The WNBA is a veteran-led league, but there’s also a lot of promising young talent, including the much-anticipated return of 2018 WNBA MVP Breanna Stewart. The Seattle Storm forward leads our list of the top 25 players age 25 or younger entering the 2020 WNBA season.
There are a few caveats. Only players currently in the bubble in Bradenton, Florida, are eligible. Players such as New York’s Asia Durr and Las Vegas’ Kelsey Plum, who aren’t playing this season, aren’t on the list.
And as long as they’re 25 today — even if they’ll turn 26 during the season — those players were included.
Four rookies made the cut, based on how we project they’ll do this season.
She’ll turn 26 in late August, and look what she has already accomplished despite missing last season because of a torn Achilles. She was the 2016 Rookie of the Year and won MVP honors and a WNBA championship in 2018. She could pick up her second MVP and title this year.
Her stats went down a bit after her 2018 Rookie of the Year season, but that was attributed to center Liz Cambage joining the Aces. Wilson remains the franchise’s key player, and will have a bigger load again with Cambage not playing this season.
We know how dynamically talented she is offensively. She can improve her efficiency there, along with becoming a stronger defensive player. DeShields should be one of the league’s most fun players to watch as she continues getting better.
The Lynx were thrilled to get her with the No. 6 pick in 2019, and she went on to be Rookie of the Year. Collier knows what works for her, and she doesn’t force anything. Just as was the case at UConn, she has shown she won’t get rattled as a pro.
She had to do everything in the backcourt last year, yet still was third in the league in scoring. It was a very close race between Ogunbowale and Collier for rookie of the year. This season, the Wings have other players who can run the point and help take some of the load off of her.
In just her third WNBA season, she’s considered a veteran on a young Liberty team that has seven rookies. Nurse could be a big part of the Liberty’s future as they use this season to establish a new culture under first-year coach Walt Hopkins.
No, she’s not scoring at the level she did at Ohio State. But she made progress in her second season last year, and could make more this season under new coach Marianne Stanley. Mitchell said she’s expecting a lot from herself this season, and she can deliver.
8. Satou Sabally, Dallas Wings
We’re going a bit out on a limb to put a rookie who hasn’t played in the WNBA yet in the top 10 — and it’s not even the No. 1 pick. Sabally, the No. 2 overall pick, left the Oregon Ducks after her junior year because she felt she was ready for the pro game. It will be exciting to see how quickly she makes an impact.
A starter her first two seasons, she was a key part of the Mystics’ 2019 championship. She’s not a flashy player, just a consistent presence who can be counted on to fill her role offensively and be a reliable defender.
10. Teaira McCowan, Indiana Fever
She had a very solid rookie season and should continue to become an even more dominant force in the paint. Stanley has coached many strong post players, and her experience is likely to help McCowan.
11. Sabrina Ionescu, New York Liberty
All eyes will be on the top pick as she and the Liberty face Seattle in Saturday’s first game of this season (ESPN, noon ET). There aren’t a lot of expectations for the youthful Liberty, but there will be for Ionescu after being the national college player of the year.
12. Jordin Canada, Seattle Storm
Last year, with veteran point guard Sue Bird out, Canada started all but one game, and helped the Storm reach the second round of the playoffs. She has developed a lot of confidence no matter what role she plays for the Storm.
13. Allisha Gray, Dallas Wings
She has been a steady perimeter presence in her three seasons for the Wings, and now can help the team really establish itself with several talented young players. She said she has worked hard in the offseason to better create her own shots and be a stronger one-on-one player.
14. Tiffany Mitchell, Indiana Fever
Mitchell has been a quietly consistent presence in four seasons for the Fever, and she’s looking forward to working with Stanley and continuing to improve. Stanley will put a big emphasis on defense, where Mitchell can make important contributions.
With her speed and quick trigger, Carter could create her shot against anyone in college while at Texas A&M. We’ll see if she can do the same thing at the pro level. Like Sabally, she was an early entry into the draft as a junior. She should get a lot of court time for the Dream.
16. Jackie Young, Las Vegas Aces
She was the No. 1 pick last season but wasn’t in position to pile up big numbers on a team with several other threats. She focused on distributing the ball and reworking her shot, which should serve her well in the coming years as she becomes more of a scorer.
17. Victoria Vivians, Indiana Fever
She missed last season after suffering an ACL tear while playing overseas, and the Fever will be glad to have her back, especially from beyond the arc. She made 65 3-pointers as a rookie in 2018, and at 6-foot-1 she’s hard to stop there.
18. Mercedes Russell, Seattle Storm
Opportunity knocked with Breanna Stewart out last season, and Russell responded by contributing to the Storm’s post game. At 6-6, she better used her size to her advantage and improved from a rookie season in 2018 when she averaged just 1.7 points and 1.4 rebounds.
19. Gabby Williams, Chicago Sky
An undersized forward at UConn who did a little of everything for the Huskies, she has provided a similar role with Chicago. Her numbers went down last year from her rookie season, but Williams has the ability to impact games in a lot of ways, including simply with her energy level.
She didn’t get much court time until around July last season, when other players’ injuries opened a door. She then worked her way into the starting lineup for 12 games, and just kept improving. The Mercury think she is ready to pick up where she left off and have a big year.
21. Lexie Brown, Minnesota Lynx
She didn’t get a lot of playing time as a rookie in Connecticut in 2018, so the trade to the Lynx revitalized her. A strong 3-point shooter, she made 52 treys last year and could become a bigger factor this season.
22. Astou Ndour, Dallas Wings
She made her WNBA debut in 2014 in San Antonio when she was just a 19-year-old from Spain. The most games she has ever played in her four WNBA seasons is 30, in 2016. But after the past two seasons in Chicago, she’ll be trying to play a larger role with the Wings.
23. Monique Billings, Atlanta Dream
It’s a new-look Dream this year, and maybe that will help Billings — in her third season in Atlanta — take another step forward. Rebounding is her strength, and she will be part of what could be a young post crew with promise.
24. Azurá Stevens, Chicago Sky
After a good start as a rookie — averaging 8.9 points and 4.6 rebounds — she played only nine games last year due to injury and then was traded to the Sky. It’s a good time for a fresh start for Stevens, who with her size and mobility should help on defense especially.
25. Ezi Magbegor, Seattle Storm
She was the Storm’s first-round draft pick in 2019, but is making her WNBA debut now and will be the youngest player in the bubble. She has played professionally already in Australia, and at 6-4 has good length and athleticism. And she’ll have great players to learn from in Seattle.