2022 WNBA Season Predictions
The 2022 WNBA Season is upon us the first week of May, and myself and my handicapping team have left no stone unturned as we have worked overtime getting prepped for this season’s action.
There are team previews in order of power rating strength based on our off-season and pre-season observations and after the draft.
We head into the Regular Season with optimism of a great year in handicapping the WNBA. All picks will be available at Docs Sports exclusively again in 2022. Hope you have you all aboard.
Get free WNBA picks for every game on Doc’s WNBA picks page.
1. Seattle Storm- Yes, Sue Bird is now 41 years old. But she is in absolutely impeccable shape and did a great job of conserving her energy this offseason by NOT playing overseas and saving a ton of miles on her legs by making it YEAR 5 now that she has passed up those paychecks and offers, unlike many of counterparts. She also showed us last year that that it’s never a good bet or idea to go against one of the GOATS. She dropped double figures again last year while handing out a near 20-year career high 5.6 Dimes per game. She also cashed in on over 42 percent of her shots from deep. I’m simply not counting her out until she proves or shows me otherwise.
Also, this is the first time in the five years that this group has been together that they come in all healthy and fresh. Breanna Stewart & Jewell Loyd hands down make up the absolute best front court in all of the WNBA. Keep in mind the Storm are winners of 2 of the last 4 WNBA Championships even with an unhealthy squad -- I certainly think this year they are more than capable of taking home another crown as Sue Bird rides off into the sunset at the top of her game. No way I am passing on them this year; they are so well coached, so disciplined on both ends, and they never beat themselves -- and now that they are fully healthy, with their depth. Give me the Storm to take it home, making it 3 of 5.
2. Chicago Sky- Fresh off the first WNBA Championship in franchise history, this Sky team embodies everything great about the game of basketball and playing together as one cohesive unit. They go seven deep, with an argument to be made that numbers 1 through 7 are as of equal importance. Candace Parker, Courtney Vandersloot, Kahleah Copper, Emma Meesseman, Julie Allemand, Allie Quigley and Acuza Stevens play as unselfishly as any basketball team on the planet. When it comes to know how and veteran leadership, Parker is the best of all time. As per court vision and distribution of the basketball, Sloot is the best in the league. And as per pure talent, Copper is one of the top 5 players in the WNBA in nearly every single category. Add in the quick-fire trigger, and deep threat of AQ, I don’t know any head coach in the WNBA that wants any part of this team in 2022.
3. Las Vegas Aces- A’ja Wilson was arguably the best overall player in the entire League last year. Kelsey Plum has finally adjusted to the WNBA and will thrive this year in a more open court, run and gun system under a new HC Becky Hammon. Hammon as most know, spent 11 years as San Antonio Spurs HC Gregg Popovich’s right hand Associate Head Coach. First thing she did after taking over for Bill Laimbeer was bring in one of the best up and coming PG’s in the league in Chelsea Gray, meanwhile allowing Plum to play her more natural position for the first time in her 5 year WNBA career. I think we see that really open up the scoring and the transition Game for the Aces.
Hammon is more than ready to be a Head coach at any level, and her skill set will be on full display with all eyes on her and I certainly do not expect a let down from someone who is more long overdue for a HC gig than any other Basketball Coach in the entire country.
4. Connecticut Sun- I know a lot of media has this team higher, but I simply cannot get behind a team that is perhaps the most offensively challenged WNBA team in recent memory. The only reason I personally even have them this high is because there is no denying their lockdown D. Jonquel Jones is also a bona fide Top 5 player in this league, while DeWanna Bonner is certainly a Top 10. They will once again be the best on ball defenders in the league, along with their FrontCourt size. But that said, they were extremely exposed for their lack of ability to put the ball in the ocean when they were standing on the beach last year.
Keep in mind this team was the #1 overall seed in the WNBA Playoffs last year, and immediately got bounced scoring under 50 points in 10 of their last 13 (that’s over 30 percent of their entire schedule) games. I have them in the 4 spot because of how well they guard you, their size down on the block, and the fact that the Phoenix Mercury (as we all know) are going to be widely affected by the Brittney Griner situation in Russia. Now, if they can somehow figure out a way to score the ball in the half court, I will tailor this power ranking as the year goes on. However, for right now, I believe this is where they belong.
5. NY Liberty- I guarantee you I have this NY Liberty team power ranked (at minimum) 2-4 spots ahead of anyone else who follows and handicaps the WNBA. And I’m well aware of where most every other pundit(s) have/has them ranked at, but not me. This team made the playoffs last year after finishing the 2021 Preseason Poll in DEAD LAST. Yes, the Coaches Poll and AP Poll ranked the Liberty DEAD LAST, and yes that means behind the hapless Atlanta Dream, and 3-win Indiana Fever… completely mind blowing to me. Everyone learned very quickly (32 points on opening night) not to ever doubt Rookie “do-it-all” combo/scoring guard Sabrina Ionescu.
In my opinion, they have the three best young talents in all of the WNBA in Ionescu, Betnijah Laney, and Natasha Howard. Let’s also not forget the brilliant offseason acquisitions of Stephanie Dolson, Sami Whitcomb, and Asia Durr. Former 2019 WNBA Rookie of the Year Michaela Onyenwere is also back from injury, and through 3 Preseason games this year has been absolutely dominating. New HC Sandy Brondello coached 90 percent of the Diana Taurasi led era of the Phoenix Mercury, including leading the Mercury to two back-to-back WNBA Championships in 2014 and 2015. I know a ton (if not everyone) is going to look at how high I have this team ranked and question what I am thinking here. My question to everyone else who has them ANY lower than this, is the same! What are you thinking?
6. Phoenix Mercury- I don’t even know where to begin here, or what to say. When healthy, we all saw what the Mercury were capable of last year. Diana Taurasi and SDS (Skylar Diggins-Smith) will once again be the most productive backcourt in the WNBA despite the age factor. But for now, the fact of the matter is this: Britney Griner is currently locked up in a Russian jail cell with absolutely ZERO exceptions of (or for) any type of return home anytime soon.
She has been there since early February, and nothing good can come from this; as a 10-year prison sentence currently is hanging over her head, while the next scheduled “so called hearing” is set for another month from now.
I have this team ranked in the middle of the pack, because despite all of that, they still have the Michael Jordan of the WNBA in DT, they still have a 7x WNBA All Star and 2x League MVP at the 2 guard spot in SDS, and have a ton of young talent like Bria Hartley. Just going to need to wait and see how this one plays out, and see where their mindset is as a team, as they have much larger concerns as a group and as an organization than winning basketball games right now.
7. Minnesota Lynx- This team may see their own stock absolutely soar from this spot, but another wait and see scenario here for me, albeit for much different reasons than the Phoenix Mercury. I certainly didn’t forget that the Lynx finished with the third-best record in the WNBA last season. Their great season was overshadowed by an early playoff exit to the eventual champion Chicago Sky. And yes, a lot of that team is technically back in 2022, but Kayla McBride’s debut will be delayed due to her own overseas obligations, as will that of Napheesa Collier, who just gave birth.
Sylvia Flowers is not yet 100 percent healthy and has yet to even play in a Preseason game as of Wednesday, April 27, and we are now only 9 days away from WNBA opening day. Not a good look for the always competitive Lynx team. Too many unknowns here. How big of a hole will this team dig themselves without their top two players for the foreseeable future and at least the first quarter of the WNBA Season?
8. LA Sparks- Former 18-year NBA veteran, and 5x NBA Champion, Derek Fisher is the HC of this Sparks team and has the ship pointed in the right direction here in LA. I certainly like what they did in the offseason: Going out and getting former Las Vegas Aces top player and 4x WNBA All Star Liz Cambage. Cambage is every bit of a legitimate 6’8 force down low on the block. There are not a lot of BIGS in the WNBA that can match her ability to bang down low on both ends. Nneka and Chiney Ogumike, and the veteran Kristi Tolliver, round out the top slots for this LA Sparks team. This is certainly a good core, that actually has enough on the first five (starters) to make the playoffs.
My issue here is absolutely not with this starting 5, but the depth here is a major problem. Especially with the teams who are ahead of them in these power rankings. The top half of this league is very deep, and the more this season wears on, I think LA may be exposed for their bench, or lack thereof. However, again, they do have a nice core -- expect a lot of first quarter plays on this team.
9. Washington Mystics- I know this may seem like a very low spot for a team like the Mytics. However, until Elena Delle Donne can prove (on the court in actual WNBA games) that she is back and is genuinely healthy, I would be doing a huge disservice to all the other teams that I currently have ranked ahead of them. I understand that there are genuine health issues. However, ever since 2018, if it’s not something with Delle Donne, it has certainly been something else.
Keep in mind here that the Mystics missed the postseason entirely last year after starting pretty hot. They hit a huge cool down period after the All-Star Break and just really never returned or recovered to a good form on both ends of the court. There was an incredible individual effort from Tina Charles last season, but not enough to overcome the absences of Delle Donne (back injury) and free agency signee Alysha Clark (foot injury). Charles is not getting any younger, nor is Delle Donne, for that matter -- and I am extremely worried that this current team has really missed their prime window of opportunity in this league. After this season (2022), I think we finally see this team enter themselves into a fire sale, after another disappointing year.
10. Dallas Wings- For years now, this Dallas Wings team was in rebuilding mode, and at the beginning of last season things were really looking up. They took a step back during the 2021 season while finishing 13-18. And yes, even with a 5 games under .500 record, they did make the playoffs with the new format, but they were bounced and swept immediately while dropping games by an average of over 15 ppg. Huge gap when they play the top half of this league. They certainly have draft capital, and have really pumped their roster with young players, who the front office team hoped would eventually become a cohesive group and lead this franchise to postseason success. But that has absolutely not happened according to plan.
Arike Ogunbowale will once again demand most opposing team’s absolute best defensive double teams, while the addition of 6-foot-7 center Teaira McCowan makes for a very talented front court in Dallas. Do-it-all veteran guard Satou Sabally makes it three legitimate WNBA starters, and even potentially three All Star Selections, but that is certainly where the good news ends here in Dallas. Veterans Isabelle Harrison, Allisha Gray and Kayla Thornton all fill roles for this team, but respectfully they are all getting older and are “Dime a Dozen,” WNBA players at best, at this point in their careers. Another blow to the 2022 Dallas Wings Season came a month ago, back in early April, when (2021) Dallas Wings third leading scorer, Bella Alarie, decided to Opt Out of the upcoming 2022 season due to “personal reasons”. Just not a ton of good news lately out of the Dallas Wings camp.
11. Atlanta Dream- No surprises here (although I almost put the Indiana Fever ahead of the Dream believe it or not). After 5 straight seasons of finishing DEAD LAST in all of the WNBA (as well as nearly every statistical category), I had to give the small edge to this Atlanta “not so” Dream team. New GM, entirely new Front Office, new HC, new players, you name it. To their credit, The Atlanta Dream did pull off the WNBA’s version of a blockbuster trade six days before the 2022 WNBA draft last month. They traded their #3 and #14 picks to acquire #1 Rhyne Howard from Kentucky, who by all accounts, should become an absolute star in this League.
The Dream’s new front office wasted little time, severing ties with 5x leading scorer Courtney Williams immediately, while also trading their third-leading scorer, Chennedy Carter, to the Los Angeles Sparks. They did, however, manage to re-sign Tiffany Hayes and Monique Billings to one-year deals and actually got both of them pretty cheap, too, all things considered. Not sure what to make of these moves -- clearly something had to give with this team. Picking No. 1 in the draft, and moving up to do so, gives the Dream the opportunity to obtain a player (Howard) that they can build around for the future, and, yes, it’s a great piece to the puzzle. The question is: how long will this puzzle take to assemble?
12. Indiana Fever- Again, no surprises here. The Fever had the worst record in the WNBA last season, and they've been in that exact spot for the past five seasons. Over the past five years, the hapless Fever have combined for a 39-118 overall record. And it’s always the same story - “We are rebuilding,” might be time to rethink that process and how you are going about it. As per usual, the Fever dealt for a massive four top-10 picks in the 2022 WNBA draft, including the second and fourth picks overall, and are looking to put together a core for future success. Problem is -- as I said -- this is the same song, same dance, same movie.
They won’t contend AGAIN this year and will more than likely finish dead last for a record setting six consecutive years. Wow! And it’s not just about their roster full of mediocrity; their player development over the past 5/6 years has been atrocious as well. Also, as per usual, they will have the youngest roster in the league, and this particular year they will start (most likely) three- second year players, and two true rookies. NaLyssa Smith, Lexie Hull, Queen Egbo, & Emily Engstler, will all be in the lineup. There is some familiarity here with three of those four aforementioned names coming from Kim Mulkey’s Baylor Lady Bears program. Rounding out this roster will be Kelsey Mitchell, the lone vet here. This could get ugly (as even worse than last year ugly) and the Fever will once again limp to the finish line.
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