In an period dominated by social media, girls’s basketball is experiencing a second like by no means earlier than. Brittney Griner is again. The WNBA has numerous storylines. And because of Angel Reese, Caitlin Clark, and Jill Biden, the collegiate sport is shattering TV scores. However, for the sport to achieve one other stage one factor should occur — WNBA growth, which is able to result in extra roster spots on this planet’s finest girls’s skilled basketball league.
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Too many gamers, not sufficient roster spots
The WNBA has a numbers drawback. Too many gamers, and never sufficient jobs. In keeping with Simply Ladies’s Sports activities, solely 15 of the 36 drafted gamers from the 2023 WNBA Draft had been on opening day rosters to start out the season. With solely 12 groups within the league, there are solely 144 roster spots within the WNBA. This yr alone, the No. 11, 13, 17, 18, 20, 22, 23, 24, 26, 27, 28, 33, 34, and thirty sixth picks all had been at dwelling when the season started.
Sadly, this isn’t a brand new drawback. In 2021, solely eight gamers from that draft appeared on opening day rosters. In 2022, the quantity was 15, the identical as this yr. And when you can say the numbers are bettering, it nonetheless signifies that being a first-round decide within the WNBA doesn’t assure you a job.
“The very first thing after I got here in, I mentioned, ‘OK, we now have 12 groups in a rustic of over 300 million individuals. That’s not sufficient,” mentioned WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert again in February. “In order that’s why we do speak about growth, and you must be in additional cities to develop extra fandom. In order that leads me to be right here at this time.”
Nashville, Philly amongst growth metropolis choices
In keeping with The Athletic, Nashville, Oakland, Philadelphia, Portland, San Francisco, and Toronto are the cities that could possibly be the very best choices for growth. Just some weeks in the past, the Minnesota Lynx and Chicago Sky performed an exhibition sport in Toronto for the league’s first sport in Canada earlier than the beginning of the twenty seventh season.
“The vitality was superb. After we got here out, the seats had been stuffed to the highest they usually had been cheering already. I used to be blown away,” mentioned Sky head coach James Wade. “You guys have one thing particular right here, in Toronto. I noticed so many Maple Leafs jerseys, baseball jerseys and thought ‘The WNBA deserves that too.”
When the WNBA began there have been solely eight groups. At one level, it grew to 16 franchises. It’s now right down to 12, with the Atlanta Dream (2008) being the newest growth crew. Between the collegiate sport, the dominance of Crew USA, and the rising buzz across the WNBA, girls’s basketball is experiencing a rightful, and long-overdue, recognition peak. If this isn’t the very best second to develop the sport, then I don’t know what’s. In addition to, in a post-Brittney Griner world, we have to give our girls the very best possibilities to play at dwelling.