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 went in the W during the first round of the playoffs and what’s ahead of them for the semi-finals!
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)
Semi-Final Series (best of 5 games beginning on Sunday September 24, with the higher-ranked team hosts first two games)
Las Vegas Aces (1) vs Dallas Wings (4)
New York Liberty (2) vs Connecticut Sun (3)
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: After the Aces swept the Sky in the first round of 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 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. The Aces now face the Wings, who feature Kalani Brown and Veronica Burton (see below). The Aces had a 3-1 record against the Wings in the regular season, meaning that Dallas accounted for one of Las Vegas’s six losses to date in 2023. Against the Wings this season, Clark only missed one of those losses, averaging 8.25 points, 2.25 rebounds, 0.5 assists and 0.25 blocks in 25.25 minutes across the four games.
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. The Wings now face the league-best Aces, who had a 3-1 advantage over the Wings in 2023. Brown featured in two of the losses, averaging 13 points, 5 rebounds and 1 assist in 14.5 minutes.
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. The Wings now face the league-best Aces, who had a 3-1 advantage over the Wings in 2023. Burton averaged 2 points, 0.75 rebounds, 2.25 assists and 0.25 steals in 7.75 minutes across the four games.
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. The Lynx took Brown’s Sun to three games in the first round of the playoffs, meaning that the Sun needed to win away from home to advance to the semi-final. Brown featured in the game one victory, recording 1 rebound and 1 assist in a little over three minutes on the court. The Sun now face a challenging series against the in-form Liberty, led by MVP-candidate Brianna Stewart and sharp-shooter Sabrina Ionescu. The Liberty enjoyed a 4-0 record against the Sun during the regular season, with Brown featuring in two games for averages of 2.5 points, 0.5 rebounds and 0.5 steals in 10.5 minutes.
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.
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)