A preview of the 2024 WNBA season

May 14, 2024
The WNBA’s highly-anticipated 28th season tips off tonight, featuring new faces, a revamped in-season tourney, and, for the first time in league history, full-time private planes.
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A preview of the 2024 WNBA season
Source: Meg Oliphant/Getty Images

⚙️ How it works

The W’s (current) 12 teams are equally divided into two conferences — the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference. Each squad will play 40 regular-season games, beginning tonight and running through September 19th.

  • From there, the eight best regular-season teams (regardless of conference) advance to the three-round postseason which tips off on September 22nd. The first round will be a best-of-three series, while the semis and finals will be best-of-five.

Outside of the regularly scheduled programming, the in-season Commissioner’s Cup enters its fourth year, this time with a new format. Each team will play a total of five games, one against each of their in-conference rivals, from June 1st to 13th, with each game counting towards their regular season record as well.

  • The top teams in each conference will then square off for $500K in June 25th’s Cup.
  • Three different teams have won the Commissioner’s Cup since its debut in 2021 — the Seattle Storm, Las Vegas Aces, and NY Liberty — with the Aces and Libs both making the Finals after their respective wins. Is it a Cup or a crystal ball?

Finally, the W will take an international break from July 21st to August 14th, allowing players to compete for their respective countries at the Paris Olympics. Oui love to see it.

👀 What’s new

A preview of the 2024 WNBA season
Source: Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off a record-setting Women’s March Madness, the interest in women’s hoops has never been higher, a testament to the power of investing time, funding, energy, and most of all, attention, in the women’s game.

  • ICYMI, here’s what changed since the 2023 WNBA season wrapped, plus a few storylines to keep an eye on. The tide is shifting, so let’s ride the wave.

👶 This year’s supercharged rookie class: The pressure’s on for the group, which includes the Indiana Fever’s Caitlin Clark (Iowa), the Chicago Sky’s Angel Reese (LSU) and the LA Spark’s Cameron Brink (Stanford), to perform at the pro level.

👏 The Caitlin Clark effect continues: Nearly every single Indiana Fever game will be televised nationally this year, up from just one in 2023, a testament to the all-time NCAA leading scorer’s generational talent and tractor beam appeal.

  • But the best reason to tune in? Watching Clark’s evolution in real-time — she’s expected to transition from a three-point sharpshooter to one of the best passers in the game.

👋 WNBA legend Candace Parker retires: After 16 years, three championships, and two MVP awards, Parker announced her retirement in April. But Parker’s staying busy: She’s already been named the President of Adidas Women’s Basketball. A slam dunk.

✈️ Full-time charter flight program: The W, who had charter flights only for last year’s playoffs, is now investing $25M per year so that its players can fly privately between games all season long, enhancing their comfort and safety. Can’t come soon enough.

⬆️ League expansion: The WNBA will expand to 13 teams next season, with plans to reach 16 teams (!!!) by 2028. Up first? A Golden State W franchise debuting in 2025, with a Toronto team in the works for 2026, providing more opportunities for women hoopers to stay in North America.

💰 Collective bargaining agreement (CBA) negotiations: The WNBA Players’ Association (WNBPA — the longest running union in women’s sports) set a new standard for player-first CBAs in 2020, but at the end of this season, the players can opt out and kickstart renegotiation talks.

  • These conversations will continue through the 2025 season, pushing the possibilities for player pay structure, pregnancy protection, revenue deals and more.

💪 The contenders

A preview of the 2024 WNBA season
Source: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

🃏 Las Vegas Aces: It’s three-peat or bust for the Aces, who return a strong veteran core led by two-time champ A’ja Wilson and 2022 Finals MVP Chelsea Gray. The real question this season? If Wilson will win the regular season MVP, an accolade she lost to the NY Liberty’s Breanna Stewart in 2023. Watch this space.

🌪️ Seattle Storm: Following a furious offseason, the Storm have an elite trio running the show: last season’s league-leading scorer Jewell Loyd, 2016 MVP Nneka Ogwumike (pronounced NEH-kuh oh-GWOO-mih-kay), and six-time All-Star Skylar Diggins-Smith, who returns to the league following a testy maternity leave.

  • Once considered the league’s top guard, when Diggins-Smith is at her best, she’s elite — and now, she’s balling with her Notre Dame bestie, Loyd. Can’t touch that chemistry.

🗽 NY Liberty: Touted as the superteam to rival the Aces last year, the Liberty came up just short, losing in the WNBA Finals. But, like the Aces, all of the Libs superstars — including 2021 MVP Jonquel Jones — stayed put, intent on bringing the Big Apple its first WNBA championship.

☀️ Connecticut Sun: Triple-double queen Alyssa Thomas can go full Thanos, but this season, she won’t have to — superstar Brionna Jones is back at training camp after tearing her Achilles last June. Needless to say, the Sun’s chances have never looked brighter.

☄️ Phoenix Mercury: Hold those tears, but after 20 years in the league, this might be 10-time All-Star Diana Taurasi’s last W season. If that’s the case, the Mercury want to send the GOAT out with a bang. Phoenix snatched up Kahleah Copper and Natasha Cloud in the offseason, stacking a lineup that already included Brittney Griner.

🥵 Indiana Fever: To temper expectations, the Fever finished near the bottom of the table in 2023, but now they boast both Clark and reigning Rookie of the Year Aliyah Boston, one of the best paint players in the game. With Clark dishing and Boston finishing, can the Fever reach the playoffs for the first time since 2016?

🐶 The underdogs

A preview of the 2024 WNBA season
Source: Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

☁️ Chicago Sky: New leadership, new game plan, very different roster — this certainly isn’t the 2021 champion Sky, but Chicago is focused on new beginnings, especially for the rookies.

🦄 Dallas Wings: After leading the Wings to their best season since 2008, 2023’s Most Improved Player Satou Sabally isn’t expected to return to the W until after the Olympic break while she recovers from shoulder surgery, a development that seriously hampers the Wings’ momentum.

  • It also increases expectations for the ever-consistent Arike Ogunbowale (pronounced ah-REE-kay oh-goon-bow-WAH-lay). Long may threes reign rain.

🐈‍ Minnesota Lynx: For the still-evolving Lynx to make another postseason run, they’ll need more than just magic from supermom Napheesa Collier — they’ll need to improve their defense. Will Alanna Smith be the defensive spark they’ve been missing after a breakout season with the Sky? Time will tell.

✨ LA Sparks: Since Ogwumike left for Seattle, there’s an opening for a new franchise star (or two) in LA. Enter rookies Rickea Jackson and Cameron Brink, the heart of the Sparks’ rebuild. They have plenty to learn from vets like Dearica Hamby, but will still be expected to make immediate contributions.

😴 Atlanta Dream: The new-look Dream will fight to make their second playoff appearance since 2018 this season, but it’ll take some serious chemistry building between the squad’s stalwarts and the new additions, like 2012 MVP Tina Charles and 2019 champ Aerial Powers.

🪄 Washington Mystics: With longtime star Elena Delle Donne sitting out the season and defensive icon Cloud moving to the Phoenix Mercury, the ’Stics are in a bit of a rebuild mode, making this the perfect time for rookie Aaliyah Edwards to make her mark and become the rebounding presence Washington needs.

📺 How to watch

A preview of the 2024 WNBA season
Source: Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

The fun begins with a four-game slate tonight, starting off with the Liberty hosting the Mystics at 7 p.m. ET.

  • This season, Americans can catch games on the ESPN and CBS networks, ION, WNBA League Pass, and more, while Canadians can watch select games on TSN and Sportsnet. Ball is life.

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