Another WNBA season has finally arrived, with all the action set to tip-off on Friday night. As opening night approaches, this is the perfect time to make some award picks and Finals predictions. These usually end up being a fool's errand, especially with, but it's still fun to take a stab and check back at the end of the season to see what, if anything, you got right.
With that, here is a look at some potential major award winners, and a guess as to which of the Liberty and Las Vegas Aces will be crowned the 2023 WNBA champions.
MVP: Breanna Stewart, New York Liberty
Stewart has widely been considered the best player in the world since the 2018 season when she was named MVP and led the Storm to a championship. But for a variety of reasons, she has not yet been able to get her hands on that trophy for a second time. This season, everything is lined up for her to do so. She's fully healthy, is coming off one of the best seasons of her career and has returned home to New York to lead a Liberty superteam that looks to be one of the title favorites.
Defensive Player of the Year: Ezi Magbegor, Seattle Storm
The fourth-year center has the potential to be one of the best interior defenders in the league, as she showed during the first half of last season. Prior to being moved to the bench for Tina Charles, Magbegor was averaging 6.5 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 2.3 blocks per game, while anchoring one of the best defenses in the league. Even though her playing time and production cratered in the second half of the season, she was still named to the All-Defensive Second Team. She'll have no questions about her role on this new-look Storm team, and just may make the leap to Defensive Player of the Year.
Rookie of the Year: Aliyah Boston, Indiana Fever
This is one of the easiest award predictions ever. Boston, the No. 1 pick, was by far the best prospect in this class and has all the physical tools and skills on both sides of the ball to make an immediate impact. Plus, she'll be in a situation in Indiana where she should get plenty of touches as they continue their rebuild. The big question heading into the summer is not whether Boston will win Rookie of the Year, but whether she can make the All-Star Game in her first season.
Sixth Player of the Year: Alysha Clark, Las Vegas Aces
Lost in all of the headlines about the Aces signing Candace Parker during free agency was that they added Alysha Clark as well. The veteran forward had a tough season for the Mystics in 2022 as she returned to play from a serious foot injury, but is now fully healthy and will be a huge boost for the Aces as they look to defend their title. She's still a strong and versatile defender and will chip in with rebounds and a bit of secondary playmaking. In addition, she has historically been an elite catch-and-shoot 3-point threat and should get plenty of open looks.
Most Improved Player: Satou Sabally, Dallas Wings
When Sabally entered the league as the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft, there were many who felt she had the potential to be the best player from that class. That hasn't happened so far, as Sabally has dealt with injuries and been unable to find any consistency. She is fully healthy now, though, and coming off an impressive showing overseas, where she helped Fenerbahce to the EuroLeague Women title. In addition, she noted during training camp that she's made some personal improvements and feels in a better place spiritually. All of which sets her up for a breakout season under new head coach Latricia Trammell.
Coach of the Year: Sandy Brondello, New York Liberty
The last time Brondello won Coach of the Year was in 2014 when she led a high-powered Phoenix Mercury team to the title in dominant fashion. She'll have a strong chance to earn both trophies again this season with a Liberty team that enters the season as co-favorites alongside the Aces. Brondello is one of the winningest coaches in WNBA history and has a proven track record of being able to manage star-heavy teams.
Finals prediction: Liberty over Aces
These two teams are such massive title favorites compared to the rest of the league that you can bet on whether the 2023 WNBA champion will be the "Aces or Liberty" or "the field." But while the matchup seems certain, prediction which one of these superteams will win it all is not so easy.
Together they boast nine of the top 16 players on, four of the last five MVP winners, two of the last three Defensive Player of the Year honorees, two of the last three Most Improved Players, the reigning Coach of the Year and six of the nine players who are still active from last season's All-WNBA teams.
The Liberty have more depth, but the defending champs have more continuity, and each should be incredible on both sides of the floor. This is truly a toss-up, but the Liberty get the nod in part because it's extremely difficult to repeat in this league; no team has done so since the Los Angeles Sparks in 2001 and 2002.