From super teams to a 10,000-point scorer to the first back-to-back champions since 2002, the WNBA blessed us with excitement in 2023. What’s in store for 2024?
Here’s some of things we’d like to see:
Better visibility and pay
My wish for the WNBA is a future where the league and its players receive fair financial compensation for their work and are respected for their accomplishments in their own right—compared to one another rather than their male counterparts.
As the longest-running women’s professional sports league in the US, the WNBA has grown tremendously over its 27 seasons, and, in particular, in recent years. In 2023, the league enjoyed its most-watched regular season in 21 years, with its viewership up by 21 percent from the 2022 season. Attendance was also up 16 percent for the 2023 season, compared to the previous year. The WNBA Finals—a matchup between the New York Liberty and the Las Vegas Aces—also enjoyed record ticket sales. All of this should be celebrated.
On the All the Smoke podcast last week, A’ja Wilson spoke on how so many players have to play overseas in the offseason to make a living, and that she hopes their stories can better be told. The media will play a critical role in continuing to spotlight and promote the W, and my hope is that, as that continues to happen, revenue will continue to rise and player salaries will increase. As it currently stands, the league’s minimum salary is $62,285, a number I’d love to see grow in the future. Marine Johannès, for example, who became a fan-favorite for the Liberty last year, was making this amount, a salary that is well-below New York City’s average yearly salary.. — Noa Dalzell
Commissioner’s Cup greatness
Don’t call it a comeback, the Commissioner’s Cup has been here for years!
The success of the Cup inspired the NBA to create its own version with the In-Season Tournament (IST). After seeing the success of the IST, I hope the WNBA makes some changes to improve their version. We already know some of the changes, as the league announced an all-new format this past week. The tournament will now happen for two weeks in June with the title game happening on June 25. This is a refreshing change as the cadence of the Commissioner Cup games was, at times, confusing. Having all the games happening during this period will make it easy to remember and focus on.
But I want more! Can the WNBA introduce some different courts as well? Or how about some city-edition jerseys? I feel like the spirit of competition is alive and well for each game of the WNBA season; the league needs to add to the pageantry to make this competition even better. The championship games have never disappointed, but, if the league can just make the initial round more interesting, it’ll make the 2024 version of the Commissioner’s Cup the best yet. — Edwin Garcia
MORE Canadians in the WNBA!
Canada is developing some serious talent in the NCAA world, and hopefully that talent will continue to make it into the WNBA. As of right now, there are four players currently on WNBA Rosters on three different teams: Natalie Achonwa and Bridget Carleton on the Minnesota Lynx, Kia Nurse on the Seattle Storm and Laeticia Amihere on the Atlanta Dream.
We could be adding another Canadian to the WNBA as soon as 2024, although we don’t know if Aaliyah Edwards will submit for the draft or use her extra COVID year at UConn.
On top of that, despite our Toronto WNBA expansion dreams being currently crushed by the decision of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment to not submit a bid for expansion, we can still continue dreaming. Toronto is ready for a WNBA franchise and we need to continue to prove that this would be a great market to welcome a team.
For now, bring the All-Star Game to Toronto! — Chelsea Leite
Expanded fantasy basketball options
It’s been a couple years now since ESPN got with the times and added the WNBA to its fantasy sports platform, and I know I’m not alone when I say that WNBA fantasy basketball has been a fun addition to my summer since then. It’s a no-brainer way to both reach new audiences and appease existing ones.
That being said, there’s potential for even more. Currently, ESPN only allows for head-to-head leagues and “points” scoring formats. In contrast, NBA fantasy basketball can be scored by individual statistical categories (also known as the “roto” format), which increases the amount of strategy required when drafting and making trades compared to points formats. By implementing a similar format for WNBA fantasy leagues, it would open things up to a wider range of fantasy players.
I’d also like to see other fantasy sports platforms, Yahoo in particular, join in on the fun. This would, again, further broaden the WNBA fantasy basketball audience—at least to those who like the convenience of setting our weekly lineups with just one click. — Eric Nemchock
SDS to ATL
When the WNBA’s fast-approaching free agency period begins, all eyes will be on Skylar Diggins-Smith. And I’ll be looking for her to take her talents to the Atlanta Dream.
Atlanta’s big move of the 2023 offseason—trading for Allisha Gray—worked out pretty well, as the Georgia native turned in the best season of her career. However, despite Gray, Rhyne Howard and Cheyenne Parker all earning All-Star honors, the Dream still failed to truly compete with the league’s best teams. The Dream’s offense often devolved into a “your turn-my turn” dynamic between Gray and Howard; if not, the ball was forced to Parker for a contested post up. Defensively, Atlanta lacked discipline, inconsistently executing an aggressive defensive system that requires attention to detail.
Diggins-Smith would bring the offensive organization and defensive intensity the Dream desperately need. She would give Atlanta an offensive punch, providing the kind of shooting and scoring threat that the Dream have not had from the point guard position while also elevating Atlanta’s playmaking. Her career improvement as a defender exemplifies the approach desired by head coach Tanisha Wright, who infamously declared that her team needed to “grow up.”
Diggins-Smith likely will be the hottest free agent on the market; I hope she ends up in Hotlanta. — Cat Ariail