As is our annual tradition, we’re counting down the 30 best players in the WNBA.
We had our staff participate by each ranking their Top 30. 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 2022 list stayed ahead.
Players who received votes but didn’t make our final list include Natasha Cloud, Han Xu, Courtney Williams, Satou Sabally, Aerial Powers, Marina Mabrey, Azurá Stevens, Teaira McCowan, Cheyenne Parker and Aliyah Boston.
On our 2021 list, Alyssa Thomas was left off because she was expected to miss the entire season. On our 2022 and 2023 lists, we included players who were/are expected to miss the season but had/have yet to retire.
Here’s a look at No. 30 through No. 21:
30) DeWanna Bonner (13 points)
2022: No. 24; 2021: No. 19
The “overshadowed superstar,” as she was once called by Curt Miller, moved down from No. 19 in 2021 to No. 24 in 2022 to No. 30 this year. Miller called her that after we put her at No. 19 in 2021; she had just performed above that ranking in a game. But Bonner’s numbers did take a dip across the board in 2022. She averaged 13.5 points per game for her lowest scoring average since 2014. With Jonquel Jones no longer in Connecticut, Bonner may play a bigger role this year. She will form a big four with Alyssa Thomas, Brionna Jones and Tiffany Hayes.
29) Tiffany Hayes (18 points)
2022: No. 26; 2021: No. 25
Tiffany Hayes has been underrated her whole career and has a case to be higher on this list. She has been good enough to be a second-best player or maybe even a first-best player on a WNBA team her whole career and is now the third-best player on the Sun, which says something about how scary Connecticut can still be even after losing Jonquel Jones. Hayes hasn’t played a full season since 2019, missing 2020 entirely and playing 21 games in 2021 and 11 in 2022. But her scoring averages were good in both 2021 (14.7) and 2022 (16.2). She just needs a chance to play a full season to get back on our radar as one of the best players in the league.
28) Betnijah Laney (18 points)
New York Liberty
2022: No. 19; 2021: No. 26
Laney’s Most Improved Player season in 2020 earned her a No. 26 ranking in 2021 because we knew 17.2 points and four assists per game were star numbers, and she was already a great defender. After displaying great leadership qualities for a Liberty team that made the playoffs in 2021, we moved her all the way up to No. 19. She was the No. 1 Liberty player on our list that year, ahead of Natasha Howard and Sabrina Ionescu. That was high praise, but after missing a lot of time due to injury in 2022 and averaging just 11.2 points per game, Laney has fallen all the way to No. 28 on our list. She will be a key X factor should the Liberty meet the Aces in the Finals. She will need to play better than Vegas’ fifth-best player, Jackie Young.
27) Allisha Gray (19 points)
2022: No. 27; 2021: not ranked
Another underrated player coming in here at No. 27. She may be underrated, but at Swish Appeal, we have acknowledged her greatness, placing her on our Top 30 list two years in a row. She even earned a 24th-place vote and a 19th-place vote this year. Gray’s overall stat production isn’t super high, which is why she didn’t crack the Top 30 according to our other two voters. But she does all the little things and has excellent intangibles, like her energy and grit. Her 13.3 points per game and 2.5 assists per game last year were both career highs.
26) Emma Meesseman (23 points)
2022: No. 28; 2021: No. 21
Meesseman moves up two spots on our list despite her scoring average dipping by 0.6 to 12.4. Those 12.4 points per game came on a team with Kahleah Copper, Candace Parker, Courtney Vandersloot, Allie Quigley, Azurá Stevens and Rebekah Gardner. Her 13 points per game in 2020 (her previous season) came on a depleted Mystics team. Meesseman was a critical piece to the puzzle for the Sky last year and it earned her her second All-Star nod. She kept up the distributing excellence she developed in 2020 with 3.8 helpers per game and also had a great season defensively.
25) Kelsey Mitchell (26 points)
2022: not ranked; 2021: No. 27
Perhaps it was unfair that Mitchell didn’t make our list last year, just like it was unfair that she missed out on the All-Star Game. Playing for a losing team has hurt her when it comes to honors and lists like this. But we recognize how great she was last year and have raised her all the way to No. 25. She added distributing excellence to her repertoire with 4.2 helpers per game (up from a previous career best of 2.8) and averaged a career-best 18.4 points per game. Her scoring can carry a team and she is definitely better than the 25th-best scorer in the league. But until 2022 she didn’t have the distributing and she still doesn’t have the rebounding, steals and blocks.
24) Natasha Howard (27 points)
2022: No. 22; 2021: No. 16
We placed Howard at No. 16 in 2021, praising her 2019 All-WNBA First Team selection. She is a great offensive weapon and a great defender and showed that in 2019. She was considered a member of a big three in New York alongside Laney and Ionescu, and was even expected to be the best of that big three in 2021. Now, she starts a new chapter in Dallas alongside Arike Ogunbowale. Dallas will have a new look without Marina Mabrey, Allisha Gray, Isabelle Harrison, Kayla Thornton and Tyasha Harris. Now Howard will be a big part of what the Wings do and is one of the players they will lean on to replace those who have left. They should be excited about her as a second-best player.
23) Tina Charles (28 points)
2022: No. 7; 2021: No. 10
We raised Charles’ ranking three spots in 2022 after her phenomenal 2021. Had she led the Mystics to more team success in 2021, she could have been the league’s MVP. But Charles averaged a career-low 14.8 points in 2022, and a disappointing playoff performance that was part of what cost the Storm a spot in the Finals left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths. Charles is often disrespected. We have to remember that she is one of the greatest players of all time. But the way she let the Storm down last year has to be taken into account too, which is why she fell 16 spots.
22) Diana Taurasi (36 points)
2022: No. 17; 2021: No. 14
Here we have the GOAT, who has fallen from No. 14 to No. 17 to No. 22 because of her age. She is now 40 years old, but her incredible 2021 playoff performance and a scoring average of 16.7 in 2022 keep her on our minds when making this list. 2021 was spectacular, as she looked like she could even be considered the best player in the world given what she was doing. But 40 is 40 and we will have to see Taurasi wow us again to believe in her. She has continued to surprise us by remaining one of the best players in the league through her late 30s, so it is possible. And she will of course always have that unmatched competitiveness and fire.
21) Rhyne Howard (37 points)
2022: not ranked; 2021: not eligible
Coming in just ahead of two legends is the reigning Rookie of the Year. Howard wasn’t as hyped up as some other No. 1 overall picks have been throughout WNBA history. But she got her career off to a great start. It remains to be seen how much higher she will rise on this list throughout her career, but her 16.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.6 steals per game as a rookie earned her this No. 21 ranking. She has all the tools she needs to keep rising into superstardom, and the Dream will certainly put the ball in her hands, expecting her to take them to greatness.