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Five WNBA players to watch in the Australian Women’s National Basketball League

WNBA players like Jordin Canada, Sami Whitcomb and Aari McDonald have laced up for Australian professional teams in the WNBL, excelling in the early days of the season. 

WNBL Rd 1 - Southside Flyers v Melbourne Boomers
Jordin Canada has been balling in the WNBL for the Melbourne Boomers.
Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images

The Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL)—the pre-eminent professional women’s basketball league in Australia—has become a popular offseason destination for WNBA players, with the season spanning from October to March.

This year, at least 11 WNBA players are playing in the Australian WNBL (about 7% of the WNBA’s total players), while others have opted to play in EuroLeague Women, the Women’s Chinese Basketball Association and the Spanish Women’s Basketball League, among others. The following WNBA players are currently playing professionally in Australia:

Several former WNBA players are also playing in the WNBL this season, most notably 42-year-old Lauren Jackson, Australia’s most famous women’s basketball player. Jackson played for the Seattle Storm for 12 seasons, averaging 18.9 points and leading the franchise to two WNBA championships. She’s also won five WNBL championships, and came out of retirement last season. Kelsey Griffin (Bendigo Spirit), Leilani Mitchel (Southside Flyers), Stephanie Talbot (Adelaide Lightning) and DiDi Richards (Sydney Flames) round out the list of former WNBA players currently playing in the WNBL.

The WNBL is made up of eight teams. The season begins in early October, so most teams have played one or two games by this point. The top four teams will compete in the WNBL Finals in March. You can learn where you can watch games here.

Brianna Turner, Adelaide Lightning (2-1)

So far this season, the Phoenix Mercury forward is the second-leading rebounder in the WNBL, averaging 15 boards a game. Turner averaged 26.3 minutes per game for Phoenix in the 2023 season, averaging 6.3 rebounds and 3.5 points per game, but the Mercury finished with the worst record in the league (9-31). She’s been playing in the WNBL since 2019.

Jordin Canada, Melbourne Boomers (2-0)

Canada is close to averaging a double-double, putting up an average of 10.5 points and 9 assists in her first two games of the season. The Los Angeles Sparks guard averaged 13.3 points and 6 rebounds in the 2023 season, both career highs. That was Canada’s 6th season in the WNBA.

Aari McDonald, Perth Lynx (1-1)

McDonald scored 18 points in her first game to go along with 6 assists and 2 rebounds as the Perth Lynx defeated the Sydney Flames. The Atlanta Dream guard—the number three pick in the 2021 draft—holds career averages of 8.6 points, 2.5 assists, and 2 rebounds in three WNBA seasons.

Sami Whitcomb, Townsville Fire (1-1)

Whitcomb is off to an impressive start in her first season for the Townsville Fire. On opening night, she finished with 18 points on six 3s to go along with four rebounds, four assists and a whopping six steals in a 93-80 win over Bendigo. Last year, as a member of the Perth Lynx, she was named to the WNBL First Team, averaging 18.3 points per game. Whitcomb averaged 9.7 rebounds, 2.9 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game for the Seattle Storm in 40 contests in 2023. She also hit some big ones throughout the year, including this one:

Jade Melbourne, UC Capitals (0-2)

The Seattle Storm guard is the second-leading assist leader in the WNBL after two games, averaging 8.5 assists per game. Jada is also averaging 12 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. The University of Canberra Capitals have had a tough start to the season, though, having dropped both their first two games by at least 17 points, against Adelaide and Southside, respectively.

Swish Appeal is thrilled to welcome Noa Dalzell to our staff. Throughout the WNBA offseason, she’ll periodically provide updates on WNBA players’ performances in the WNBL.