The WNBA’s 27th season will kick off officially on Friday night, right off the heels of the league’s first ever game in Canada last weekend. For any new Canadian fans who watched the game and want to follow the league this season, below is a preview, how to watch guide, and a summary of where all the Canadian players in the league will be playing.
Catch up on all things WNBA before the season officially tips off Friday night at 7p.m. ET with the New York Liberty and the Washington Mystics playing, as well at the Indiana Fever vs. the Connecticut Sun!
Standing ovation for the Minnesota Lynx and Chicago Sky after the #WNBACanadaGame #WNBA pic.twitter.com/MUvGDKSSUy— chelsea leite (@chelsealeite) May 13, 2023
If you’re new to the WNBA, welcome! Everyone is invited. The league was created in 1996 and currently has 12 teams across the United States, where the best players in the world come to play from May until September/October. The current WNBA teams are:
Las Vegas Aces
New York Liberty
Each team has a roster of up to 12 players, but since the WNBA has a hard salary cap rule (as opposed to the NBA’s more flexible cap) a lot of teams will only keep 11 players on their roster. They can also sign players to hardship contracts in certain cases, the most used case being when the team has less than ten players available due to injury/illness.
Each team plays 40 games in the regular season (which starts tomorrow!). There is a break in July for the WNBA All-Star game, as well as the conclusion of the Commissioner’s Cup tournament — an in-season tournament where the top team from the East and West will face off in the final game for prize money.
This season is going to be unlike many seasons before it in the WNBA, as free agency this offseason was more active than ever before. Two teams — Las Vegas and New York — formed “super teams” with top talent deciding to sign there.
The Las Vegas Aces are the defending champions and will be looking to repeat again this year under Head Coach Becky Hammon.
Now that we have the basics covered, let’s dive deeper!
How to Watch
There are many different ways to watch the WNBA here in Canada. The easiest first step would be to purchase WNBA League Pass for about $34 CAD. This gives you live access to most of the games as well as the ability to go back and watch games you missed, and tons of other features.
The WNBA has also branched out into other methods of television/streaming access. Some games will be available live on Amazon Prime with a regular subscription. Others are streamed for free on Twitter and Facebook.
In Canada, many games will be broadcast on TSN and Sportsnet. When games are on national television in Canada, they will be “blacked out” on League Pass, so don’t get worried if you can’t see a certain game.
TSN Schedule here: https://www.tsn.ca/wnba/wnba-on-tsn-broadcast-schedule-1.1959056
Sportsnet Schedule here: https://www.sportsnet.ca/basketball/wnba
WNBA full schedule here: https://www.wnba.com/schedule?season=2023&month=all&hidepast=true
The all-new App is here and so are FREE Live games— WNBA (@WNBA) May 18, 2023
Watch these games FREE on the WNBA App with the Tip-Off Test Drive by @CarMax
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Canadians in the League
There are currently four Canadians on WNBA rosters for the 2023 season. Bridget Carleton and Natalie Achonwa both play for the Minnesota Lynx. Bridget is heading into her fifth season in the WNBA and with the Lynx, and is set to take a big leap this season. Natalie Achonwa will likely not play for the Lynx for most of the season, as she is on maternity leave. The WNBA Collective Bargaining Agreement allows teams to hold a roster spot for players who are on maternity leave, as well as pay them their full salary for time they miss while pregnant or postpartum.
Kia Nurse is heading into her fifth season playing in the WNBA, after missing the 2022 season recovering from a knee injury. She will be playing for the Seattle Storm this season after signing with them in the offseason. She previously played in Phoenix with the Mercury, and before that with the New York Liberty.
The newest member of the WNBA Canadians Club is Laeticia Amihere, who was drafted eighth overall to the Atlanta Dream in the 2023 WNBA Draft. Amihere joins a young and exciting team in Atlanta, where hype for women’s basketball has been growing. She already has a large fan base in the South, after playing four seasons and winning a National Championship under Coach Dawn Staley at the University of South Carolina. There’s no doubt her fans from both Canada and South Carolina will follow her to Atlanta to see the young star in action.
Day 8: Coming off of @WNBA Canada and its success, here’s one of our Canadian greats, @AtlantaDream’s @_Theblackqueen_ “I think that I have a lot to prove. I know that there’s so much more that I can bring” pic.twitter.com/QPWq9RjoAh— Arielle (Ari) Chambers (@ariivory) May 18, 2023
Below is a brief summary of how each team looks heading into this upcoming season. If you are new to the WNBA — pick a team, any team!
THE OFFICIAL WINSIDR POWER RANKINGS: VOLUME 0— Winsidr (@Winsidr) May 18, 2023
Competition is STEEP in the WNBA this season, and teams are gearing up for battles of the ages.
The count is in at Winsidr as we share our official rankings! Are you buying in or selling?
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Las Vegas Aces
The Aces are the 2022 WNBA champions after a dominant season, finishing with a record of 26-10 and the Commissioner’s Cup trophy. Led by two time league MVP A’ja Wilson, two time champs Candace Parker and Chelsea Gray, and last year’s All-Star MVP Kelsey Plum, this team is ready to rock and defend their title.
They were a hotspot for free agency this winter, landing Candace Parker and Alysha Park. Coached by Becky Hammon, this squad is looking like they won’t miss a beat as they head into the 2023 season.
New York Liberty
Another hot spot for free agents this past year, the New York Liberty are in a new era. After drafting Sabrina Ionescu no.1 overall in the 2020 WNBA Draft, the franchise has been on a steady climb. In 2022, they hired head coach Sandy Brondello, and with the help of general manager Jonathan Kolb, set out to build a super team around Ionescu and Betnijah Laney.
The first big acquisition was trading the Connecticut Sun for Jonquel Jones, 2021 WNBA MVP. Jones’ impressive footwork and dominance in the post was something the Liberty had been lacking. Next, they signed Breanna Stewart in free agency, winning the fight for one of the most decorated and promising women’s basketball players ever. Finally, they signed Courtney Vandersloot, an All-Star point guard and champion who will relieve Ionescu of her floor general duties and allow her to do what she does best — shoot.
This team looks VERY different than even last year’s squad, but expectations are high.
The Mercury finally feel whole again after the return of Brittney Griner. The joy of this team alone, having their teammate back, will be fun to watch. They have Diana Taurasi, the legend, back as well. Skylar Diggins-Smith just had her second child, so she will not be on the roster for the foreseeable future.
Phoenix also traded for 2021 Rookie of the Year Michaela Onyenwere this offseason, signed Evina Westbrook during training camp, and resigned Sophie Cunningham in the offseason. Their team is a good mix of veterans and young players, which hasn’t always happened in Phoenix. They tend to lean more veteran, but it’s nice to see.
The Mercury had quite a tumultuous season in 2022. When you mix the situation with BG, roster instability, injury… we are just happy to be seeing a fresher start in Phoenix this year. They should be fun to watch. Also, who ISN’T excited to see BG back dominating the court?!
The Lynx had a disappointing finish to last season, not making the playoffs — which left a sour feeling for many of the players. On top of that, they lost generational talent Sylvia Fowles after she decided to retire at the end of last season.
Now, the team is led by Napheesa Collier, and around her they have built a squad that mixes veteran talent with young and promising rookies. With the no.2 pick in this year’s draft, the Lynx selected Diamond Miller out of Maryland, who has apparently been bursting with energy all training camp. They also have Canadian Bridget Carleton coming back, and according to head coach Cheryl Reeve, they have big expectations of Bridget this season — but she always delivers.
The Lynx will have to figure it out as they go, but if it clicks for them, watch out.
The Storm had a… stormy offseason.
First, 19-year veteran Sue Bird decided to hang it up at the end of the season. Then, they lost Breanna Stewart in free agency. With two of their “big three” gone, they turned to Jewell Loyd to build around. They also have young and extremely talented centre Ezi Magbegor — expect her to take a LEAP this season.
Rounding out their roster with free agency signings such as Kia Nurse and the return of Sami Whitcomb, along with a couple of young draft picks, Seattle is in uncharted territory this season. There’s no way to predict how it will go for them as their organization goes through a rebuild.
Speaking of teams who are building, the Indiana Fever have been building for years. Finally this season, they got the no. 1 overall draft pick, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. They grabbed Aliyah Boston, the generational talent from Dawn Staley’s South Carolina squad who seems to be league-ready.
Joining Boston are fellow rookies Grace Berger and Victaria Saxton along with second-years Queen Egbo, Lexie Hull, and Nalyssa Smith. Veterans Kelsey Mitchell and Erica Wheeler have the most experience with five and seven years each, but overall, it’s a young squad.
The future is bright for Boston and the Fever, look out for them to start their ascension.
Chicago gained a lot of new fans after their win in Toronto on May 13th, with coach James Wade claiming Scotiabank Arena has his house. The Sky were also on the sad end of a few free agency signings this offseason. They lost Candace Parker and Courtney Vandersloot to other teams and it was announced Allie Quigley would not play this season.
Still, they have Kahleah Copper, Courtney Williams, Marina Mabrey and Dana Evans to lead them now. Dana Evans is set to have a big year herself, while Kahleah Copper is ready to lead the team.
Another young team, the Dream received the no.1 pick in 2021’s WNBA Draft, getting eventual Rookie of the Year Rhyne Howard. This year, they picked Stanford’s Haley Jones at no.6 followed by Laeticia Amihere at no. 8. They now have Allisha Gray, Danielle Robinson, and Cheyenne Parker, mixed in with younger players like Aari MacDonald and Asia Durr.
This will be a fun team to watch develop this season as they have acquired a lot of talent in the draft and in free agency/trades.
Losing Jonquel Jones was a big loss for the Sun this season, but they still have a promising roster. DeWanna Bonner and Alyssa Thomas are mainstays in the WNBA. Then you have promising young players like Ty Harris, DiJonai Carrington, and Olivia Nelson-Ododa. Mix in Sun players of the past few year Natisha Hiedeman and Brionna Jones, plus new acquisition Bec Allen — it’s a good squad.
Don’t sleep on the Sun. They may burn brighter than expected.
Fans were a little shocked when on WNBA season projection had the Mystics over the Liberty in power rankings. It’s not that egregious of a move, honestly. The Mystics have Elena Delle Donne (who is very healthy), Natasha Cloud, Kristi Tolliver, and Ariel Atkins. Second-year Shakira Austin will most likely be HUGE for them this season.
Every player on this roster has promise, they have DEPTH. Expect them to hang at the top with Vegas and New York allllll season long.
Another young squad with promising talent. The Wings selected Maddie Siegrist third overall in the draft, then Lou Lopez-Senechal fifth. They have Arike Ogunbowale, Awak Kuier, Teaira McCowan, Satou Sabally, Diamond DeShields, and Crystal Dangerfield.
Yet, their season is already suffering due to injury — it was announced that both Lopez-Senechal and DeShields would be out with injury for the foreseeable future. Hopefully the younger Wings platers can still get some good development time in.
A team that has a rocky few seasons, but may be starting to put it together this season. They have Nneka Ogwumike, Jasmine Thomas, Layshia Clarendon and Dearica Hamby — all seasoned players. Their exciting young squad of Lexie Brown, Zia Cooke, and Azura Stevens will contribute and continue to develop. They won’t have Katie Lou Samuelson this season as she is pregnant, but will be able to sign a replacement player in her absence.
All together, this Sparks squad is exciting.
It’s sure to be an exciting season in the WNBA! If you loved the Canada Game, make sure to follow this league all season long.
You never know, we could one day soon have WNBA hoops in Toronto!