WNBA Power Rankings Week 2: The Connecticut Sun are on the rise


Now that everyone has played more than once, the power rankings are ready to shift. There is a new number one, despite some controversy surrounding the team. Also, there is a new number 12. Let’s start there.

  1. Los Angeles Sparks (0-2)

Last Week: Lost to Las Vegas Aces 97-69

Next Week: 5/28 at Chicago Sky, 5/30 at Chicago Sky

The Sparks look hapless thus far. They have only played two games and both of them have been completely one-sided. The most unfortunate aspect of the situation rests on the star who stayed. Last summer, Candace Parker and Chelsea Gray left for title-contending teams. Nneka Ogwumike was retained and is playing like an MVP for a team on the outskirts.

So far Ogwumike is averaging 18.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game. Her sister, Chiney, is the second-leading scorer on the team at 11.5 points per game. There is just not enough else to get excited about currently.

  1. Indiana Fever (1-4)

Last Week: Lost to Connecticut Sun 88-67, Lost to Atlanta Dream 83-79, Beat Washington Mystics 89-77

Next Week: 5/25 vs. Washington Mystics, 5/28 at Las Vegas Aces

If nothing else, the Fever are fun. The upstart team got their first win of the young season this week against the Washington Mystics and are getting strong contributions from young players and veterans alike. Teaira McCowan is one of the best rebounders in the league, averaging 11 points and 9 rebounds per game. Kelsey Mitchell is leading the team in scoring at 17.0 points per game.

On the more seasoned side of the team, Danielle Robinson has made an impact on this team immediately. Signed as a veteran leader in free agency, Robinson has come in and thrived in transition while being one of the league leaders in steals (2.4 per game). The Fever may not end up as a playoff team but they are clearly taking steps forward.

  1. Minnesota Lynx (0-3)

Last Week: Lost to Seattle Storm 90-78

Next Week: 5/28 at Seattle Storm, 5/30 vs. Connecticut Sun

It is hard to assess the Lynx until Napheesa Collier is back on the court. For a team loaded with talent and ready to compete for a WNBA championship, Collier is the straw that stirs the drink and makes all of the talents fit perfectly together. Without her, the Lynx are more about individual performances and not much else.

Until they are able to get into the win column, the return of Sylvia Fowles remains one of the best subplots of the season. After she suffered a season-ending injury midway through the bubble, some were not sure if the 13-year veteran would be the same. In season 14, she has picked up right where she left off, averaging 19.0 points, 10.3 rebounds, 1.7 steals, 1.0 assists and 1.0 blocks per game.

  1. Atlanta Dream (1-2)

Last Week: Lost to Chicago Sky 85-77, Beat Indiana Fever 83-79

Next Week: 5/25 at Chicago Sky, 5/27 vs. Dallas Wings, 5/29 at New York Liberty

The Dream were able to get their first win of the season to end last week, knocking off the Indiana Fever in a close game. Dynamic backcourt play has led to an explosive offensive punch that is tough for some of the weaker defensive units to contain. Chennedy Carter and Courtney Williams are averaging 18.0 points per game. Williams is the true standout so far, shooting a scorching 57.1 percent from distance on 4.7 attempts per game.

The next step is figuring out how to rebound the basketball. To this point, the Dream are only outrebounding the Los Angeles Sparks on a per-game basis, with their top rebounder (Monique Billings) only grabbing 6.7 per game.

  1. Washington Mystics (1-3)

Last Week: Beat New York Liberty 101-72, Lost to Indiana Fever 89-77

Next Week: 5/25 at Indiana Fever, 5/28 at Phoenix Suns

The Mystics are not as far away from the top as their record may indicate. Tina Charles has come back from a year off like she never left, averaging 25.3 points (second in the league), 9.0 rebounds (tied for sixth) and 1.3 assists per game. She has carried the team while the roster is still slowly getting healthy.

Myisha Hines-Allen has only played one game this season. Elena Delle Donne has not yet returned to the court. As Hines-Allen gets more comfortable and the former MVP eventually returns, the Mystics will be a threat. Patience is key for Washington.

  1. Dallas Wings (1-2)

Last Week: Lost/OT to Seattle Storm 100-97, Lost to New York Liberty 88-81

Next Week: 5/27 at Atlanta Dream, 5/29 vs. Phoenix Mercury

For a team as young as they are, the Wings are competitive on a nightly basis. Pushing the defending champions to overtime in their second game of the season was a perfect indicator of their progress. Satou Sabally has not yet returned to the court, but that has not slowed the evolution of the Wings.

Allisha Gray was explosive in the one game she played for the Wings. Arike Ogunbowale is still a bucket, averaging 23.0 points per game so far, good for third in the league in the short season. The efficiency is less than ideal (40.0 percent from the floor and 30.0 percent from distance), but as the rest of the young talent grows, Ogunbowale will be able to take better shots and force less.

  1. Phoenix Mercury (2-2)

Last Week: Lost to Connecticut Sun 84-67

Next Week: 5/26 vs. Las Vegas Aces, 5/29 at Dallas Wings

With only one game this week, not much has changed for the Mercury. In the loss to the Connecticut Sun, Diana Taurasi and Skylar Diggins-Smith stood out, pacing an otherwise disjointed offense. Diggins-Smith looks like her former All-Star self, which is more than can be said about the center of the Mercury’s universe.

Every passing week that Brittney Griner is on the roster feels like one step closer to the last. Against the Sun, the star struggled, putting up just six points and five rebounds. To date, Brianna Turner is outrebounding Griner by 1.5 per game. A trade is coming, it is just a matter of when.

  1. Chicago Sky (2-1)

Last Week: Beat Atlanta Dream 85-77, Lost to New York Liberty 93-85

Next Week: 5/25 vs. Atlanta Dream

The Sky dropped their first game of the season to end the week, but it came without Candace Parker and Allie Quigley on the court. When the team is at full strength, they are one of the best the league has to offer. Courtney Vandersloot is leading the league in assists again at 9.7 per game. Five players are scoring in double figures thus far. Perhaps most important is the emergence of Ruthy Hebard and Kahleah Copper.

While the focus is on all the All-Stars the Sky have collected, Copper and Hebard have been two of the constants in the lineup. The two are benefiting greatly from the extra looks created by the brilliant passing on the roster. Hebard is averaging 12.0 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game. Copper is adding 17.0 points and 2.0 steals per game. The youth movement in Chicago is real.

  1. New York Liberty (5-1)

Last Week: Lost to Washington Mystics 101-72, Beat Chicago Sky 93-85, Beat Dallas Wings 88-81

Next Week: 5/29 vs. Atlanta Dream

The Liberty are off to their best start to the season in over a decade and are the most enjoyable story in the league. Sabrina Ionescu was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week and has immediately gelled with the veteran additions Betnijah Laney, Natasha Howard and Sami Whitcomb. While the Liberty are still young, adding two proven champions like Howard and Whitcomb has accelerated their path to contention.

Laney is better than she was a season ago, where she was named the Most Improved Player in the league. She has topped 20 points in every game this season and has allowed Ionescu to run the offense to perfection without having to be the primary scoring threat. Add in the current leader for Rookie of the Year in Michaela Onyenwere and defensive dynamo DiDi Richards and the Liberty are coming for the top.

  1. Seattle Storm (3-1)

Last Week: Beat Minnesota Lynx 90-78, Beat/OT Dallas Wings 100-97

Next Week: 5/25 vs. Connecticut Sun, 5/28 vs. Minnesota Lynx

The Storm are one of the quieter defending champions in recent sports history. They remain among the elite, currently sitting second in offensive rating. Breanna Stewart is leading the league in scoring (25.8 points per game), is third in the league in rebounding (10.5) and fourth in blocks (2.3). She is the MVP frontrunner through two weeks and seems to just be settling in. Sue Bird is third in the league in assists (6.5 per game), and yet very few are talking about them.

Flying under the radar even more is the season Jewell Loyd is having. She is averaging 21.8 points per game on shooting splits of .451/.379/.833. The Storm may not be the most exciting story in the league, but sleep on them at your own peril.

  1. Las Vegas Aces (2-2)

Last Week: Beat Los Angeles Sparks 97-69, Lost to Connecticut Sun 72-65

Next Week: 5/26 at Phoenix Mercury, 5/28 vs. Indiana Fever, 5/30 vs. Indiana Fever

The top two teams in this week’s power rankings are embroiled in controversy, coming off a seven-point loss the Connecticut Sun handed the Aces. The Aces still look like one of the favorites to bring home the championship, despite the 2-2 record. Growing pains were to be expected for a roster that has been almost entirely overhauled.

A’ja Wilson has been dominant, averaging 18.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.0 blocks per game. Her numbers have dipped slightly from a season ago, which was to be expected as the Aces integrated Chelsea Gray, Riquna Williams, Kelsey Plum and Liz Cambage into the game plan.

Speaking of Cambage, her reaction to the unnecessary words of Sun coach Curt Miller on Instagram went viral and led to a fine and suspension for Miller. Cambage is not here for anyone trying to body shame her and is not afraid of the smoke.

  1. Connecticut Sun (5-0)

Last Week: Beat Indiana Fever 88-67, Beat Phoenix Mercury 84-67, Beat Las Vegas Aces 72-65

Next Week: 5/25 at Seattle Storm, 5/28 vs. Washington Mystics, 5/30 at Minnesota Lynx

Having Curt Miller’s actions stain the first two weeks for the Connecticut Sun is truly unfortunate because the Sun have been dominant to start. They are the best offensive team in the league through five games and the second-best defensive unit. DeWanna Bonner and Jonquel Jones are playing together as if they have their entire lives and are leading the Sun to the top.

Bonner has been an assassin, averaging 19.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.0 steals per game on mind-bending shooting splits of .446/.560/.893. She is attempting 5.0 3-point shots per game and cannot be stopped. Jones is not far behind, averaging 18.4 points, 10.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.6 steals per game while shooting 55.4 percent from the floor and 50.0 percent from distance. This level of dominance has made it easier for Brionna Jones, Natisha Hiedeman and Jasmine Thomas to do their thing.

About Corey Rausch

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