2023 WNBA Season Predictions – Tony George Power Ratings
Tony George and staff capper Tim Fynes look to follow up a 61% ATS Season in the WNBA in 2022 with another stellar campain in 2023 as the season Tips tonight.
Along with a 2023 Season Preview video podcast on Docs You Tube Channel, take a look at this team breakdown for all 12 teams by Tim, as we have some "same faces and different places" that will shake things up this season. Many say it is a 2-horse race this season between returning champions the Vegas Aces and the New York Liberty, however there are some sleepers for 2023 as well that will provide opoortunity against the spread.
Las Vegas Aces- So the reigning 2022 WNBA Champion Las Vegas Aces return everyone. They have the reigning 2022 Coach of the Year in Becky Hammon. They have A’Ja Wilson who took home the Kia WNBA Most Valuable Player Award. They return Kelsey Plum, who not only just 2nd team all WNBA, she also took home the WNBA’s Most Improved Player award while averaging 18.9 ppg. They added another 1st Team All WNBA in Candace Parker, while also adding the WNBA’s most underrated player in Alysha Clark. The Aces enter the 2023 season as the odds-on favorites to win the title. It’s a fair designation given they absolutely ran through the league last season. They went 26-10 in the regular season before a ridiculous 10-1 postseason run where they really hit their stride en route to the franchise’s first title. It’s an embarrassment of riches in Sin City, and things not only stay the same- they get better!
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New York Liberty- The Liberty have put together one of the most talented rosters in league history, arguably since the 2016 Los Angeles Sparks, if not those turn-of-the-century Houston Comets teams. Of course, the question becomes whether that talent on paper can translate to the court. And even if it does, what will happen come October when they may well face a roster nearly as talented and with far more history together?To start the season, the biggest thing I’ll be watching during Liberty games is the backcourt. The frontcourt has a pair of MVPs, but to a certain degree, we know what we’re getting from Breanna Stewart and Jonquel Jones. Both have played on incredibly talented teams, both are in their relative primes and we’ve seen both at or around their ceilings. In Sabrina Ionescu and Courtney Vandersloot, it’s a backcourt on opposite ends of the career spectrum. Ionescu thrived once she was moved more off-ball when Crystal Dangerfield moved into the starting lineup last season — that will be her role again for this year’s squad, as Vandersloot will be the point guard deluxe. This team is locked and loaded.
Washington Mystics- With so much focus on the New York Liberty and Las Vegas Aces, the Mystics enter the 2023 season as the forgotten child. However, when looking over the state of the league, the Mystics are clearly in a tier of their own — just below the Big Two but above the rest of the league. Washington brings back mostly the same roster that went 22-14 and finished as the fifth seed last season. In Alysha Clark and Elizabeth Williams, the Mystics lost a pair of excellent role players, but the incoming Brittney Sykes brings an offensive punch that’s been missing at times. Maybe the biggest factor for this team, however, is Elena Delle Donne being in her best shape since 2019. Delle Donne was on a partial schedule in 2022 after missing the entirety of the 2020 season and almost all of the ’21 season. When Delle Donne played last year, the Mystics were 18-7, a .720 winning percentage that basically matches the exact winning percentage of the Aces (.722). EDD says she should be available for a full schedule this season, and that’s massive news. I still struggle to see a path to the title for the Mystics, but in a game-to-game basis, there’s a lot to like betting the Mystics this season. Looking for a sleeper? Look no more.
Phoenix Mercury- It’s great to have Brittney Griner back in the W, and we all hope she is doing fine both mentally and physically. From a far more analytical and removed perspective, this is obviously a massive difference between the 2022 and 2023 Phoenix Mercury. Last season, the team was last in defensive rebounding rate and allowed the most second-chance points. If Griner is even 50% of herself, that’s not going to be the case again in 2023. Griner is far from the only potential change in Phoenix, though. Skylar Diggins-Smith announced in late 2022 that she is pregnant, and as of now, she looks like she will be missing the start of the ’23 season. The Mercury made the playoffs for the 10th straight season last year, but it was by the skin of their teeth, and their winning percentage was the lowest in over a decade. The market sees a return to above .500 ball, however, with the Mercury sitting as pretty much the consensus fourth-best team in the league, I see a much better record. There’s definitely some intrigue here. Sophie Cunningham made a genuine breakout last season, and the team has two of the best role players in the league in Brianna Turner and Moriah Jefferson. If Griner comes back in top form and Diggins-Smith returns halfway through the season, there will be a decent case for Phoenix to actually be the fourth-best team, personally I think they can even fight for that #3 spot, I’ve always been high on this squad.
Atlanta Dream- (NO THIS IS NOT A JOKE) The roster is ABSOLUTELY LOADED with two-way talent, starting with their No. 1 overall pick from last season, Rhyne Howard, who cruised to Rookie of the Year while making an All-Star Game appearance along the way. Her ceiling is incredible. She averaged 19.4 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.2 assists after the All-Star Game last season, so keep an eye on her points prop early in the season. My favorite non-Liberty/Aces move made all offseason was the Dream’s acquisition of Allisha Gray. The addition of Gray, alongside a year of growth from Howard and a year of continuity from the rest of the roster, moves the Dream from fringe playoff team to the tier just below the superteams for me. Gray proved herself to be an advanced metrics darling in Dallas with some of the best win share rates and on-off stats season after season. I also have an incredible amount of faith in Head Coach Tanisha Wright, who finished second in the Coach of the Year voting last season and would be my bet to win this year (if the books post that award market). She is backed by a stellar front office. Overall, the vibes in Atlanta are excellent. There’s really no weak spot on this roster. The dup of Cheyenne Parker and Monique Billings is a very strong two-way frontcourt, and I’ll be looking for Aari McDonald to take over the starting point guard role from Danielle Robinson at some point this season. If she does, note that in limited time as a starter last season, McDonald averaged 16 points and five assists per game. Get on the wagon now, because there will NOT be many rides left. Love this team!
Chicago Sky- I will admit that I have this team a little higher than most, but I’ve said it once and I’ll say it 1000x more- Someone else needs to win basketball games besides the two teams names Las Vegas and New York. Kahleah Copper is the lone returning starter, but this does not appear to be a rebuild. She is a top 3 talent in this league, and yes, she is that good. Head coach and general manager, James Wade, had a busy offseason, bringing in a brand new backcourt of Courtney Williams and Marina Mabrey. He’s also got a new starting frontcourt with Elizabeth Williams and Isabelle Harrison. There is much more talent here than most people think, but of all the rosters in the W, this one looks the most like a collection of pieces- but again stronger pieces than people think. Mabrey showed flashes of being the main piece in an offense when Arike Ogunbowale was out late last season in Dallas, but now she’ll be battling for the ball alongside Williams and Copper. Williams and Harrison make more sense to me as frontcourt pieces, but it will be a massive challenge for Wade to make it all come together. Ironically, Meesseman, if she had returned this season, would’ve been the perfect connector piece to make this offense go, watch out for this sneaky good squad.
Dallas Wings- Talk about a team that is hard to figure out- the Dallas Wings have entered the conversation. First thing is first- Arike Ogunbowale is a star. It has more to do with the Wings’ roster churn that occurred over the offseason. Allisha Gray and Kayla Thornton were their top two players by win shares last season, and in losing Marina Mabrey, they lost the player who guided the ship when Ogunbowale was out.
Coming in are Natasha Howard, Diamond DeShields and a collection of rookies. DeShields is a player I was incredibly high on early in her career, but she has seemingly gone the wrong direction when it comes to her actual impact on winning on the court. Howard was an elite role player in Seattle, but she was far more pedestrian in a bigger role in New York. In Dallas, she will likely need to be a key contributor again, which doesn’t give me much hope. Of the rookies the Wings drafted, they targeted: shooting, shooting and more shooting. While shooting is indeed an essential element of the game, it’s not the most balanced roster decision.
This feels like a massive pivot season. The Wings have a new head coach, Latricia Trammell, and I wonder how many of the old guard will last the year. Satou Sabally has a high ceiling, but so far she has been constantly hurt and not very productive when she’s been able to play. This feels like a season that could go left or right, but (again) besides Las Vegas and New York, who can’t say that this year?
Connecticut Sun- The market has shifted incredibly hard on the team that had the best regular season Net Rating in 2022, and personally I think the move is entirely deserved. The Sun had a +10.2 net rating last season, well clear of even the eventual champion Las Vegas Aces, who had a +7.9 net rating in the regular season. The Sun were taken apart handily by the Aces in the 2022 WNBA Finals, but this team was a juggernaut last year, especially in the regular season. The loss of Jonquel Jones will certainly hurt — she was the 2021 MVP after all — but the Sun are in decent shape to make up for her loss. In Brionna Jones, they have a player who was, on a per minute basis, actually more valuable to the Sun last season than Jonquel. I am not here to say Brionna is the better Jones (it would be a fun debate), but instead I want to note that they have a really solid immediate replacement in the form of last season’s Sixth Woman of the Year. The other notable departure from the Sun is Courtney Williams, but the Sun did well in replacing her by bringing in Tiffany Hayes. Personally, I see Hayes as a better overall player on the offensive end, and near even on the defensive side, where Hayes used to be great but declined due to aging. The biggest loss for the Sun may be head coach Curt Miller, who was incredible over seven seasons to establish the Sun as a yearly contender. However, new coach Stephanie White has a WNBA Finals appearance on her resume. It’s yet another talented addition to make up for a big outgoing loss. The addition of Tiffany Hayes helps, but it certainly isn’t enough to offset the other departures.
Los Angeles Sparks- The Sparks may have the second-longest odds to win the WNBA title, but I don’t see them as having the second-worst roster in the WNBA. The Sparks may have finished second from the bottom in the standings last season, but there’s nary a familiar face in L.A. this season. That starts at the top, where the Sparks hired Karen Bryant as General Manager and promoted Eli Horowitz to Assistant GM this offseason. They also brought in Curt Miller to coach the team, bringing with him one of the more impressive resumes in the league. The roster is basically entirely new as well. Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike are back as the heart and soul of the team, but the list of names the franchise brought in this offseason is nearly endless: Dearica Hamby, Azura Stevens, Jasmine Thomas, Layshia Clarendon, Zia Cooke, and on and on.
Seattle Storm- It’s a new era in Seattle, as the Storm and their loyal fans bid adieu to Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart and look to begin anew with Jewell Lloyd at the helm. Lloyd is a great place to start but there is no question this team goes from top to basement in a hurry. Kia Nurse is another one who will likely have to pick up the scoring load on a team that has plenty of defensive talent but will struggle to score the ball. That inability to score the ball is going to make winning hard for the Storm (and it’s going to make for some good potential under spots as well). I have the Storm as the third-worst team in the league with their roster as is, and I project them for a final record of 14-26 (slightly above their 14.5 win total at multiple outlets) The Storm are a perfect example of just how deep and talented this league is. They have a really solid core of Lloyd-Gabby Williams-Ezi Magbegor, but in a league where every team has talent someone has to lose, and that’s going to be the Storm more often than not this season. One word Seattle has not heard in a very long time- Rebuild.
Minnesota Lynx- Let’s start with the positives: Napheesa Collier was one of the best draft picks in recent memory. Getting her with the sixth pick in the 2019 WNBA Draft paid immediate dividends as she quickly established herself as one of the brightest talents in the league. The ceiling for their most recent top draft pick, Diamond Miller, is incredibly high, and in theory she could be a perfect fit next to Collier. In Reeve, they have arguably the No. 1 coach you’d choose to make that happen.
Let’s do the negatives now: The point guard position is a massive question mark, and the shooting on this team is almost non-existent. They have a few intriguing pieces in Brea Beal and Dorka Juhasz, but the cupboard is a little more barren than most teams. It’s part of the reason I think Reeve sees the big picture and realizes Collier is still very young and would be the perfect piece to go next to any of the big names in the 2024 Draft (Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese, Paige Bueckers or Cameron Brink). Simple look ahead year here.
Indiana Fever- The Fever did what they needed to do in the offseason. They drafted Aliyah Boston with the first overall pick in the WNBA Draft, but don’t be fooled, this is still the worst roster in the W. Boston overlaps with a pair of rookies from last season, NaLyssa Smith and Queen Egbo, who both roam the frontcourt and helped make the Fever one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the W last season. That skill will remain in 2023, but so will their weaknesses. This is a team with a very porous defensive backcourt, and beyond Kelsey Mitchell, they will struggle to score. Are they better? Yes. But better is far from good.
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