WNBA Season Preview Part 1: Chicago, Atlanta, Connecticut and Dallas

Rhyne Howard of the Atlanta Dream dribbles

The 2023 WNBA season is almost upon us. While the Aces and Liberty as the top 2 teams seems pretty set, the rest of the league is open to an unusual degree. I am going to be previewing the season with three articles, four teams per article. I am listing who I think should be the top 8 players and then addressing the major questions I have about each team to watch for as we head into the season.

Atlanta Dream


Cheyenne Parker C

Nia Coffey PF

Rhyne Howard SF

Allisha Gray SG

Aari McDonald PG


Monique Billings Big

Haley Jones   Wing

Danielle Robinson Guard


How does Tanisha Wright gets enough shooting on the court with this team? The Dream will get shooting from Howard, Gray and hopefully McDonald. But none of the other players on the team who are likely to play are likely to provide much spacing if at all. Coffey could provide spacing, if she bounces back from her icy shooting last season to the prior years. Both Haley Jones and Laeticia Amihere were good draft picks, but neither, at least this season, will be guarded from three. Parker can step out to 3 some, but if she is at center, using her to space the floor is not a good use of her skill set. Savvier teams will also likely still sag off her and see if she is willing to get her 3 volume up.

Trade acquisition Danielle Robinson can’t shoot from 3 and needs the ball in her hands to be effective. This is why I would not start her. Doing so requires Atlanta to run the offense through her and move both Howard and Gray off ball. Hopefully for the Dream, AD Durr can provide bench and Iliana Rupert comes over and plays decent backup minutes. Otherwise, the offense is unlikely to get the Dream beyond the first round of the playoffs. Something for Dan Padover to look into is how to add shooting that meshes with Howard and Gray in future seasons.



Elizabeth Williams C

Isabelle Harrison PF

Kaleah Copper SF

Marina Mabrey SG

Dana Evans PG


Alanna Smith Big

Rebekah Gardner Wing

Courtney Williams Guard


Why is this team trying to win the sixth seed and how does James Wade manage the bigs are the biggest question for me with this team. The Sky have inexplicably traded away their future draft picks, with 2024 gone and a swap for 2025, so the Sky have every incentive to go for every win this year. I would have taken a different approach, more like Seattle’s, where you be bad for a season in the hopes of getting someone to pair with Kaleah Copper.

James Wade is relying on either one of his signings turning into a top 10 player, seems unlikely, or for another top 10 player to sign with the team, also unlikely given the Sky’s lack of free agent appeal. Candace Parker came home, but the team is cheap relative to competitors in the ways not covered by the salary cap. If neither of those things happen, a couple of bites at two excellent draft classes would have been better. The risk of either of the picks sent away being in the lottery are slim, but too high for the upside of this Sky team.

For this season, how does this group of bigs contribute to winning? The guards and wings are more set and make some sense, though light on plus passing and overly reliant on long 2s outside of Dana Evans. But the front court is a lot of question marks. Neither Elizabeth Williams nor Isabelle Harrison started for their teams last season. Both are fine players, but neither spaces the floor and both are a bit undersized against the biggest centers, nor is it ideal to have either chasing the stretchiest power forwards. I have Isabelle Harrison penciled in, but if any of the Morgan Bertch, Aneli Maley, Alanna Smith trio show promise for future seasons, Wade should seriously consider them. The lost draft picks are a sunk cost at this point anyways.

Connecticut Sun


Brionna Jones C

Alyssa Thomas PF

DeWanna Bonner SF

Tiffany Hayes SG

Natisha Hiedeman PG


Olivia Nelson-Ododa?? Lauren Cox?? Big

Rebecca Allen – Wing

Ty Harris – Guard


How does this team score enough to win in the playoffs? The Sun should be able to win plenty of games in the regular season, especially against high turnover teams when they can get out in transition. The difficult part will be figuring out how to score against quality teams in the half court in the playoffs. Jonquel Jones box score stats were down in 2022 and the Sun weirdly didn’t play her at times in the playoffs, but she was a  former MVP big who shot 37% from 3 on 3.4 attempts per game. That is a lot to replace on a team that already played in a phone booth. Especially given they did not add much shooting in the offseason, Hayes awkward but effective spot up 3s aside. This team has a good shot at making the semifinals, which would be a fine outcome, but seems unlikely to make another trip to the finals.

Something else to keep an eye on is who the backup bigs will be. Given Alyssa Thomas’s ability to play 40 minutes in the playoffs, this shouldn’t matter as much then. Over a 40 game regular season though, who of the somewhat random mishmash of backup bigs Connecticut has collected ends up playing will be interesting. If Cox can actually shoot, she fits better, but Nelson-Ododa might simply be the best player of the group, even if her fit is awkward at best on offense.

Dallas Wings


Teaira McCowan C

Satou Sabally PF

Diamond DeShields SF

Arike Ogunbowale SG

Veronica Burton PG


Natasha Howard Big

Maddy Siegrist Wing

Crystal Dangerfield Guard


Where does this team want to be in two seasons? This is a team that is unlikely to win a round of the playoffs and the future is as muddled as ever. Their highest upside players are going to come off the bench in Awak Kuier and Sabally. Natasha Howard will almost certainly start, though I would prefer to see Sabally start. Sabally is a better shooter and perimeter fit next to McCowan. Speaking of McCowan, they just gave her a max contract. She will help the Wings rack up wins in the regular season, but is very difficult to fit in a good playoff defense.

Their highest profile player, Ogunbowale, could, by moving off ball a bit more, be a fine offensive player. But without improved playmaking for others or quality defense, rough to be paying her the supermax the next three seasons. Diamond DeShields is a sub 30% shooter from 3, so while she does many things well, is a drop off from Allisha Gray especially on this specific roster.

Their draft strategy was even more questionable than the trades. Maddie Siegrist at three is fine. If she can hang on defense, her shooting fits nicely on this team. After that though, trading a draft pick in the deepest draft in years, 2025 when the final covid year runs out, for Stephanie Soares, who plays the same position as McCowan, who as I mentioned above is their recently signed max center, makes no sense. Especially makes no sense given that Soares is a project who has shown little against high level competition.

The pick one spot later, Lou Lopez Seneschal can shoot on the move But I am skeptical of the rest of her game being good enough to get minutes on this Wings team. Kitja Laksa is a better version that they had already signed. And Seneschal is only a year younger than Laksa, so not like the draft pick is a future focused pick.

The Wings should be able to talent their way into the bottom of the playoffs, but this is a team that seems to still be further from a semifinals trip than last season. The most interesting thing about this team for me is how they handle Sabally’s restricted free agency next year and if another team can pry her out and put her in a better context. 

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