Gear up for what could be a busy WNBA offseason.
While things got going with the blockbuster trade that sent 2021 MVP Jonquel Jones to the New York Liberty, they’ll intensify when free agent negotiations begin on Saturday, Jan. 21, though players cannot sign contracts until Wednesday, Feb. 1.
As 2023 free agency could completely alter the landscape of the W as we know it, The Sporting News is here to rank the most intriguing available free agents on the market, a list headlined by one of the game’s most decorated players.
The list takes into account a number of factors, including the plausibility of a player moving on via free agency. For that reason, Brittney Griner, who has stated her intentions to return to the Mercury following her detainment in Russiais not included.
Now, let’s get into the 10 most intriguing members of the WNBA’s 2023 free agent class.
10. Ezi Magbegor
The Storm have extended a qualifying offer to Magbegor, making her a reserved player in free agency.
As for her standing, the Aussie center averaged 9.5 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game in 2022, earning All-Defensive Second Team honors in the process. At 23, Magbegor is a key component of Seattle’s future and all signs indicate she will return to the storm in 2023.
The 2019 WNBA Finals MVP is coming off of a season in which she averaged an efficient 12.4 points on a career-best 57.1 percent shooting for the Sky. Her 3.8 assists per game should not be glossed over.
Given her all-around game and high-level impact, Meeseman will be in high demand this offseason should she elect to move on from Chicago.
8. Diana Taurasi
Taurasi will turn 41 this season but it wouldn’t be wise to question the GOAT.
Over 31 games in 2022, Taurasi averaged 16.7 points per game while battling various ailments. Health issues could explain shooting splits of 37.3 percent from the field and 33.7 percent from deep that leave more to be desired.
Taurasi would likely land higher on this list if it felt like a team outside of the Mercury had a strong chance to sign her. Barring a wild surprise, Taurasi will be back for Year 19 in The Valley.
As she enters her 13th season, Charles is still in search of that elusive title.
Last season, Charles accepted a smaller offensive role to join a contender in Seattle after things went sour in Phoenix. That could give an idea of what to expect from her approach to free agency, where a chance to win will likely be the biggest factor in the decision.
6. Azure Stevens
Entering her 27-year-old season, Stevens is trending upward. Last season with the Sky, the 6-foot-6 post flashed her range, knocking down a career-high 42 triples at a 36.2 percent clip.
Through five WNBA seasons, Stevens has started in just 42 of a possible 121 games. Could this decision be based on stepping into a starting role? Is that possible in Chicago? There are numerous factors at play here.
5. Brionna Jones
The reigning sixth player of the year, Jones is coming off a very solid season in which she averaged 13.8 points and 5.1 rebounds per game for the Sun.
The aforementioned trade of Jonquel Jones frees up some shot attempts — and money — in Connecticut, which could ultimately result in Jones staying. That, and Alexa Philippou’s report that the Sun plan to give Brionna Jones a core designation, giving the franchise exclusive negotiating rights.
Things get very interesting with Vandersloot.
After spending each of the first 12 seasons of her career in Chicago, the four-time All-Star has been linked to both the Liberty and Storm, according to Khristina Williams of Girls Talk Sports TV.
Vandersloot averaged 6.5 assists last season while sharing playmaking duties with some of her Sky teammates, reminding us all that she is still one of the game’s best creators. She would be a major addition to any team.
3. Nneka Ogwumike
So, about the factors that come into play. Ogwumike enters free agency after sharing that “I would love to be back” with the Sparks at her exit interview to conclude the 2022 season.
That said, it would not be that far-fetched for the seven-time All-Star to have a change of heart — or mind.
Ogwumike averaged 18.1 points and 6.6 rebounds last season for a Sparks team that endured its fair share of turmoil and change. More change is coming as Curt Miller is the team’s new head coach while the franchise has also appointed new front office executives. Those changes could draw Ogwumike in or cause her to test the market a little more seriously.
Parker has won in LA and she’s won in her hometown of Chicago, so what’s left to do?
As Parker reaches the twilight of what has been a Hall of Fame career, it’s hard to envision her prioritizing much over her family and winning. Last season served as a reminder of why Parker is an all-time great as she averaged 13.2 points and 8.6 rebounds for a Sky team that fell one win shy of the WNBA Finals.
Some were shocked when Parker signed with the Sky as a free agent in 2021. Does she have any more surprises left? Will they run it back? It’s all on the table.
1. Breanna Stewart
This one is a no-brainer. Stewart might not just be the most intriguing free agent in the 2023 class, she could very well be the league’s most coveted free agent ever.
At 28, Stewart is in the prime of her career and just turned in season averages of 21.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists on .472/.379/.837 shooting splits in 2022. She’s so good that the basketball world is going crazy over her cryptic emoji loaded tweets.
🏆🍼🛩️🏠💰🏀🌊 🐆 🐊 🏗️ 🔌 ♍️ 🐾 📰
— Breanna Stewart (@breannastewart) January 16, 2023
— Breanna Stewart (@breannastewart) January 19, 2023
Could the Syracuse native return to her home state to play for the Liberty? Does she stay in Seattle where it all started? Whichever way the chips fall, Stewart’s decision is the one that will alter the course of the league in 2023 and beyond.
Sophia Cunningham: Brings toughness and shooting. Averaged a career-best 12.6 points while shooting 40.0 percent from deep in 2022.
Marina Mabrey: Capable of creating for herself and others. Mabrey is a restricted free agent that Dallas will certainly prioritize.
Teaira McCowan: Another restricted free agent from the Wings. McCowan averaged 11.0 points and 7.0 rebounds while starting in just 15 of 33 games.
Courtney Williams: With changes abounding in Connecticut, Williams could also be on the move. The six-year veteran guard averaged 11.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists in his second stint with the Sun last season, making big plays during their Finals run.