WNBA

WNBA Power Rankings: Olympic Break Looming

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After the eighth week has come to a close, we will look back at the All-Star announcements and ahead to the final week before a lengthy Olympic break.

12. Indiana Fever (2-16)

Last Week: Lost to Connecticut Sun 86-80, Beat Connecticut Sun 73-67

Next Week: 7/9 vs. New York Liberty, 7/11 at Atlanta Dream

The Fever finally got off the shneid this week, knocking off the Connecticut Sun in a stunning upset. Danielle Robinson was exceptional, dropping a career-high 19 points to go along with five rebounds and two assists. Teaira McCowan came off the bench and put up a line of 13 points, 12 rebounds, two blocks and one assist. Ending a 12-game losing streak has to feel good for the Fever fanbase. The next step to happiness is to start getting number four overall pick Kysre Gondrezick minutes on a more regular basis.

11. Los Angeles Sparks (6-11)

Last Week: Lost to Las Vegas Aces 99-75, Lost to Las Vegas Aces 66-58, Lost to Seattle Storm 84-74

Next Week: 7/7 at Seattle Storm, 7/11 vs. Minnesota Lynx

Despite the losing streak, there are signs that the Sparks are starting to figure things out. They are highly competitive throughout most of the game and their bench shows such a joy when a run starts that there is momentum for growth. Karlie Samuelson and Nia Coffey got them going with timely 3-point shots. Lauren Cox is getting a legitimate chance to play. The wins are hard to come by right now, but the vibes are real.

10. Atlanta Dream (6-11)

Last Week: Beat New York Liberty 73-69, Lost to Seattle Storm 91-88, Lost to Las Vegas Aces 118-95

Next Week: 7/9 at Connecticut Sun, 7/11 vs. Indiana Fever

On the absolute other end of the vibes spectrum, something is bubbling in Atlanta. Chennedy Carter left the game in the first half for a non-injury issue and never returned. Information has started to trickle out about an altercation on the bench and overall unrest within the organization. Carter is ostensibly the face of the future for the franchise but there has always been a feeling that something is not going well behind the scenes. Given the lack of an actual head coach and the simmering tension, change may be coming before long. All of this has muddled the celebration for first-time All-Star Courtney Williams.

9. Washington Mystics (7-10)

Last Week: Lost to Connecticut Sun 90-71, Lost to New York Liberty 82-79

Next Week: 7/10 at Chicago Sky

For anyone trying to start believing in the Mystics, the recent four-game skid is certainly disheartening. Tina Charles has looked like an MVP candidate for the entirety of the season so far, averaging 25.8 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. However, the blown game against the Liberty was the perfect example of the issues with the team. Charles ended with 31 points and 16 rebounds and the next highest scorer was Ariel Atkins with nine points. As fantastic as Charles has been this season, for the Mystics to make it into the playoffs in the second half someone else needs to do something.

8. Phoenix Mercury (7-9)

Last Week: Lost to Minnesota Lynx 82-76, Lost to Minnesota Lynx 99-68

Next Week: 7/7 at Las Vegas Aces, 7/9 vs. Seattle Storm, 7/11 at Seattle Storm

The pair of games against the Lynx were ugly for the Mercury. The second meeting was a 31 points blowout that ultimately never felt even that close. Diana Taurasi and Skylar Diggins-Smith were visibly (and audibly) frustrated. The talent in Phoenix is clear but so far they are failing to consistently put together a winning product. With three games left before the break against the top two teams in the league chances are the ugliness is just getting started.

7. Dallas Wings (9-10)

Last Week: Lost to Chicago Sky 91-81, Beat Chicago Sky 100-91, Lost to New York Liberty 99-96

Next Week: 7/7 at Minnesota Lynx, 7/11 vs. Las Vegas Aces

The Wings are an above-average defense away from being a lock for the postseason. Arike Ogunbowale and Satou Sabally were both named to their first All-Star games last week. Sabally and Allisha Gray will be heading over to Tokyo for the 3 vs. 3 event. While the individual pieces are taking steps forward for the Wings so far Vicky Johnson has yet to make an impact on the defense (7th in the league), no matter how much she stresses its relevance.

6. Minnesota Lynx (9-7)

Last Week: Beat Phoenix Mercury 82-76, Beat Phoenix Mercury 99-68

Next Week: 7/7 vs. Dallas Wings, 7/9 at Las Vegas Aces, 7/11 at Los Angeles Sparks

The Lynx are on the come up and are finally starting to regularly look like the team that many predicted to make a deep playoff run this season. Sylvia Fowles is an ageless wonder and is playing at an MVP level coming off of an injury a season ago. Layshia Clarendon has finally locked down a contract for the rest of the season and they are the perfect fit for the way this team plays. Dumping the Mercury twice is a solid way to build up the resume heading into the break. After their three games this week there will be little rest as Fowles and Napheesa Collier will be headed to the All-Star game and then the Olympics.

5. New York Liberty (10-9)

Last Week: Lost to Atlanta Dream 73-69, Beat Washington Mystics 82-79, Beat Dallas Wings 99-96

Next Week: 7/9 at Indiana Fever, 7/11 vs. Connecticut Sun

The comeback win against the Mystics was something special and may have been the start of another run for the New York Liberty. Betnijah Laney was named to her first All-Star game last week and has been an agent for change for the Liberty. Sabrina Ionescu, Sami Whitcomb and Michaela Onyenwere have all made significant contributions. DiDi Richards and Jazmine Jones both took shots this weekend but continue to make an impact. The Liberty are getting more impressive by the week.

4. Chicago Sky (10-9)

Last Week: Beat Dallas Wings 91-81, Lost to Dallas Wings 100-91

Next Week: 7/10 vs. Washington Mystics

After a rocky start, the Sky are in a mostly good place. They split their two games with the Wings this week but still have a solid chance to enter the break above .500. Candace Parker, Courtney Vandersloot and Kahleah Copper were all named All-Stars. Copper was one of the seven first-timers and has been one of the consistent bright spots while other players are in and out of the lineup. Given the relative lack of Team USA presence, this break will set the Sky up for a late-season run.

3. Connecticut Sun (12-6)

Last Week: Beat Washington Mystics 90-71, Beat Indiana Fever 86-80, Lost to Indiana Fever 73-67

Next Week: 7/9 vs. Atlanta Dream, 7/11 at New York Liberty

In the most surprising upset of the season thus far, the Sun dropped their final game of the week to the Indiana Fever. Brionna Jones, Jonquel Jones and DeWanna Bonner (the team’s three All-Stars) all played 28 or more minutes and had decent performances. The Fever were just up to the challenge. The Sun find themselves in a comfortable spot entering the layoff, a step behind the top two teams in the league but currently in a tier of their own as a near-lock to make the semi-finals.

2. Seattle Storm (14-4)

Last Week: Beat Atlanta Dream 91-88, Beat Los Angeles Sparks 84-74

Next Week: 7/7 vs. Los Angeles Sparks, 7/9 at Phoenix Mercury, 7/11 vs. Phoenix Mercury

The Storm and the Aces remain tied atop the standings, as there were for most of last season before meeting in the Finals. Jewell Loyd came down with an ankle injury this week, causing her to miss the game against the Sparks. One of three members of the Storm representing Team USA, the break will not be a quiet one for the team. Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird are also on the core Olympic roster and Katie Lou Samuelson will be taking part in the 3 vs. 3 event. Stephanie Talbot and Ezi Magbegor will also be heading to Tokyo, to represent Australia. Unsurprisingly, their rivals have a similar commitment.

1. Las Vegas Aces (14-4)

Last Week: Beat Los Angeles Sparks 99-75, Beat Los Angeles Sparks 66-58, Beat Atlanta Dream 118-95

Next Week: 7/7 vs. Phoenix Mercury, 7/9 vs. Minnesota Lynx, 7/11 at Dallas Wings

The Aces keep rolling, pushing their winning streak up to four games. The level of depth for Las Vegas is astonishing when compared to a season ago and the accolades continued to roll in as Liz Cambage and Dearica Hamby were named All-Stars. Cambage will head from the All-Star game to the Olympics to represent Australia. Chelsea Gray and A’ja Wilson will be on the traditional USA team and Kelsey Plum will be on the 3 vs. 3 team. Finally, JiSu Park is a member of the Korean team. Even with the break, there will be plenty for fans of the Aces to celebrate.

About Corey Rausch

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