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. 20 through No. 11:
20) Jackie Young (40 points)
Las Vegas Aces
2022: not ranked ; 2021: not ranked
From unranked all the way to No. 20, it’s 2022 Most Improved Player Jackie Young. She may have finished the season with a scoring average improvement of just 3.7 to 15.9, but she was averaging 19.2 points through the first 11 games of the season and probably could have sustained that if she didn’t play on a team with so many other weapons. She upped her career-best 3-point percentage from 31.8 to 43.1 and her career-best in made treys from 14 to 50. She truly began to live up to her status as a No. 1 overall pick (2019) and not only made her first All-Star Game, but was an All-Star starter.
19) Kahleah Copper (43 points)
2022: No. 16; 2021: not ranked
Following her 2021 WNBA Finals MVP, Copper averaged a career-best 15.7 points per game and made her second All-Star Game appearance (also her second in a row). 15.7 points per game may not seem worthy of the Top 10 or Top 15 on this list, and we indeed did not put Copper that high. But, in the 30 through 21 portion of our list, we praised Emma Meessemen’s 12.4 points per game for the same Sky as better than it seems because Chicago was loaded with offensive options. Copper lived up to her core designation by leading the Sky in scoring. She has the potential to rise higher on the list with a big 2023.
18) Ariel Atkins (45 points)
2022: No. 18; 2021: No. 30
Like Copper, Atkins has made 2021 and 2022 her first two All-Star seasons. After making the All-Defensive Second Team in each of her first four seasons in the WNBA, she made the First Team as a fifth-year player last year. Her career-best scoring average is 16.2, which came in 2021. She has the 3-point shooting abilities and overall offensive skillset to be an even more prolific scorer. But she of course plays with Elena Delle Donne, who is the Mystics’ No. 1 scoring option. Atkins is the second-highest Mystic on this list and is an apt second-best player for a team that will try to make some noise this year.
17) Brionna Jones (46 points)
2022: not ranked; 2021: not ranked
Jones is yet another back-to-back All-Star who is seeking her third-ever appearance this season. She had a case to be on this list last year after averaging 14.7 points and 7.3 rebounds in 2021 and was receiving votes from our staff. However, her overall stat production isn’t quite as high as the players ahead of her on this list. Her efficiency is excellent though, and it’s no wonder if you watch the way she plays; she definitely has great inside touch. She is capable of averaging far more than her career-best 14.7 points per game. With Sylvia Fowles retired, Jones is the highest post on this list among those who don’t regularly stretch the floor with a mid-range or 3-point shot.
16) Arike Ogunbowale (54 points)
2022: No. 15; 2021: No. 12
It was hard to leave Ogunbowale outside the Top 10 in both 2021 and 2022, and now she’s fallen to No. 16. There are just so many other good players in the league, including three newcomers to the MVP race (Kelsey Plum, Sabrina Ionescu and Alyssa Thomas) and a player who became the best player in the world once the playoffs started (Chelsea Gray). This has pushed Ogunbowale back, but from this point of the list on, any of the players could be the best player in the league on any given night. Ogunbowale averaged 19.7 points per game last year; her career-best is 22.8 (2020). She averaged a career-best 3.6 assists.
15) Napheesa Collier (65 points)
2022: No. 13; 2021: No. 11
Collier missed all but four games of the 2022 season on maternity leave. Her stat lines the previous two seasons were very similar and very good. She averaged 16.1 points, nine rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.3 blocks in 2020 and 16.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.3 blocks in 2021. She co-starred alongside Sylvia Fowles in the past; with Fowles retired, she is the clear-cut best player on the Lynx and will be asked to carry a franchise that is looking to transition into a new era. We’ll see how much No. 2 overall pick Diamond Miller will be able to help her out.
14) Nneka Ogwumike (72 points)
Los Angeles Sparks
2022: No. 14; 2021: No. 9
Ogwumike is another example of a player who could be the best in the league on any given night. Last year, she carried the Sparks through the Liz Cambage fiasco, averaging 18.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.6 steals. The 18.1 points per game was a welcome sight after she averaged under 15 in both 2020 and 2021. Her efforts earned her four fourth-place MVP votes and four fifth-place votes, allowing her to finish 10th in the race. I mentioned last year that Ogwumike may be the most underrated former MVP of all time and I still think that’s true. She proved last year that she’s still got it.
13) Alyssa Thomas (73 points)
2022: No. 20; 2021: not eligible
Here we have the player who finished fourth in MVP voting last year. She really could have been ranked anywhere between fourth and 13th because I don’t think her 2022 performance was a one-time thing. She continues to be so thrilling to watch and amazes us with seemingly better and better play. She has also done incredible things in the playoffs, which has to be taken into consideration when making a list like this. When she makes her 2023 regular-season debut, she will be working on a third straight triple-double because she notched one in both Games 3 and 4 of the 2022 Finals.
12) Sabrina Ionescu (74 points)
New York Liberty
2022: not ranked; 2021: not eligible
Ionescu finished eighth in MVP voting last year, but really could have finished higher if the Liberty had finished with a better regular-season record. Her overall stat production was very high; not many players could compete with her 17.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game when added together. Ionescu was a hyped up No. 1 pick, so she has a lot of pressure on her to be a superstar player. She handled that pressure last year and was even named an All-Star starter. The Liberty now have Breanna Stewart, and that’s the main reason they are considered a frontrunner. But having an up-and-coming superstar in Ionescu is pretty beneficial as well.
11) Courtney Vandersloot (79 points)
New York Liberty
2022: No. 9; 2021: No. 8
Vandersloot finally gave up the top spot in assists per game to Natasha Cloud last year, averaging 6.5 to Cloud’s seven. She had led the league in that category five years in a row with averages of 8.1, 8.6, 9.1, 10 and 8.6. Her career average of 6.7 is the highest in WNBA history. With 2,386 assists coming as a member of the Sky, she will always be a Chicago sports legend. Now she starts a new chapter in New York, where Breanna Stewart can likely increase Vandersloot’s assist numbers. Sloot could have gone home to Seattle, which would have been a good story, but it’s hard to blame her for choosing New York. It would have been tough to pass up the opportunity to play on that superteam. It will be interesting to see what Sloot can accomplish in her mid to late 30s.