We present you with the Sports Rabbi’s update from the Holy Land’s persons of interest currently playing in the WNBA – whether they’re signed on to play in the Israeli Women’s Premier Basketball League (the Athena Winner League) this upcoming season or whether they’re otherwise intrinsically connected to the Holy Land, we are here to let you know how they have gone in the W during the playoffs to date and what’s ahead for the finals!
Semi-Final Playoff Series Results
Las Vegas Aces (1) defeated Dallas Wings (4) 3-0 (97-83 in NV, 91-84 in NV, 64-61 in TX)
New York Liberty (2) defeated Connecticut Sun (3) 3-1 (63-78 in NY, 84-77 in NY, 92-81 in CT, 87-84 in CT)
Finals Series: Las Vegas Aces (1) v New York Liberty (2) (best of 5 games)
Game 1: Sunday October 8 in NV
Game 2: Wednesday October 11 in NV
Game 3: Sunday October 15 in NY
Game 4 (if necessary): Wednesday October 18 in NY
Game 5 (if necessary): Saturday October 21 in NV
Holy Land’s WNBA Persons of Interest in the Playoffs: Alysha Clark (Las Vegas Aces), Kalani Brown (Dallas Wings), Veronica Burton (Dallas Wings) and Leigha Brown (Connecticut Sun)
Player: Alysha Clark
College: Middle Tennessee State University
Draft: 2010, Round 2, Pick 17
2023-24 Israeli Team: — (2022-23 with Elitzur Ramla)
Summary: Earlier in the playoffs, Clark was named as the 2023 WNBA Sixth Player of the Year – another award on the mantle for the dual American-Israeli who signed with the Aces over the summer. Clark played a key role off the bench against in the sweeps over the Chicago Sky in the first round of the playoffs and against the Dallas Wings in the semifinals. Clark had a big showing against the Sky, with 13 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal in 23:40 in game one, followed by 14 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal in 23:09 in game two. She was quieter against the Wings, with 4 points and 1 rebound in 19:59 in a quiet game one, 3 points, 6 rebounds and 1 assist in 17:46 in game two, then 6 points, 3 rebounds and a block in 20:02 in game three.
The Aces now face the New York Liberty, led by 2023 MVP Brianna Stewart and sharp-shooter Sabrina Ionescu. The teams are evenly matched, going 2-2 in the regular season with each team undefeated at home, however the Liberty have the upper hand overall from 2023 after defeating the Aces in Vegas to win the midseason Commissioner’s Cup Final in August. Over the course of the five contests, Clark averaged 5.6 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.0 assist, 1.2 steals and 0.2 blocks in 23.5 minutes.
2023 WNBA Regular Season Averages: 6.7 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.6 steals and 0.2 blocks in 22.5 minutes across 39 games.
Player: Kalani Brown
College: Baylor University
Draft: 2019, Round 1, Pick 7
2023-24 Israeli Team: Maccabi Bnot Ashdod
Summary: After signing a training camp contract with Dallas earlier this year, in May Brown was waived by the Wings and then signed again less than two weeks later. Similarly, in June she was released by the Wings only to be signed again to a rest-of-season hardship contract the next day. After her strong defensive performances this year, this week Brown was rewarded by polling one vote in the 2023 WNBA Sixth Player of the Year award, tied in fourth place.
In the series against the Dream, Brown played less of a role, recording 2 rebounds in 3:44 in game one, followed by 12 points and 2 rebounds in 7:47 in the game two victory. Against the Aces, Brown scored higher than her season average in games one and two, with 10 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist and 3 steals in 14:17 in game 1, followed by 8 points, 5 rebounds and 1 block in game 2. However, in game three she had 1 rebound and 1 assist in 5:24, as she now heads to Israel to focus on the season ahead with the reigning State Cup Champions.
2023 WNBA Regular Season Averages: 7.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1 assist, 0.2 steals and 0.7 blocks in 16.4 minutes across 32 games.
Player: Veronica Burton
College: Northwestern University
Draft: 2022, Round 1, Pick 7
Summary: A Wings first round draft pick, in the series against the Dream, Burton had 2 points, 1 assist and 1 steal in 6:15 in game one, followed by 1 assist and 1 steal in 8:36 in game 2. Burton played a small role in games one and two against the Aces, with 1 steal in 5:50 in game one and 2 rebounds and 3 assists in 8:01 in game two. In game three, Burton played a much larger role, with 7 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists and 5 steals, showing the Holon fans what they have to look forward to this coming season.
2023 WNBA Regular Season Averages: 2.4 points, 1.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.7 steals and 0.3 blocks in 13.9 minutes across 40 games.
Player: Leigha Brown
College: University of Michigan
Draft: 2023, Round 2, Pick 15
2023-24 Israeli Team: ASA Jerusalem
Summary: After being drafted by the Atlanta Dream in the 2023 WNBA draft, Brown was traded to the Sun on May 16 prior to the start of the regular season. In the first round series against the Minnesota Lynx, Brown featured in the game one victory, recording 1 rebound and 1 assist in a little over three minutes on the court. In the semifinal series against the New York Liberty, Brown was on the court for 3:39 but did not manage to make an impact. She now heads to Jerusalem for the 2023-24 Israeli season.
2023 WNBA Regular Season Averages: 0.8 points, 0.8 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 0.2 steals and 0.1 blocks in 5.2 minutes across 25 games.
Other Persons of Interest: Maya Caldwell, Jennie Simms, Amanda Zahui and Abby Meyers.
Player: Maya Caldwell
College: University of Georgia
Draft: 2021, Round 3, Pick 33
2023 WNBA Team: Indiana Fever
2023-24 Israeli Team: AS Ramat Hasharon
Summary: Caldwell signed with the Fever in February and stayed with the team throughout the season. Indiana struggled throughout the season, finishing in 10th place overall with a 13-27 record. Caldwell now shifts her attention to the regular season with last year’s Athena Winner League semi-finalists.
2023 Regular Season Averages: 1.9 points, 0.9 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.3 steals and 0.1 blocks in 10.1 minutes across 30 games.
Player: Amanda Zahui
College: University of Minnesota
Draft: 2015, Round 1, Pick 2
2023 WNBA Team: Washington Mystics and Indiana Fever
2023-24 Israeli Team: Maccabi Bnot Ashdod
Summary: After beginning the season with the Mystics, Zahui was traded to the Fever at the beginning of July. Indiana struggled throughout the season, finishing in 10th place overall with a 13-27 record. Zahui now shifts her attention to the regular season with last year’s State Cup champions and Athena Winner League finalists.
2023 Regular Season Averages: 1.7 points, 1.1 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 0.2 steals and 0.5 blocks in 7.4 minutes across 34 games (12 for the Washington Mystics and 22 for the Fever).
Player: Jennie Simms
College: Old Dominion University
Draft: 2017, Round 2, Pick 18
Current WNBA Team: — Phoenix Mercury and Washington Mystics
2023-24 Israeli Team: Elitzur Ramla
Summary: After missing out on playing Israel’s last game at the 2023 Women’s EuroBasket in Tel Aviv with injury, Simms was signed less than a week later by the Phoenix Mercury, after she was previously released by the team prior to the regular season and the EuroBasket. She signed multiple hardship contracts with the Mercury, as well as a 7-day contract with the Mystics towards the end of the season without making an appearance.
2023 Regular Season Averages: 2.2 points, 2.2 rebounds, 0.5 assists and 0.3 steals in 11.7 minutes across 6 games.
Player: Abby Meyers
College: University of Maryland
Draft: 2023, Round 1, Pick 11
2023 WNBA Teams: — Dallas Wings and Washington Mystics
2023-24 Israeli Team: — (contracted to the London Lions for the upcoming season)
Summary: After being drafted by the Dallas Wings in the first round of the 2023 draft, Meyers was waived during training camp and did not appear for the Texas outfit. She played on hardship and 7-day contracts during the season for the Mystics, but was unable to keep her spot on the team through the end of the season.
2023 Regular Season Averages: 1.4 points, 0.4 rebounds, 0.1 steals and 0.2 blocks in 4.1 minutes across 9 games.
First Round Playoff Series Results
Las Vegas Aces (1) defeated Chicago Sky (8) 2-0 (87-59 in NV, 90-72 in NV)
New York Liberty (2) defeated Washington Mystics (7) 2-0 (90-75 in NY, 90-85 in NY)
Connecticut Sun (3) defeated Minnesota Lynx (6) 2-1 (90-60 in CT, 75-82 in CT, 90-75 in MN)
Dallas Wings (4) defeated Atlanta Dream (5) 2-0 (94-82 in TX, 101-74 in TX)
End of Regular Season Standings
1. Las Vegas Aces (34-6)
2. New York Liberty (32-8)
3. Connecticut Sun (27-13)
4. Dallas Wings (22-18)
5. Atlanta Dream (19-21)
6. Minnesota Lynx (19-21)
7. Washington Mystics (19-21)
8. Chicago Sky (18-22)
– – – – – – – – – — – – – – – – – – – – — – – –
9. Los Angeles Sparks (17-23)
10. Indiana Fever (13-27)
11. Seattle Storm (11-29)
12. Phoenix Mercury (9-31)