WNBA

WNBA Power Rankings: A (Seattle) Storm is Brewing

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Week five saw the announcement of the All-Star game returning, some questionable rotation decisions and the rise of a new number one team all before the tea spilled over on Monday afternoon. Let’s take a look at how the teams shape up this week.

12. Indiana Fever (1-11)

Last Week: Lost to Chicago Sky 92-76, Lost to Chicago Sky 83-79

Next Week: 6/15 vs. Seattle Storm, 6/17 vs. Seattle Storm, 6/19 at Washington Mystics

This was another week that the Fever failed to get back in the win column. Losers of seven games in a row, the Fever cannot seem to get much of anything going. They are last in the league in 3-point percentage, second-worst in scoring and in offensive rating. They are also dead last in defensive rating by 7.3 points.

The lone shining star at the moment is Teaira McCowan, who is currently fourth in the league in rebounding at 9.2 per game. She has pushed the Fever to the middle of the pack in rebounds per game, no small feat given where they rank everywhere else.

11. Los Angeles Sparks (4-5)

Last Week: Lost to Washington Mystics 89-71, Lost to Minnesota Lynx 80-64

Next Week: 6/16 vs. Phoenix Mercury, 6/18 vs. Phoenix Mercury, 6/20 vs. New York Liberty

Without Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike, the Sparks remain something of a mess. They dropped back below .500 after dropping both games this week and are relying on too many people that are not qualified to carry their offense.

Amanda Zahui B. is a beloved veteran and a welcome stabilizing presence for the team. However, too often she was the focal point of the offensive attack over the last week. In the loss to the Lynx she attempted 14 shots, eight of them behind the arc. She walked away with just 15 points, an obviously poor conversion rate. Te’a Cooper fared slightly better, but with those two as your top options, wins are likely to be hard to come by.

10. Chicago Sky (4-7)

Last Week: Beat Indiana Fever 92-76, Beat Indiana Fever 83-79

Next Week:  6/16 at Minnesota Lynx, 6/17 vs. Connecticut Sun, 6/19 vs. Connecticut Sun

Slowly but surely, the Sky are digging themselves out of the rut that they dug themselves in. Candace Parker and Allie Quigley returning to the court certainly helped, and the former has been everything the team hoped for when they brought her in via free agency.

Quigley led the team in scoring over the two games this week, averaging 13.0 points and hit 80 percent of her 3-point attempts. Parker was not far behind, averaging 11.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. This was the first time fans are getting to see the offense work together and the early returns bode well for success.

9. Washington Mystics (4-6)

Last Week: Beat Minnesota Lynx 85-81, Beat Los Angeles Sparks 89-71, Lost to Atlanta Dream 101-78

Next Week: 6/17 vs. Atlanta Dream, 6/19 vs. Washington Mystics

This was a mostly good week for the Mystics before they caught the Dream on the wrong day. The burgeoning MVP case for Tina Charles is keeping the team afloat while they are waiting for Elena Delle Donne to return to the court. She is leading the league in scoring at 24.0 points per game and adding in 8.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.2 blocks.

Ariel Atkins and Myisha Hines-Allen were the only two other double-digit scorers. Natasha Cloud is running the offense effectively and also averaged 2.3 steals per game this week. The Mystics are making progress. It is only a matter of time until things start to truly click.

8. Phoenix Mercury (5-6)

Last Week: Lost to Dallas Wings 85-81, Lost to Dallas Wings 77-59, Lost to New York Liberty 85-83

Next Week: 6/16 at Los Angeles Sparks, 6/18 at Los Angeles Sparks

Losing three games in a row has started to turn things slightly sour for the Mercury. There is no shortage of highlights and that has also caught the attention of other fans. Skylar Diggins-Smith is not here to stomach anyone speaking out of turn and is taking the slights personally.

She has been tremendous so far this season, averaging 19.4 points, 5.2 assists and 4.1 rebounds to date. Diana Taurasi is still out of the lineup for the time being, but upon her return the Mercury should still be able to compete with the best of them. They will certainly have a chip on their shoulder.

7. Dallas Wings (5-6)

Last Week: Beat Phoenix Mercury 85-81, Beat Phoenix Mercury 77-59, Lost to Las Vegas Aces 85-78

Next Week: 6/17 vs. Minnesota Lynx, 6/19 vs. Minnesota Lynx

As the season progresses, the Wings are not getting any easier to understand. The rotations leave fans and media members asking questions. It seems that the only thing that remains consistent is that Moriah Jefferson will start, get five minutes of playing time and then see herself out.

The best part of the week that was is seeing Satou Sabally get increasingly more confident after her time overseas. The 3v3 event is being blamed for sidetracking some players, but Sabally does not have that problem. Against the Aces she exploded for 24 points, eight rebounds and two assists. She is playing with a new level of aggression that will only benefit the Wings.

6. Atlanta Dream (5-6)

Last Week: Lost to Seattle Storm 95-71, Lost to Seattle Storm 86-75, Beat Washington Mystics 101-78

Next Week: 6/17 at Washington Mystics

The Dream is the kind of team that just when you are ready to count them out (like after two double-digit losses to Seattle) they turn around and surprise you. Against the Mystics, they put on an offensive clinic that will continue to give fans hope.

Tiffany Hayes and Courtney Williams have been the catalysts for this team and that has only gotten clearer with Chennedy Carter out of the lineup. The pairing has combined to average 35.3 points per game and they are both shooting over 40 percent from distance (43.2 and 44.2 percent respectively). Aari McDonald is making it harder and harder for the coaches to keep her minutes down, despite the plethora of guard options on the team.

5. New York Liberty (6-4)

Last Week: Beat Phoenix Mercury 85-83

Next Week: 6/15 at Las Vegas Aces, 6/17 at Las Vegas Aces, 6/20 at Los Angeles Sparks

The Liberty only had one game this week and it was a surprising result. Sabrina Ionescu was the latest player to be sidelined but that did not stop them from knocking off the Mercury in a nail-biter. Betnijah Laney was stunning, posting a line of 23 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds.

The team was certainly not pleased that sites were sharing Skylar Diggins-Smith highlights instead of that the team won but that starts at home. Betnijah Laney needs to be celebrated more. Michaela Onyenwere is the frontrunner for Rookie of the Year. Jazmine Jones, the most outspoken during the Twitter war, has made an impact. The Liberty are more than their most (only?) marketed player.

4. Minnesota Lynx (4-5)

Last Week: Lost to Washington Mystics 85-81, Beat Los Angeles Sparks 80-64

Next Week: 6/15 vs. Chicago Sky, 6/17 at Dallas Wings, 6/19 at Dallas Wings

The Lynx are better than their record and the product on the court is starting to show it. They continue to be bitten by the injury bug with Natalie Achonwa and Aerial Powers heading back to the sidelines. Sylvia Fowles, Napheesa Collier and Layshia Clarendon are more than enough to hold it down until they get back.

Beyond the names, the depth has been a revelation for the Lynx. Rachel Banham, Crystal Dangerfield and Damiris Dantas have been good off the bench. Dangerfield, the reigning Rookie of the Year, is canning 42.9 percent of her 3-point shots. This is a contender in waiting.

3. Connecticut Sun (8-3)

Last Week: Lost to Seattle Storm 89-66

Next Week: 6/17 at Chicago Sky, 6/19 at Chicago Sky

The Sun only had one game this week and it was not pretty. They were handled by the Seattle Storm but the reasons why are rather clear. Jonquel Jones is currently missing time playing for the national team from Bosnia and Herzegovina. DeWanna Bonner was a game-time decision due to lower back issues. No matter how much time they had to prepare, that was a recipe for disaster.

This week is slightly easier since the Sky are slightly worse than the reigning champions, but Jones will be out for the week so there will still be a noticeable hole in the lineup. However, with an extended break between games Bonner should be able to be a little healthier.

2. Las Vegas Aces (8-3)

Last Week: Beat Dallas Wings 85-78

Next Week: 6/15 vs. New York Liberty, 6/17 vs. New York Liberty

The Aces only had one game this week and they took care of business against the Dallas Wings. There was a scary moment when Jackie Young and Satou Sabally took each other to the floor but beyond that it was a great outing for the Aces.

A’ja Wilson was outstanding, putting up 28 points, 14 rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Liz Cambage hit a three and got the all-important win against her former team. This is shaping up to be a season where the Aces are quietly dominant all season while the focus is on the glitzier teams.

1. Seattle Storm (10-2)

Last Week: Beat Atlanta Dream 95-71, Beat Atlanta Dream 86-75, Beat Connecticut Sun 89-66

Next Week: 6/15 at Indiana Fever, 6/17 at Indiana Fever

Back on top, the Storm are off to a beautiful title defense. No matter who leaves during the offseason, the pairing Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart will not struggle to contend for the top spot. That is made even easier when Jewell Loyd has been possibly the most effective player for the team on a consistent basis.

Loyd does a little bit of everything, averaging 19.3 points, 4.2 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game on shooting splits of .477/.400/.867. The depth of the team is starting to come along as well. Katie Lou Samuelson looks better after coming back from the Olympic trials. Candice Dupree has not been the fit they had hoped for just yet, but she continues to climb up the historical rankings. Seattle looks every bit of the champion they are.

 

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About Corey Rausch

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