WNBA

Power Rankings: Storm Rolling into Break

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It is time for a month off for the Olympics and the All-Star break. For this week’s power rankings we will be looking at what has defined each team in the first half and what it means for the second half of the season. After this, the power rankings will be taking a month off as well and resume after the first week of the returned season.

Let’s get started.

12. Atlanta Dream (6-13)

Last Week: Lost to Connecticut Sun 84-72, Lost to Indiana Fever 79-68

In perhaps the most defining off-the-court storyline in the league at the moment, the Atlanta Dream seem to be falling apart in front of our eyes. They sent Chennedy Carter away for conduct detrimental to the team and proceeded to lose both games after her departure by a combined 23 points. They are now losers of four in a row and eight of their last 10 games. Turns out Carter may have not been the problem at all. The problem is the man whose face conveys the least amount of leadership in sports: Mike Petersen. Until there is a coaching change (which he clearly cannot wait for) the Dream are basically spinning their wheels.

11. Los Angeles Sparks (6-13)

Last Week: Lost to Seattle Storm 71-62, Lost to Minnesota Lynx 86-61

Sparks fans are getting the perfect experience of being a tanking team. They try hard consistently, play spirited defense and still lose plenty of games. Young players are getting chances to see if they can catch on in the league and until then the Sparks are plotting the course to a top pick in the draft that can help them re-establish themselves as a franchise. Nneka Ogwumike is headed to the Olympics after not playing for more than a month, which should bode well for her return post-Olympic break. Luckily for the franchise, a deep enough hole has likely been done to secure the ping pong balls.

10. Indiana Fever (4-16)

Last Week: Beat New York Liberty 82-69, Beat Atlanta Dream 79-68

The Fever enter the break winning three games in a row and feeling somewhat positive about where they stand. No longer are they stuck on a single win with little direction, though the playoffs remain far away. Danielle Robinson has been a great signing for the team and while the young talent may not be getting as much time as fans would like (Kysre Gondrezick anyone?), seeing a level of professionalism before the break was refreshing. It was a low bar for them to overcome but knocking off the Sun was the moment of the last two years for the franchise.

9. Dallas Wings (9-12)

Last Week: Lost to Minnesota Lynx 85-79, Lost to Las Vegas Aces 95-79

For the Wings, losing three games in a row heading into the break is a terrible look. For a team as close to the playoffs as the Wings are, this was a misstep that will leave a sour taste in their mouth. The top two picks, Charli Collier and Awak Kuier, struggle to get consistent minutes. Marina Mabrey was an early-season stunner and now is also seeing her minutes fluctuate. Eventually, Vickie Johnson will hammer out a rotation. She has plenty of time to figure that out over the long break.

8. New York Liberty (10-11)

Last Week: Lost to Indiana Fever 82-69, Lost to. Connecticut Sun 71-54

After being one of the best stories of the early season, the Liberty have plummeted back down to earth. Sabrina Ionescu has struggled in recent weeks with injuries and being targeted by opponents. An injury that was supposed to be a quick turnaround for Natasha Howard still has her out of the lineup. However, it is not all negative. Betnijah Laney has been fantastic, making her first All-Star appearance, and Michaela Onyenwere is the runaway leader for Rookie of the Year. Given that they are under .500, it would be easy to attempt to be negative about this, but the Liberty have already multiplied last season’s win total by five.

7. Washington Mystics (8-10)

Last Week: Beat Chicago Sky 89-85 (OT)

This is likely the highest the Mystics are to reach as long as Elena Delle Donne remains out of the lineup. Tina Charles is having a legendary season, averaging 26.3 points (best in the league), 10.0 rebounds (second), 2.2 assists and 1.1 steals per game. That is a full 5.3 points per game ahead of second place, MVP front-runner Jonquel Jones. If Charles was not on the roster, Washington would be contending with the Fever for the worst record in the league. She has helped them tread water to the break, pushed them back in playoff contention, and if reinforcements join the squad post-break, the Mystics could be scary.

6. Phoenix Mercury (9-10)

Last Week: Beat Las Vegas Aces 99-90 (OT), Beat Seattle Storm 85-77, Lost to Seattle Storm 82-75

Consistency remains the biggest issue for the Mercury. There will be weeks when they lose multiple games to random teams that they have no business being in a close game with. Then there are weeks like the final week before the break. The Mercury raced the Aces off the floor in overtime before knocking off the Storm. Splitting with the Storm stops the upward flow, but any week you beat the two finalists from a season ago is fantastic. Britney Griner, Skylar Diggins-Smith, and Diana Taurasi (hopefully) are all headed to the Olympics so they will not be as rested as some of the other teams, but when healthy they are a true title threat.

5. Chicago Sky (10-10)

Last Week: Lost to Washington Mystics 89-85 (OT)

As the season rolls along, the Sky are the contender hovering around .500, but everyone knows they are a sleeping giant ready to make a move up the standings after the break. Injuries have caused plenty of issues for their consistency. However, there will be time for rest given that the biggest names on the roster were not invited to play in Tokyo. When healthy, they are capable of knocking off any team in the league. Though, as seen in the final loss before the break, they are equally susceptible to coming up short at the worst moment.

4. Minnesota Lynx (12-7)

Last Week: Beat Dallas Wings 85-79, Beat Las Vegas Aces 77-67, Beat Los Angeles Sparks 86-61

The hottest team in the league right now, the Lynx have won seven games in a row and are hitting their peak as the season enters a recess. Sylvia Fowles is the easy choice for Defensive Player of the Year, standing second in the league in steals and blocks, trailing each leader by just 0.1 in each stat. Napheesa Collier is flying under the radar as a dominant two-way force. Layshia Clarendon has changed the dynamic of the team, leading the team to a 12-3 record in her 15 games. If this can be sustained, the Lynx are as good a bet as any to win the title this year.

3. Connecticut Sun (14-6)

Last Week: Beat Atlanta Dream 84-72, Beat New York Liberty 71-54

In recent weeks, the Sun have taken enough of a step back to cause some breathing room between them and the top two teams in the league. Losing to the Fever was a stunner a week ago but the Sun enter the break on a two-game winning streak. They also have the current favorites for MVP (Jonquel Jones), Most Improved Player (Brionna Jones), three All-Stars and Jonquel Jones leads the league in rebounding. Curt Miller caught some strays this season for saying things he should not have to other team’s players. However, on the court, he has done a heck of a job.

2. Las Vegas Aces (15-6)

Last Week: Lost to Phoenix Mercury 99-90 (OT), Lost to Minnesota Lynx 77-67, Beat Dallas Wings 95-79

Debating between the Aces and the Storm has been the story of the last two seasons. The Aces go into the break with the number two spot solely because two of their six losses came in the last week. They finished the first portion of the season with a comfortable win against the Wings and a game out of the top seed in the league. They have the top offensive and defensive rating in the league and are only getting started. When they are able to string some wins together after the break, they can climb to the top of the list again. For now, that honor remains with the defending champions.

1. Seattle Storm (16-5)

Last Week: Beat Los Angeles Sparks 71-62, Lost to Phoenix Mercury 85-77, Beat Phoenix Mercury 82-75

Some things never change. The Storm have appeared disappointing for some who think that a defending champion should steamroll teams. However, given the amount of roster turnover, this level of dominance is still astounding. Mercedes Russell, Katie Lou Samuelson and Jewell Loyd are having great seasons, the final of which is having the best season of her career. Sue Bird is still Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart only knows how to bring home trophies. After having significant representation internationally, it will be interesting to see what the Storm look like post-break. For now, they are the best team in the league.

About Corey Rausch

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