Ranking the top 25 players in the WNBA for the 2024 season

Thursday, May 9, 2024

The 2024 WNBA season tips Tuesday with four games. Some of the best players in the league will be on the court on opening night, including the New York Liberty's Breanna Stewart and the Las Vegas Aces' A'ja Wilson--the past two WNBA MVPs -- as well as the Phoenix Mercury's Brittney Griner and the Seattle Storm's Jewell Loyd.

All four have made ESPN's first iteration of the top 25 WNBA player rankings for 2024, which we'll update monthly throughout the season.

To answer the burning question on many people's minds up front: Did Caitlin Clark, the No. 1 pick in April's draft, make the list? No. Rookies were not included because they haven't played any official games yet -- but there will be plenty of time for them to play their way onto the list later this season.

Also absent from our player pool: Candace Parker, who announced her retirement at the start of training camp, and Elena Delle Donne, who is sitting out the season. Satou Sabally (shoulder surgery) was excluded as well, as she isn't expected to play in the WNBA until after the Olympic break. All three would be certain inclusions in the top 10-12 were they active.

Whether to include 2012 MVP Tina Charles and how to rank a player like Skylar Diggins-Smith were among the fiercest debates, as both haven't played in the league since 2022. Diggins-Smith was one of the best players in the world when she last suited up for a WNBA team in August 2022, and she starts at No. 13 in our rankings.

Ultimately, Charles' Atlanta Dream teammate Cheyenne Parker-Tyus got the nod at No. 25, but it wouldn't be shocking to see the future Hall of Famer work her way back into the rankings.

The top 10, meanwhile, is dominated by reigning WNBA champion Las Vegas, featuring four core members of the Aces' roster.

Here's a look at our preseason top 25, as voted on by ESPN's Kevin Pelton, Alexa Philippou and Michael Voepel.

1. A'ja Wilson, Las Vegas Aces

Forward | 6-foot-4

2023 stats:
22.8 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 2.2 BPG

Wilson was WNBA Defensive Player of the Year for the second season in a row and the WNBA Finals MVP. She was disappointed she didn't win her third regular-season MVP award, considering her stats across the board were even better than during her 2022 MVP-winning season. In fact, Wilson had career highs in scoring and rebounding average as well as shooting percentage (55.7) in 2023. But she channeled her MVP frustration into the playoffs, recording 23.8 points and 11.5 rebounds in nine postseason games. At just 27, Wilson is still right in the prime of her career -- and might be more motivated than ever. -- Voepel

2. Breanna Stewart, New York Liberty

Forward | 6-foot-4

2023 stats:
23.0 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 3.8 APG

The reigning league MVP enters the 2024 season with something to prove after an atypical playoff run. By anyone else's standards, Stewart's 18.4 PPG and 10.2 RPG might be impressive, but it was her lowest scoring average in six career postseasons and came on just 36% shooting, including 9-of-46 (20%) from 3-point range. Whatever the explanation, there's no reason to expect Stewart's down postseason to carry over as she pursues the Liberty's first WNBA title to add to last year's Commissioner's Cup victory. -- Pelton

3. Alyssa Thomas, Connecticut Sun

Forward | 6-foot-2

2023 stats:
15.5 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 7.9 APG

Last year, Thomas fell short of winning her first MVP award despite earning the most first-place votes of any candidate (23). She might not have taken home that hardware, but her impact on the Sun and across the league was undeniable: Her 28 double-doubles and six triple-doubles in the regular season were league bests, and she nearly finished the season as the first player to lead the WNBA in both assists and rebounds. She should have less responsibility on her shoulders now with the return of Brionna Jones -- Thomas' 36.1 minutes per game were second most in the league last year. -- Philippou

4. Jonquel Jones, New York Liberty

Forward | 6-foot-6

2023 stats:
11.3 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 1.3 BPG

Jones started the 2023 campaign coming off a foot injury, so it took some time for her to get back to her normal self. But her form in the second half of the regular season is exactly why the Liberty were so eager to trade for her in free agency and re-sign her this past offseason. GM Jonathan Kolb called her "arguably our best player, just in terms of consistency" over the course of the 2023 postseason, while coach Sandy Brondello said Tuesday that a healthy and thriving Jones has "gone to another level" so far.-- Philippou

5. Napheesa Collier, Minnesota Lynx

Forward | 6-foot-1

2023 stats:
21.5 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 1.6 SPG

Stewart, Thomas and Wilson went 1-2-3 in MVP voting. The player right behind them: Collier, who last season returned from having her first child in 2022 to lead the Lynx back to the playoffs, while also playing the best basketball of her career. Collier's versatility and impact on both ends is a trademark of her game, and she was a big reason the Lynx largely outperformed expectations last year. This season's squad -- which acquired, among others, Courtney Williams, Alanna Smith and Alissa Pili in the offseason -- should provide the first-time All-WNBA first-team selection more help -- though it will be interesting to see whether she can solidify her case in the MVP conversation.-- Philippou

6. Chelsea Gray, Las Vegas Aces

Guard | 5-foot-11

2023 stats:
15.3 PPG, 7.3 APG, 4.0 RPG

Gray's scoring, rebounding and assists averages were all career highs in 2023. While she couldn't play in the championship-clinching Game 4 of the WNBA Finals after suffering a left foot injury in Game 3, her leadership helped give the Aces confidence to close out the series. Gray has earned the nickname "Point Gawd" -- as good as she was earlier in her career, she has turned it up even more since joining the Aces in 2021. -- Voepel

7. Jackie Young, Las Vegas Aces

Guard | 6-foot-0

2023 stats:
17.6 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 3.8 APG

How Young went from making 22 3-pointers her first three WNBA seasons combined to 139 the past two years is one of the league's most impressive improvement stories. She also was second in the league in 3-point percentage last season (44.9) while hitting career highs in scoring average and overall field goal percentage (52.3). She was on the All-WNBA second team and has become the Aces' top perimeter defender. Young recently signed a contract extension with Las Vegas. -- Voepel

8. Kelsey Plum, Las Vegas Aces

Guard | 5-foot-8

2023 stats:
18.7 PPG, 4.5 APG, 39% 3P%

After finishing third in MVP voting and earning All-WNBA honors in 2022, Plum took a slight step backward in the Las Vegas pecking order last season. Despite posting the best true shooting percentage of her career, Plum's scoring average dropped 1.5 PPG by virtue of her lowest usage rate since 2019. She surged in the WNBA Finals, scoring 20-plus points in each of the three games and tying Wilson's 21.3 PPG for the series high as the Aces went back-to-back.-- Pelton

9. Jewell Loyd, Seattle Storm

Guard | 5-foot-10

2023 stats:
24.7 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 3.4 APG

The WNBA's leading scorer in 2023, Loyd took advantage of the extended regular season to set a league record for total points. Don't expect her to score so prolifically this season -- by choice. Loyd helped recruit All-Stars Skylar Diggins-Smith and Nneka Ogwumike to Seattle, giving the Storm as many top-25 players as any other team. Having played alongside Stewart and Sue Bird, Loyd is comfortable playing with stars, though this time it's clearly her team as Seattle's longest-tenured player.-- Pelton

10. Nneka Ogwumike, Seattle Storm

Forward | 6-foot-2

2023 stats:
19.1 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 1.7 SPG

It's going to be an adjustment to see Ogwumike in a Storm uniform after she spent the first 12 seasons of her career with the Los Angeles Sparks. Although Los Angeles slipped into the lottery the past two seasons, Ogwumike wrapped up her Sparks career strong. Last season's 19.1 PPG were her most since winning MVP in 2016, and she earned All-WNBA honors for a sixth time. Having been Los Angeles' only All-Star each of the past two years, she now has the luxury of playing with three others in Seattle.-- Pelton

11. Brittney Griner, Phoenix Mercury

Center | 6-foot-9

2023 stats:
17.5 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 1.6 BPG

Griner has been a consistent force her entire career, but it was still astonishing how well she played last season after her 10-month detainment in Russia in 2022. No one, including Griner, knew what to expect. But she appeared in 31 games, scoring in double figures in all but one. Griner talked candidly with media about her ordeal and the things she learned from it, and she was welcomed back by fans everywhere she played. That said, it was a rough season for Phoenix, which missed the playoffs for the first time since 2012. With a new coach and general manager, the Mercury could be back to the type of team they have been for most of Griner's 10 seasons. -- Voepel

12. Sabrina Ionescu, New York Liberty

Guard | 5-foot-11

2023 stats:
17.0 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 5.4 APG

As she adjusted to a different role playing more off the ball alongside Courtney Vandersloot, Ionescu established herself as a top 3-point shooter in 2023, converting on 44.8% of her attempts from the arc while averaging 7.9 tries per game. The two-time second-team All-WNBA selection also made headlines with a record 37 points in the 3-point contest at WNBA All-Star Weekend, beating Stephen Curry's record, then competed against the sharpshooter at NBA All-Star Weekend in February, losing to him by just three points.-- Philippou

13. Skylar Diggins-Smith, Seattle Storm

Guard | 5-foot-9

2023 stats:

Before sitting out the 2023 season following the birth of her second child, Diggins-Smith was perhaps the WNBA's best guard, earning All-WNBA first-team honors for the Phoenix Mercury after averaging 19.7 PPG and 5.5 APG in 2022. If she performs at that level again this season, she'll be joining elite company. Since 2001, Storm predecessor Sue Bird and former teammate Diana Taurasi (four times) are the lone guards to make All-WNBA at age 34 or older. Diggins-Smith will celebrate her 34th birthday in August.-- Pelton

14. Aliyah Boston, Indiana Fever

Forward/center| 6-foot-5

2023 stats:
14.5 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 1.3 BPG

Boston was Rookie of the Year and an All-Star last season, and a key part of rebuilding the Fever franchise. She led the WNBA in field goal percentage (57.8) and offensive rebounds (125) while scoring in double figures in 28 of 40 games. Boston also quickly adjusted to the demands of defense at the pro level and was seventh in the WNBA in win shares (6.0). With fellow No. 1 draft pick Caitlin Clark joining the Fever this season, Boston's goal is to get Indiana to the playoffs for the first time since 2016. -- Voepel

15. Arike Ogunbowale, Dallas Wings

Guard | 5-foot-8

2023 stats:
21.2 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 4.5 APG

Ogunbowale started every game in the 2023 regular season and in the playoffs, leading the WNBA in average minutes played (37.2). She was second in the league in 3-pointers (career-high 117) and fifth in scoring. Her assists average was also a career high as her playmaking skills improved, and the Wings (22-18) recorded their first winning record in eight seasons and advanced to the semifinals. With Satou Sabally out for the first half of the season, Ogunbowale will be looked to as a stabilizing force for the Wings -- as she has been since she was drafted by the franchise in 2019. -- Voepel

16. Rhyne Howard, Atlanta Dream

Guard | 6-foot-2

2023 stats:
17.5 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 3.5 APG

Year 2 for Howard was a good one: She earned her second All-Star bid and alongside new teammate Allisha Gray guided the Dream back to the postseason for the first time since 2018. The No. 1 draft pick in 2022, Howard then became the youngest player in WNBA history to record a 30-point playoff game (36 in Game 1 of the Dream's first-round loss to Dallas). She said Tuesday she hopes to get her midrange game going more this year, as she and her teammates look to finish above .500 for the first time since 2018.-- Philippou

17. DeWanna Bonner, Connecticut Sun

Forward | 6-foot-4

2023 stats:
17.4 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 2.2 APG

Bonner is the oldest player on this ranking -- she'll turn 37 in August -- but the two-time WNBA champion had one of the best campaigns of her 14-year career last season, averaging 17.4 points per game with three 30-point performances, including a 41-piece. This season, she not only benefits from having Brionna Jones back in the rotation but enters the summer mentally and physically refreshed after not playing overseas in the offseason.-- Philippou

18. Allisha Gray, Atlanta Dream

Guard | 6-foot

2023 stats:
17.1 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 3.1 APG

Gray thrived in her first season in Atlanta, smashing her previous career high for scoring by 3.8 PPG and setting a new career high in APG en route to her first All-Star appearance. There's a case to be made that Gray, not Howard, was the Dream's best player last season by virtue of her superior scoring efficiency. She made 50% of her 2-point field goals, as compared to 41.5% for Howard, and was better beyond the arc, too. Howard's potential to take a step forward at age 24 earned her the slight nod over Gray.-- Pelton

19. Kahleah Copper, Phoenix Mercury

Guard/forward | 6-foot-1

2023 stats:
18.7 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 2.0 APG

Copper was an All-Star for the third time in 2023, and her scoring average was a career high as she led the Sky to the playoffs. That was quite an achievement following the departures of Candace Parker and Courtney Vandersloot. But Copper is no longer in Chicago. After seven seasons there, she was traded to Phoenix in February. Copper was WNBA Finals MVP when the Sky beat the Mercury for the 2021 championship. Now she will be trying to help Phoenix get back to the playoffs after a 9-31 season last year. -- Voepel

20. Brionna Jones, Connecticut Sun

Forward | 6-foot-3

2023 stats:
15.9 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 1.8 SPG in 13 games

After suffering a season-ending Achilles tear in June 2023, Jones is expected to return in time for opening night. When healthy, she is a surefire All-Star and would likely come in higher on these rankings, but she starts here because she is coming off a significant injury. The former Maryland Terrapin was the Most Improved Player in 2021 and the Sixth Player of the Year in 2022, and she was having her best statistical season in 2023 before her injury.-- Philippou

21. Courtney Vandersloot, New York Liberty

Guard | 5-foot-8

2023 stats:
10.5 PPG, 8.1 APG, 3.5 RPG

Vandersloot led the league in the assists last season for the seventh time in her career and was the engine who made the Liberty's high-powered offense go. Guard play from both her and Ionescu on both ends of the floor will continue to be key for the Liberty as they look to win the franchise's first championship -- especially if they have to go through the Aces once more.-- Philippou

22. Ezi Magbegor, Seattle Storm

Center/forward | 6-foot-4

2023 stats:
13.8 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1.9 BPG

Nobody benefited more from the Storm's season in the lottery than Magbegor, who established herself as an All-Star and a foundational player after finishing the 2022 campaign coming off the bench behind Tina Charles. At 24, there's still room for her to grow -- she continues to develop as a 3-point threat after hitting a career-high 30 at a 38.5% clip last season -- and improve as a decision-maker after posting more assists than turnovers for the first time in her career.-- Pelton

23. Brittney Sykes, Washington Mystics

Guard | 5-foot-9

2023 stats:
15.9 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 3.8 APG

The Mystics were riddled with injuries last season; only Sykes started every game. She averaged career highs in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals (2.1 per game) and made the WNBA's All-Defensive first team for the second time. There's no chance Washington would have advanced to the playoffs without her and Natasha Cloud. This season, Cloud has gone to Phoenix and Elena Delle Donne is not playing. So there will be a lot on Sykes' shoulders -- but she seems to thrive on that. -- Voepel

24. Kelsey Mitchell, Indiana Fever

Guard | 5-foot-8

2023 stats:
18.2 PPG, 1.6 RPG, 3.1 APG

Mitchell has been the one constant for the Fever over the past six seasons. She has kept an upbeat attitude even though she has never made the playoffs. That could change this year as Indiana has added more talent around her, particularly through the draft over the past three years. Mitchell became an All-Star for the first time last season, and her 102 3-pointers were fourth most in the league. -- Voepel

25. Cheyenne Parker-Tyus, Atlanta Dream

Forward/center | 6-foot-4

2023 stats:
15.0 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 1.5 BPG

Parker-Tyus is coming off her first All-Star campaign. She surpassed career highs in PPG (previously 13.4), RPG and BPG at age 31. Now the challenge is finding chemistry as part of double-big lineups with Charles after Atlanta primarily played four perimeter players around her a year ago. That might require Parker-Tyus to spend more time beyond the arc. She's a career 30% 3-point shooter who has never made more than 15 in a season.-- Pelton

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