WNBA Rooting Interest Guide Part 3: New York, Phoenix, Seattle, and Washington

Alright, I know by now that you’re understandably hooked on the WNBA and can’t wait for the 2022 season to begin on Friday, but we’ve still got a few more teams to talk about before you have all the information you need to choose your team.

This is the finale of a three-part series to help you choose which of the 12 teams you want to rock with from now until the end of time. In parts one and two, we went over all the basics for 8 of the teams, and now I’m about to tell you all about the final teams you have yet to meet.

So without further adieu—hang on, let me put on my best Heath Ledger as the Joker voice—here…we…go.

New York Liberty

2021 RECAP: The Liberty had a very up and down season headlined by newcomers Betnijah Laney and Natasha Howard as well as practical newcomer Sabrina Ionescu, who was injured all of her rookie season. They must have been praying to the basketball gods the whole time, though, because they somehow managed to make the postseason with the worst winning percentage of any playoff team in the history of the WNBA. They even nearly beat the Phoenix Mercury in their first round single-elimination matchup before falling just a single point short.

PROS: Laney won the MIP award in 2020, but she was arguably even better last year, so that exponential improvement doesn’t seem to be dwindling anytime soon. In the offseason the team hired head coach Sandy Brondello, who has championship experience from her time as head coach of the Mercury. More importantly, however, Brondello’s husband was also brought on staff as her assistant, so I’m counting that as a win for the matriarchy.

If you’re more so just trying to vibe rather than ensure the team you pick wins a championship immediately, this young squad definitely has that energy. DiDi Richards in particular executes some of the best tunnel fits from here to Timbuktu. The Liberty also has the best color scheme in the league hands down, so the merch goes extremely hard.

CONS: Okay, I sat here for a long time trying to think of some cons, but there really aren’t many. Aside from the fact that they’re the New York team (because come on, give the smaller markets some love) and, as previously stated, a title probably isn’t coming their way this season, this is honestly a pretty solid pick.

Phoenix Mercury

2021 RECAP: It took a minute for the Mercury to adjust to a new big three after adding 5x All-Star Skylar Diggins-Smith, but they were on a hot streak coming out of the Olympic break and eventually landed as the 4th seed in the playoffs. They made a run to the finals but ultimately lost 3-1 to the Chicago Sky. Second place may just be the first loser, but let me tell you, Phoenix is a very impressive loser.

PROS: If you think referees are basically just narcs with too much power, then let me introduce you to the legend that is Diana Taurasi, who will also cuss out a ref quicker than you can say “I’ll see you in the lobby.” (That’s another reference you need to look up now and thank me for later.) Taurasi is considered by many to be the GOAT in professional women’s basketball, so when you pair her with Diggins-Smith, it’s usually not a pretty sight for anybody trying to beat them.

The Mercury also added 2021 scoring champ Tina Charles during free agency. And then, as if the roster wasn’t stacked enough (it was definitely stacked enough), they signed shooting guard Diamond DeShields, which is nice not only because she’s queen of fancy layups but also because no one has ever looked cooler wearing that many accessories on the court.

CONS: All jokes aside, the Mercury are in uncharted waters at the moment as they’re without their superstar center Brittney Griner. She is currently being held against her will in Russia and has been there since February. Griner plays for a Russian team during the WNBA offseason, but she was arrested at a Moscow airport on drug charges for allegedly carrying vape cartridges containing hashish oil. 

She has not been formally charged or given any kind of expected release date, but this week the U.S. government did officially declare her “wrongfully detained.” Officials say this means that they will no longer wait for the Russian court system to run its course and will instead begin attempts to negotiate her release.

Seattle Storm

2021 RECAP: The 2020 WNBA champions came out looking strong and won the inaugural Commissioner’s Cup mid season (don’t ask me about the Commissioner’s Cup because I’m still unsure about how I’m supposed to feel about it). A foot injury took first option Breanna Stewart out of the equation near the end of the regular season. The Storm ended up as the fourth seed in the postseason but fell in the second round in an overtime loss to the Mercury.

PROS: There’s a three-headed monster in Seattle made up of Stewart, Jewell Loyd, and Sue Bird. I can probably count on one hand the number of people I’ve ever seen take over any given basketball game the way Stewart does. I mean, a couple of years ago the woman tore her achilles and basically came back and won finals MVP five minutes later.

Loyd is an elite scorer who averaged a career-high 17.9 points per game last season, and her mom is also a fantastic twitter follow (@gwenloyd1). If you’re even slightly conscious most of the time, the name Sue Bird probably rings a bell since she’s led the Storm to 4 championships over her 18-year career. She has pretty much stated that this 19th season will be her last, so the swan song should be fun to watch.

CONS: Picking the Storm would also be pretty basic and bandwagon-y.

Washington Mystics

2021 RECAP: The Mystics literally only had one player who was available for every game while the injuries just piled up left and right. Elena Delle Donne, 2x league MVP, was poised to come back from a long hiatus, but she only played in three games before another injury sidelined her again. Tina Charles and Ariel Atkins did their best to carry the team as far as they could go, but they ultimately just missed the playoffs.

PROS: DELLE DONNE IS BACK (for real, this time). She hasn’t really played since 2019, but she is seemingly set to make her triumphant return to lead Washington back to title contention after recovering from back issues. Delle Donne is an absolute titan on the court, so it’s understandable why so many fans are practically salivating to see her back in action.

The Mystics traded down from winning the 2022 draft lottery to take Ole Miss center Shakira Austin with the third pick, adding some height and youth to the squad. It’s certainly beneficial to have assist machine Natasha Cloud running point on your team, as well. Cloud frequently makes waves off the court, too, as she is one of the league’s most prominent activists against gun violence and police brutality in particular.

CONS: Somebody needs to be watching every single player around the clock to ensure they’re taking every last vitamin in the cabinet. Delle Donne will likely already be on some sort of minutes and/or games restriction as the proverbial bubble wrap the team is going to want to wrap her in, so Washington’s success this year is going to be highly contingent on staying healthy.

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