Top WNBA players to watch in 2024: A’ja Wilson, Caitlin Clark and more – NBC New York

The 2024 WNBA season is upon us, and there is no shortage of storylines.

The Las Vegas Aces enter as the two-time defending champions, while the New York Liberty are looking to avenge their 2023 WNBA Finals defeat. There will be an Olympic break, as well, as the U.S. women’s basketball team chases its eighth straight gold medal in Paris. And then there’s Caitlin Clark, the national sensation who will embark on her professional career in Indiana.

From upcoming expansion to charter flights, excitement is building across the WNBA like never before. With the 2024 campaign tipping off on Tuesday, let’s bounce around the league and break down 13 players who will shape the WNBA season.

A’ja Wilson, Las Vegas Aces

Of course we’re starting with A’Ja Wilson.

Her resume speaks for itself, but in case you needed a recap, her new shoe partner summed it up: SEC champion, NCAA champion, No. 1 WNBA draft pick, five-time WNBA All-Star, Olympic gold medalist, WNBA Finals MVP, New York Times Best Seller, TIME 100 Most Influential People in 2024, two-time WNBA champion, two-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year, two-time WNBA and title of “pettiest hooper on the internet.”

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Safe to say it’s Wilson’s league right now.

Chelsea Gray, Las Vegas Aces

We aren’t leaving Las Vegas just yet.

Chelsea Gray is one of four Aces to be an All-Star in 2023, joining Wilson, Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young, set career-highs in points, assists and rebounds per game. The “Point Gawd” scored a team-high 20 points in a title-clinching win over the Connecticut Sun in 2022 but missed the final victory of the 2023 WNBA Finals due to a foot injury. She will miss the Aces’ season opener on Tuesday due to a lower left leg injury.

Breanna Stewart, New York Liberty

Breanna Stewart made a big impression in the Big Apple last season. The former Seattle Storm star landed with the Liberty in free agency and went on to beat out Wilson for 2023 WNBA MVP honors.

Her first season leading the Liberty’s new big three ended in the WNBA Finals against Wilson, Gray and the Aces. An added year of experience and continuity could be the difference heading into 2024.

Jonquel Jones, New York Liberty

Speaking of the Liberty’s big three, Jonquel Jones is only three years removed from an MVP season in Connecticut. A foot injury impacted her start alongside Stewart and Sabrina Ionescu in New York, but when she’s healthy, she’s among the best players in the W on both ends of the floor.

Caitlin Clark, Indiana Fever

Welcome to the pros, Caitlin Clark.

College basketball’s all-time leading scorer has taken the WNBA by storm before she’s even stepped on the court for a regular season game. The Iowa phenom has increased interest in women’s basketball across the country, and now the hoops world is eagerly awaiting what she can bring to the league.

From scintillating shooting to passing precision, Clark promises to be one of the league’s most electric offensive players. How long will it take for her to adjust to the pros and start competing for more hardware?

Aliyah Boston, Indiana Fever

Clark isn’t the only No. 1 pick on the Fever.

Indiana has a new dynamic duo in Clark and 2023 top pick Aliyah Boston. The former South Carolina star lived up to the hype, becoming the unanimous 2023 WNBA Rookie of the Year while leading the league in field goal percentage.

The Fever went from just 5-31 in 2022 to 13-27 in Boston’s rookie season. What kind of jump with Indiana make now that Boston has a new partner in crime?

Alyssa Thomas, Connecticut Sun

The Engine happens to be a triple-double machine.

Alyssa Thomas is the player that keeps the Sun going. The tenacious defender has made dramatic strides on the offensive end and wound up second in 2023 MVP voting between Stewart and Wilson. Her nine career triple-doubles are by far the most in WNBA history.

Napheesa Collier, Minnesota Lynx

Napheesa Collier returned from having a baby in 2022 and put together an incredible 2023 season. She finished fourth in MVP voting and earned her third career All-Star selection while guiding the Lynx to the No. 6 seed.

Minnesota has struggled in postseason play since it won the 2017 WNBA title, and the Lynx will need to follow Collier’s lead to get past the first round in 2024.

Three-time WNBA All-Star Napheesa Collier discussed why this season feels more exciting and offered some advice for the talented rookie class.

Brittney Griner, Phoenix Mercury

The 2023 season saw Brittney Griner return to the court following her detainment in Russia. She went on to play 31 games while averaging 17.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game. It was a down year for the Mercury, who missed the playoffs, so Griner and Co. will be eyeing a postseason return this season.

The eight-time All-Star won’t see the floor for a little while to start the season, however, due to a toe injury.

Jewell Loyd, Seattle Storm

Breanna Stewart may have switched coasts and Sue Bird was out of the picture, but the Seattle Storm still had a crown Jewell in 2023.

Jewell Loyd was the WNBA’s leading scorer last season with an average of 24.7 points per game. The Storm went on to miss the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons, but the team surrounded Loyd with some much-needed help this offseason by acquiring veteran stars Skylar Diggins-Smith and Nneka Ogwumike.

Arike Ogunbowale, Dallas Wings

Arike Ogunbowale has been the wind beneath the Dallas Wings since they drafted her with the fifth overall pick in the 2019 WNBA Draft. She was fifth in the league in scoring last season at 21.2 points per game and played all 40 regular season games at a league-high 37.2 minutes per game.

Ogunbowale and Dallas can build off a 2023 season that ended against the Aces in the WNBA semis.

Cameron Brink, Los Angeles Sparks

While Clark headlines the 2024 WNBA Draft class, she isn’t the only rookie looking to make a splash this season.

Cameron Brink is staying in California, as the Stanford center was drafted No. 2 overall by the Los Angeles Sparks. With No. 4 overall draft pick Rickea Jackson by her side, Brink has the potential to spark a promising rebuild in L.A.

Kamilla Cardoso, Chicago Sky

Like the Sparks, the Chicago Sky have an exciting rookie duo.

Kamilla Cardoso and Angel Reese went to Chicago as the No. 3 and No. 7 picks, respectively, in last month’s draft. Both players won a national title in college and will work to solve the Sky’s rebounding issues, while Cardoso adds daunting rim-protection. The former South Carolina center will have to wait to make her WNBA debut due to a shoulder injury that is expected to sideline her until sometime in June.

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