After a successful All-Star game in Las Vegas, it’s time to re-start WNBA action and continue with the second half of the season. However, before we do that let’s take a look at the current state of the Coach of the Year race.
Tanisha Wright: Atlanta Dream
“It comes by no surprise," @WNBA All-Star captain and reigning league MVP @_ajawilson22 said. "When you have a coach like (@coachtwright_), that is so invested into the game, that's so locked in, it's destined for greatness.” #AtlantaDream #WNBATwitter— Atlanta Dream (@AtlantaDream) July 18, 2023
Tanisha Wright is in year two as head coach of the Dream and she’s been fantastic. In year one, she won 14 games, the most Atlanta had won since 2018, was named the Associated Press Coach of the Year and finished second in the WNBA Kia Coach of the Year voting.
In year two she has the team at 11-8 and looking ready to make the playoffs for the first time in five years. That improvement might be enough to get her COY honors. If they continue to win at their current pace, it’ll be hard for another coach to have a better argument than Wright.
Becky Hammon: Las Vegas Aces
Okay, now hear me out. Yes, Hammon won the award last season. Yes, the Aces are defending champions. Yes, they added players like Candace Parker and are a super team. However, they have lived up to the hype and that’s a credit to the Las Vegas players and their coaching staff working together to stay hungry, play up to their ability and take each team’s best effort and still reach the halfway mark at 19-2. If they are able to win it all and be the first team to repeat since the 2001/2002 Los Angeles Sparks, the case can be made that no coach has done a better job than Hammon in 2023.
Sandy Brondello: New York Liberty
Another top team, another super team and another COY candidate. Sandy Brondello has a case for the award with how well she has the Liberty playing. 14-4 that would usually be good enough for the top seed, but with the Aces being all-time good they’ll have to settle with second-best.
Even so, Brondello has done a great job implementing Breann Stewart and getting the most out of her electric shooter Sabrina Ionescu. This team went through dramatic changes and is dealing with tremendous pressure to live up to the “super team” label, and Brondello has the Liberty playing as good as anybody. And even with how well the Aces have been, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the Liberty can catch them and end up with the No. 1 seed. If that happens and New York has the best record in the W, Brondello being COY will be a very real possibility.
Christie Sides: Indiana Fever
The rookie coach has helped take the Indiana Fever from the laughing stock of the league to a scrappy upstart featuring a superstar in the making in Aliyah Boston. Yes, they only have five wins, but that already ties last year’s season win total, and if they can manage two more wins that’ll be the best record the Fever have had since 2019.
The record may not be impressive, but they've played close games against the Liberty, Aces and Dream. They’re a young team learning how to win. Sides has them playing hard and staying competitive and has turned them into a fun team to watch. When’s the last time you looked forward to watching Fever basketball? Exactly. The rebuild is well underway. A few more wins and she will be in the running for Coach of the Year.
Action begins once again in the WNBA on Tuesday with Wright’s Dream playing the Minnesota Lynx. It will be interesting to see who ultimately wins Coach of the Year for the WNBA and if a sleeper pick like the Connecticut Sun’s Stephanie White ends up winning it in the end.