Early WNBA Free Agency Winners

PALMETTO, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 06: Candace Parker #3 of the Los Angeles Sparks is guarded by Gabby Williams #15 of the Chicago Sky during the second half of a game at Feld Entertainment Center on September 06, 2020 in Palmetto, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
(Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

In one of the most exciting times of the year for a women’s basketball fan, WNBA free agency is in full swing as we have seen plenty of movement across the league. 

The Chicago Sky, Minnesota Lynx, Las Vegas Aces, and Atlanta Dream have all been aggressive with major signings of all-star talent to their rosters, while The Connecticut Sun are expected to play short-handed this season. They will still return with their core group of Jasmine Thomas, Jonquel Jones, and Brionna Jones, however, despite a season-ending Achilles injury suffered by Alyssa Thomas.

With a lot of moves still to be made, let’s take a look at the WNBA teams making the right decisions to win free agency so far.

Chicago Sky 

The Chicago Sky have been in the discussion for championship contention the last two seasons behind a core of league superstars in Courtney Vandersloot, Allie Quigley, and Diamond DeShields. Chicago was already expected to be a top team this season, but after announcing superstar Candace Parker’s addition, they are looking stronger than ever.

In arguably the best move in WNBA free agency, Candace Parker announced her decision to return to her native home of Chicago, IL, and join the Sky, making them one of the immediate favorites to win it all this season. Parker had spent the past 13 seasons as the face of the Los Angeles Sparks.

Despite the loss of Cheyenne Parker to the Atlanta Dream in free agency, Candace Parker fills a need for Chicago at the forward position. As a two-time MVP, five-time all-star, WNBA champion in 2016, and Defensive Player of the Year in 2020, it is clear Candace Parker is in pursuit of bringing a championship to Chicago, and it is easy to see why this roster was appealing to her.

Under head coach James Wade’s leadership, the Sky have inched closer to the top of the league standings the last two seasons, and I felt this team was one piece away from being able to snag the win. With Candace Parker now on the roster, Chicago is as close as they have ever been to winning their first-ever WNBA championship.

Minnesota Lynx 

UNCASVILLE, CT - OCTOBER 6: Aerial Powers #23 of the Washington Mystics reacts during action against the Connecticut Sun in the third quarter of Game 3 of the WNBA Finals at Mohegan Sun Arena on October 6, 2019 in Uncasville, Connecticut. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

The Minnesota Lynx made it clear they are looking to build on their success from last season and are aiming to win a WNBA championship. Minnesota has been one of the most aggressive teams in free agency negotiations signing Kayla McBride, Aerial Powers, and Natalie Achonwa. The Lynx were a top-four team before free agency and have solidified their position as one of the top teams in the WNBA with their moves this season. 

McBride and Powers were two of the top free agents available this season, adding additional star power on the wing, while Achonwa adds veteran IQ, leadership, and depth at the forward position. McBride is a three-time all-star and has shot the ball 36.7 percent beyond the three-point line in her career. Her sharpshooting ability will further help the Lynx floor spacing, demanding defenses to defend on the perimeter and opening up the paint for Fowles and Collier to be even more effective inside.

Powers is coming off three successful seasons with the Washington Mystics, where the five-foot-nine guard was pivotal in their 2019 WNBA championship. She is a versatile, efficient three-level scorer who has shot just shy of 60-percent for her career. 

Achonwa adds much-needed depth to the center position behind Sylvia Fowles, considering Fowles and teammate Jessica Shepard both suffered injuries during the 2020 season that left the Lynx depth an issue at times. Achonwa will make for a veteran insurance policy with the unknowns headed into 2021. She has served as an efficient starter and high-quality back-up during her career, proving her ability to accept any role needed, and takes smart and efficient shots shooting 58-percent from the field for her career. 

With a returning core of Sylvia Fowles, Damiris Dantas, and two back-to-back rookies of the year in Napheesa Collier and Crystal Dangerfield, Minnesota has the potential to be one of the deepest teams in the WNBA.

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Rachel Galligan is a basketball analyst at BetMGM, HERO Sports, and Winsidr, focusing on college hoops and the WNBA. She’s a former D1 standout at Eastern Illinois University, a three-time Hall of Famer, professional basketball player, and collegiate coach. Rachel also has served as a color analyst for ESPN, OVC Sports Network, and Mountain West Network.

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