WNBA

WNBA Power Rankings: Aces High

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All-Star voting is closed. We are through seven weeks of the season and a huge weekend just passed. Where has the dust settled on the league?

12. Indiana Fever (1-15)

Last Week: Lost to Dallas Wings 89-64

Next Week: 7/1 vs. Connecticut Sun, 7/3 vs. Connecticut Sun

The Fever made headlines over the weekend, but it was still not for anything on the basketball court. For Indiana, the losing streak has climbed all the way up to 11, and the most recent casualty of the organization’s disorganization is Lauren Cox. The number three overall pick from a year ago was waived on Sunday, ending her tenure with the team at 25 games played and 278 total minutes. Eventually, someone higher up than a young player who has not gotten enough of a chance has to answer for the team’s mistakes.

11. Los Angeles Sparks (6-8)

Last Week: Beat Washington Mystics 89-82, Lost to Phoenix Mercury 88-79

Next Week: 6/30 vs. Las Vegas Aces, 7/2 vs. Las Vegas Aces, 7/4 vs. Seattle Storm

Another week without the Ogwumike sisters left the Sparks splitting their games and continuing to develop a new identity. The continued trend has been being led by Te’a Cooper and Erica Wheeler. Cooper averaged 23.0 points per game over the course of the week, and Wheeler was not far behind. Wheeler contributed 15.0 points, 3.5 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game this week. The Sparks are quite different than what they were a year ago, but the development is slowly taking shape.

10. Atlanta Dream (5-9)

Last Week: Lost to Minnesota Lynx 87-85, Lost to New York Liberty 101-78

Next Week: 6/29 vs. New York Liberty, 7/2 at Seattle Storm, 7/4 at Las Vegas Aces

The Dream are fun if nothing else. Chennedy Carter is back and plays with a level of ruthless aggression that is unbridled. She brutalizes defenses with the way she drives right at unsuspecting bigs and gets to the rim. Courtney Williams is a walking bucket, and has weathered the storm no matter which guards are in the lineup. Aari McDonald is slowly getting more minutes with Tiffany Hayes out. However, the wins are just not coming for now.

9. Washington Mystics (7-8)

Last Week: Beat Seattle Storm 87-83, Lost to Los Angeles Sparks 89-82, Lost to Dallas Wings 85-74

Next Week: 6/29 vs. Connecticut Sun, 7/3 at New York Liberty

As the season goes along, the Mystics seem to just be biding time until Elena Delle Donne is able to return to the court. She was finally listed on the injury report as “Doubtful,” an improvement as far as the season goes, even though the Mystics quickly recanted it. In her stead, Tina Charles remains thick in the race for the MVP award for a team that is not winning enough games to give her a chance at it. Perhaps after the Olympic break this will be a different Mystics team.

8. Phoenix Mercury (7-7)

Last Week: Beat Los Angeles Sparks 88-79

Next Week: 6/30 vs. Minnesota Lynx, 7/3 vs. Minnesota Lynx

Diana Taurasi being back on the court has the Phoenix Mercury finally feeling like the balanced attack that they hoped to be when they entered the season. With their three Olympians on the court they are able to hang with the top teams in this league. Taurasi continues to climb the historical rankings and the Mercury should be hanging around to the end if they can stay healthy.

7. Minnesota Lynx (7-7)

Last Week: Beat Atlanta Dream 87-85, Beat/OT Las Vegas Aces 90-89

Next Week: 6/30 at Phoenix Mercury, 7/3 at Phoenix Mercury

This was a great week for the Lynx. Knocking off Vegas in overtime is no easy task, but their pair of Olympians put on a show to carry them over the finish line. Sylvia Fowles continued to prove that age is just a number, going off for 30 points, 14 rebounds, four assists, four blocks and four steals. She has been a transformative presence on both ends of the court, and was honored with a Player of the Week nod. Napheesa Collier is the perfect partner for her, stuffing the stat sheet and bridging the gap to the rest of the youth on the roster. That is the kind of win the team will build on.

6. Dallas Wings (8-8)

Last Week: Lost to Connecticut Sun 80-70, Beat Indiana Fever 89-64, Beat Washington Mystics 85-74

Next Week: 6/30 vs. Chicago Sky, 7/2 vs. Chicago Sky, 7/5 at New York Liberty

No matter how much fans want to grumble about the lineup decisions (and they are questionable) it is hard to deny the Wings are a blast to watch on the offensive end of the court. Satou Sabally is blossoming into the unicorn that everyone knew she could be. Arike Ogunbowale and Marina Mabrey are both playing at an All-Star level. The bigs are coming along, although their rotation has been a little out of whack. As the rotation settles, the Wings should continue to climb.

5. New York Liberty (8-8)

Last Week: Lost to Chicago Sky 92-72, Lost to Chicago Sky 91-68, Beat Atlanta Dream 100-78

Next Week: 6/29 at Atlanta Dream, 7/3 vs. Washington Mystics, 7/5 vs. Dallas Wings

As we get to the halfway point of the season, the Liberty do in fact have two All-Stars. No, it is not second-year standout Sabrina Ionescu making the leap to the next level. Betnijah Laney and Sami Whitcomb do a little bit of everything for the Liberty and have them maintaining their position in the middle of the playoff pack. They should both make the team when the voting results are counted.

4. Chicago Sky (9-8)

Last Week: Beat New York Liberty 92-72, Beat New York Liberty 91-68, Lost to Connecticut Sun 74-58

Next Week:  6/30 at Dallas Wings, 7/2 at Dallas Wings

Chicago was on a seven-game win streak until they ran into the Sun. That was the first time they had dropped a game with Candace Parker in the lineup all season. The Sky are clearly a great team, specifically when the entire team is on the court. They need the reps to become a consistent threat (Sky fans stop me if you have heard that before) but the promise is overwhelming. Hopefully, the stumble against the Sun was just a momentary issue.

3. Connecticut Sun (10-5)

Last Week: Beat Dallas Wings 80-70, Beat Chicago Sky 74-58

Next Week: 6/29 at Washington Mystics, 7/1 at Indiana Fever, 7/3 at Indiana Fever

The Sun picked up two big wins this week, bouncing back to knock off both the Sky and the Wings without Jonquel Jones in the lineup. Both teams were in a good position and the Sun won by double digits regardless. DeWanna Bonner has been fantastic throughout the season, and stepped up to another level with Jones overseas. Jones will be back on the court this week and will be looking to maintain her lead as the frontrunner for MVP.

2. Seattle Storm (12-4)

Last Week: Beat Washington Mystics 87-83, Loss/OT Las Vegas Aces 95-92

Next Week: 7/2 vs. Atlanta Dream, 7/4 at Los Angeles Sparks

The game on Sunday against the Aces came down to the end. This game served as both a celebration of last season’s finale and a preview of what is to come. On the Storm side, the way the roster as a whole has stepped up after so much turnover is admirable. Mercedes Russell made life impossible for the reigning MVP. It would have been enough to secure a win if not for a few backbreaking shots from Chelsea Gray.

1. Las Vegas Aces (11-4)

Last Week: Lost/OT to Minnesota Lynx 90-89, Beat/OT Seattle Storm 95-92

Next Week: 6/30 at Los Angeles Sparks, 7/2 at Los Angeles Sparks, 7/4 vs. Atlanta Dream

Two games, two overtimes and, despite the split, the Aces are atop the power rankings at long last. The most eye-opening part of the matchup between the top two teams was how the improved guard play for the Aces has changed their championship ceiling. It is about more than the late-game execution from Gray, though that should not go unnoticed. Jackie Young has taken a massive step forward. Riquna Williams is a sniper. Kelsey Plum, back from injury, changes the dynamic off the bench. The Aces are rounding into form and the rest of the league should be on notice.

 

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About Corey Rausch

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