The WNBA kicks off its 27th season on Friday with new rules, a new roster and big returns. Here’s what you can expect:
Britney Greiner is back.
After being detained in Russia for nearly 10 months, Britney Greiner I also play basketball.
Greiner’s detention clouded last year’s WNBA season. She was arrested on drug charges at an airport near Moscow in February 2022 and subsequently convicted and sentenced to nine years in a penal colony. The league paid tribute to her regularly throughout the season, and her fellow players spoke up on her behalf.
Greiner was released in a prisoner exchange in December and signed a one-year contract to return to Phoenix Mercury after spending time recovering in private.
Greiner didn’t play any basketball during his incarceration and is still working to get back in shape. “People say give yourself grace, it takes time,” she said at her April press conference. ”
Greiner and Mercury will open the season against the Sparks in Los Angeles on Friday.
Star players are joining forces.
The offseason was dominated by free-agent deals and trades, establishing two potential superteams: the Liberty and the Las Vegas Aces.
The Liberty made three important moves. First, by trading with the Connecticut Sun, jonkel jones, the league’s most valuable player in 2021. Then they got one of the top free agents. Brianna Stewart, MVP of 2018 who won Seattle twice. Finally, they signed with the league’s Career Assists leader. Courtney Vandersloot. The trio join returning players Betnia Rainey and Sabrina Ionescu, who were each named to the All-Star team.
The reigning champion ace already had an impressive array of talent. Last year’s MVP, Aja Wilson (who also won in 2020). Chelsea Gray, 2022 Finals MVP. and their fellow All-Stars Jackie Young and Kelsey Plum.and they went and signed candace parker, 2x MVP, 2x Champion, 7x All-Star.We also welcomed veterans Alisha ClarkWon two titles in Seattle.
The rest of the league has no plans to walk away from superteams. “In the best movies, the underdogs end up on top.” Elena Dele Dunne of the Washington Mystics told reporters this month.
But still, Aces and Liberty are by far the most popular bets to win it all.
The rookies are trying to leave their mark.
Some of the WNBA’s newest players are just weeks away from finishing college. How they make that transition is crucial to the fate of the new team.
Arya Boston Indiana Fever’s clear pick as the No. 1 overall pick in April’s draft. Boston, which led South Carolina to a national title in 2022 and returned to the Final 4 this year, is expected to be the linchpin of the Fever franchise as it rebuilds. The competition she faces in the WNBA will be tougher, but Boston should be able to score more easily without facing the same double and triple teams she saw in college.
Picked by Minnesota with the second overall pick in this year’s draft diamond mirror, led Maryland with nearly 20 points per game in the 2022-23 season. Miller is a versatile and athletic winger who should pair well with Nafisa Collier.
hayley jonesThe No. 6 pick in the draft had four seasons as a leader at Stanford, including the Cardinals’ 2021 title win. She has successfully entered the Atlanta dream team looking for more playmakers.
New rules add new wrinkles.
the league too Updated rulebook this off-season.
WNBA coaches will only be allowed one challenge call per game. A coach can seek review for three types of her calls: fouls against her team, out-of-bounds calls, and violations of goaltending or basket interference. Even if the challenge succeeds and the game goes to overtime, the coach’s challenges are limited to her one.
Authorities can also penalize players who commit fouls during the fastbreak without playing legally on the ball. In this case, it is a transition take foul and the offensive team is awarded one free throw that can be used by any player on the floor and the offensive team remains in control of the ball.
The WNBA has also enacted new guidelines governing sideline behavior. To limit confusion and distractions, the league said players who weren’t in the game may not be able to stand “for extended periods of time.” Players and coaches are also prohibited from “attempting to distract an opponent in an unsportsmanlike manner.” Teams may receive a game delay warning or technical foul for violations.