The WNBA might not be back in action until May but it is never too early to get excited about its next season. There are going to be plenty of firsts for the league in 2023. It will be without icons Sylvia Fowles and Sue Bird following their retirement but it will also embark on a 40-game season, the most contests in one year.

Free agency is set to begin soon but here’s a taste for what we want to see when the WNBA opens its season in 2023.

Brittney Griner’s WNBA return

2022 was a successful year for the league in terms of ratings, fan engagement and high quality basketball but Griner’s absence was felt throughout the WNBA. After being imprisoned in Russian for over 290 days, Griner is safe back in the United States. She declared she intends on playing for the Phoenix Mercury–the team that drafted her with the No. 1 overall pick back in 2013–next season.

When Griner comes out of the tunnel with her No. 42 jersey before every game, the crowd is going to erupt. She is an all-time great who was not only robbed of time with her family but also the chance to follow up her MVP caliber season in 2021. Griner could averaged 0 points, rebounds and blocks per game and it would still be a momentous achievement after what she went through. However, she is one of the best centers in league history. Don’t be surprised to see her comeback story involve monster stat lines in 2023.

Aliyah Boston’s WNBA debut

Ever since Tamika Catchings retired, the Indiana Fever have been searching for their next face of the franchise. They might be getting one in Aliyah Boston, who is expected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 draft.

The Fever have a chance to be really fun in 2023. Indiana has spent the last few years going back and forth between wanting to stay competitive while trying to groom young talent. Lin Dunn has spent the last year undoing some of the Fever’s mistakes and has a group of young players that can grow together. Boston would be paired with 2022 No. 2 overall pick in NaLyssa Smith, creating one of the more intriguing front courts the league has to offer. She would also be reunited with South Carolina teammate Destini Henderson, who made the roster after being drafted in the second round last year.

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Indiana’s rebuilding process could be winding down depending on how Boston fits in with its young group. Based on her dominance in college, she can play with anyone. Boston’s debut in 2023 could be the start of a long, fruitful career in the WNBA.

Candace Parker building on impressive resume

There is no doubt that when she decides to hang it up Candace Parker will go down as one of the greatest players in basketball history. No one would blame her if she walked away from the game to be with her family and pursue her broadcasting career full time. However, retirement talk was put on the back burner when she told The Athletic she was “game” for another year in the WNBA.

Whether she plays for the Chicago Sky or another team in 2023, Parker’s potential last season in the WNBA will be something to monitor next year. If she didn’t play another second in the league, she would retire:

  • 10th in scoring (three points shy of Katie Smith for ninth all-time)
  • 3rd in rebounding
  • 8th in assists
  • 5th in blocks
  • 4th in double-doubles

Parker is an all-time great still playing like one. She made the All-WNBA First Team last season and showed she has plenty left in the tank. Her stellar play is something to celebrate and if she decides this is her last season, the WNBA should give her a Sue Bird-Sylvia Fowles like hero’s goodbye.

Honorable mentions

  • Las Vegas hosting the all-star game again. The Chicago Sun-Times reported the Aces will most likely host the league’s midseason spectacle. Owner Mark Davis knows how to put on a show and it is one of the reasons the Aces have a reputation for having the best fan experience.
  • Atlanta Dream’s direction following successful 2022. The team has the No. 3 pick in the upcoming draft. Whoever comes into the fold under Tanisha Wright will have a foundation set for development along with expectations to win right away. Depending on who you talk to, it is hard to imagine a better scenario for a prospect.