May 13, 2024 

The Next’s 2024 WNBA preseason awards and predictions

MVP, ROY and off-the-wall questions asked and answered

It’s Monday, I’m sorry. But on the bright side, that means the 2024 WNBA season is just one night away! With another landscape-shifting free agency period in the books, the reigning champs (Las Vegas) and runners-up (New York) are retooling but may be joined by a third title contender. The most famous rookie class since 2013, Fever guard Caitlin Clark, is taking the league by storm, and three teams are gunning for Paige Bueckers in next season’s WNBA Draft. And we here at The Next are as dedicated to as diverse coverage as ever. But first: some fun predictions. Who wins the fourth “A’ja vs. Stewie” playoff installment? What are the 2024 Phoenix Mercury? Which on-court trends will emerge this season?

Continue reading with a subscription to The Next

Get unlimited access to women’s basketball coverage and help support our hardworking staff of writers, editors, and photographers by subscribing today.

Join today

We continued our annual tradition of convening over a dozen of our staff to answer all these questions, pick award favorites and more!

Your business can reach over 3 million women’s sports fans every single month!

Here at The Next and The IX, our audience is a collection of the smartest, most passionate women’s sports fans in the world. If your business has a mission to serve these fans, reach out to our team at to discuss ways to work together.

Who are the 2024 WNBA championship favorites?

There are two ways we like to pick our favorites. The first is to simply highlight the one team each writer and analyst thinks will win it all:

Championship votes

To little surprise, the Aces are significant favorites, returning the entirety of a lineup that lost just one playoff game, while adding depth in Megan Gustafson. The Liberty have improved their bench but are coming off a 3-1 WNBA Finals series loss to Vegas. There’s also the Mercury — keep that one in mind for a minute.

The other way we like to pick our top contenders is by having each writer pick their top two teams in the league, and then looking at the share of votes each team got. So where 100% means a unanimous title favorite and 50% means a unanimous No. 2 pick:

Championship shares (100% = unanimous favorite, 50% = unanimous No. 2)

The Aces remain the overwhelming favorite, while New York is a clear-cut No. 2 pick. Seattle, after adding two of the very best players in the league in free agency (guard Skylar Diggins-Smith and forward Nneka Ogwumike), jump from the draft lottery to legitimate playoff contenders. Phoenix and Indiana are also here.

Who are the lottery favorites?

Of course, for a team to finish first, another has to finish last. And we think that team is going to be…

Last-place votes

… not Indiana this year! That’s new! Chicago takes its place instead, as a team of solid role players, young hopefuls and a couple of high-profile rookies. The Sky has a solid foundation but not much in the way of near-term competitiveness. But beyond the Sky, feelings are mixed on a whole host of teams, which is why we like to look in terms of the vote share for teams finishing at the bottom of the standings:

Last-place vote shares (100% = unanimous worst-in-the-league, 50% = unanimous second-worst)

Chicago still takes the cake, but not so overwhelmingly. Los Angeles and Washington join them as notable bottom-dwellers, but our staff definitely does not yet know what to make of the roster revamping done by the Mercury, Dream and Lynx.

Which leads us to…

Which matchups are we most looking forward to?

Unsurprisingly, every matchup worthy of top billing includes one of the three teams atop our preseason championship shares or Caitlin Clark! It is a good thing that more WNBA games are going to be nationally broadcast than ever.

Want even more women’s sports in your inbox?

Subscribe now to our sister publication The IX and receive our independent women’s sports newsletter six days a week. Learn more about your favorite athletes and teams around the world competing in soccer, tennis, basketball, golf, hockey and gymnastics from our incredible team of writers.

Readers of The Next now save 50% on their subscription to The IX.

We’ll get back to team breakdowns in a minute. But now onto the reason you’re probably here, the real awards:

Who’s going to be MVP?

Preseason MVP voting

A’ja Wilson and Breanna Stewart have finished in the top three of MVP voting three of the past four years, and 2024 seems unlikely to be an exception. But with how Wilson played in the 2023 Finals, it’s hard to see anyone beating her at her best.

Who’s going to be Defensive Player of the Year?

Preseason Defensive Player of the Year voting

Wilson and Alyssa Thomas have finished 1-2 in DPOY voting each of the last two seasons, but is this the year Thomas finally claims the award? Only time will tell.

Who’s winning Sixth Player of the Year?

Preseason Sixth Player of the Year voting

This award has been hard to pick since bigs Brionna Jones and Azurá Stevens moved into starting lineups. But after Aces guard Alysha Clark won last year and the two runners-up (Sun guard DiJonai Carrington and Chicago guard Dana Evans) are becoming starters as well, it’s Clark and a few former starters that we’re looking at this year. Those include whichever of Sophie Cunningham and Rebecca Allen that Phoenix decides to bring off the bench, since the duo were not healthy at the same time for either preseason game, and Kayla Thornton.

Who are the best players in the W? (All-WNBA)

My favorite player-centric question is always the All-WNBA team; nothing paints a better picture of the truly top tier of players in the league. And for the second year in a row, three players stand out above the rest:

Preseason All-WNBA voting

Coming off the first true three-person MVP race in league history, who else should be atop a preseason All-W team? Alongside them, the 2023 scoring champion and the fourth-place finisher in last season’s MVP voting.

If All-WNBA isn’t my favorite question, then this next pair is for sure…

Which team is going to have the best offense this year? Which is going to have the worst?

Votes for best and worst offenses in the WNBA

Vegas and New York led the league in offense last year, and it’s hard to see them being dethroned this year. On the other end of the spectrum, while there are some down-ballot considerations, we can definitely agree on this not being a great year for fans of scoring in Chicago.

Which team is going to have the best defense this year? Which is going to have the worst?

Votes for best and worst defenses in the WNBA

Vegas also lead the W in defensive rating last year, with Connecticut finishing second. And the Sun should only be stronger on that end of the court after getting a full season from Jones.

On the other end of the spectrum, it’s anyone’s game! Let’s just say that Elizabeth Williams (Chicago) and Aliyah Boston (Indiana) have their work cut out for them.

All of these awards are what really go into determining …

Who’s going to win Executive of the Year?

Votes for Preseason Executive of the Year

Last year, Liberty general manager Jonathan Kolb was the wire-to-wire winner after trading for Jonquel Jones and Thornton and having Stewart and Courtney Vandersloot team up there too. This year, we have Skylar Diggins-Smith and Nneka Ogwumike joining forces by signing with the Storm. As far and away the two highest-profile free agents on the move this winter, it’s only fitting that the general manager who signed them is the favorite to end the season with some hardware.

If you needed further evidence of Rhea’s candidacy:

Which free agent move is going to make the biggest impact?

Votes for the most impactful free agent move

Add Locked On Women’s Basketball to your daily routine

Here at The Next, in addition to the 24/7/365 written content our staff provides, we also host the daily Locked On Women’s Basketball podcast. Join us Monday through Saturday each week as we discuss all things WNBA, collegiate basketball, basketball history and much more. Listen wherever you find podcasts or watch on YouTube.

If you’ve stuck around here this long: congratulations, you’ve made it to the kooky part! A miscellaneous mix of analysis and questions follows:

What on-court trend is going to define the 2024 WNBA season?

How will this year’s rookie class compare to last year’s?

Last season featured Boston with a rookie season for the ages, but there were not many other standout first-years beyond her. This year not only features Caitlin Clark, but possible standouts in Cameron Brink and Kamilla Cardoso and Rickea Jackson and Jacy Sheldon and on and on, all players set to receive plenty of minutes to show what they can do. So how do we think this cohort will compare to its 2023 counterpart?

Good to know.

Speaking of Clark …

How many inappropriate questions will Caitlin Clark be asked?

More than half of us said “too many.”

Probably the same number as points she scores

Enough for someone to change their media policy

And, lastly, on perhaps the most significant change this year:

How are you feeling about a season without Candace Parker?

I feel like I lost something. I don’t know what to do with it.

Sad, but I don’t think it will feel too weird considering she didn’t play for half of last season. We already have a taste of what the WNBA is like without her.

You can’t spell Aces without Ace.

It’s going to be a little weird for sure. On a broader scale, there being just having one player left in the league that Pat Summitt coach feels significant.

It’s really very sad. I’m going to miss how thoughtful she was about discussing the state of the league. I’m really hoping that Parker transitions to broadcasting the W one day sort of just like Chiney has.

Written by Em Adler

Em Adler (she/they) covers the WNBA at large and college basketball for The Next, with a focus on player development and the game behind the game.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.