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2023 WNBA opening weekend reflections: 2022 Finals participants looking good

The Connecticut Sun are 2-0 with a high-quality win coming over the Washington Mystics. Plus, the Las Vegas Aces (1-0) made history with their win over the weekend.

Connecticut Sun v Indiana Fever
Could Alyssa Thomas make another run at the MVP award?
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The Connecticut Sun were the big winners of the WNBA’s opening weekend. Though they didn’t look so great in their season-opening win over a team we assume will be toward the bottom of the league again in the Indiana Fever on Friday, they came home on Sunday and won by six over a Washington Mystics team that defeated the super New York Liberty by 16.

Alyssa Thomas is off to a phenomenal start for the Sun. She had six assists and three steals in both games and averaged 16 points and a league-high 13.5 rebounds. DeWanna Bonner has been great too, seemingly intent on proving Swish Appeal’s Top 30 list, which placed her at No. 30, wrong. She is averaging 20 points per game to lead Connecticut. Brionna Jones rounds out the team’s key contributors thus far with 14 points, 9.5 rebounds and two steals per game.

The league-favorite Las Vegas Aces also impressed, though they only played one contest and it was against a weak opponent. They defeated the Seattle Storm 105-64 on Saturday. No WNBA team had ever won by that much in a season opener and the Storm had never lost by that much. Anybody could step up on any given day for the Aces; in this case it was Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young leading the way with 23 points apiece. All of the big five did their part, with A’ja Wilson going for 13 points and 13 rebounds, Chelsea Gray notching 14 points and six assists and Candace Parker posting 12 points, five helpers and three blocks. A very good sign was that Alysha Clark, who led the league with a 3-point shooting percentage of 52.2 in 2020 and 48.1 in 2019 but shot 30.3 percent in 2022, went 2-of-3 from downtown.

Breanna Stewart’s Liberty franchise-high and career-high 45 points on Sunday was of course big news as well, as NY bounced by from its season-opening loss to Washington with a 90-73 win over the Fever. Stewart accomplished the feat in 30 minutes and 14 seconds of playing time. Liz Cambage played 36:56 when she scored her WNBA-record 53 points on July 17, 2018. So Stewart had more points per minute. Of the eight instances in WNBA history when 45 or more was scored by a single player, only once was it done at a higher point-per-minute rate than Stewart on Sunday: Riquna Williams’ 51 points in 34 minutes on September 8, 2013. That’s why they call Williams “the Microwave.” The five instances besides Stewart, Cambage and Williams all happened in 40-plus minutes.

The Chicago Sky are off to a nice 2-0 start, having defeated the Minnesota Lynx and Phoenix Mercury. Brittney Griner played well for Phoenix in both of her games, which is great news as she tries to work her way back to normalcy. On Sunday, she played particularly well with 27 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks, and moved into third place in all-time WNBA blocks.

The Los Angeles Sparks (1-0) and Dallas Wings (1-0) round out the remaining unbeaten teams in the league, with Sparks winning in blowout fashion over the Mercury and the Wings holding on against the Atlanta Dream. The Mystics are tied with the Liberty at 1-1 and looked amazing in holding NY to 64 points; former MVPs in Stewart and Jonquel Jones were held to a combined 17 points. So Washington played like it is deserving of the No. 2 spot some gave it in their preseason power rankings.