The W is back!
The season tips off in just a short time and we’re getting ready for an expanded season of hoops with an extensive betting preview for all 12 teams. Here’s a look at every team’s odds to win the WNBA championship and a look at how you should bet them entering the 2023 season.
WNBA Title Odds & Analysis
Odds via FanDuel
|Click on a team to skip ahead|
|Las Vegas Aces||New York Liberty|
|Phoenix Mercury||Washington Mystics|
|Dallas Wings||Atlanta Dream|
|Minnesota Lynx||Chicago Sky|
|Seattle Storm||Connecticut Sun|
|Los Angeles Sparks||Indiana Fever|
In the offseason, they added one of the 10-15 best players in league history (Candace Parker) and addressed depth issues with one of the most valuable role players in the league (Alysha Clark). They have the reigning Coach of the Year, the reigning MVP, the reigning Most Improved Player and a First-Team All-WNBA player not even included in any of that. It’s an embarrassment of riches.
At most books, you can get a longer number on the Liberty, and despite the continuity of the Aces, this feels very close to a coin flip. The bigger factor for me is team depth. Although the Aces added Clark, their depth still doesn’t match the Liberty’s on paper.
If these teams were to simply zoom to the Finals right now (something the media is doing right now much to the chagrin of the rest of the league), I would actually lean to the Aces. However, this is a future play. There is a long season ahead for the Liberty to build some continuity, and for both teams to potentially suffer injuries.
The Aces had almost historic team health last season. Their starting five missed a grand total of five games. Their two best players played every single game. For a team lacking in depth, this was essential. The entire team was in their 20s, so there’s maybe a touch of skill, not luck, to that health fortune, but Chelsea Gray is now 30 and Candace Parker — while still incredibly talented — is going to bring up the average age on the team.
There’s obviously still a ton to love here and plenty of ways to bet them.
The Aces absolutely dominated the first half of games last season, blitzing their opponents and cruising to victories in the second half. Aces first-half spreads will be a common bet for me this season. However, they are quietly also a high-variance team because of not just how many threes they take, but also how many threes they give up. As such, I likely will sprinkle their opponent moneylines in games where the number gets its longest.
However, if it’s a team that can’t hang on the offensive glass, I may avoid because Las Vegas could be historic on both the offensive and defensive glass given how strong they were last season, along with the addition of Parker. Teams without a healthy defensive rebounding presence (Lynx, Storm) could get steamrolled.
New York Liberty (+125)
The Liberty have put together one of the most talented rosters in league history, arguably since the 2016 Los Angeles Sparks, if not those turn-of-the-century Houston Comets teams. Of course, the question becomes whether that talent on paper can translate to the court. And even if it does, what will happen come October when they may well face a roster nearly as talented and with far more history together?
To start the season, the biggest thing I’ll be watching during Liberty games is the backcourt. The frontcourt has a pair of MVPs, but to a certain degree, we know what we’re getting from Breanna Stewart and Jonquel Jones. Both have played on incredibly talented teams, both are in their relative primes and we’ve seen both at or around their ceilings.
In Sabrina Ionescu and Courtney Vandersloot, it’s a backcourt on opposite ends of the career spectrum. Ionescu thrived once she was moved more off-ball when Crystal Dangerfield moved into the starting lineup last season — that will be her role again for this year’s squad, as Vandersloot will be the point guard deluxe.
Ionescu has apparently been honing her game for this exact role all offseason, and there’s a chance she has an absolutely monster campaign — think something like 20/7/5 on incredibly efficient shooting splits. Vandersloot is the perfect floor general to have in big moments, as she has proven herself clutch with either a big shot, pass or even defensive stand. She is very underrated on that side of the ball even at her age.
What’s truly unfair about this Liberty team, however, is their depth. Maybe the quietest part of this offseason was the Liberty getting Kayla Thornton “tossed in” as part of the Jonquel Jones trade. Thornton is not a toss-in — she was the Wings’ second-best player by win shares last season, and that’s is no anomaly. She has shown a consistent ability to be an incredibly impactful player throughout her career on low usage.
On a superteam like this, you literally couldn’t have a better player. I almost wonder if she will get more time with the starters, while Betnijah Laney — the fact that I’ve gone 80% of the way through the preview without mentioning her name is truly amazing — will get to bring her shot-creating to the bench unit for more of a chance to cook there.
Flanking Thornton on the depth wings are Marine Johannes and Han Xu — arguably the most popular players on the Liberty. They are two of the most fun players to watch in the W, and they are also hyper efficient and strong offensive players.
This is a slightly better roster top to bottom than the Aces, but Las Vegas has the continuity advantage. That being said, if I were to make a preseason title bet with the odds as is, the Liberty at +150 (which is available at some books) would be my play.
But what I would instead recommend is to wait for the market to overreact to a slow start as the team is getting to know each other — Jones is starting the season injured as well — and pounce once the odds drop a bit. There’s almost no room for them to have shorter odds (barring catastrophic injuries to the Aces), so waiting this number out shouldn’t hurt.
Phoenix Mercury (+2500)
Let’s start with the obvious: It’s great to have Brittney Griner back in the W, and we all hope she is doing fine both mentally and physically.
From a far more analytical and removed perspective, this is obviously a massive difference between the 2022 and 2023 Phoenix Mercury. Last season, the team was last in defensive rebounding rate and allowed the most second-chance points. If Griner is even 50% of herself, that’s not going to be the case again in 2023.
Griner is far from the only potential change in Phoenix, though. Skylar Diggins-Smith announced in late 2022 that she is pregnant, and as of now, she looks like she will be missing the start of the ’23 season.
Diggins-Smith notably didn’t take part in the final few games of the season last year. She simply stepped away from the team without any real notice to the media as to why. (Completely and totally unrelated … Vanessa Nygaard remains the head coach in Phoenix.)
The Mercury made the playoffs for the 10th straight season last year, but it was by the skin of their teeth, and their winning percentage was the lowest in over a decade. The market sees a return to above .500 ball, however, with the Mercury sitting as pretty much the consensus fourth-best team in the league.
There’s definitely some intrigue here. Sophie Cunningham made a genuine breakout last season, and the team has two of the best role players in the league in Brianna Turner and Moriah Jefferson. If Griner comes back in top form and Diggins-Smith returns halfway through the season, there will be a decent case for Phoenix to actually be the fourth-best team.
However, that’s a lot of ifs, many of which skew toward the latter half of the season. We will have to see how the books make them early on, but I am guessing I will be fading them quite a bit, particularly in the first half.
Washington Mystics (+1400)
With so much focus on the New York Liberty and Las Vegas Aces, the Mystics enter the 2023 season as the forgotten child. However, when looking over the state of the league, the Mystics are clearly in a tier of their own — just below the Big Two but above the rest of the league.
Washington brings back mostly the same roster that went 22-14 and finished as the fifth seed last season. In Alysha Clark and Elizabeth Williams, the Mystics lost a pair of excellent role players, but the incoming Brittney Sykes brings an offensive punch that’s been missing at times. Maybe the biggest factor for this team, however, is Elena Delle Donne being in her best shape since 2019.
Delle Donne was on a partial schedule in 2022 after missing the entirety of the 2020 season and almost all of the ’21 season. When Delle Donne played last year, the Mystics were 18-7, a .720 winning percentage that basically matches the exact winning percentage of the Aces (.722).
EDD says she should be available for a full schedule this season, and that’s massive news. I still struggle to see a path to the title for the Mystics, but in a game-to-game basis, there’s a lot to like betting the Mystics this season.
Shakira Austin is arguably the pivot point for the ceiling of this team. In her rookie season, she was outstanding, causing me to cook up some takes about how I’d rather have her than Aliyah Boston(!). If Austin can maintain her defensive presence — which played a big role for the Mystics’ elite interior defense — and add more offense to her game, this team gets really interesting.
As is, I have this team projected for a 27-13 record, which is a bit higher than their preseason win total at FanDuel (24.5), so I likely will be betting this team until the market adjusts.
Washington was also one of the best teams to bet unders on last season, going under in 23-of-36 games. The Mystics have a new head coach (technically), but it’s Eric Thibault taking over for his father, Mike Thibault, so it will be interesting to see how far the (Pace) apple falls from the tree.
Dallas Wings (+3500)
The Dream are the team I am highest on. The Wings are the team I am lowest on (along with the Lynx).
That is not to say I think they will finish last, but rather, in comparison to how the market sees this team, I am far lower on Dallas. The franchise has improved its record each of the past three seasons, but I think that trend stops and starts to head the other direction.
This is not an indictment of star player Arike Ogunbowale. It has more to do with the Wings’ roster churn that occurred over the offseason. Allisha Gray and Kayla Thornton were their top two players by win shares last season, and in losing Marina Mabrey, they lost the player who guided the ship when Ogunbowale was out.
Coming in are Natasha Howard, Diamond DeShields and a collection of rookies.
DeShields is a player I was incredibly high on early in her career, but she has seemingly gone the wrong direction when it comes to her actual impact on winning on the court. Howard was an elite role player in Seattle, but she was far more pedestrian in a bigger role in New York. In Dallas, she will likely need to be a key contributor again, which doesn’t give me much hope.
Of the rookies the Wings drafted, they targeted: shooting, shooting and more shooting. While shooting is indeed an essential element of the game, it’s not the most balanced roster decision.
This feels like a massive pivot season. The Wings have a new head coach, Latricia Trammell, and I wonder how many of the old guard will last the year. Satou Sabally has a high ceiling, but so far she has been constantly hurt and not very productive when she’s been able to play.
This feels like a season that will be in flux with not many wins.
Atlanta Dream (+4000)
Buy your Dream gear now — this is going to be the trendiest team of 2023.
The roster is loaded with two-way talent, starting with their No. 1 overall pick from last season, Rhyne Howard, who cruised to Rookie of the Year while making an All-Star Game appearance along the way. Her ceiling is incredible. She averaged 19.4 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.2 assists after the All-Star Game last season, so keep an eye on her points prop early in the season.
My favorite non-Liberty move made all offseason was the Dream’s acquisition of Allisha Gray. The addition of Gray, alongside a year of growth from Howard and a year of continuity from the rest of the roster, moves the Dream from fringe playoff team to the tier just below the superteams for me. Gray proved herself to be an advanced metrics darling in Dallas with some of the best win share rates and on-off stats season after season.
I also have an incredible amount of faith in Head Coach Tanisha Wright, who finished second in the Coach of the Year voting last season and would be my bet to win this year (if the books post that award market). She is backed by a stellar front office. Overall, the vibes in Atlanta are excellent.
There’s really no weak spot on this roster. The duo of Cheyenne Parker and Monique Billings is a very strong two-way frontcourt, and I’ll be looking for Aari McDonald to take over the starting point guard role from Danielle Robinson at some point this season. If she does, note that in limited time as a starter last season, McDonald averaged 16 points and five assists per game.
The one facet of the game the Dream needs to work on is fouling less. They gave away too many points at the stripe last season, although some of that was simply because of playing good, strong physical defense.
Minnesota Lynx (+4500)
The Lynx are yet another WNBA team not far removed from success, but will be potentially looking toward a rebuilding season in 2023. There is a sect of WNBA media who thinks this is just a long con from head coach Cheryl Reeve and that she’s going to have the Lynx in the postseason again — I just don’t see it.
Lets start with the positives: Napheesa Collier was one of the best draft picks in recent memory. Getting her with the sixth pick in the 2019 WNBA Draft paid immediate dividends as she quickly established herself as one of the brightest talents in the league. The ceiling for their most recent top draft pick, Diamond Miller, is incredibly high, and in theory she could be a perfect fit next to Collier. In Reeve, they have arguably the No. 1 coach you’d choose to make that happen.
Let’s do the negatives now: The point guard position is a massive question mark, and the shooting on this team is almost non-existent. They have a few intriguing pieces in Brea Beal and Dorka Juhasz, but the cupboard is a little more barren than most teams. It’s part of the reason I think Reeve sees the big picture and realizes Collier is still very young and would be the perfect piece to go next to any of the big names in the 2024 Draft (Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese, Paige Bueckers or Cameron Brink).
This team has by far the biggest delta in terms of the win total I project them for (10), versus where the market has them to start the season (17.5 at FanDuel). As such, I will likely be looking to fade the Lynx early and often in 2023.
Chicago Sky (+4500)
The Sky are unique in the transition they are attempting to make in 2023. There are several teams who had notable key pieces depart over the offseason, but unlike all those squads, the Sky appear to be going for a fast reset.
They will likely be without four of their five starters from last season’s roster that finished the regular season tied for the best record. Candace Parker and Courtney Vandersloot are now on opposing superteams; Allie Quigley is sitting the season out; Emma Meesseman is not on the Sky roster and is assumed to be prioritizing her play overseas.
Kahleah Copper is the lone returning starter, but this does not appear to be a rebuild. Head coach and general manager, James Wade, had a busy offseason, bringing in a brand new backcourt of Courtney Williams and Marina Mabrey. He’s also got a new starting frontcourt with Elizabeth Williams and Isabelle Harrison.
There’s some talent here, but of all the rosters in the W, this one looks the most like a collection of pieces.
Mabrey showed flashes of being the main piece in an offense when Arike Ogunbowale was out late last season in Dallas, but now she’ll be battling for the ball alongside Williams and Copper. Williams and Harrison make more sense to me as frontcourt pieces, but it will be a massive challenge for Wade to make it all come together. Ironically, Meesseman, if she had returned this season, would’ve been the perfect connector piece to make this offense go.
As is, I am quite low on their prospects. I’ll be very curious how sportsbooks treat them as there appears to be a bit of discrepancy right now. With the fifth-shortest title odds, I’d fade the Sky if they were indeed being treated as the fifth-best team.
However, their win total at WynnBet in Massachusetts is just 14.5 — tied for the second-fewest in the W and right around where I see them (at 15-25). This may be a team books don’t agree on early, which gives us an opportunity to go either way early in the season.
Seattle Storm (+5000)
It’s a new era in Seattle, as the Storm and their loyal fans bid adieu to Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart and look to begin anew with Jewell Lloyd at the helm. Lloyd is set up to carry a massive load offensively, and that’s one again that I’ll be looking to bet. Lloyd has a decent look to even lead the league in scoring should the books list the bet as an option. Even if not, on a game-to-game basis, I’ll be looking towards her single-game points props at the start of the season.
Kia Nurse is another one who will likely have to pick up the scoring load on a team that has plenty of defensive talent but will struggle to score the ball. That inability to score the ball is going to make winning hard for the Storm (and it’s going to make for some good potential under spots as well).
I have the Storm as the third-worst team in the league with their roster as is, and I project them for a final record of 14-26 (slightly above their 14.5 win total at FanDuel). The Storm are a perfect example of just how deep and talented this league is. They have a really solid core of Lloyd-Gabby Williams-Ezi Magbegor, but in a league where every team has talent someone has to lose, and that’s going to be the Storm more often than not this season.
Connecticut Sun (+4500)
The market has shifted incredibly hard on the team that had the best regular season Net Rating in 2022, and I’m not entirely sure the move is entirely deserved.
The Sun had a +10.2 net rating last season, well clear of even the eventual champion Las Vegas Aces, who had a +7.9 net rating in the regular season. The Sun were taken apart handily by the Aces in the 2022 WNBA Finals, but this team was a juggernaut last year, especially in the regular season.
The loss of Jonquel Jones will certainly hurt — she was the 2021 MVP after all — but the Sun are in decent shape to make up for her loss. In Brionna Jones, they have a player who was, on a per minute basis, actually more valuable to the Sun last season than Jonquel. I am not here to say Brionna is the better Jones (it would be a fun debate), but instead I want to note that they have a really solid immediate replacement in the form of last season’s Sixth Woman of the Year.
The other notable departure from the Sun is Courtney Williams, but the Sun did well in replacing her by bringing in Tiffany Hayes. Personally, I see Hayes as a better overall player on the offensive end, and near even on the defensive side, where Hayes used to be great but declined due to aging.
The biggest loss for the Sun may be head coach Curt Miller, who was incredible over seven seasons to establish the Sun as a yearly contender. However, new coach Stephanie White has a WNBA Finals appearance on her resume. It’s yet another talented addition to make up for a big outgoing loss.
All of that combines to have the Sun much higher for me personally than the market. The Sun currently have the championship odds of a fringe playoff team and a win total set at 22.5, with the juice on the under (-136). I see them as a playoff lock (so does FanDuel at -2500), and I have their win total at 24.
That being said, I could see this team getting off to a bit of a slow start. The full top six of their rotation is either playing or just played overseas this past offseason, which means they will either not be as fresh as some other teams, or may even be missing a player or two briefly.
They also have a new head coach and some new faces. So while I am high on the Sun comparatively, I likely will be getting a feel for them first before diving in — unless the market truly undersells them.
Los Angeles Sparks (+6000)
The Sparks may have the second-longest odds to win the WNBA title, but I don’t see them as having the second-worst roster in the WNBA.
The Sparks may have finished second from the bottom in the standings last season, but there’s nary a familiar face in L.A. this season. That starts at the top, where the Sparks hired Karen Bryant as General Manager and promoted Eli Horowitz to Assistant GM this offseason. They also brought in Curt Miller to coach the team, bringing with him one of the more impressive resumes in the league.
The roster is basically entirely new as well. Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike are back as the heart and soul of the team, but the list of names the franchise brought in this offseason is nearly endless: Dearica Hamby, Azura Stevens, Jasmine Thomas, Layshia Clarendon, Zia Cooke, and on and on.
My betting approach to this team is going to be somewhat simple: I think they are going to take a little time to gel, but I have full faith in Miller, as well as the actual talent on the roster to come together by the end of the season. I am already thinking about playing them a lot in the second half of the season and even as a potential pesky first-round upset team. I project the Sparks at 18-22 but weighted to the second half of the season.
Indiana Fever (+10000)
The Fever did what they needed to do in the offseason. They drafted Aliyah Boston with the first overall pick in the WNBA Draft, but don’t be fooled, this is still the worst roster in the W.
Boston overlaps with a pair of rookies from last season, NaLyssa Smith and Queen Egbo, who both roam the frontcourt and helped make the Fever one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the W last season. That skill will remain in 2023, but so will their weaknesses. This is a team with a very porous defensive backcourt, and beyond Kelsey Mitchell, they will struggle to score.
Boston is not the type of rookie to come in and score with ease. She is an incredible talent (although I do think Shakira Austin in Washington is who fans think Boston is), but her game is more notable on the defensive end. It’s part of why I will be looking to Fever unders, especially if their pace is any slower under new head coach Christie Sides.
The Fever should likely continue to hand teams bundles of points in transition, and they don’t take enough 3-pointers to win the math problem against almost any other team.
Their cover rate was dreadful in 2022, and I see it remaining that way in 2023, especially against teams that get out on the break, or have any sort of backcourt that can slice up Mitchell and Erica Wheeler. I project their final record at 8-32, which is right around where some books have them listed (7.5 wins).