Which WNBA team should you root for?

Author: Matt EllentuckPublished: 05/17/23
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Welcome, new WNBA fan — or at least, I'm assuming that's what led you to this page. I'm Matt. Nice to meet you. I've covered the WNBA for the last eight years and I'm hopeful I'll be able to help you pick a team to root for this year.

Jumping into a new league is a daunting task. There are loads of new faces, franchises, rules and beefs to catch up on. This guide will be helpful!

WNBA fandom is a unique experience considering... the league is 27 years young! Chances are that your family either didn't grow up watching the W or are first-generation fans. That's good news for a new fan — almost everyone is new, really.

The low number of teams is another barrier for entry for a large portion of North America. With only 12 franchises in 12 states (note: no teams in Canada or Mexico), that leaves a *lot* of territory to cover. So there's no judgment here.

Choose a frontrunner if that's what your heart desires. Pick a team of young stars if you're here for the long run. Do whatever you want! I won't judge!

Here's what to know about each team.

Atlanta Dream

Best players: Rhyne Howard (2022 Rookie of the Year), Allisha Gray (big offseason trade addition)

Record last year: 14-22, No. 10 seed (missed the playoffs)

Team goal: Not just make the playoffs, but make noise there.

Team colors: Red and blue

Biggest rival: Finishing in the top-8 (they've only won double-digit games once in the last four years)

Your journey as a Dream fan will be: Incredibly rewarding. Rhyne Howard was game-changing last season, making an All-Star Game in her first season. With Allisha Gray (an elite shooter and defender) able to help on the wing, the Dream look like they have the pieces to make a playoff run for the first time since 2018! Buy stock in this franchise now.

Outsiders will view your team choice as: Cool! The Dream are on the come-up!

Chicago Sky

Best players: Kahleah Copper (2021 Finals MVP), Marina Mabrey (big offseason trade addition), Courtney Williams (big free agency signing)

Record last year: 26-10, No. 2 seed (lost in semifinals)

Team goal: Prove to the league that they're not in a full rebuild after losing three of their best players (Candace Parker, Courtney Vandersloot and Allie Quigley) in free agency.

Team colors: Blue and yellow

Biggest rival: Mostly the Mercury after a beef-infused 2021 WNBA championship run where Finals MVP Kahleah Copper and Mercury guard Sophie Cunningham had a moment. Plus, Mercury legend Diana Taurasi sorta kicked a door down in frustration after the loss — and y'all brought that door to your championship parade.

Also kind of the Aces. There was this shot from the 2019 playoffs that kicked off the kind-of rivalry, though most of the players from that game have since moved on. Hometown hero (who came back to town and won a championship two years ago) Candace Parker also now plays for the Aces.

Your journey as a Sky fan will be: Different. They lost three of their core five players from the 2021 championship team to free agency, and a fourth isn't playing in the league this year. That leaves Finals MVP Kahleah Copper to jump-start a new era alongside sharpshooter Marina Mabrey and mid-range assassin Courtney Williams.

Outsiders will view your team choice as: Cool! You're following a team that has few expectations to win right now. You're investing early.

Connecticut Sun

Best players: Alyssa Thomas (All-Star), DeWanna Bonner (All-Star), Brionna Jones (2022 Sixth Woman of the Year), Tiffany Hayes (biggest free agency addition)

Record last year: 25-11, No. 3 seed (lost in Finals)

Team goal: Prove their remaining core can win a championship together.

Team colors: Dark blue and orange

Biggest rival: Finishing the job.

Being a Sun fan will: mean you get to follow one of the few teams outside of the Aces and Liberty who have a chance at winning it all. This will be the franchise's first year without 2021 MVP Jonquel Jones, who left via a forced trade, and head coach Curt Miller, who took the team to two Finals in four seasons. The Sun lost 3-2 and 3-1 in those series, outmatched by the clear top team in the league both of those seasons. Now head coach Stephanie White, a former WNBA player and Indiana Fever coach, takes the reigns.

Outsiders will view your team choice as: Brave. The team doesn't look as good on paper this year as it did the last few, and those seasons still weren't good enough to end in a championship. They still have talent, though, and you'd look hella good joining a fanbase that wins in its breakup era.

Dallas Wings

Best players: Arike Ogunbowale (All-Star), Natasha Howard (All-Star), Satou Sabally (2020 No. 2 pick), Teaira McCowan

Record last year: 18-18, No. 6 seed (lost in first round of playoffs)

Team goal: Form an identity and earn a top-5 seed.

Team colors: Dark blue and green

Biggest rival: Their own decision-making (roster, rotations etc.)!

Being a Wings fan will be: A ride. This year may be the one the team really figures things out. Under new head coach Latricia Trammell (their fourth new hire since 2018), Dallas has the most talent it has in years, and there's no reason the team should miss the postseason. The question is if they can form a cohesive group that plays consistently.

Outsiders will view your team choice as: Interesting! The Wings' direction has long been unclear, but again, they have enough talent to compete!

Indiana Fever

Best players: Aliyah Boston (this year's No. 1 pick!), NaLyssa Smith (last year's No. 2 pick!), Kelsey Mitchell

Record last year: 5-31, No. 12 seed (missed the playoffs, league's worst record)

Team goal: Win more than five games lol & develop the franchise's first-ever top pick.

Team colors: Dark blue and yellow

Biggest rival: The win column :/

Your journey as a Fever fan will: Come with the most promise it has in a really long time. In South Carolina's Aliyah Boston, Indy has a centerpiece, and 2022 No. 2 pick NaLyssa Smith has looked sharp in preseason. Indiana likely won't make a playoff run, but the franchise should prove its heading in the right direction. If you want to join a franchise rising from its lowest point, now is the time.

Outsiders will view your team choice as: Heartwarming. They aren't going to be very good yet, but now is the right time to start believing one day they will be.

Las Vegas Aces

Best players: A'ja Wilson (2022 MVP, Defensive Player of the Year), Chelsea Gray (2022 Finals MVP), Candace Parker (2016 MVP), Kelsey Plum (All-Star), Jackie Young (All-Star)

Record last year: 26-10, No. 1 seed (WNBA champions)

Team goal: RUN. IT. BACK!

Team colors: Red and black

Biggest rival: Seattle Storm (these two played a ton of close games in recent seasons). Their soon-to-be rival = the New York Liberty (the other super team, who is their fiercest competition on paper).

Your journey as an Aces fan will be: One helluva ride. The best team in the league last year added Candace Parker (!!) in free agency. Now they'll be tested against a new challenger: the new and improved Liberty, starring franchise rival Breanna Stewart and 2021 MVP Jonquel Jones.

Outsiders will view your team choice as: Predictable lol. You're a bandwagon-er, and that's ok! Winning is good and fun and it is your right to choose to do lots of it.

Los Angeles Sparks

Best players: Nneka Ogwumike (2016 MVP), Dearica Hamby (All-Star), Jasmine Thomas

Record last year: 13-23, No. 11 seed (missed the playoffs)

Team goal: Make the playoffs

Team colors: Purple and gold

Biggest rival: Historically, the Minnesota Lynx. The franchises were rivals in the late 2010s, though all players involved have since moved on. But, like, you still kinda feel the animosity.

Your journey as a Sparks fan will be: Once again, different. Since the departures of Candace Parker and Chelsea Gray (who went on to win a championship together in Vegas, oof), L.A. has been searching for how to rebuild with 2016 MVP Nneka Ogwumike.

Outsiders will view your team choice as: Brave. New head coach Curt Miller has a big job ahead, but L.A. is too desirable a city to keep whiffing on big-name free agents. This won't be your year, but what is stopping next year from being the one?

Minnesota Lynx

Best players: Napheesa Collier, Aerial Powers, Kayla McBride

Record last year: 14-22, No. 9 (missed the playoffs)

Team goal: Make the playoffs and start the process of turning No. 2 pick Diamond Miller into a star

Team colors: Dark blue and gray

Biggest rival: Historically, the Los Angeles Sparks, the franchise's notable rivals in the late 2010s. All players involved have since moved on... But, like, you still kinda feel the animosity.

Your journey as a Lynx fan will be: A grind... but in a good way. Minnesota will play its first season since 2014 without Hall of Famer-to-be Sylvia Fowles at center, but there's a lot of talent to be excited about. All-Star Napheesa Collier is back for her first full season since the birth of her first child, and Aerial Powers and Kayla McBride are winning contributors. All eyes are on No. 2 pick Diamond Miller's contributions as well.

Outsiders will view your team choice as: Wise. Like with most teams this year, it's going to be hard to compete with the Aces or Liberty, but Minnesota is rebuilding well. Miller's growth will be imperative.

New York Liberty

Best players: Breanna Stewart, Jonquel Jones, Courtney Vandersloot, Sabrina Ionescu, Betnijah Laney

Record last year: 16-20, No. 7 seed (lost in first round of playoffs)

Team goal: Win the dang thing for the first time in franchise history.

Team colors: Green and black

Biggest rival: It will probably be the Aces soon, as they're the clear two best super teams.

Your journey as a Liberty fan will be: A chaotic, but possibly very rewarding ride. A fleet of talent just entered the franchise in MVPs Breanna Stewart and Jonquel Jones, plus one of the league's best-ever point guards in Courtney Vandersloot. It'd be a disappointment if this team didn't make the WNBA Finals.

Outsiders will view your team choice as: You're a bandwagon-er lol. That's fine! You just have to own what you are. Enjoy it.

Phoenix Mercury

Best players: Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner, Skylar Diggins-Smith (currently out following the birth of her second child)

Record last year: 15-21, No. 8 seed (lost in first round of playoffs)

Team goal: Have fun and make the playoffs

Team colors: Purple and orange

Biggest rival: Injuries. Enough of them! We want a full season of Diana Taurasi and Shey Peddy, please. Also, the Chicago Sky big time. They not only beat your team in the 2021 championship, but Sophie Cunningham and Kahleah Copper had memeable beef, plus after Diana Taurasi kicked in a door out of frustration, the Sky brought said door to their championship parade.

Being a Mercury fan will be: Very rewarding because Brittney Griner is back home and set to play again. Whether she looks like her All-Star self or not, the team's mainstay at center playing any number of minutes is a huge win. But the goal is even bigger! This team should make the postseason barring Diana Taurasi's health. A Skylar Diggins-Smith return at any point would be ideal.

Outsiders will view your team choice as: Fun! BG should have the support of so many even outside of the regular WNBA community, plus Taurasi is going to give you meme-able content weekly.

Seattle Storm

Best players: Jewell Loyd, Ezi Magbegor

Record last year: 22-14, No. 4 seed (lost in semifinals)

Team goal: Start roots for the next era.

Team colors: Green and yellow

Biggest rival: Kind of the Aces, but with so many players central to that rivalry gone via free agency, that feels like something of the past. Maybe the New York Liberty now that they signed your team's megastar Breanna Stewart in free agency. But Stewie grew up in New York, so that felt inevitable.

Your journey as a Storm fan will be: ... Not like previous years, but that doesn't mean it won't be exciting. While Sue Bird retired and Breanna Stewart left for New York, Jewell Loyd is still in town ready to anchor in the next generation of Storm talents. That could include No. 9 pick Jordan Horston and will definitely include 23-year-old Australian big Ezi Magbegor.

Outsiders will view your team choice as: An investment. Payoff won't be there immediately, but Seattle could've chosen to do a full rebuild and trade All-Star Loyd as well. They didn't. They're not going to sit towards the bottom of the table for long.

Washington Mystics

Best players: Elena Delle Donne, Ariel Atkins, Natasha Cloud

Record last year: 22-14, No. 5 seed (lost in first round of playoffs)

Team goal: Win another ring.

Team colors: Dark blue and red

Biggest rival: The fans who don't believe your team can stack up to the Aces and Liberty

Your journey as a Mystics fan will be: Spent proving you belong in the championship conversation. Finally, Elena Delle Donne is at full strength again for the first time since winning the 2019 championship, officially announcing she'll no longer sit for load management. Ariel Atkins and Natasha Cloud are experienced. Shakira Austin had a breakout rookie season a year ago. This is Washington's chance to bounce back — and compete with the best of the best.

Outsiders will view your team choice as: Feisty. Your team is in the hunt but not a frontrunner. Has the experience to win because they've done it before, but they enter 2023 without the burden of lofty expectations. Washington is dangerous and everyone knows it.

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