We’re sending this list of 20 wishes for the WNBA in 2020 to Santa. Or, maybe to Pat Summitt. Regardless, here’s what we want to see in the W in 2020. Cast your 2020 wishes in the comments!
1) CBA success
Let’s hope 2020 begins with the WNBA, the WNBPA and WNBA fans celebrating the successful, satisfying renegotiation of the CBA! Things seem to be trending in a promising direction.
2) No injuries
Another easy one. 2019 saw too many, and too many serious injuries to stars. While injuries will always happen, here’s to only minor bumps and bruises in 2020.
3) A “supermax” for WNBA stars
Relating to wishes #1 and #2, how about, as former Swish Appeal contributor Albert Lee proposed, a “supermax” contract for WNBA stars? If negotiated as part of the new CBA, a “supermax” could help protect against injuries. No matter what, WNBA players should enter the new decade expecting fair, respectful compensation.
4) Memorial Day madness
The opening weekend of the WNBA season should be an event. Just as the NFL owns Thanksgiving and the NBA owns Christmas, the WNBA should attempt to own Memorial Day, starting the season with a series of salacious matchups. For instance, the 2020 slate could feature a weight room showdown between the Washington Mystics and Las Vegas Aces.
Express yourself Liz Cambage. @ecambage— MarkJonesESPN (@MarkJonesESPN) September 23, 2019
The pure truth and the audacity to say it...
“If they can’t handle it,get in the weight room or get out of the post”...
I love this..@wnba playoffs. @LVAces pic.twitter.com/aTlbAuQQmk
5) Eliminate the WNBA draft age limit
The number of WNBA prospects who have elected to leave college has, slowly but surely, increased, highlighted by Jewell Loyd, Azurá Stevens and Jackie Young. More and more, the idea of eligible juniors departing college for the W is no longer unfairly stigmatized. Evidence for this can be seen in some of the names that appear in Swish Appeal’s 2020 WNBA Draft Watch analyses by our own Eric Nemchock.
As an expression of its stated commitment to women’s empowerment, the league should eliminate the age limit, allowing a player to go pro when she determines she is most ready. While three to four years at an elite college basketball program likely provides an athlete with the best pro preparation, this traditional path is not necessary nor optimal for all.
For instance, the Chicago Sky’s Diamond DeShields had a seemingly less-than-ideal collegiate career, playing one season at North Carolina before sitting out a season and playing two seasons at Tennessee. After graduating from Tennessee, she opted to forgo her final season of college eligibility and instead play professionally in Turkey. In her second WNBA season, DeShields was not only was named a WNBA All-Star, but also earned Second-Team All-WNBA honors. This suggests that her nontraditional path to the WNBA did not detrimentally affect her development.
The prospect of a high school senior or college freshman jumping to the WNBA could also inspire excitement and intrigue. Just imagine if Paige Bueckers was currently deciding between matriculating at UConn or going straight to the W!
6) A signature shoe for a WNBA star
Sabrina Iones-shoe? Shoe Bird? Diamond DeShoes? Arike O-shoe-bowale?
In order to avoid progressively worse puns, Nike needs to give the coming triple-double queen, a living legend or some dynamic young scorers a signature shoe!
Adidas, we’ll also take some Kickz Cambage or Ogwumi-kicks.
7) Expansion conversation
While actual league expansion for the 2020 season is not possible, it would be encouraging if the expansion conversation began in earnest. Toronto, the Bay Area and Miami (as most desired by WNBA players) present possible spots for a new WNBA team or two. The depth of women’s basketball talent that dots the world demands that the W do all it can to provide more opportunities.
8) More national TV games
More promotion for more games in more high-profile time slots.
9) More dunks
Dunks occupy a complicated space in women’s basketball.
Opponents of the women’s game often demand that players dunk, positioning the dunk as the marker of credibility. Yet, because biological factors and social expectations combine to prevent women from throwing it down like LeBron or Zion, women’s dunks also are considered proof of their athletic inadequacy (even if they’re better than Steph Curry’s).
So yeah, dunks are complicated. But dunks are also fun. Throw it down please, BG!
10) Mo(o)re Maya
Yes, Maya Moore is doing essential, admirable work, devoting herself to creating a more equitable criminal justice system. Nevertheless, in this season of somewhat selfish wishes, we can’t help but hope to see Moore back on the court in 2020. A trio of Moore, Sylvia Fowles and Napheesa Collier would make the Minnesota Lynx tantalizing title contenders.
11) Sun it back
As detailed by Howard Megdal, the Connecticut Sun enter the 2020 free agency period with only three players under contract — Jasmine Thomas, Alyssa Thomas and Theresa Plaisance. While a new CBA may introduce different contract provisions and possibilities, it seems that the Sun will struggle to retain all their contributors. Keeping Jonquel Jones and Courtney Williams in Connecticut is a must! Retaining the likes of Bria Holmes, Morgan Tuck and Natisha Hiedeman should also be of priority. Continuity and cohesion can ensure that the Sun are in the center of the 2020 title chase.
12) Stewie vs. EDD
Breanna Stewart owned the WNBA in 2018. Elena Delle Donne took over in 2019. Who will assert her excellence over the league in 2020? Seeing a fully-healthy Stewie and EDD battle for the “best women’s basketball player in the world” crown should be the best show in 2020.
13) Arike vs. Napheesa Part II
The 2019 Rookie of the Year race should define the next decade in the WNBA. A 2020 playoff game (or series) featuring Ogunbowale’s Dallas Wings and Collier’s Lynx could inaugurate what might become the league’s most intense rivalry.
14) Dearica Hamby, starter
After collecting the 2019 Sixth Woman of the Year award, the Las Vegas Aces’ Dearica Hamby deserves to start. While the big trio of Liz Cambage, A’ja Wilson and Hamby fits imperfectly, Bill Laimbeer should start his best five, making other teams adjust to the Aces’ ferocious brand of bully ball.
15) Let’s go Liberty
16) A 2020 All-Star Game
Traditionally, the WNBA has not held an All-Star Game in Olympic years. In 2004, the league organized The Game at Radio City in which a team of WNBA All-Stars challenged Team USA. In 2020, the WNBA should do something similar, building on the first-class All-Star Game that Las Vegas put on in 2019 by creating an exciting All-Star-esque event in 2020.
Team USA could return from Tokyo with another gold medal in tow only to take on the WNBA All-Star team. It is imaginable that Candace Parker, who has a bit of a frosty relationship with USA Basketball, could captain a collection of WNBA talent that would be motivated to take down the national team.
17) WNBA Rising Stars vs. NCAA College Stars Game
The NBA’s All-Star Weekend annually hosts a Rising Stars Challenge that features the league’s best rookies and sophomores. The WNBA should similarly showcase women’s basketball’s most promising young talents through a WNBA All-Star Weekend exhibition game that pits WNBA rookies and sophomores against athletes from top collegiate programs. If the WNBA removed the draft age limit, such a contest could be even more intriguing.
18) WNBA Legends Tournament
Here’s another new event for All-Star Weekend. Borrowing from the BIG3, the WNBA should organize a three-on-three mini-tournament with squads of WNBA legends. We could have the re-launch of the Houston Comets with the trio of Cynthia Cooper, Sheryl Swoopes and Tina Thompson again teaming up. How about a team of Lady Vol legends, with Tamika Catchings, Kara Lawson and Chamique Holdsclaw? And you know that Nancy Lieberman would be game!
19) New jerseys
20) Retro jerseys
Hey WNBA, dig into the vault and re-debut some of these classic looks! We not only want to see these on the floor but also for sale in the WNBA store.