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Breanna Stewart Headlines 3 Best WNBA Free Agents

Breanna Stewart Headlines 3 Best WNBA Free Agents

The WNBA free agency doesn’t start until after the new year but front offices are already thinking about how to navigate the loaded free agent class of 2023. Here are the top free agents to look out for before free agency starts in a couple of months.

Brianna Stewart

2022 stats: 21.8 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 2.9 APG, 1.6 SPG, 51.8 2P%, 37.9 3P%

If it wasn’t for A’ja Wilson and a Las Vegas Aces season for the ages, Stewart would end up with the MVP of 2022. She’s an all-time talent at 28 and Seattle will do everything they can to keep her. However, she will have suitors.

Last season, Chris Haynes of the NBA mentioned Stewart met New York owners Liberty Joe and Clara Tsai in Los Angeles. She eventually re-signed with the Storm but the two-time WNBA champion Whispers returned to the state where she grew up and got louder. Liberty made the playoffs for the first time since 2017 while combo guard Sabrina Ionescu showed she was capable of offense. New York will challenge the Storm for Stewart’s services and how it will handle the free agency process will be the biggest story heading into January.

Seattle will not be able to use the primary designation on Stewart this season after using it on Jewell Lloyd last year. The franchise is in the process of building a new, state-of-the-art facility and Stewart could pair up with one of her former colleagues on the outside (more on that later). They should be the prime candidate to re-sign the veteran.

Prediction: Stewart is still with the Storm

Courtney Vandersloot

2022 Stats: 11.8 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 6.5 APG, 1.2 SPG, 52.5 2P%, 36.7 3P%

Vandersloot’s traditional stats don’t tell the full story of its impact. After rewriting the history books from 2017 to 2021, the three-time All-Star had its lowest output since 2016. That was due to the Chicago Sky’s loaded roster and head coach/general manager James Wade’s “first team.” She is the third all-time leading assist player in WNBA history and averaged the second-largest APG in 2022 despite being ranked 40th in utilization average.

There are plenty of teams that could use a base of Vandersloot’s caliber but the two to watch are the Storm and Minnesota Lynx. When she was a free agent in her most recent off-season, those were the only teams the Sky’s tallest player played for when evaluating their options. Vandersloot said during exit interviews with the media that she thought she had played her last game with Chicago. She eventually re-signed at a slight discount and tried to help Sky win back-to-back titles.

Minnesota and Seattle would make interesting destinations for Vandersloot depending on how the season shakes up. The Lynx doesn’t have a clear replacement for Sylvia Fowles unless he’s able to get a top pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft, which many expect to be South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston center. The Lynx are less attractive if they don’t choose Boston or sign a free agent like Sixth Women’s Governor of the Year Breonna Jones. Seattle would also likely lose the Vandersloot sweepstakes if they were unable to keep Stewart.

If Wade is able to get the band back together, Vandersloot could end up with Sky. It has been true to the franchise that forged it and the organization continues to add resources.

Prediction: Vandersloot joins Stewart in Seattle

Candace Parker

2022 stats: 13.2 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 4.5 APG, 1.0 BPG, 55.2 2P%, 31.1 3P%

Parker said ahead of the 2022 season that her mentality was to plan to retire at the end of the year. However, it left the door open for its return for its sixteenth season. If she decides she still wants to suit up for another year in the WNBA, Parker provides outstanding defense and offensive production despite her age.

The question of which team she will re-sign remains unanswered. Parker left the Los Angeles Sparks, the team that drafted her with the No. 1 overall pick in 2008, for Sky so she could compete for another title. Two years later and a tournament later, Chicago has several unrestricted free agents and questions about whether they can bring back the same set. Meanwhile, the Sparks only have two guaranteed contracts and could build a roster around maximizing Parker’s final years in the league.

The only thing that will influence Parker’s decision is the emotional ties she has with both teams. The two-time champion developed a friendship with sky star Kahliya Cooper and was the perfect complement to Wade’s training style. She grew up in Naperville, Illinois and has a family who can easily come watch her play. Parker’s influence on the Chicago franchise remains profound even though she only played for the team for two years. The former MVP’s daughter also lives in Los Angeles and getting close to her could be one of Parker’s priorities in free agency.

Prediction: Parker signs a one-year deal to return to Chicago

Other top free agents

Nika Ogomek: She enjoyed one of her best seasons in 2022 but looks like she wants to stay with the Sparks. If she changes her mind, Ogwumike can serve any team’s front court needs.

Emma Meissman: MVP of the 2019 Finals calmly collects

Breonna Jones: After being selected as an All-Star, Jones must command a contract north of the $120,000 mark he had last year. Minnesota could be a player in its services.

Azura Stevens: Stevens was primarily the starting sixth baseman for Chicago last season and has improved as a shooter. A big guy who can stretch the floor is one of the most sought after commodities in basketball. Stevens fits this description.

Tina Charles: The WNBA veteran went looking for a ring last season and came up empty. However, she criminalizes the position and has indicated her willingness to take a pay cut if it means she can chase a championship.



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