Drake said it, so it shall be done, right? Maybe so, but the buzz around a potential Toronto WNBA team has been alive for a while now. Where would they play? What would their name be? How early is too early to start saving for season tickets? All valid questions, but maybe the most exciting thing to think about: Who would be playing for us here in Toronto?
So we decided to play a little game of Toronto WNBA Fantasy Draft (emphasis on the fantasy). And it was hard to decide. The WNBA is so competitive, and Toronto fans would agree that we would be happy to have any of the talent in the WNBA playing in our city.
But, in the spirit of fun, here are eight WNBA players we would love to see on a potential Toronto WNBA team:
Cloud is a WNBA champion for the Washington Mystics, and who better to lead our team to a championship than a previous champion? Cloud was selected 15th overall in the 2015 WNBA Draft to the Mystics and has been growing as a player ever since. She is also a prominent voice in the WNBA’s social justice efforts, forgoing the 2020 “Wubble” season to focus on the Black Lives Matter movement. In the 2021 WNBA season, Cloud averaged 8.7 points and 6.4 Assists per game, and hit 83.6% of her free throws. Plus, she is already a known Toronto supporter after she posted a picture in a NWHLPA Toronto Six jersey! We see you Tasha...
Kelsey Plum was drafted #1 overall in the 2017 WNBA draft to the San Antonio Stars (now the Las Vegas Aces), is the reigning WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year, and just won a Gold Medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games with the Team USA 3x3 Basketball team. In the 2021 WNBA season, Plum averaged 14.8 points and 3.6 assists off the bench and shot 38.6% from beyond the arc. Fans in Toronto would love to see Plum move from being a key bench player to a regular starter, and what better way to do that than to be the leader of a brand new team?
You knew this was coming when you opened this article; we could argue Kia Nurse is the face of women’s basketball in Canada at the moment. Not only is she a WNBA All-Star, she had a key role on the Phoenix Mercury starting lineup this season — she has a career average of 11.0 points per game and this season shot 35.3% from the 3-point line. All of her stats and talent aside, having Nurse be the face of a Toronto WNBA team, when she is from the area, would do wonders for community engagement. Plus, as I’m sure two-time champion Candace Parker could tell her, bringing a WNBA championship home would feel pretty darn good.
Loyd is an absolute star on a potentially changing Seattle Storm roster, with several players becoming free agents this off-season and set for major pay raises. Loyd is just the kind of player that needs to be leading her own WNBA team: She is an Olympic Gold Medalist, 2-time WNBA champion, was Rookie of the Year in 2015 (after being drafted #1 overall), and made the 2021 All-WNBA First Team. In the 2021 season, she averaged 17.9 points and 3.8 assists per game and scored a career-high 37 points on September 17th against Phoenix. She also tied a league record with 22 points in a single quarter. Plus, she is a self proclaimed Justin Bieber super fan... Need we say more?
The 2021 WNBA Rookie of the Year would add a lot of energy and enthusiasm to a Toronto WNBA team — plus she just seems really fun! Onyenwere was drafted #6 overall this year to the New York Liberty and had an incredible season, sweeping the Rookie of the Month award. She averaged 8.6 points and 2.9 rebounds per game and made 37 (!!) 3-pointers throughout the season. Michaela Onyenwere could be a great young player in Toronto and someone who could grow along with the young team.
Katie Lou Samuelson
Samuelson was drafted #4 overall by the Chicago Sky in the 2019 WNBA draft after playing college basketball as a UConn Husky (once a Husky always a Husky? The team name debate continues...). She was traded to the Dallas Wings in 2020, and then to the Seattle Storm in 2021, where she thrived in the 2021 WNBA season. She averaged career highs with 7.0 points and 3.5 rebounds per game, and was a key bench player and backup starter for the Storm. Samuelson is another young player who is on the rise and could thrive on a Toronto WNBA team.
A Toronto WNBA team needs to have lots of Canadian talent, and who better to play the center position on this potential team than three-time Canadian Olympian Natalie Achonwa? She was drafted 9th overall to the Indiana Fever in 2014 after leading Notre Dame to four consecutive NCAA Final Fours; she was also the third Canadian player in the WNBA to score 1,000 points. Prior to the 2021 WNBA season, Achonwa signed a deal with the Minnesota Lynx, where she currently plays. She could be an integral veteran presence playing for her hometown team in Toronto and someone the fans would love to see playing at home.
Russell is a two-time WNBA champion with the Seattle Storm (2018, 2020) and took a huge leap this previous season with the Storm. She started 28 of the 30 games she played for Seattle and averaged 7.3 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, and shooting 61.7% from the field (third-highest in franchise history). She nearly doubled her rebounding average from the 2020 to the 2021 season, cementing herself as a key element for this Seattle team. A new team would benefit from her already impressive stats as she continues to rise in the league, so she would be a great pick for a potential Toronto WNBA team.
It might be a little early for us to start seriously debating who would play for a Toronto WNBA team, but with the talent in the league, any combination of players would give Toronto a competitive edge. We are hopeful that all the press around a Toronto WNBA team, especially with Drake weighing in, is heading in the right direction for getting an expansion team!
So, who would YOU put on your Fantasy Toronto WNBA roster? Let us know!