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A 2022 WNBA Season Preview In Which Every Single Prediction Will Prove To Be 100-Percent Correct

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - OCTOBER 13: Skylar Diggins-Smith #4 of the Phoenix Mercury celebrates after a turnover ahead of Allie Quigley #14 of the Chicago Sky during the second half in Game Two of the 2021 WNBA Finals at Footprint Center on October 13, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Mercury defeated the Sky 91-86 in overtime. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
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The 2022 WNBA season begins tonight, and many Defector readers have come here in search of unimpeachable takes, thoughts, predictions, etc. that will only age well and prove right. What can I say? I live to serve. Below is a season preview filled with such takes, thoughts, predictions, etc. A warning before we begin: The sheer correctness and accuracy of the information you are about to read may be overwhelming, so please take your time with this preview. The 12 teams are listed below in alphabetical order. 


Atlanta Dream

2021 record: 8-24. It felt worse.

What is the wrongest thing you said about them in last year’s season preview? Dammit. I did not approve this season preview segment. But for the sake of ethics, here’s what I wrote last year about the Dream drafting small guard Aari McDonald:

I worry a little about her fit with the electric Chennedy Carter, another ball-dominant guard, and with Tiffany Hayes, and with Courtney Williams, and with Odyssey Sims, and with, ah, the other 85 guards the Dream have on this roster.

It did not occur to me at the time that having a surplus of guards might be useful if, say, one of those guards were mysteriously suspended for most of the season and then traded to Los Angeles, and another two were involved in a bizarre fistfight next to a Tenders & Bites food truck, an incident which, after one guard posted footage of it on her YouTube channel, embarrassed the organization enough to let them both walk in the offseason. Just for example.

This season marks a fresh start for a team plagued by on- and off-court drama. New head coach Tanisha Wright will be asked to steer a roster without veteran elite talent but with some promising young pieces. The crown jewel, of course, is Rhyne Howard, the versatile 6-foot-2 wing taken first overall in this year’s draft. Howard’s college teams at Kentucky seemed bad/poorly coached and mostly sucked to watch, so it will be nice to see her used more effectively at the pro level. As was the case last year, the Dream may be bad, but they won’t be boring.

Can they win it all?
Yeah, they could win … the draft lottery!!! 🤣


Chicago Sky

2021 record: 16-16 (lol!)

What is the wrongest thing you said about them in last year’s season preview?

Candace freakin’ Parker … free agency’s biggest fish, coming to Chicago after 13 years with the Los Angeles Sparks, is exactly the sort of player who fixes those holes on defense. 

None of that was wrong exactly; the Chicago Sky won the franchise’s first WNBA title very much thanks to Parker. Their star addition anchored the defense, pulled down rebounds, made smart passing plays, calmed her teammates down when they looked shaky, and hit big shots in the playoffs. But handing all the credit to Parker does a disservice to her teammates, who came together to form the league’s most in-sync offense. Kahleah Copper, a speedy wing with dazzling finishing ability, enjoyed a breakout season and earned herself a subsequent mega raise. Azurá Stevens excelled as a scorer in the second half of the year and strengthened the frontcourt defense. Courtney Vandersloot confirmed that she’s the WNBA’s best point guard. Allie Quigley won the three-point contest (again). I also wrote something last year about “emerging star Diamond DeShields,” and while I’m not sure such stardom will ever come to pass, it will at least not be happening in Chicago. DeShields left the Sky in an offseason trade that brought them my Belgian queen Emma Meesseman, who simply rocks! Look for the former Sixth Woman of the Year and Finals MVP to elevate the Sky’s bench.

Staying healthy could be a challenge, given the ages and injury histories of Parker, Vandersloot and Quigley. You might recall that early-season injuries were one reason the Sky needed to make their Cinderella run to the championship in the first place. Parker has said her goal is to “not suck in the regular season again this year,” and hopefully for the Sky that won’t be too hard: On paper, Chicago’s starting lineup may be unmatched.

Can they win it all?
They did it once!


Connecticut Sun

2021 record: 26-6

What is the wrongest thing you said about them in last year’s season preview?
May I first point out the rightest thing I said in last year’s season preview? That Jonquel Jones would win Most Valuable Player? The 6-foot-6 unicorn forward—one of the most special players to watch—received all but one first-place vote for the regular-season award. She averaged 19 points a game, which were sometimes earned via muscling through the paint and sometimes via buttery fadeaway. All the while, she led the WNBA in rebounding. Now for the wrongness:

Alyssa Thomas has been the engine of this team in two straight playoff runs now, and losing her will be a challenge.

For the third straight year, the Sun showed that they could lose a key starter and not suffer much at all. Thomas, known for her bruising and aggressive style on both ends of the floor, missed most of the Sun’s season with an Achilles injury, and the Sun responded to this “challenge” by simply having the best regular season record, defending like hell, and going undefeated after the Olympic break. Thomas recovered quickly enough that she was able to play the Sun’s final few regular season games and their playoff games. But there were fewer playoff games for Connecticut than anyone anticipated: The Sky, whose 16-16 regular season record we laughed out loud at in an earlier section of this preview, stunned the title favorite Sun in the semifinals. The Sun looked out of sorts on offense and had trouble shutting down Chicago’s motion offense. Most curiously, Jones was pretty much a non-factor in the series. Weird stuff!

In a twist, the Sun will have all of last season’s core back and they have made an intriguing addition: Midrange star Courtney Williams returns to Connecticut.

Can they win it all?
If they don’t go total fraud mode again, yes. Though it would be funny if the Sun totally fall apart the one year they don’t have to deal with a single devastating roster loss.


Dallas Wings

2021 record: 14-18

What is the wrongest thing you said about them in last year’s season preview?

The Arike Ogunbowale Show is some of the best television in the WNBA

I found The Arike Ogunbowale Show increasingly frustrating to watch last year. Sometimes, the All-Star guard was very fun. Sometimes, agh! High-volume iso scorers can be cool, but Ogunbowale’s efficiency never justified her usage. (I know high-usage players tend to be less efficient, but she shot 37 percent from three and also 38 percent from two on 10 attempts a game.) Neither did the quality of her teammates; they were not nearly bad enough that she needed to play hero ball all the time. While I think it is lame to crow about, like, a rookie’s PER, this is generally the kind of thing you want to see improved somewhat by the end of your max player’s third season. I felt the same way I felt watching Trae Young this year, where some of the youthful sheen wore off and I kept thinking, Man, it would help if you could even just pretend to care about playing defense. So we will see. I won’t rule out a slower development curve for the Wings’ young-ish star, but I’m less convinced she’ll be their franchise cornerstone than I was a year ago. The Wings did draft defensive specialist Veronica Burton out of Northwestern this year; maybe they could balance each other out as backcourt partners.

The good news for the Wings is that they can change the channel to the The Satou Sabally Show! The former Oregon forward has had pretty bad injury luck in the WNBA so far, but when she’s healthy she can be her team’s best player. She shows remarkable court vision for a 6-foot-4 big, added a more consistent three-point shot last year and seems primed to take a big jump this year. (That is, if she’s allowed to touch the ball …) For some reason, Dallas has pulled the reverse Atlanta and chosen to construct a roster entirely of frontcourt players. Should be a fun experiment.

Can they win it all?
They can be very tall!


Indiana Fever

Let’s watch this old Tamika Catchings highlight video instead!

2021 record: Ughhghhgghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh (6-26)

What is the wrongest thing you said about them in last year’s season preview?
It was wrong of me to even include them in last year’s preview.*

Can they win it all?
Guhhhhuuugggghhhhhhhhhh

* The “completely skipping over a team” bit my colleagues sometimes employ in their NHL/NBA season previews feels like a cop-out when previewing a 12-team league, so I will say something here. The Fever had four (!) picks in the first round of the draft, and it will be nice to watch those former college stars—NaLyssa Smith, Emily Engstler, Lexie Hull, and Queen Egbo—get minutes and roster spots in a league where rookie minutes and roster spots can be hard to come by. Kudos to the Fever’s new management for realizing a tank-season roster should be young and fun.


Las Vegas Aces

2021 record: 24-8

What is the wrongest thing you said about them in last year’s season preview?

the rest of the team could actually make things easier for [A’ja] Wilson by helping to open up the floor a little.

Despite some backcourt additions, the Aces’ three-point attempt rate remained the league’s lowest last season, and not by a little: Vegas averaged 13.5 three-point attempts per game; the next-lowest Fever averaged 17.3. In any case, it didn’t matter in the regular season. The Aces finished with the second-best record in the league and a stellar offensive rating. (It may have mattered in the postseason, where they lost to Phoenix in the semifinals. But that was a pretty crazy playoff series, so who even knows.) Their style was less a reflection of personnel than it was a reflection of then-head coach Bill Laimbeer’s rigid personal preferences. So now that Laimbeer has relinquished his head coaching gig, we could be seeing a new-look Aces team. Vegas pulled off the splashy hire of the offseason and made former WNBA star Becky Hammon the highest paid head coach in WNBA history. For the low, low price of $1 million per year, Hammon has promised to give the superstar Wilson and guards Chelsea Gray and Kelsey Plum “space to operate” in the offense.

After playing two seasons with the Aces, Liz Cambage has left and signed with the Los Angeles Sparks. Wilson seemed to play a little better without Cambage on the floor, but Cambage made a real difference on defense last season, so it’s not like they’re better off without her. Between her departure and Laimbeer’s, what an end of an era in Vegas! While two semifinals appearances and a run to the WNBA Finals can hardly be called a disappointment, I imagine the Aces are growing impatient at this point. So keep an eye on Vegas this season to see if Hammon can get them over the hump. And look out for Wilson to bounce back from a relatively quiet 2021 season. She’ll have all that new “space to operate.”

Can they win it all?
I guess so! I think their roster got worse, but who knows what new coaching might do.


Los Angeles Sparks

2021 record: 12-20

What is the wrongest thing you said about them in last year’s season preview?

Anything to look forward to? It’s been too long since we last saw guard Kristi Toliver play basketball. 

Well, we did see Kristi Toliver play basketball, but then she got injured again, and missed half of L.A.’s games. Injuries hit the Sparks’ core bad last season, and they missed the playoffs for the first time in 10 years. But the team has managed to retool on the fly here, trading for highlight-reel guard Chennedy Carter, and signing Liz Cambage and point guard Jordin Canada in free agency. So after a season of being mostly ignorable, Los Angeles might now be the WNBA’s most interesting team to watch. I’m curious to see what happens here. What can Carter be when she’s not suspended for mysterious reasons? What can 30-year-old Cambage be when she’s not playing alongside A’ja Wilson? What can Canada be when she’s not playing backup to Sue Bird? Will anyone on this team shoot from three?

In addition to those mystery boxes, the Sparks return the ever-reliable Nneka Ogwumike, who hopes to bounce back from the injury that kept her out of the lineup for 14 games last year. I also hope she does! Nneka rules and plays such a smart, complete game. I can’t wait to write this preview next year and report that she actually broke every bone in her body on opening night and didn’t play the season at all.

Can they win it all?
They could either win it all or be the worst team in the league. We’ll see.


Minnesota Lynx

2021 record: 22-10

What is the wrongest thing you said about them in last year’s season preview?

You don’t get many opportunities to root for a team that is competent in every way …  I think this makes [the Lynx] the exact opposite of the Wolves.

What a turn of events! The Wolves are good now, and I have soured on the Lynx after an offseason that saw them cut good players and sign some nothing-special players to big contracts. The Lynx turned things around after a rocky start to their 2021 season, though their trip to the playoffs was a short one. They ended up losing to the Sky in a first-round single-elimination game. It doesn’t seem like they’ll improve much upon last season’s performance. Napheesa Collier has shown she can be an MVP candidate when healthy, but she’ll miss all or most of this season due to her pregnancy. Angel McCoughtry, signed in free agency, could replace some of Collier’s production, but she’s also 36 and coming back from a torn ACL. At the very least, the summer can function as a farewell tour for the great Sylvia Fowles. Though she’s remained the best at her position, even at age 35, the center has announced her plans to retire when the season is over.

Otherwise, the vibes kind of stink. Among the last-minute roster cuts the Lynx made was 2020 Rookie of the Year Crystal Dangerfield. Dangerfield’s sophomore season certainly disappointed relative to her rookie year, but that’s true of lots of great pro athletes. I think there’s even a phrase for this phenomenon? Hopefully she gets an opportunity to figure things out elsewhere in the WNBA.

Can they win it all?
One more ring for Sylvia Fowles would be nice, and she does raise their floor quite a bit, but I don’t think it’s their year.


New York Liberty

2021 record: 12-20

What is the wrongest thing you said about them in last year’s season preview?

the Liberty are an obvious contender-in-the-making

Oh, I’d like to think I was not being a totally foolish homer when I wrote this. While the Liberty may be a contender-in-the-making, I would not go so far as to call that “obvious” at this point. Despite some smart free agency additions, the team underwhelmed all around. A lingering injury haunted Sabrina Ionescu’s sophomore season; naturally, she did not look like the franchise-changing talent she was drafted to be. The Liberty acquired center Natasha Howard to help them defend inside better, but Howard missed several weeks with an injury and never seemed 100 percent when she returned. Betnijah Laney started hot, cooled off a bit in the second half of the season, and dazzled in the Liberty’s lone playoff game. (Yes, a 12-20 team made the playoffs. Great league. No notes.)

How much of the Liberty’s woes last season were coaching-related and how much were they a matter of talent? We’ll find out now that Sandy Brondello, formerly of the Phoenix Mercury, takes the reins as head coach. This is an exciting year for the team, but a high-stakes one, too: They don’t have to win a championship, but they should probably start to show some sign that theirs can be a championship core.

Can they win it all?
They are more than welcome to, but I doubt they will.


Phoenix Mercury

2021 record: 19-13

What is the wrongest thing you said about them in last year’s season preview?

I was not entirely convinced by the “Big Three” of [Diana] Taurasi, [Brittney] Griner and [Skylar] Diggins-Smith last year

They convinced me. Phoenix made what has to be the strangest WNBA Finals trip ever, full of improbable runs and clutch performances from the most unlikely of players. Alas, in the end, Phoenix’s slightly villainous run ended in heartbreak and doorbreak. For a few reasons, I doubt it can be replicated. But the biggest reason is that last year’s Mercury received the best possible version of Brittney Griner, and this year’s Mercury will play at least a large portion of the season without any version of their superstar center. She remains in Russia, where she has been detained for more than two months after being arrested at a Moscow airport. A change in the State Department’s approach to her case means the WNBA and its players could start being more vocal in advocating for her return this summer.

Diana Taurasi played some brilliant games last year—remember the time she had a true shooting percentage of 109 percent in that one semifinal game?—and even though she says she intends to keep “playing for a while,” the Mercury will have to plan around the injuries that have limited her availability in recent years. Free agent Tina Charles joins Taurasi and Diggins-Smith in Phoenix’s elite core this year; hopefully she will not constantly be scoring 30 points in a loss the way she was in Washington last season.

Can they win it all?
I don’t think it happens without Griner.


Seattle Storm

2021 record: 21-11

What is the wrongest thing you said about them in last year’s season preview?

This is not a team that will ever truly disappoint you.

The Storm had a pretty cursed end to their season. It may have disappointed you! First, they forgot how to shoot and tumbled from the top of the standings after the Olympic break, and then they lost Breanna Stewart to injury at the very end of the season, exactly when they needed their franchise star to rescue them most. The Storm ended up having to play in a single-elimination playoff game, and you know how that goes. But that mess is behind us now. Stewart is back (on a one-year deal … ooh, begin speculation!) and the organization re-signed Jewell Loyd, the team’s second-highest scorer after Stewart.

This brings me to the third franchise star: Sue freaking Bird is retiring at the end of the season. Jeez! I didn’t even know this was legal. Last season, Bird played some of the better basketball of her life. At 40, she still did what she’s done her entire career, which is to make everyone around her better. The point guard’s creed. It’s strange to see her go; she has remained one constant through many iterations of the Storm, but it’s nice that she’s managed the rare combination of longevity and consistently excellent play. The Storm would be a championship favorite regardless of her plans, but Bird’s certain retirement and Stewart’s imminent UFA status add some urgency to this Storm season. They were always going to be a team that could shoot from anywhere and move the ball seamlessly, and now they will be doing this with a touch of desperation. Scary.

Can they win it all?
I will just repeat my answer from last year: “If you have the best player in the world on your team, you get an automatic yes.”


Washington Mystics

2021 record: 12-20

What is the wrongest thing you said about them in last year’s season preview?
Oh god. This is a pretty bad one.

the Mystics feel a little underestimated heading into this season—this power ranking has them EIGHTH

Yeah, so they actually ended up finishing ninth. In my defense, I didn’t anticipate Elena Delle Donne missing as much time as she did; an injury meant she didn’t make her season debut until after the Olympic break. I also didn’t anticipate that Tina Charles would be the only player capable of scoring in Delle Donne’s absence. Anyway, Charles is gone and Delle Donne says she is feeling good now, so we should be seeing her play a full season for the first time since 2019, when she brought the ‘Stics championship glory. When she is healthy, there is no player I’d trust more than Delle Donne to go out and get me a bucket. I will always be a little mad at the injuries that kept us from enjoying some prime seasons from her.

In the same way the 2021 Mystics did not really resemble the 2020 Mystics who did not really resemble the 2019 Mystics, the 2022 Mystics look different than last year’s team. The additions of All-Defense guard Alysha Clark and 2022 draft pick Shakira Austin, a center out of Ole Miss, should mean they will not again finish with the 11th-worst defensive rating in the league. (Can you ever guess which team had the worst defensive rating??? No! I will not poison this section by mentioning the Indiana Fever! Never mind. We’re moving on.) Washington’s situation has been so weird. The team won a championship and then had basically no hopes of defending it in their next two seasons due to the Delle Donne injury. So this season, one without any major absences, finally offers the Mystics front office a good chance to evaluate the team and chart a path for the next few years.

Also, I don’t know how many minutes she’ll actually play, but it appears the Mystics front office reads Defector.com, knows just how cool the Japanese women’s national team is, and has added Japanese Olympian Rui Machida to the roster this year. Exciting!

Can they win it all?
I’ve learned my lesson from last year and will wait to see who actually plays this season and how everyone recovers from injuries before I make any dumb proclamations. Maybe?


OK! That’s it! Those are all the teams. Enjoy the games.