WNBA Preseason Power Rankings: Can Anyone Stop the Aces?

The league is getting a lot of newfound attention on Caitlin Clark and other rookies, but there are a couple of superteams ready to steal back the spotlight.
Entering the 2024 season having won back-to-back titles, the Aces are once again the team to beat.
Entering the 2024 season having won back-to-back titles, the Aces are once again the team to beat. / Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The WNBA is back with arguably its most-anticipated season ever. Following up on a groundbreaking and record-shattering women’s college basketball campaign, the WNBA has attracted more eyeballs and some new fans leading into the 2024 season. And while the newfound attention may be centered on some of the rookies entering the league, the favorites to claim the WNBA title are teams with seasoned players and known winners. A dynasty is being built in Las Vegas, and the biggest question heading into this season remains: Can anyone stop the Aces?

1. Las Vegas Aces

Las Vegas Aces head coach Becky Hammon speaks to her players on the sidelines.
Although Hammon won't have Parker this season, her championship core returns. / Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

After claiming back-to-back titles, Becky Hammon’s team appears poised to three-peat heading into the 2024 season. Las Vegas’s championship core (A’ja Wilson, Chelsea Gray, Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young) remains intact, a daunting lineup even without Candace Parker, who announced her retirement ahead of the regular season. Proven winners, the Aces took out fellow superteam rivals, the New York Liberty, in four games during last year’s Finals—persevering without their star guard and floor general, Gray, who exited the series with a foot injury. Las Vegas is well-coached, talented and as competitive as they come—and once again the team to beat.

2. New York Liberty

New York Liberty forward Breanna Stewart takes a three in the WNBA Finals.
Stewart, last season's MVP, returns with her own super squad looking to avenge the Liberty's 2023 Finals loss. / Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Liberty have a point to prove this season after falling short of their self-imposed championship expectations last year. Sandy Brondello’s group may not have brought home the league trophy to New York, but the 2023 season was still a massive success. It took a beat for superstars Breanna Stewart, Jonquel Jones and Courtney Vandersloot to get used to their new home in Brooklyn, but eventually the touted superteam—rounded out by Betnijah Laney and Sabrina Ionescu—began to live up to its moniker. Another year for this band of players to jell—plus a boost to the perimeter from Ole Miss draftee Marquesha Davis—and this Liberty squad may have a better shot at slaying the proverbial dragon that is the Aces.

3. Connecticut Sun

Connecticut Sun forward Alyssa Thomas (25) scores a basket against the Liberty.
Thomas, who finished second in MVP voting last year, set numerous WNBA records last season, including six triple doubles in the regular season. / John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Alyssa Thomas returns to Connecticut after an unprecedented 2023, averaging 15.5 points, 9.9 rebounds and 7.9 assists while posting six triple doubles. Any team with Thomas on it is a favorite, but she’ll be flanked by familiar faces in DeWanna Bonner and Brionna Jones (who returns from an Achilles injury). This squad knows how to play together and is led by 2023 WNBA Coach of the Year, Stephanie White, which may be enough for this consistent playoff team to get over the hump and finally secure some hardware.

4. Seattle Storm

Seattle Storm guard Jewell Loyd (24) shoots against the Phoenix Mecury.
Loyd welcomes Ogwumike and Diggins-Smith to Seattle this season in hopes of the Storm becoming a postseason threat after a disappointing 2023. / Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The 2024 Storm will look a lot different than the Seattle team that missed the playoffs last year thanks to two major free-agency signings. The addition of league veterans Nneka Ogwumike and Skylar Diggins-Smith has quickly shifted the trajectory of a team reeling from the retirement of Sue Bird and the departure of Stewart to New York. The duo will join franchise centerpiece Jewell Loyd, who led the league in scoring last season, and Ezi Magbegor, who is coming off her first All-Star appearance, to form a compelling core. Ogwumike and Diggins-Smith came to the Cascadia to win, and Loyd is no stranger to hardware, so expect this team to be a postseason threat.

5. Dallas Wings

Dallas Wings guard Arike Ogunbowale (24) reacts to a foul called.
With several newcomers and Sabally sidelined with an injury, the Wings will turn to Ogunbowale to take control on the floor. / Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a decent amount of unknowns with this Dallas team due to injury and new additions. Satou Sabally, the WNBA’s reigning Most Improved Player, is sidelined with a shoulder injury for the opening half of the season in a substantial blow to the Wings lineup. The Dallas roster also features a handful of players who have yet to see WNBA regular-season action, including Stephanie Soares and Lou Lopez Sénéchal who were drafted last year but didn't play due to injury, and Ohio State guard Jacy Sheldon, who was picked up in this year’s draft. Dallas, however, also has a powerful known quantity in star guard Arike Ogunbowale, who will have the added responsibility of anchoring this Wings team in relative flux.

6. Minnesota Lynx

 Minnesota Lynx forward Napheesa Collier (24) dribbles the ball.
Collier, who finished fourth in MVP voting last year, will have more support in the backcourt this season with Williams joining the Lynx. / Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports

Napheesa Collier is the focal point for the Lynx, coming off an impressive 2023 season, averaging 21.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. Her impact on both sides of the ball automatically makes Minnesota a postseason contender, and with veteran Courtney Williams joining the Lynx at the guard position, Collier gets some needed backcourt help. Diamond Miller’s development will be key for Minnesota as well, with the Lynx hopeful she can contribute some offensive firepower in her second WNBA season. Minnesota also boasts one of the best and most experienced coaches in the league, Cheryl Reeve, who knows how to lead a disciplined team.

7. Indiana Fever

 Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark (22) dribbles.
With Clark finally in the league, there's no doubt that the Fever will get plenty of attention in 2024 and the expectations that come with it. / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

All eyes are on the Fever after the team selected Iowa superstar and generational talent Caitlin Clark with the No. 1 pick in the 2024 WNBA draft. How quickly—and smoothly—Clark will transition to the pros is a hot topic of late, but it’s safe to say her presence has likely drastically improved Indiana’s playoff stock. She will be surrounded by other promising young players in 2023 Rookie of the Year Aliyah Boston, and NaLyssa Smith, who returns for her third year in Indiana. The Fever’s youth is balanced by veterans Kelsey Mitchell and Erica Wheeler, who will look to lead the team to its first postseason appearance since 2016. Christie Sides’s squad may need a few more seasons to develop into a championship-caliber team, but 2024 is certainly the start of a new era in Indiana.

8. Phoenix Mercury

Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi (3) shoots against Seattle
Taurasi will be without fellow veteran Griner to start the season, but off-season additions Copper and Cloud will look to bring a spark back to the Mercury, who fell flat in 2023. / Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Phoenix is looking to bounce back this season after a disappointing 2023 campaign, when the team finished 9–13 and missed the playoffs for the first time in over a decade. The Mercury, however, will have to weather the first part of the season without star Brittney Griner, who is out for at least several weeks with a toe fracture. Off-season acquisitions Kahleah Copper and Natasha Cloud will have to do some of the heavy lifting with Griner sidelined, and luckily the two bring a spark and championship pedigree to a team led by Diana Taurasi— someone who knows a little something about winning herself. First-year coach Nate Tibbetts will also bring a new perspective to the Valley, with the franchise looking to establish a tangible identity after a shaky year. How well this group can forge ahead in Griner’s absence is a big question mark, and will determine the Mercury’s fate.

9. Atlanta Dream

Atlanta Dream guard Rhyne Howard (10) plays defense against the Mercury.
Howard led the Dream to their first postseason since 2018 in her sophomore season last year. / Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta has a forceful duo in its 2022 No. 1 draft pick Rhyne Howard and new addition Allisha Gray, who joined the Dream in 2023 after seven seasons in Dallas. Gray averaged 17 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists in her Atlanta debut, posting the best stat line of her career. Howard was impressive in her sophomore campaign as well, making her second consecutive All-Star appearance while leading the Dream to their first postseason since 2018. This year, Howard and Gray will get help from free-agency acquisitions Jordin Canada, Tina Charles and Aerial Powers, who bring experience and versatility to Atlanta’s roster.

10. Los Angeles Sparks 

Cameron Brink reacts after she is selected with the number two pick in the 2024 WNBA draft.
Brink and fellow rookie Jackson will lead the Sparks’ rebuild after losing Nneka Ogwumike. / Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

It’s rebuilding time in Los Angeles, with the Sparks losing Nneka Ogwumike and Jordin Canada in free agency. Curt Miller will work to develop Cameron Brink and Rickea Jackson—two promising first-round draft picks—in their rookie seasons. Dearica Hamby will be critical for Los Angeles, with the 30-year-old looking poised for a standout campaign in her second season with the Sparks. Los Angeles has strong foundational pieces and exciting young talents, but the lineup as it stands lacks the scoring firepower necessary to be a playoff threat.

11. Chicago Sky

ESPN reporter Holly Rowe interviews Angel Reese after she is drafted.
Reese and Cordoso will be at the forefront of a new era for the Sky. / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago is in a similar position to Los Angeles, undergoing a roster overhaul after the 2023 season. New coach Teresa Weatherspoon seems like the perfect person to guide rookies Kamilla Cardoso and Angel Reese while carving out a fresh identity for the Sky in its post-2021 championship era. Guards Dana Evans and Marina Mabry are two of only three returners from last year and will be helped on the perimeter by Diamond DeShields, who started her career in Chicago before a stint in Phoenix. With so much change, it's too much to ask the Sky to be competitive out of the gate, and instead, the team’s success will be measured by how well it develops its foundational pieces, laying the groundwork for years to come.

12. Washington Mystics

 Washington Mystics center Shakira Austin shoots against the Liberty.
Austin and the Mystics have a tall task in front of them as they navigate a season without Delle Donne and Cloud. / Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Washington’s roster took a considerable blow this offseason, with Cloud leaving for Phoenix and Elena Delle Donne stepping back from basketball for the season. But back are Brittney Sykes and Shakira Austin, and they’ll be helped down low by Stefanie Dolson, who returns to the Mystics after five seasons in Chicago followed by two in New York. First-round draft pick Aaliyah Edwards brings an injection of youth to the roster and is a pro-ready player with strong fundamentals. Still, Eric Thibault’s team lacks the offensive engine and obvious scoring threat needed to make a playoff push.


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Clare Brennan

CLARE BRENNAN

Clare Brennan is an associate editor for Sports Illustrated focused on women’s sports. Her work includes coverage of the WNBA and women’s soccer; and she previously wrote for Just Women’s Sports.