WNBA Power Rankings: Sun Still Scorching


The final month of the season is here. Just in time, because one title favorite is seemingly hitting a speed bump while another is righting the ship.

Let’s get started.

12. Atlanta Dream (6-19)

Last Week: Lost to Chicago Sky 86-79, Lost to Las Vegas Aces 78-71

This Week: 9/2 at Dallas Wings, 9/5 at Dallas Wings

Another week goes by, and the Dream have not gotten back in the win’s column. Losers of 10 games in a row, Atlanta has not won a game since June. Combining issues, Crystal Bradford went down in the game with the Sky and is undergoing surgery this week. The lone bright spot of the week (and perhaps the entire season) was when the Dream and the Aces found a way to honor former Dream star Angel McCoughtry in the waning seconds of their game this week. While All-Star Courtney Williams is waning as the season goes along, one shining moment was greatly appreciated.

11. Indiana Fever (5-19)

Last Week: Lost to Las Vegas Aces 87-71

This Week: 8/31 vs. Los Angeles Sparks, 9/4 vs. Phoenix Mercury, 9/6 vs. Phoenix Mercury

Over the last month, the Indiana Fever have gone from being a train wreck to just a run-of-the-mill bad team. Competitive efforts were becoming increasingly common and suddenly they find themselves just a half-game behind the Dream to move out of the standing’s basement. Unfortunately, watching Danielle Robinson go down with injury may ultimately throw a wrench in those plans. Robinson went down with an ankle injury against the Aces after being the driving force behind the Fever upsetting the Wings in the game prior. The veteran journeywoman has been the rock for the team this season. Any amount of time she is off the court will likely be disastrous for the Fever.

10. New York Liberty (11-16)

Last Week: Lost to Phoenix Mercury 106-79, Lost to Phoenix Mercury 80-64

Next Week: 8/31 at Minnesota Lynx, 9/2 at Seattle Storm

The homestretch has not been kind to the Liberty. The injury to Sami Whitcomb has obliterated much of the floor spacing that they need to run their offense. Going into the matchup with the Mercury, the Liberty were hoping to bounce back after a Twitter war a few months ago. Dropping both games by a combined 43 points is essentially waving the white flag. The Liberty have now lost four in a row and find themselves tumbling down the standings. They are now mere percentage points ahead of the Mystics with only five more games to play. Reality comes at a young team fast.

9. Los Angeles Sparks (10-16)

Last Week: Lost to Washington Mystics 78-68, Lost to Connecticut Sun 76-72, Lost to Connecticut Sun 76-61

This Week: 8/31 at Indiana Fever, 9/2 at Minnesota Lynx

After a week of building an identity and momentum, the Sparks came back to earth to an extent with three straight losses. The defense that had become something of a calling card held the Mystics and Sun to 78, 76 and 76 points respectively. They are not out of the thick of the playoff race just yet, but they will need to bounce back quickly. Ideally, the wins will come as Nia Coffey continues her hot streak. The guard has reached double figures in three straight games. If the Sparks are going to make the playoffs, they will need more than the stabilizing force known as Nneka Ogwumike.

8. Dallas Wings (11-15)

Last Week: Beat Washington Mystics 82-77, Lost to Washington Mystics 76-75

Next Week: 9/2 vs. Atlanta Dream, 9/5 vs. Atlanta Dream

In true Wings fashion, Dallas split the games against the Mystics this week, leaving them gaining no ground as the playoffs creep closer. The first game of the pair saw the emergence of Awak Kuier. The number two overall pick had her best game of her career, posting a line of nine points, five rebounds, one assist and one steal. She looked comfortable on both sides of the ball, ideally portending a bigger role going forward. In the second game, the Wings were up comfortably for quite some time until Natasha Cloud decided to take the entire game over.

7. Washington Mystics (10-15)

Last Week: Beat Los Angeles Sparks 78-68, Lost to Dallas Wings 82-77, Beat Dallas Wings 76-76

Next Week: 8/31 vs. Connecticut Sun, 9/4 at Minnesota Lynx

Because of the aforementioned Cloud’s explosion, the Mystics were able to split the games with the Wings as well as taking a game away from the Sparks. These are the kind of wins that are essential for the Mystics as they make the continued climb back into the playoff picture. Health has been an obstacle throughout and continued to be the same this week. Tina Charles is struggling with a gluteal injury and Elena Delle Donne is playing limited minutes as a precaution. However, of any of the four teams pushing to secure a playoff spot, the Mystics generate the most optimism.

6. Phoenix Mercury (15-10)

Last Week: Beat New York Liberty 106-79, Beat New York Liberty 80-64

This Week: 8/31 vs. Chicago Sky, 9/4 at Indiana Fever, 9/6 at Indiana Fever

The one spot skid for the Mercury is simply a function of the Sky playing against higher-level teams and earning victories. More on them in a little, but for now the Mercury are the focus. They have been on a roll of late and are finally starting to look like the team the organization dreamed of when they brought Skylar Diggins-Smith before last season. Diggins-Smith was named the Conference Player of the Week and with good reason. In the first game against the Liberty, she combined with Britney Griner and Diana Taurasi to score 74 points. In the following meeting, with Griner out of the lineup, Diggins-Smith dropped 27 again and carried the team to another road win.

5. Chicago Sky (14-12)

Last Week: Beat Atlanta Dream 86-79, Beat Seattle Storm 73-65, Beat Seattle Storm 107-75

This Week: 8/31 at Phoenix Mercury, 9/2 at Las Vegas Aces, 9/5 vs. Las Vegas Aces

The Sky are the story of the league this week. After being inconsistent for much of the season, they faced the defending champion Seattle Storm and obliterated them in consecutive games. In the second meeting, where the Sky swept the season series, the final margin was 32 points. The team saw the Candace Parker they had been hoping for all season. She had 25 points and nine rebounds, leading six Sky players in double digits scoring. If this is the version of the Sky that comes to play the rest of the season, this won’t be the end of their ascent.

4. Seattle Storm (18-10)

Last Week: Lost to Minnesota Lynx 76-70, Lost to Chicago Sky 73-69, Lost to Chicago Sky 107-75

This Week: 9/2 vs. New York Liberty

This was a troubling week for the Storm. After spending much of the season as the favorite to repeat as champions, the Storm have now been swept by the Sky and lost three games in a row. They are now only half a game ahead of the Lynx and in desperate danger of missing out on the desired double-bye. Jordin Canada is dealing with an injury. Breanna Stewart is struggling with her efficiency. For the first time all season, the Storm look vulnerable. The grind of the season mixed with a non-break for many of their top names at the Olympics is finally coming back to haunt them. No matter what, it somehow needs to be restated that Noelle Quinn is doing a fantastic job with this team. Those loud critics on social media need to relax after one rare rough week for the Storm.

3. Minnesota Lynx (15-9)

Last Week: Beat Seattle Storm 76-70

This Week: 8/31 at vs. New York Liberty, 9/2 vs. Los Angeles Sparks, 9/4 vs. Washington Mystics

Anytime you can play one game in a week and knock off the defending champions, good feelings will abound. The Lynx are one of the best teams in the league and they somehow continue to fly under the radar. This week they will be facing a three-game slate and all of those teams are under .500. Furthermore, the Lynx are coming off history. Sylvia Fowles exploded for 29 points, 20 rebounds, four steals, three blocks and one assist. She is one of the most underappreciated greats of the game. Fowles quietly comes in, dominates, wins and goes home. She clearly deserves her flowers.

2. Las Vegas Aces (19-7)

Last Week: Lost Connecticut Sun 76-62, Beat Atlanta Dream 78-71, Beat Indiana Fever 87-71

Next Week: 9/2 vs. Chicago Sky, 9/5 at Chicago Sky

For the Aces, they are facing some of the same issues that the Storm struggled with this week, but were lucky enough to play the two worst teams in the league. They are clearly dealing with the wear and tear of a long season but currently remain one game behind Connecticut in the standings. The Sun swept the season series, so the Aces will have to pass them if they hope to have home court throughout. Furthermore, in the most emotional moment of the season, they partnered with the Dream to honor Angel McCoughtry. The Aces have become one of the model franchises in the league and the way they honor their past, and the past of the league is honorable.

1. Connecticut Sun (20-6)

Last Week: Beat Las Vegas Aces 76-62, Beat Los Angeles Sparks 76-72, Beat Los Angeles Sparks 76-61

This Week: 8/31 at Washington Mystics

At this point, it is impossible to be too positive about the Sun. They have won eight games in a row (remember the Commissioner’s Cup does not count for regular season standings) and continue to find creative ways to dismantle their opponents. Sweeping the Aces during the regular season has set the Sun up as the favorite for the title at this point. This week also likely cemented Brionna Jones as winner of the Most Improved Player award. She was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week this week for the second time this year. Over the three games, she averaged 18.0 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.7 steals per game. This is the season of the Sun indeed.

About Corey Rausch

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