Five overreactions to the start of the 2024 WNBA season

Caitlin Clark underwhelms again as Fever fall to the Liberty (1:37)

Caitlin Clark scores nine points as the Indiana Fever fall to the New York Liberty 102-66. (1:37)

The 2024 WNBA season is just four days old, with 10 of 12 teams having only one regular-season game under their belts -- the first of a record 40 they'll play before the summer's end.

Which means it's time for some early overreactions to what we've seen to start the season.

The Las Vegas Aces, New York Liberty, Connecticut Sun, Dallas Wings, Minnesota Lynx and Atlanta Dream started on a high note with season-opening wins (the Liberty sit at 2-0 following Thursday's victory at the Indiana Fever). The bottom six teams from the standings last summer -- including the Fever, Phoenix Mercury, Seattle Storm and Los Angeles Sparks, who all missed the postseason in 2023 -- dropped their initial contests.

Breanna Stewart led all scorers opening week with 31 points Thursday for New York against Indiana, while rookies from Caitlin Clark to Angel Reese to Cameron Brink had solid pro debuts. Veterans Alyssa Thomas and Layshia Clarendon impressed, each recording a triple-double.

All 12 teams play over the next two days, highlighted by an ABC doubleheader Saturday afternoon, while the Storm and Mystics meet in Sunday's lone game.

Only time will tell whether the performances from the first three days reflect what will happen over the course of the season. But these are some early observations for a league garnering more attention and hype than perhaps ever before.

A'ja Wilson drops 30 points in Aces' first win of the season

A'ja Wilson goes for 30 points to propel the Aces past the Mercury 89-80 in the first game of the season.

A'ja Wilson is coming for MVP -- but Aces need Chelsea Gray back

Wilson looked like her 2023 WNBA Finals MVP self Tuesday, finishing with 30 points, 13 rebounds and 5 assists -- her third career 30-point, 10-rebound and five-assist game. And it was a performance for which she lamented not being more efficient from the field (she converted 10 of 22 field goals).

Wilson, Jackie Young and Kelsey Plum combined for 72 of Las Vegas' 89 points, and the team had a stellar start, using its defense to get out and run the open floor. It might seem nitpicky given they led most of the game (and by as many as 18), but long-term the Aces need Gray back. Yes, they have shown they know how to win without her (see: Game 4 of last year's Finals).

But the Aces' offense looked disjointed at times against the Mercury -- Phoenix ended with more assists than Las Vegas (21 vs. 17) on the same number of made shots -- especially when it went zone. Coach Becky Hammon noted her team needed to be more organized and communicate better. Enter Gray, arguably the best point guard in the world.

The Aces haven't released a timetable for Gray's return from the foot injury that sidelined her in the 2023 Finals. Hammon said the team is "working out the wrinkles" of figuring out the timing.

Brink can challenge Clark for WNBA Rookie of the Year

Again, they're called overreactions. But Brink looked stellar in her 19 minutes with the Sparks on Wednesday. The No. 2 pick in April's draft, Brink held her own against future Hall of Famer Tina Charles, hit 2 of 3 attempts from the perimeter (finishing overall with 11 points), shined with some nice drives and kicks (her four assists were second on the team behind Clarendon) and boasted a team best +8 plus/minus.

Brink struggled with foul trouble in college, and her five fouls Wednesday (including two in the first three minutes of the game) weren't ideal. She gets six now in the WNBA, and if she can manage to stay on the floor, her impact in Los Angeles is going to be remarkable.

The Fever might only win one game in May

The Indiana team that takes the court in August and September will surely be better than the version we've seen this first week. With so many new players to incorporate and Clark adjusting to the pro game, it's understandable that a group that missed the playoffs last year (and the six prior) will need time to establish chemistry.

But the Fever's schedule isn't doing them any favors. Starting the year against the Sun and the Liberty, two of the top three teams in the league, was not ideal. Thursday's 36-point loss at home to New York, runners-up in the 2023 WNBA Finals, marked the franchise's largest loss since May 2021. Indiana was outscored by 57 points combined in its first two games, the largest point deficit for a team in such a span in league history.

Having to face both squads once more, the emerging superteam Storm twice and the defending champs in Vegas, all before the end of the month makes for the most unforgiving season start in the league. The Fever will play seven games in the first 12 days of the season (five of which are on the road), which Christie Sides has expressed frustration about as it means the team will have less practice time to work on things. The easiest opponent they'll face before June is the Los Angeles Sparks, but that won't be easy, either; the Sparks are led by a veteran coach and have some experienced players and bright rookies.

DeWanna Bonner grabs 5th spot on WNBA career scoring list

DeWanna Bonner is up to 6,897 career points with a 2-pointer, placing her fifth on the WNBA scoring list.

The Sun are even better than last year

Even though its blowout victory Tuesday was against an Indiana team that hasn't made the playoffs since 2016, Connecticut showed why it belongs in the contender conversation for a WNBA title. If anything, the Sun might be better than their 2023 version, which bowed out of the postseason in the semifinals to the Liberty.

DeWanna Bonner and Thomas picked up from where they left off last season, the latter putting up her 12th career triple-double (including in postseason play) and the former showing her agelessness as she climbed to fifth on the league's all-time scoring list. Anyone who thought Thomas' MVP-caliber season last year was a fluke, Bonner said postgame, will continue to be proven wrong.

What's different from last year? All-Star center Brionna Jones is back, albeit on a minutes restriction, but as she found her groove in her first regular-season game since tearing her Achilles last summer, it only reinforced the added dimension she adds to the Sun's interior. And if Tuesday was a precursor of what's to come from DiJonai Carrington and Tyasha Harris, that's a very good sign for Connecticut, which is also still incorporating newcomers Rachel Banham, Moriah Jefferson (coming off offseason ankle surgery) and Tiffany Mitchell. The Sun's overall depth this year is a major boost.

With Tiffany Hayes, Natisha Hiedeman and Rebecca Allen gone, Connecticut had to revamp its backcourt, but it has experience and versatility that will elevate the team. Carrington got headlines for the superb defensive job she did on Clark, but she and Harris combined for 32 points, with Harris and Banham alone hitting seven 3-pointers. How the pieces come together for the Sun in Year Two of the Stephanie White Era is something to watch -- and they're likely a team no one will want to see come September.

Minnesota a sleeper contender

Sure, their sole game was against a newly formed Storm squad still figuring itself out, but the Lynx made a statement in their 83-70 victory in Seattle. After overachieving last year (losing to the Sun in the first round of the playoffs), the Lynx were tough to assess in the preseason. Cheryl Reeve and general manager Clare Duwelius undisputedly upgraded the roster in the offseason, but how would it translate with teams like Seattle and Phoenix adding big stars?

Former lottery pick Diamond Miller had a quiet night (two points) and first-team all-WNBA pick Napheesa Collier (20 points, 13 in the second half) didn't get going until after halftime, but Minnesota's newcomers showed they can be difference-makers. Alanna Smith scored a career-high 22 points to go along with 8 boards, 4 blocks and 1 steal, complementing Collier in the frontcourt. Courtney Williams did a little bit of everything (14 points, 7 assists, 5 steals, 5 rebounds), while backup Hiedeman added 9 points, 5 assists and 2 steals -- a great sign for a franchise that desperately needed some stability at point guard.

The Lynx came away with 15 steals and assisted 23 of 34 makes from the field. If this was just Game 1 of 40, Reeve has to like what she's seeing so far --although not only does a rematch against the Storm await Friday, but they'll face the Sun, Liberty, Aces and Mercury before the end of the month.

Games to watch this weekend

Seattle Storm at Minnesota Lynx
Friday, 9:30 p.m. ET (ION)

Minnesota won Game 1 in Seattle behind a big fourth quarter. Seattle coach Noelle Quinn spoke afterward about her new-look team featuring Nneka Ogwumike and Skylar Diggins-Smith needing time to jell, especially offensively: The Storm scored just 70 points Tuesday on 37.2% shooting from the field (including going 1-for-9 from 3), with Jewell Loyd managing just 10 points on 3-for-19 shooting. The championship-minded Storm have an opportunity to get in the win column in Friday's rematch, but they'd have to get it done on the road in Minneapolis before heading to Washington, D.C., for a Sunday afternoon tilt against the Mystics.

Indiana Fever at New York Liberty
Saturday, 1 p.m. ET (ABC)

Though the Liberty are 2-0, we haven't seen them at their best yet -- which is notable considering they still blew out the Fever on Thursday in the teams' first of two meetings in three days. Stewart, the 2023 MVP, rebounded from a quiet season opener with the 13th 30-point, 10-rebound game of her career, while Betnijah Laney-Hamilton -- who shut down Clark on Thursday -- and Jonquel Jones -- who put up 25 points Tuesday -- have had strong starts. Keep an eye on how coach Sandy Brondello's bench comes together. The reserves contributed 22 points Thursday, with five playing for at least seven minutes.

Los Angeles Sparks at Las Vegas Aces
Saturday, 3 p.m. ET (ABC)

Los Angeles is coming off a 92-81 home loss to the Atlanta Dream but still saw several positives: Clarendon (11 points, 10 assists, 10 rebounds) recorded their first career triple-double, Kia Nurse (23 points) and Dearica Hamby (20 points, 14 rebounds) had strong nights offensively and rookies Cameron Brink and Rickea Jackson made their official WNBA debuts. Brink shined in particular, finishing with a team best plus/minus of plus-8 (with 11 points, 4 assists and 2 blocks), though she struggled with foul trouble. Things won't get easier for rebuilding Los Angeles as it heads to Las Vegas, which plays its first four games at home.