Stewart, Parker signings shift the balance of WNBA power

Stewart, Parker signings shift the balance of WNBA power

Just over 24 hours into the new WNBA free agency period, and one thing is already clear: the road to the 2023 WNBA Championship stretches from Brooklyn’s Atlantic Avenue to the Las Vegas Strip. .

The Las Vegas Aces caused a stir just days before the WNBA free agency opened, when two-time league MVP and former champion Candace Parker announced she would be taking her talents to the desert to join the 2022 WNBA champions.

A (super)team is growing in Brooklyn

But the skies opened up over Brooklyn this week, starting Wednesday, the first day players were able to sign contracts with teams. Longtime Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart, 2018 MVP and two-time WNBA champion in her own right (with two WNBA Finals MVPs, to boot), has announced she will be changing coasts to join New York. Liberty, in the midst of its Roaring Twenties heyday.

A day later, Courtney Vandersloot, a running general who was top-two overall eight times in her 10 WNBA seasons, leading the league six of those times, also announced she was joining the Liberty, creating a potential power plant at the intersection. from Atlantic Avenue and Flatbush Avenue.

#BREAKING Courtney Vandersloot signs with New York Liberty🗽✍🏼

— Courtney Vandersloot (@Sloot22) February 2, 2023

Stewart’s deal with the Liberty, after a few weeks of cryptic all-emoji hints as to his free agency plans, has tipped the balance of power (and the betting odds) away from Las Vegas. New York The Liberty was already led by third-year guard Sabrina Ionescu, but the addition of Stewart and 2021 MVP Jonquel Jones, via trade, made the Liberty one of the top challengers for the 2023 championship.

Vandersloot is the icing on the cake. She has excellent vision of the field, able to drive the ball through the defense to create scoring opportunities for her teammates – and Stewart, Jones and Ionescu are each the kind of multi-level scoring threats that can give away defenses on their own.

Aces stack the deck

By adding Parker, Las Vegas incorporates a compressor into a high-power range. The Aces won the WNBA championship last year behind the play of forward A’ja Wilson and guard Kelsey Plum, who were both named to the 2022 All-WNBA First Team. Parker, who was also named to the All-WNBA First Team last year, is an all-time great who will now stand alongside two of the league’s top stars – a third ace in Las Vegas’ hand.

Parker leaves his hometown Chicago Sky two years after bringing home a championship and seven years after winning the championship with the Los Angeles Sparks, his first WNBA team.

The decision to join Chicago, she said, was born out of the opportunity to win a title in her hometown, for a parade on the same streets the Chicago Bulls celebrated. Rather, signing with the Aces was a move that offered him both a chance to earn a third ring, as well as an opportunity to be closer to his West Coast-based wife and children.

The Aces also recruited two-time champion and defensive forward Alysha Clark to round out their roster.

The WNBA season begins on May 19, when the Liberty begin their campaign against the Washington Mystics; the Aces play their first match on May 20 against the Seattle Storm.

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