As is our annual tradition, we’re counting down the 30 best players in the WNBA. Nos. 20 through 11 will publish on Tuesday, and the top ten on Wednesday.
Each member of the Swish Appeal staff was asked to rank their top 30, including rookies, based on who will the best in the WNBA for only the 2022 season. If a player was voted 1st on a list, they earned 30 points; second place earned 29, and so on, and the totals were summed together to make a collective staff determination. In the event of a tie, the player who was higher on the 2021 list stayed ahead.
Players who received votes but didn’t make our final list include Sami Whitcomb, Sue Bird, Rebecca Allen, Brianna Turner, Stefanie Dolson, Kayla McBride, Dearica Hamby, Brionna Jones, Sabrina Ionescu, Allie Quigley, Myisha Hines-Allen, and Gabby Williams.
Here’s a look at No. 30 through No. 21:
30) Courtney Williams (16 points)
Last year: not ranked
Williams was tough to keep off the list last year. This year it would have been even tougher with her monster stat score (career-best points, rebounds, assists times 1.5, steals and blocks averages added up) with age factored in being very high (31.6). Part of the reason she’s so good is that she can get you assists and rebounds, not just points. She’s one of the best rebounding guards in the league with a career-best 7.2 boards per game coming in 2020 and 6.8 coming last year. Her mid-range game continues to be lethal and in 2021 she made a career-high 39 threes, including the game-winner against the Liberty on May 29. And she made those treys at a 38.2 percent clip. She is officially an All-Star (as of last year) and is right in her prime at age 27. The Sun really do have a big five with her, Jonquel Jones, Alyssa Thomas, DeWanna Bonner and Brionna Jones.
29) Kelsey Plum (18 pts)
Las Vegas Aces
Last year: not ranked
The 2021 sixth woman of the year pulled her scoring average up to a career-high 14.8 points per game with a couple performances where she just went off. She had 32 on June 15 and 30 on Sept. 30. She’s the NCAAW Division I all-time leading scorer and a former No. 1 pick, so she has a lot to live up to. Last year we saw some of the college Plum in the pros and she demonstrated phenomenal leadership qualities as well. She is truly capable of putting a team on her back and uses her confidence from behind the 3-point line to do so. She is a career 38.7 percent long distance shooter with 1.4 makes per game. She can also beat you off the dribble and fool defenders all over the place as she demonstrated while playing with the clearing format in the 3x3 event at the Olympics.
28) Emma Meesseman (18 pts)
Last year: No. 21
Meesseman is one of the harder players to rank as she has never averaged better than 15.2 points per game or 6.4 rebounds per game in a regular season, but can play like a superstar when she gets hot like she did during the 2019 WNBA Finals. It would be interesting to see how much greater her WNBA legacy would be if she hadn’t sat out both 2018 and 2021 to rest after overseas play. Her scoring average of 13 points per game in the wubble was somewhat of a disappointment as she was expected to lead a Mystics team that was without Elena Delle Donne and Tina Charles. But she explored a new strength that year by averaging 4.5 assists. She can hit from three and her true gifts — mid-range and inside touch — make her capable of averaging many more points per game than she does. Expect her to be a star in Chicago.
27) Allisha Gray (23 pts)
Last year: not ranked
The 2017 rookie of the year doesn’t light up the scoreboard with a ton of points per game, but is certainly a capable offensive player and a gritty defender. She notably made the playoff-clinching block for the Wings last year and wreaked havoc on defense at the Olympics. She also stuffed the stat in Tokyo with some good rebounding for her height. She's probably one of the more underrated players in the league and gets overshadowed by Arike’s scoring numbers. But here she is at No. 27, giving Dallas three players in the Top 30. Despite head coach Vickie Johnson critiquing Gray’s re-adjustment to 5-on-5 basketball after Team USA’s gold medal run, we expect the now sixth-year veteran to be one of the more savvy players on the court this WNBA season.
26) Tiffany Hayes (23 pts)
Last year: No. 25
Last year in our entry on Hayes we said that she could finally become the “Batman” of the Dream, referring to a Natalie Weiner article written on SB Nation in 2018 that is partly about Hayes being “overshadowed” by Dream great Angel McCoughtry for many years. But the Tiffany Hayes Robin curse continued because although Hayes was All-Star worthy, Courtney Williams was probably the Dream’s best player and actually went to an All-Star game that Hayes missed with an MCL tear. With Williams back in Connecticut and up-and-coming star Chennedy Carter off to LA, Hayes once again has a chance to be Batman on one of the weaker teams in the WNBA. That is unless 2022’s No. 1 overall pick, Rhyne Howard, rises to immediate superstardom. Hayes is going to try and prove that she still has more prime in her at age 32 and if she does, she has a case to be higher on this list.
25) Angel McCoughtry (30 pts)
Last year: No. 22
One of the all-time greats comes in at No. 25 and why not? Maybe she should be even higher. She is 35 years old, but Candace Parker is 36 and Diana Taurasi is 39 and they’re both still near the top of their games. Not that McCoughtry’s high is as good as their highs (see ESPN’s all-time rankings), but McCoughtry’s scoring average the last time we saw her was still a very solid 14.4 points per game and came in just 20 minutes per game. It will of course be difficult to come back from a torn ACL and meniscus at her age and that has to be taken into consideration. Something to track with McCoughtry is her status as the second-most accomplished active player to never win a WNBA title (after Tina Charles). Also of note: McCoughtry once scored 38 points on the Lynx in a WNBA Finals game, though she was of course swept by Minnesota in both championship-round meetings.
24) DeWanna Bonner (30 pts)
Last year: No. 19
I’m very wary of putting Bonner at No. 24 on this list. Last year we put her at No. 19 only to hear Curt Miller call her an “overshadowed superstar” 15 days later. Just two years ago, Bonner was tied with Breanna Stewart for third in the league in scoring with 19.7 points per game. She stepped up that wubble season in Jonquel Jones’ absence and was an All-Star last year in Alyssa Thomas’ absence. Bonner is used to not exactly being the No. 1 option as she played with the likes of Diana Taurasi, Cappie Pondexter, Penny Taylor, Candice Dupree and Brittney Griner in Phoenix. But when asked to become the No. 1 option, she has risen to the occasion, leading the Mercury in scoring in both 2012 and 2015 when Taurasi was out. So it shouldn’t have been surprising to see her step up in the absences of Jones and Thomas. Now she’s gearing up to pay with Jones, Thomas, Courtney Williams and the other Jones (Brionna). But even with so many other stars on the team, she’s going to be a big part of what the Sun do.
23) Satou Sabally (44 pts)
Last year: No. 28
Sabally got a 13th-place vote and a 14th-place vote, showing just how highly regarded she is and her 2021-22 EuroLeague Women performance with Fenerbahçe indicates that she may indeed be headed for the Top 15. However, there are a lot of players whose WNBA stats are better than hers with her career bests being 13.9 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. Those averages all came during her rookie year of 2020 after she was of course drafted second overall behind only Oregon teammate Sabrina Ionescu. Skylar Diggins-Smith played against Sabally on the Team USA college circuit and said prior to the 2020 draft that she felt Sabally was the most pro-ready player in the class. Our Eric Nemchock featured Sabally in his 2021 preseason article taking a look at the players he expected to take the biggest leaps. She was slowed by an Achilles injury, but is again poised for a breakout season in 2022.
22) Natasha Howard (48 pts)
New York Liberty
Last year: No. 16
We all know how high Natasha Howard’s ceiling is and that’s First Team All-WNBA. She’s the quintessential small forward with a complete offensive game and the defensive skills to match. She even won defensive player of the year in 2019, the same season she made the First Team, while starring for a Breanna Stewart-less Seattle Storm. We saw Howard’s numbers go way down the next season with Stewart back, but she still played a key role on her third championship team. Then came 2021 in New York — a season in which she only played 13 games due to an MCL sprain. In those 13 contest she put up a solid averages of 16.2 points and 7.2 rebounds. We tend to forget about Howard and the incredible 2019 she had because she’s been out of the spotlight for two years. But she really does have all the tools to be a superstar player.
21) Chelsea Gray (52 pts)
Las Vegas Aces
Last year: No. 18
There are only a handful of point guards in the league capable of giving you five-plus assists per game. Gray is one of them and she’ll do it in the flashiest fashion out of anyone in the group. Her incredible no-look passes caused former Sparks teammate Candace Parker to give her the nickname “Point Gawd.” Gray is also known for her clutch gene and former Aces coach Bill Laimbeer said that’s part of the reason he wanted her in Vegas. She lived up to expectations in that department in 2021, her first season with the Aces. And her 5.9 helpers per game ranked fourth in the league. Gray was also honored as a first-time Olympian in 2021, averaging 19 minutes and 7.3 points during Team USA’s gold medal run. Gray’s 3-point shooting took a dip to 30.5 percent in 2020, her last year with the Sparks. However, she is a 38.4 percent 3-point shooter for her career and shot 38 percent last year to get back on track.
Last year’s list:
Note: Alyssa Thomas was not included on last year’s list because she wasn’t expected to play at all during the season. This year, Brittney Griner and Napheesa Collier, who will both miss the beginning of the season, were included.