Speaking of the squad, in addition to Taurasi and Skylar Diggins-Smith returning, the Mercury added 2021 scoring champion and former MVP Tina Charles along with 2021 champion Diamond DeShields.
We can discuss roster moves and team expectations on the court, but the off-the-court battle surrounding Brittney Griner’s detainment overseas and hope for her safe return home remain at the forefront not only for the Mercury, but the WNBA as a whole, entering the 2022 season.
- Washington Mystics
- 2021 Record + Finish: 12-20, missed playoffs
- Key Re-signings: Myisha Hines-Allen, Shatori Walker-Kimbrough
- Key Additions: Elizabeth Williams, Tianna Hawkins
- Key Losses: Tina Charles, Emma Meesseman (DNP last season)
- Draft Picks: Shakira Austin (3), Christyn Williams (14, will miss 2022)
The biggest change for the Mystics entering 2022 is not an offseason free-agent signing or a player acquired in a trade or a top-tier draft pick – it’s the fact that Elena Delle Donne and Alysha Clark are healthy and ready to play to start the 2022 campaign. Delle Donne, the two-time MVP, has played in only three regular season games since leading the Mystics to the 2019 WNBA title. She’s back. Clark signed as a free agent in February 2021 but missed all of last season due to injury. She’s back. The Mystics also re-signed Myisha Hines-Allen and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough and added veterans Elizabeth Williams and Tianna Hawkins in free agency as well as No.3 pick Shakira Austin in the 2022 draft. Unfortunately, second-round pick Christyn Williams will miss 2022 due to injury. The Mystics lost 2021 WNBA scoring champ Tina Charles – who never got to team with Delle Donne and give the Mystics the formidable frontline they had hoped for – as she signed with Phoenix. Washington also saw 2019 Finals MVP Emma Meesseman sign with Chicago after she missed the entire 2021 season for Washington.
- Minnesota Lynx
- 2021 Record + Finish: 22-10, lost 2nd Round to Chicago
- Key Re-signings: Sylvia Fowles, Layshia Clarendon
- Key Additions: Angel McCoughtry
- Key Losses: None
- Draft Picks: Kayla Jones (22), Hannah Sjerven (28)
The Lynx finished the 2021 season with the third-best record in the WNBA (22-10) before being upset in the single-elimination second round of the playoffs by the eventual champion Sky. Admittedly, this may be too far of a drop for the Lynx, but they enter the 2022 season with a few key questions that could have a major effect on their season. First, Napheesa Collier is expecting her first child later this month and will be sidelined due to her pregnancy, recovery and maternity leave. We can’t predict when – or if – she will return to play this season. Second, the Lynx signed veteran forward Angel McCoughtry as a free agent after she was limited to just one game with Las Vegas last season due to a torn ACL; how will her knee hold up over the course of the season? But questions aside, you can never count out Minnesota and head coach Cheryl Reeve, who has led the Lynx to the playoffs for 11 straight seasons and four championships. Getting that fifth championship and sending Sylvia Fowles off to retirement – she announced this will be her Final Ride – with another title in her 15th and final season would be special.
- Los Angeles Sparks
- 2021 Record + Finish: 12-20, missed playoffs
- Key Re-signings: Te’a Cooper
- Key Additions: Liz Cambage, Chennedy Carter, Katie Lou Samuelson, Jordin Canada, Lexie Brown
- Key Losses: Erica Wheeler, Nia Coffey, Gabby Williams (DNP last season)
- Draft Picks: Rae Burrell (9), Kianna Smith (16), Olivia Nelson-Ododa (19), Amy Atwell (27)
After missing the playoffs for the first time since 2011, the Sparks made some major moves in the offseason to bolster their roster and return the franchise to championship contention. The headline maker was the addition of Liz Cambage to join Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike on the Sparks frontline. The Sparks also added Chennedy Carter – the No. 4 overall pick in the 2020 draft – in a trade with Atlanta. Carter was an elite scorer in college and averaged 17.4 points per game in her rookie season; however, she appeared in only 11 games for the Dream last season and is ready for a fresh start in Los Angeles. The Sparks also added a shooter in Katie Lou Samuelson and added to their guard depth with the addition of Jordin Canada after she played behind Sue Bird for the past four seasons in Seattle. The Sparks were busy at the draft, with three selections in a 10-pick span that will hopefully land them an impact player. Serving as both general manager and head coach, Derek Fisher has put this squad together; now, he has to get the most out of them on the court.
- New York Liberty
- 2021 Record + Finish: 12-20, lost 1st Round to Phoenix
- Key Re-signings: Rebecca Allen
- Key Additions: Stefanie Dolson, Sandy Brondello (coach)
- Key Losses: None
- Draft Picks: Nyara Sabally (5, will miss 2022), Lorela Cubaj (18), Sika Kone (29, will miss 2022)
After going just 2-20 in 2020, the Liberty made a 10-win improvement in 2021, finishing the season at 12-20 and snapping a three-year playoff drought. Although they were ousted in the first round, getting a taste of the postseason was a great experience for the young players on this roster. As New York looks to take its next step, they added some championship experience on the court with the addition of Stefanie Dolson, fresh off the 2021 title with Chicago, and on the sidelines with the hiring of Sandy Brondello, who led the Mercury to the 2014 title and made the playoffs in all eight of her seasons in Phoenix. Brondello inherits a Liberty roster with a mix of young talent in Sabrina Ionescu and reigning Rookie of the Year Michaela Onyenwere, as well as veterans like Betnijah Laney, Natasha Howard, and Sami Whitcomb. The Liberty also welcomed back Asia Durr – the No. 2 pick in the 2019 draft – after she missed the past two seasons due to the long-haul effects of COVID-19. On the downside, the Liberty will be without two of their draft picks from 2022, as Nyara Sabally and Sika Kone will both miss the entirety of the 2022 season.
- Dallas Wings
- 2021 Record + Finish: 14-18, lost 1st Round to Chicago
- Key Re-signings: Arike Ogunbowale extension
- Key Additions: Teaira McCowan
- Key Losses: Bella Alarie
- Draft Picks: Veronica Burton (7), Jasmine Dickey (30), Jazz Bond (31, waived during training camp)
In her first season at the helm, Vickie Johnson led the Wings back to the postseason following a two-year absence despite having one of the youngest rosters in the WNBA. The Wings didn’t do much to shake things up in the offseason; their biggest move with the acquisition of 6-7 center Teaira McCowan from Indiana. McCowan finished her third season ranked third in rebounding and fifth in blocks in 2021 as she adds another young and talented player to the roster. In addition to adding a defensive anchor in McCowan, the Wings also drafted Veronica Burton – who led the NCAA in steals last season — with the No. 7 pick in the draft to bolster their perimeter defense. Are the Wings poised for another year of growth, or is 2022 the year that this team breaks through and makes a deeper playoff run?
- Atlanta Dream
- 2021 Record + Finish: 8-24, missed playoffs
- Key Re-signings: Tiffany Hayes, Monique Billings
- Key Additions: Erica Wheeler, Nia Coffey, Kia Vaughn
- Key Losses: Chennedy Carter, Courtney Williams, Elizabeth Williams
- Draft Picks: Rhyne Howard (1), Naz Hillmon (15)
A lot has changed in Atlanta over the past 15 months – there is new ownership, there is a new general manager in Dan Padover (two-time WNBA Basketball Executive of the Year), there is a new head coach in Tanisha Wright, there’s a new No. 1 overall pick in Rhyne Howard, and hopefully for the Dream, there is a new path toward success. The Dream have gone just 23-65 (.261) over the past three seasons but have the tools they need for a strong rebuild. In addition to Howard, the Dream added forward Naz Hillmon in the draft, added Erica Wheeler and Kia Vaughn via trades, and Nia Coffey via free agency. The Dream also resigned Tiffany Hayes and Monique Billings and will get new mom Cheyenne Parker back after she missed the second half of last season due to pregnancy.
- Indiana Fever
- 2021 Record + Finish: 6-26, missed playoffs
- Key Re-signings: Victoria Vivians, Lindsay Allen
- Key Additions: Bria Hartley
- Key Losses: Teaira McCowan, Julie Allemand, Jantel Lavender
- Draft Picks: NaLyssa Smith (2), Emily Engstler (4), Lexie Hull (6), Queen Egbo (10), Destanni Henderson (20), Ameshya Williams-Holliday (25), Ali Patberg (34)
Nearly 20 percent of the 2022 WNBA Draft class was selected by the Indiana Fever, as the team made seven selections – including being the first team to make four picks in the first round: NaLyssa Smith (No. 2), Emily Engstler (No. 4), Lexie Hull (No. 6) and Queen Egbo (No. 10). After setting the WNBA record for consecutive playoff appearances with 12 (2005-2016), the Fever are in a five-year drought, having posted double-digit wins in only one of the past five seasons. Indiana’s hopes of a turnaround rely on their young talent as well as key veterans like Kelsey Mitchell – who finished eighth in the WNBA in scoring last season at 17.8 points per game – as well as Tiffany Mitchell, Danielle Robinson, and the recently acquired Bria Hartley from Phoenix. Fitting all of these pieces together and building a foundation for future success has to be the goal for Indiana in 2022.
Longtime WNBA reporter Brian Martin writes articles on WNBA.com throughout the season. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the WNBA or its clubs.