WNBA

WNBA Power Rankings: A Week of Overreacting

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Week one of the WNBA’s 25th season is in the books. The season is off to a great start. Viewership is soaring. History has been made. Stars have returned to the court after sitting out last season. Fans are starting to fill the stands. That said, there is no better time to overreact to three days worth of games.

  1. Indiana Fever (0-2)

Last Week: Lost to New York Liberty 90-87, Lost to New York Liberty 73-65

Next Week: 5/19 at Connecticut Sun, 5/21 vs. Atlanta Dream, 5/23 vs. Washington Mystics, 5/25 vs. Washington Mystics

The Fever entered the season with the lowest expectations. Despite two losses, they have looked better than expected. Kelsey Mitchell has been a bucket (19.5 points per game) so far and Teaira McCowan has been a problem on the glass, leading the league in rebounds in the first week at 13.0 per game.

It came down to the buzzer on opening night, when the Fever were knocked off by a highlight reel moment from Sabrina Ionescu. The Fever have proved to be a fun watch and committed on the defensive end, an improvement from a season ago.

  1. Atlanta Dream (0-1)

Last Week: Lost to Connecticut Sun 78-67

Next Week: 5/19 vs. Chicago Sky, 5/21 at Indiana Fever, 5/25 at Chicago Sky

The Dream only played one game so far and somehow already feel at a crossroads. Chennedy Carter is the young face of the franchise and oftentimes her face shows nothing but frustration. Something on the court is not clicking from a chemistry perspective and the final score of their opening game is not indicative of the on-court product.

The backcourt is crowded, with interim head coach Mike Petersen having to juggle minutes for Carter, veterans Odyssey Sims and Courtney Williams plus rookie Aari McDonald. The Dream are a franchise in transition, with an ownership change early in the offseason and coaching change weeks before the start of the season. Expect more bumps along the way.

  1. Washington Mystics (0-2)

Last Week: Lost to Chicago Sky 70-56, Lost to Phoenix Mercury 91-70

Next Week: 5/21 vs, New York Liberty, 5/23 at Indiana Fever, 5/25 at Indiana Fever

It has been a rough start to the season for the Mystics. They have faced two of the top teams in the league without Elena Delle Donne or Myisha Hines-Allen, and the offense has looked about as good as you would expect.

It is not all bad for Washington. Tina Charles has been stellar in her first two games in the nation’s capital, averaging 18.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game thus far. Natasha Cloud has also returned to the court and, despite less than stellar efficiency, is scoring well. The core is here for Mike Thibault’s team once his other stars return to the court.

  1. Minnesota Lynx (0-2)

Last Week: Lost to Phoenix Mercury 77-75, Lost to New York Liberty 86-75

Next Week: 5/20 vs. Seattle Storm

The season has not started the way the Lynx had envisioned after having one of the more talked about off-seasons in the league. Their 0-2 start is the first of Cheryl Reeve’s tenure. Star Napheesa Collier has yet to return to the court from overseas play, which will change the Lynx from an afterthought to a juggernaut.

There are a lot of new parts to the roster for Reeve to figure out. Kayla McBride, Natalie Achonwa and Aerial Powers will take time to integrate with their new teammates, but if there is any coach that can figure it out it is Reeve. A major positive for the Lynx: Sylvia Fowles is back in full force, averaging 18.5 points, 11.0 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.0 blocks so far.

  1. Los Angeles Sparks (0-1)

Last Week: Lost to Dallas Wings 94-71

Next Week 5/21 at Las Vegas Aces

There were cries for the job of Derek Fisher before the season. Opening the year with a drubbing at the hands of an expected lottery team was not a what he wanted to see. The Sparks experienced unprecedented roster turnover and star Nneka Ogwumike is still recovering from her injury last season. Her sister, Chiney, is back after missing last season as well.

The Sparks are unlikely to be as bad as they looked on opening night against the Dallas Wings once they start to gel together. That said, they will have to be significantly better to contend for a playoff spot. With only one game over the next week, they will have to rely on practice to get a little more familiar.

  1. Dallas Wings (1-0)

Last Week: Beat Los Angeles Sparks 94-71

Next Week: 5/22 vs. Seattle Storm, 5/25 at New York Liberty

If you are only going to play one game in your week, let it be a domination. The Wings are very young and missing Satou Sabally and Awak Kuier, but that did not stop them from blitzing the Sparks to the tune of a 23-point victory. Allisha Gray was the leading scorer in the first game, dropping 23 points and leading the team to victory. Last season’s scoring champion Arike Ogunbowale did not have her best game, but that did not prevent the Wings from securing a win.

Charli Collier, this season’s number one overall pick, acquitted herself well in her regular season debut. The young center had a double-double, posting a line of 11 points, 10 rebounds, one block and one steal. Through one game, she is exactly what the Dallas Wings were missing down low a season ago.

  1. Connecticut Sun (2-0)

Last Week: Beat Atlanta Dream 72-67, Beat Phoenix Mercury 86-78

Next Week: 5/19 vs. Indiana Fever, 5/21 at Phoenix Mercury, 5/23 at Las Vegas Aces, 5/25 at Seattle Storm

The Sun have looked good so far, despite missing last season’s heart and soul Alyssa Thomas. In her stead, Jonquel Jones has returned to the court and picked up where she left off. Through two games she is averaging 20.0 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game. Any worries about a potential fit between Jones and last season’s premier acquisition, DeWanna Bonner, have quickly been dashed.

For her part, Bonner is leading the team in scoring again at 24.0 points per game while adding 6.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 2.0 blocks and 1.5 steals per game. The Sun play such solid, fundamental basketball that they will be a pain for everyone in the league to deal with. With their size, skill, and depth, they should rack up plenty of wins.

  1. Phoenix Mercury (2-1)

Last Week: Beat Minnesota Lynx 77-75, Lost to Connecticut Sun 86-78, Beat Washington Mystics 91-70

Next Week: 5/21 vs. Connecticut Sun

The Mercury still feel like they are waiting for another move to happen. In the meantime, they should be one of the most dangerous teams in the league to contend with. The back court of Diana Taurasi and Skylar Diggins-Smith has gotten off to a strong start, including another game winner for the ageless wonder. Taurasi made headlines with her line of “Old people have dreams too” in that 144 documentary and she is still living her dream in front of us.

Brianna Turner has been dominant on the glass thus far, grabbing 14 boards against the Mystics to end the week. She is making a move away from Brittney Griner in the near future all the more likely, which is a storyline to keep tabs on as the season goes along.

  1. New York Liberty (3-0)

Last Week: Beat Indiana Fever 90-87, Beat Indiana Fever 73-65, Beat Minnesota Lynx 86-75

Next Week: 5/21 at Washington Mystics, 5/23 at Chicago Sky, 5/25 vs. Dallas Wings

The Liberty have taken the league by storm and are grabbing the headlines. With a win against the Lynx last night, they have already surpassed their win total from a year ago and Natasha Howard has yet to play a minute for them.

Sabrina Ionescu is where the story starts, as she became the youngest player to record a triple-double in the WNBA Tuesday night. After only playing three games a season ago, Ionescu looks like one of the best in the game already. She hit a game winner to win their first game and has paired beautifully with Betnijah Laney, who has gone scorched earth on opponents. To this point, the Liberty are the most fun team in the league.

  1. Chicago Sky (1-0)

Last Week: Beat Washington Mystics 70-56

Next Week: 5/19 at Atlanta Dream, 5/23 vs. New York Liberty, 5/25 vs. Atlanta Dream

The Sky only played one game this week. They looked like they still had plenty of work to do, yet had no problem easily dispatching the Mystics. The Sky thrive in transition and took advantage of the smart passing of Candace Parker and Courtney Vandersloot to take their opponent apart.

Despite the stars on the team, Kahleah Copper was the standout of the first game. She led the team in scoring (19) and grabbed two steals. She led the pack in transition and kept the pace up for an entertaining and effective attack. The Sky look like a team that will take over the league once they fully learn how to play together.

  1. Seattle Storm (1-1)

Last Week: Beat Las Vegas Aces 97-83, Lost to Las Vegas Aces 96-80

Next Week: 5/20 at Minnesota Lynx, 5/22 at Dallas Wings, 5/25 vs. Connecticut Sun

Opening night was a great window into just how good the reigning champion Storm still can be. Even with the departures of Alysha Clark, Sami Whitcomb and Natasha Howard, the champs are still no one to mess with. Breanna Stewart continues to stake her claim as the best player in the world, averaging 27.0 points, 12.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.5 blocks per game against their former Finals opponent.

Jewell Loyd also looked great in the first two games, averaging 19.5 points, 4.5 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game. Ezi Magbegor looks increasingly more comfortable in her increased role. Sue Bird and Candice Dupree provide the veteran backbone for the Storm. For anyone who thought there would be a drastic drop off with so much lost talent, banner night has to change their mind.

  1. Las Vegas Aces (1-1)

Last Week: Lost to Seattle Storm 97-83, Beat Seattle Storm 96-80

Next Week: 5/21 vs. Los Angeles Sparks, 5/23 vs. Connecticut Sun

For many, the Aces were the favorites to win it all coming into the season. A’ja Wilson is the reigning MVP and has elevated her game even further. Kelsey Plum and Liz Cambage are back after missing last season for injury/health concerns. Dearica Hamby is the definition of Sixth Woman of the Year, winning the award two years running. With Chelsea Gray and Riquna Williams joining the fold, Bill Laimbeer’s squad is loaded.

An opening night loss to the champions, as their banner was getting hung, was less than ideal, but it does not change how good the Aces are. They bounced back and handled the Storm last night, led by 21 points and 10 rebounds from Jackie Young. Wilson was not far behind with 18 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and three blocks. It will take time to get everyone on the same page, but when they get there they are the best team in the league.

About Corey Rausch

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