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Reigning champion Aces remain cut above in WNBA’s Western Conference

Kelsey Plum Chelsea Gray Las Vegas Aces Kelsey Plum Chelsea Gray - The Canadian Press

The 2023 WNBA season is set to begin and eyes will be on the Western Conference for a number of reasons.

Watch the Las Vegas Aces take on the Seattle Storm LIVE Saturday at 3 p.m. ET/12 p.m. PT on TSN1 and streaming on and the TSN App.

The Las Vegas Aces are aiming to be the first team to win back-to-back league titles since the Los Angeles Sparks did it in 2001 and 2002. Meanwhile in Seattle, the Storm are undergoing a massive transition in the wake of the departures of Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird.

And, of course, the biggest story of all is Brittney Griner’s return to the WNBA after her ordeal in Russia and her journey will be watched all season long.

Las Vegas Aces
2022 season: 26-10 (WNBA champions)

The Aces come into the 2023 season as the reigning champions and are primed to go for a repeat title.

A’ja Wilson captured her second career WNBA MVP award after a season where she averaged 20.3 points and a career-high 10.4 rebounds. She was also named Defensive Player of the Year, earned an All-Defensive First Team nod and was named an All-Star for the fourth time.

In the playoffs, it was Chelsea Gray who dominated, averaging 21.7 points, 3.8 rebounds and 7.0 rebounds as she captured Finals MVP.

Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young round out the core as they are both coming off career seasons in 2022.

To follow up their championship, the Aces did not hold back in the off-season. While Dearica Hamby was dealt to the Sparks, the Aces signed a pair of two-time WNBA champions in Candace Parker and Alysha Clark.

Seattle Storm
2022 season: 22-14 (playoffs)

The 2023 Storm squad is a far different looking team than the one that closed out 2022.

The departure of Stewart in free agency was a massive loss for a franchise that also saw Bird retire.

Now in a transitional phase, Jewell Loyd is the lone player remaining from the Big Three. She has shown she can produce without Stewart and Bird in previous stints when both players were not in the lineup.

In free agency, the Storm added Canadian Kia Nurse on a two-year deal and brought back guard Sami Whitcomb, who won two titles with Seattle in 2018 and 2020.

Mercedes Russell also returns after missing almost all of last season with a migraine condition and Ezi Magbegor will be relied upon to take the next step after a career season where she averaged 9.5 points and 5.6 rebounds.

On the rookie front, 2023 first-rounder Jordan Horston and 2022 third-rounder Jade Melbourne are expected to be a part of the rebuild.

Dallas Wings
2022 season: 18-18 (playoffs)

The Wings were a part of a few big trades in the off-season, landing Diamond DeShields (who will miss extended time with a knee injury) from Phoenix and Natasha Howard and Crystal Dangerfield from New York while sending Marina Mabrey to Chicago.

Arike Ogunbowale will continue to be the focal point of their offence, as she is coming off a season where she averaged 19.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists.

While the Aces are on a different level compared to the rest of the West, this season is an opportunity for the Wings to climb higher in the conference with other teams in the rebuilding stage.

Los Angeles Sparks Phoenix Mercury

Phoenix Mercury
2022 season: 15-21 (playoffs)

This season marks the return of Griner to the WNBA as she gets set to play basketball for the first time since 2021. In her preseason debut, she played 17 minutes while scoring 10 points.

Diana Taurasi also returns for her 19th season as well as defensive stalwart Brianna Turner. With Skylar Diggins-Smith off on maternity leave, Sophie Cunningham will have an increased role. The 26-year-old had a career year in 2022, averaging 12.6 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 28 games. 

While the Mercury dealt DeShields to the Wings in the massive four-team trade that also included the New York Liberty and Chicago Sky, Phoenix acquired former WNBA rookie of the year winner Michaela Onyenwere from the Liberty. 

Minnesota Lynx
2022 season: 14-22 (missed playoffs)

One of the most successful franchises in the past 10 years, the Lynx are entering the post Sylvia Fowles era in the Twin Cities.

Expected to lead the way are 2019 rookie of the year winner Napheesa Collier and 2023 No. 2 overall pick Diamond Miller.

Collier, who missed most of last season after giving birth to her first child, is back following a full off-season of being able to train. In 2021, she averaged 16.2 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists.

Miller is coming off a successful NCAA career with Maryland. As a senior, she averaged 19.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists and was named a second-team All-American.

The Lynx boast two Canadian players in Bridget Carleton and Natalie Achonwa. Achonwa is on maternity leave, but Carleton will be counted on as a player off the bench. 

ContentId(1.1958667): WNBA Stars to Watch: Bridget Carleton

Los Angeles Sparks
2022 season: 13-23 (missed playoffs)

Looking to recapture their previous heights, the Sparks moved on from Derek Fisher and brought in Curt Miller as coach after a successful stint with the Connecticut Sun.

They also made some big moves in free agency, adding Jasmine Thomas and former two-time Sixth Player of the Year Dearica Hamby via trade and signed Azura Stevens as a free agent. Hamby is coming off winning a WNBA title with the Aces while Stevens won her first title in 2021 with the Chicago Sky.  

At the draft, they took South Carolina guard Zia Cooke at 10th overall. As a senior, she averaged 15.4 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists and won a national title in 2021-22.