The WNBA is headed in a good direction. The league, heading into its 27th season, is hosting its first-ever 40-game season and finally allowing teams to fly charter. But there’s plenty of work to be done and let’s start with the obvious – expansion!
The WNBA has 12 American teams in the league; clearly, it’s not enough. Currently, each franchise has 12 spots on the roster, limiting opportunity for plenty of talent. Don’t think I’m being dramatic, either. A matter of days before the start of the new season, some of the top athletes and rookies were waived.
Who has been waived in the WNBA?
Charli Collier, the first-overall 2021 pick, was waived by the Dallas Wings. Though she wasn’t posting the best stats in her recent year, the Texas product was shuffled out of the lineup with Dallas having three first-rounders this year.
God doesn’t make mistakes. pic.twitter.com/DX9bPcdfpE— Charli Collier™ (@charlicollier) May 17, 2023
The Wings couldn’t even fit all their recent draftees, cutting the 2023 No. 11 pick Abby Meyers after giving her just five minutes of opportunity in the preseason.
And that’s how it goes.
Who has been cut for the 2023 season?
|Charli Collier||Dallas Wings||1st Overall (2021)|
|Abby Meyers||Dallas Wings||11th Overall (2023)|
|Emily Engstler||Washington Mystics||4th Overall (2022)|
|Kalani Brown||Dallas Wings||7th Overall (2019)|
|Taylor Mikesell||Indiana Fever||13th Overall, 2nd Round (2023)|
|DiDi Richards||New York Liberty||17th Overall, 2nd Round (2021)|
|Jazmine Jones||Washington Mystics||12th Overall (2020)|
|Brea Beal||Minnesota Lynx||24th Overall, 2nd Round (2023)|
|Destanni Henderson||Indiana Fever||20th Overall, 2nd Round (2023)|
|Monika Czinano||Los Angeles Spark||26th Overall, 3rd Round (2023)|
|Nia Clouden||Connecticut Sun||12th Overall (2022)|
And there's plenty of others who have been waived and left stranded. The worst part? It's nothing new for these girls, who are constantly climbing over barriers to live out their dreams.
When playing women’s basketball professionally you always have to have a What’s Next mentality. Rejection may suck but it’s not the end of the world!— Caitlin Bickle (@caitlin_bickle) May 16, 2023
So, what happens next?
The issue is, once the players are scratched, there are very little options left. The WNBA currently doesn’t have a practice squad and the most viable option is to play abroad. But that massive commitment and move is not always possible for players with family ties in North America.
And trust me, some of the gals are getting frustrated. Like former LSU Tiger Alexis Morris, who was cut by the Sun after being drafted 22nd overall.
for those wondering what people on #WNBATwitter are alluding to: alexis morris @AlexisMorrisWBB shared some thoughts on the wnba — pic.twitter.com/eIhonIHHHd— biddy (@queercroissant) May 17, 2023
I understand the point here. But, it shouldn't be either or. There are veterans who have paved the way, have been generational talents and are exciting to watch every year.
Take the media hype after Breanna Stewart, last year's top point scorer, and Courtney Vandersloot, who led the league in assists for six-straight years, signed with the Liberty, contenders to win the championship. Realistically, that's the type of attention the league needs if it wants to continue growing.
On the other hand, Morris is right. The league is missing out on the incoming generations of talent and stunting their development. Which, ultimately, isn't good for the future of women's basketball.
There’s simply just not enough room. But, there can be.
is an expansion possible for the WNBA?
Yes. First, it would solve the problem of roster crunches by making more room available. There are plenty of markets available to expand to and let's start with the Great North -- Canada.
As a trial run, Toronto hosted its first Canadian WNBA game at Scotiabank Arena, home of the NBA's Toronto Raptors. A preseason meeting between the Minnesota Lynx and Chicago Sky drew in a full house, with 20,000 tickets selling out within 24 hours of release.
Players and coaches were open saying that they were stopped by fans in Jurassic Park on gameday. And that's not the end of the support, the league merchandise was sold out by halftime. I think Toronto is ready, eh?
Toronto needs a team expeditiously @wnba pic.twitter.com/NgLjM5A8pD— Kayla Grey (@Kayla_Grey) May 13, 2023
There are 10 to 12 other investors the league is currently speaking with, including Nashville, Bay Area and Charlotte.
The talent is only getting better with coveted players like Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese, a college basketball national champion, prepping for the 2024 draft. The audience is only getting bigger, with Women's March Madness kicking off the momentum this year drawing in a record-high 12.6 million viewers (while the men set a record-low).
It's only up from here. The time for expansion is now.
"Toronto scored very high on the list."— THE SHIFT (@theshift_sports) May 13, 2023
WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert says Toronto is one of 10 cities under consideration for expansion. 👀 pic.twitter.com/GLfBfwSSxm