Remember when Breanna Stewart put up the best April of any basketball player, Stephen Curry’s historic 3-point barrage included? It was because of the European basketball structure that Stewart, Brittney Griner, Courtney Vandersloot, Allie Quigley and Emma Meesseman of UMMC Ekaterinburg won the EuroLeague championship and 10 days later the domestic Russian Premier League championship. Stewart earned Finals MVP in each, adding to her 2020 WNBA title and Finals MVP.
It feels like ages ago. UMMC Ekaterinburg has since been kicked out of EuroLeague play following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Griner remains detained in Russia after customs officials allegedly found vape cartridges containing less than a gram of hashish oil in her luggage. And Meesseman signed in free agency to play for the Chicago Sky alongside Vandersloot and Quigley.
The Sky players have a similar chance at collecting hardware, though not as condensed as in Europe. When the Commissioner’s Cup details were announced ahead of last season, players equated it to overseas. And the way the contest is designed, it’s a potential preview of the WNBA Finals with the league’s best two teams taking the court in Chicago on Tuesday night.The Sky (20-6) already clinched the first 2022 playoff berth on Wednesday, and the Las Vegas Aces (19-8) trail by 1.5 games.
In the span of 11 months, the Sky could win two WNBA championships and a Commissioner's Cup title. That’s nice hardware and, crucially in the financials of the W, a nice payout. Champions earn $11,356 each and Cup winners take at least $30,000. That $30K is half the minimum for players with up to two years of experience. All included, it's $52,712 and that's no small change.
It’s a shrinking window for the Sky, the second-oldest team in the league at 30.1 years, to take advantage. They trail only the Phoenix Mercury (30.4) and the league average is 27.7. In contrast, the Aces are in the middle at 26.9 and have their core locked up in contracts. Four of Chicago’s five starters, plus a key bench player, are unrestricted free agents in 2023. And they could opt for retirement rather than a contract.
Chicago features two of the oldest (sorry Candace; most seasoned?) players in the league behind Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi. Retirement is on the table for the 36-year-old Candace Parker, though she hasn’t committed to any details. Quigley, 36, has been in the retirement conversation. Vandersloot is 33.
Head coach and general manager James Wade did incredible work in free agency building out a well-rounded group after the title. No one is at the supermax and they signed Finals MVP Kahleah Copper, Vandersloot and Quigley at less than they could have drawn elsewhere.
Meesseman, the 2019 Finals MVP with the Washington Mystics, signed in Chicago after national team duties kept her away from the W in 2021. He traded for backup point guard Julie Allemand, who also stayed with Meesseman and their Belgian team last year. And he brought on overseas veteran Rebekah Gardner as a WNBA “rookie.”
Pick your category and this group is probably top-five in it. They lead in both offensive and defensive effective field-goal percentage. They rank second in offensive rating (104) and fourth in defensive rating (94.2), for a league-best net rating of 8.4. The only other team top-five in each is the Connecticut Sun (third at 102/94.2).
The Sky shocked their way to the title last year as No. 6 seed with Parker mincing no words in saying they “sucked” in the front end of the regular season. They know maybe better than anyone it’s a team game. It shows out in the individual stat database as their highest scorer (Copper at 14.7 ppg) ranks 20th in the league. Parker is 25th (13.4) and Meesseman 32nd (12.7). Six players average double digits and a seventh is 1.2 points away.
It’s the assists that Wade said the Sky, who lead the league at 24 apg, are always focused on. Vandersloot, the standard league-leader, is second at 6.2 and Parker is 11th (4.7). Their ability to find the better shot is their best asset.
“A win for one is a win for all with us,” Wade said on the Chicago State of Mind podcast out this week. “That’s how it is. Just like a 20-point game [by one player] is a 20-point game for all. And that’s how we looked at it. I’m telling you, those players deserve a lot of credit because they don’t have to be that way. But they are, because they all want to win so bad and they know that if you’re like that, that helps it.”
Parker lit up Wintrust Arena out of the All-Star break with 31 points leading a packed stat line to beat the Atlanta Dream. In accepting the custom-made WWE belt they were gifted for the 2021 championship, Parker showcased what could lead them to another trophy on Tuesday and maybe even a third in September.
“Our goal is not to lose back-to-back, right? And y’all took the L on Sunday,” Parker said, referencing Team Stewart and the Sky’s coaching staff at All-Star. “So I was like, man we gotta win. We can’t let James and Emma and Kah lose two in a row.”
Commissioner’s Cup breakdown
When: Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. ET on Amazon Prime
What's at stake: A title, but mostly money. The total prize pool is $500,000. The winning players receive at least $30,000 each, which is half the minimum year-long salary for a player with less than two years of experience. The runner-up player receive at least $10,000 each.
Charity of choice: The WNBA, WNBA Players Association (WNBPA) and teams selected organizations in each market that are tied to voting rights, registrations and advocacy. Those organizations received $2,000 if their team won a Commissioner's Cup game and $500 in loses. For the Cup championship, the organization of the winning team will receive $10,000 and that of the losing team will receive $5,000.
Previous Cup winners: The Storm won the first-ever rose gold Commissioner's Cup trophy with a 79-57 win over the Connecticut Sun. The game was the first WNBA game after the five-week Olympic break.
Play of the week
The Atlanta Dream are in a good spot to make the playoffs for the first time since 2018, when Renee Montgomery was on the court instead of the front office. That 92-76 win over the Aces early in the week was their most impressive victory to date.
Tiffany Hayes scored 31, Rhyne Howard added 24 and Aari McDonald had 11 off the bench. They shot 51% as a team and took advantage of a 36.6% clip by the Aces, not to mention a 40-29 edge on the boards.
The Dream's other win against a top-five squad was a 90-76 win against the Storm the week of the All-Star break. But it comes down to beating the teams you're supposed to beat to get into the playoffs and outside of one loss to the Liberty, they've done that.
The Dream have two left against the league's top-half of teams in the Storm (Sunday) and the Aces (Aug. 9). Atlanta concludes the season with two against the Liberty. They also have two left against the Lynx, a much different team than the one they defeated by four on June 1.
The Dream are currently at No. 7 in the standings, tied with the Wings, with the Sparks a half-game ahead, for the final two playoff spots. The Mercury trail Atlanta and Dallas by one game.
What you may have missed
Locked-in Aces — Las Vegas signed Kelsey Plum to a two-year extension one week after she won All-Star MVP.
Basketball for breakfast — Why are so many WNBA games so early? The noise is a hint.
The next generation — A'ja Wilson and Breanna Stewart are leading the way as their mentors retire. It's their league now.
Broadcasters and ballers — Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes sat down with Candace Parker and Chiney Ogwumike.
Napheesa Collier and her newborn, Mila, as well as Dearica Hamby and her daughter, Amaya, are featured in WSlam.
Travel woes and league silence — Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve, with her team ensnared in a classic W travel nightmare, took issue with the "lack of support that we felt in terms of unresponsive messages to the league.”
WNBA TV schedule
Games on NBA TV are available on League Pass. All times ET. There are no games Monday through Wednesday for Commissioner's Cup scheduling. Here are the current WNBA standings. Game results can be found here.
Friday: Sun at Lynx (8 p.m., NBA TV), Wings at Sky (8 p.m., CBS Sports Network), Storm at Mercury (10 p.m., NBA TV)
Saturday: Sky at Liberty (7 p.m., NBA TV), Sparks at Aces (10 p.m., NBA TV)
Sunday: Wings at Fever (3 p.m., NBA TV), Dream at Storm (6 p.m., NBA TV), Sun at Lynx (7 p.m., Amazon Prime)
In the span of 11 months, the Sky could win two WNBA championships and a Commissioner's Cup title. That's nice hardware and, crucially in the financials of the W, a nice payout.How does the WNBA commissioner Cup work? ›
The Commissioner's Cup consists of regular-season games, 10 games per team, designated to count toward Cup play. The team from each conference with the top record in designated “Cup games” will then compete for the Commissioner's Cup title and a special prize pool.What is the WNBA Commissioner's Cup championship? ›
The Commissioner's Cup is a competition running through the first half of the season, with all 12 WNBA teams participating for a chance to represent their conference in the Finals.Where is the WNBA commissioner Cup? ›
2021: The Seattle Storm defeated the Connecticut Sun, 79-57, in the Championship Game of the inaugural Commissioner's Cup, which took place at Footprint Center in Phoenix, Ariz., on Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021.How much does the WNBA commissioner make? ›
Griner will be paid her full salary of nearly $228,000.Does the WNBA get a trophy? ›
The WNBA presented her with a small, silver trophy cup. The WNBA confirmed to VERIFY that the trophy was created for the league by luxury jewelry brand Tiffany & Co., and did not cost $18.Who won the 2022 WNBA championship? ›
The Las Vegas Aces took down the Chicago Sky 93-83 in the WNBA's second annual Commissioner's Cup on Tuesday. The in-season competition included 60 regular-season games featuring all 12 teams to determine which two would meet in the championship game.Who is the commissioner of the WNBA? ›
WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert is on her 12-city tour of the league, and landed in Los Angeles Tuesday to take in Sparks vs. Fever.What channel is the Commissioner's Cup? ›
NEW YORK—July 20, 2022—Today, Prime Video and the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) announced their on-air broadcast team for the second annual WNBA Commissioner's Cup Championship Game presented by Coinbase, airing exclusively on Prime Video on Tuesday, July 26 at 8:30 p.m. ET.Where can I watch the Commissioner's Cup? ›
By Joe Lemire May 13, 2021
The WNBA is introducing the Commissioner's Cup, a new in-season competition with a $500,000 prize pool. The final of the Cup will be broadcast exclusively by Amazon Prime Video.
Watch the first-ever WNBA Commissioner's Cup Championship Game exclusively on PRIME Video. This game will showcase the Connecticut Sun against the Seattle Storm, the two teams atop the Commissioner's Cup standings in each conference. By ordering or viewing, you agree to our Terms.How much does Britney Griner make? ›
Brittney Griner signed a 3 year / $664,544 contract with the Phoenix Mercury, including an annual average salary of $221,515. In 2022, Griner will earn a base salary of $227,900, while carrying a cap hit of $227,900.
Griner earned $227,000 during her latest season with the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA, the maximum salary allowed in women's professional basketball in the US. As such, many players have decided to look overseas to augment their salary.
Candace Parker signed a 2 year / $385,000 contract with the Chicago Sky, including $385,000 guaranteed, and an annual average salary of $192,500. In 2022, Parker will earn a base salary of $195,000, while carrying a cap hit of $195,000.
Although Tiffany & Co did not reveal how much the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy is worth, experts estimated the cost of producing the gold-plated trophy, including materials and labour, to be around US$14,200. Based on photos alone, Plum's trophy stands roughly eight inches tall.What woman has the most WNBA championships? ›
Maya Moore's professional career, like her high school and college career, has been filled with championships. In her first three years, she made three WNBA finals, one Eurobasket final, and two WCBA finals, and won five of the six possible championships she could have.What is the lowest scoring WNBA game? ›
The lowest scoring WNBA game saw the Washington Mystics play against the Cleveland Rockers on May 31, 2001. The Washington Mystics lost to the Rockers 69 to 34 and became the lowest-scoring team in WNBA history, a title they still hold. Below are the four lowest-scoring teams in a single game in WNBA history.How long is a WNBA game? ›
NCAA women's college games are played in four 10-minute quarters just like WNBA games are. The amount of time it takes to complete a game is about two hours. Most high school basketball games in the United States are played in 8-minute quarters, but that varies from state to state.How many rings does Candace Parker have? ›
Chicago Sky forward Candace Parker doesn't have much more to accomplish in the WNBA. She's a six-time All-Star, two-time MVP winner and two-time champion — the last of which came with her hometown team last year.How many teams are in the WNBA? ›
The Women's National Basketball Association, or WNBA, is a professional basketball league comprised of 12 teams featuring the best women's basketball players in the world. Where can I buy tickets to WNBA games?
They play for the Seattle Storm. All-star guard Jewell Lloyd became the highest-paid player in the WNBA when she re-signed with the Seattle Storm on a two-year $463,030 contract earlier this year, according to the Associated Press, earning an average of $231,515 a season.Who owns the WNBA? ›
The W.N.B.A. is currently owned half by the 30 N.B.A. teams, and half by the 12 W.N.B.A. teams. Ownership on both sides will be diluted as part of the deal.Is there a WNBA All Star weekend? ›
AT&T WNBA All-Star 2022 will be played in Chicago at the Wintrust Arena, home of the defending WNBA Champion Chicago Sky, on Sunday, July 10 (ABC, noon CT/1 p.m. ET), and will be the centerpiece of a weekend full of WNBA activities, the league announced today.Where can I watch the sky game in Chicago? ›
Watch the Washington Mystics at Chicago Sky on NBA TV.Who is the commissioner of the WNBA? ›
WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert is on her 12-city tour of the league, and landed in Los Angeles Tuesday to take in Sparks vs. Fever.How many games are in a WNBA season? ›
WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert revealed significant changes for the league's upcoming season during a press conference on Sunday ahead of the 2022 All-Star Game.Is there a WNBA All-Star Game? ›
Chicago Sky coach James Wade and two Sky players, Kahleah Copper and Emma Meesseman, were on Team Stewart. This was the first WNBA All-Star Game staged in Chicago, and the timing was perfect coming on the heels of the Sky winning the league title for the first time in October and currently being in first place.How can I watch the WNBA Commissioner's Cup? ›
Watch the first-ever WNBA Commissioner's Cup Championship Game exclusively on PRIME Video. This game will showcase the Connecticut Sun against the Seattle Storm, the two teams atop the Commissioner's Cup standings in each conference. By ordering or viewing, you agree to our Terms. Sold by Amazon.com Services LLC.How much is the highest paid WNBA player? ›
They play for the Seattle Storm. All-star guard Jewell Lloyd became the highest-paid player in the WNBA when she re-signed with the Seattle Storm on a two-year $463,030 contract earlier this year, according to the Associated Press, earning an average of $231,515 a season.
Average ticket price of WNBA games in 2021, by team (in U.S. dollars)
|Characteristic||Average ticket price in U.S. dollars|
|Las Vegas Aces||65|
Game recognizes game, and the best players know that the main difference between the men and the women is something completely out of their control: a threshold for athleticism bestowed upon them at birth. No, a female player can't compete in today's NBA.What is Brittney Griner salary? ›
Griner earned $227,000 during her latest season with the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA, the maximum salary allowed in women's professional basketball in the US.How hard is it to get into the WNBA? ›
With only 12 teams and 12 roster spots on each team, the W.N.B.A. is harder to get in, and stay in, than the N.B.A., especially with most players' contracts not being guaranteed. The relatively low salaries also push players to make tough choices about when and where to play."Who was MVP of WNBA All-Star Game 2022? ›
Plum was named the 2022 All-Star MVP for her offensive explosion, an award that comes with a trophy to commemorate her accomplishment. The trophy, however, didn't really reflect the nature of the award or the greatness of Plum's performance.Who was the MVP of the All-Star Game 2022? ›
ST. PAUL, Minn. – Minnesota United FC goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair was named 2022 MLS All-Star MVP after a solid display in goal for the MLS All-Stars, helping the team secure a 2-1 win over the Liga MX All-Stars on Wednesday night at Allianz Field.Who is the WNBA logo? ›
There was even a “who is the WNBA logo woman?” campaign. The league has not made any statements so far. It keeps saying that the logo is a celebration of all the athletes who have ever belonged to the WNBA. Yet, there is a popular opinion that the silhouette is modeled after Sue Bird.