The 2022 WNBA Playoffs are set to begin this week, which has put the spotlight back on the gender pay gap between male and female athletes.
The WNBA playoff bonus pool is set to rise to $500,000 in 2023, which is roughly a 50% increase compared to this season.
Candace Parker, Diana Taurasi, DeWanna Bonner, and Skylar Diggins-Smith are among the highest-paid players in the league in 2022.
Each player makes the maximum base salary of $228,094.
Below, we’ll go over how the current bonus pool for the 2022 WNBA Playoffs is broken down and preview some of the changes ahead of next season.
Breaking Down WNBA Playoff Bonus Pool
Under the current collective bargaining agreement, WNBA players can earn bonuses for both individual and team achievements throughout the season.
In 2022, players on the WNBA Championship team are set to earn $11,356. Next year, that number is expected to double to over $22,000.
While that figure might not seem like a lot, a WNBA Championship in 2022 is still worth 10x more than a first-round exit. Players on teams that lose in the first round of the postseason will earn only $1,136.
Meanwhile, players that lose in the WNBA Finals are awarded $5,678.
Check out the chart below for a breakdown of how the WNBA Playoff bonus pool is allocated.
|Lost In Third Round||$2,839|
|Lost In Second Round||$1,803|
|Lost In First Round||$1,136|
WNBA Bonuses For Individual Awards
Making the WNBA Playoffs isn’t the only way that players can earn more cash.
The WNBA also rewards players that earn individual awards and accolades during the season.
The winner of the WNBA MVP Award walks away with the most money, taking home a cool $15,450 bonus. All WNBA First Team members also receive $10,300 at the end of the season.
Most other awards have a $5,150 bonus attached to them, while All-Defensive Team and All-Rookie Team members will take home an additional $1,500 each.
Check out the chart below to find out how much WNBA players can earn for winning each award.
|Most Valuable Player||$15,450|
|All-WNBA First Team||$10,300|
|All-WNBA First Team||$5,150|
|Sixth Women of the Year||$5,150|
|Defensive Player of the Year||$5,150|
|Rookie of the Year||$5,150|
|Most Improved Player||$5,150|
|All-WNBA Defensive Team||$1,500|
|All-WNBA Rookie Team||$1,500|
WNBA All-Star Weekend Bonuses
WNBA All-Stars also get a bonus for participating in All-Star weekend.
The league rewards all All-Star Game participants, along with players participating in the three-point competition and skills challenge.
For a complete breakdown of the WNBA bonuses given out during All-Star weekend, check out the chart below.
|All-Star Game Achievement||Bonus|
|All-Star Game MVP||$5,150|
|All-Star Game Participant||$2,575|
|All-Star Three-Point Contest Winner||$2,575|
|All-Star Skills Competition Winner||$2,575|
|All-Star Three Point or Skills Non-Winners||$1,030|
Comparing The NBA And WNBA Playoff Bonus Pools
Check out how the WNBA Playoff bonus pool compares with the bonuses awarded to players during the NBA Playoffs.
|Achievement||NBA Bonus||WNBA Bonus|
|Lost In Third Round||$645,587||$2,839|
|Lost In Second Round||$2,581,642||$1,803|
|Lost In First Round||$328,333||$1,136|
|Total Playoff Prize Pool||$27,500,000||$500,000|
WNBA Schedule To Expand To 40 Games
In addition to a bigger playoff bonus pool, the WNBA schedule will expand to a 40-game season.
The league’s schedule right now is set at 36 games.
According to the 2020 collective bargaining agreement, teams can play a maximum of 44 regular season games. WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert wanted a 40-game schedule for the 2022 season.
Though the Summer Olympics and the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup are occurring this year, the World Cup is taking place in September in Australia.
These events would coincide with an expanded WNBA schedule.
WNBA Expansion Teams To Come As Early As 2024
Furthermore, Engelbert is also working towards team expansion.
The league is currently comprised of 12 teams. She wants to increase the number of markets by 2025.
However, politics will likely be a factor in which cities will receive a WNBA team.
Obviously, we continue to advocate for gender and health equity, especially in communities of color, and access and reproductive health care,” explains Engelbert.
“We certainly will continue to advocate for women’s rights, reproductive rights, choice, and all that. We’ll evaluate those kinds of things when we’re looking at cities.”
Team expansion can occur as early as the 2024 season. Per multiple sources, there are 10 to 15 cities interested in hosting a WNBA team. Potential cities include Philadelphia, Toronto, San Francisco, Oakland, Portland, and Nashville.
The Philadelphia Rage was part of the women’s American Basketball League (ABL). But the league folded in 1998.
Updating Travel Plans And Increasing Viewership
Among other changes, the league plans to use charter flights for all WNBA Finals games.
Teams were previously traveling via premium economy class. According to league rules, WNBA teams are not allowed to use charter flights because this method of travel is viewed as a competitive advantage.
Additionally, Engelbert discussed improving league exposure.
When asked about this problem, she explained that media rights are lacking, “We need to find the right package more broadly for the WNBA. The league needs to make it easier for fans to watch our games, to know where our games are.”
“We have 160 games on national platforms this year, a record in the WNBA, which is great. We’re getting exposure, but I think our fans get frustrated: ‘Where do you find those games?’”
The WNBA All-Star Weekend set a record in merchandise sales in Chicago.
Profits were 50% higher this year compared to the league’s now second-highest selling All-Star Weekend in Minneapolis back in 2018.
Nonetheless, fans were not allowed to enter Wintrust Arena to watch the concert, 3-point shooting contest, or skills challenge. Engelbert thought security would pose an issue.
Not allowing fans in can certainly hurt the product.
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