NEW YORK, September 3, 2008 — While some teams benefited from the Olympic layoff -- three squads are 3-0 since the break -- others seemingly did not. Chief among the teams on the rise are the Sun, Sparks and Sky, two of which seem locked in for postseason berths and one of which will continue the fight till the bitter end.
As always, there are plenty of close calls this week,
but that's the beauty of these rankings: there's always room for discussion.
Take a look at our full list below, then let
us know what you think in our Fan Voice. Post your own Power Rankings and
discuss them with your fellow fans.
|2008 WNBA.com POWER RANKINGS: September 3|
TEAM (last week's ranking)
|19-10||Looking for the most impressive
post-Beijing statistic in the WNBA? Here 'tis: The Connecticut Sun have
won their three games since the break by an average score of 87-69, while
point guard and legitimate MVP candidate Lindsay Whalen has scored a grand
total of five points. Whalen has a sprained ankle and is expected to return
soon, but in her stead, Asjha Jones has been huge and Jamie Carey stepped
in to score 12 points in Sunday's win over Seattle. Mike Thibault deserves
serious consideration for Coach of the Year.
Looking ahead: 9/5 vs. CHI, 9/7 vs. SAN
|19-10||The Silver Stars crushed the Mercury before
falling in a low-scoring affair to the Sparks on Saturday. But despite their
tough road ahead (their opponents in their five remaining games have a composite
winning percentage of .607), Dan Hughes' bunch still sits tied atop the
West and holds the tiebreaker over the Storm. Sophia Young, Becky Hammon
and Ann Wauters have all had terrific portions of the season, but all have
struggled at different times as well. To go deep into the postseason in
the ridiculously parity-filled West, all three -- not to mention Erin Buescher
and Vickie Johnson -- are going to have to be at their best.
Looking ahead: 9/5 vs. LA, 9/7 @ CON
|19-10||No Lauren Jackson, no huge
problem, apparently. Yes, the Aussie-free Storm fell in Connecticut over
the weekend, but it's hard to lose too much sleep over that. Since the break,
Sue Bird has taken her game to a new level, showing that she's capable of
scoring from all over the court when needed. Former subs Camille Little
and Tanisha Wright have stepped up their contributions as well and Swin
Cash and Yolanda Griffith continue to provide loads of veteran leadership.
Looking ahead: 9/4 @ CHI, 9/6 vs. MIN
|18-12||Michael Cooper and his Sparks seem to be making
good on his guarantee of making the playoffs. And after some serious struggles
leading into the Olympic break, the team appears to be peaking at the right
time. Candace Parker has been on fire, averaging 20.0 points and 13.3 boards
a game to earn the Western Conference Player of the Week award. Fellow Olympian
Lisa Leslie's numbers aren't far behind at 17.3 ppg and 8.7 rpg. And while
the Sparks' guard play is still less than stellar, Shannon Bobbitt and Temeka
Johnson have done a solid job at the point. The addition of Margo Dydek
to the frontcourt should add depth come playoff time, too.
Looking ahead: 9/5 @ SAN, 9/6 @ HOU
|17-12||The Shock fell in overtime to
the red-hot Sky on Sunday, but fear not, Detroit fans. Taj McWilliams-Franklin
has stepped in very solidly for the injured Cheryl Ford and will get better
and better the more comfortable she gets with Bill Laimbeer's system. Furthermore,
Plenette Pierson is set to return from her suspension on Friday against
Indiana. With backcourt talent like (5,000-point club member) Katie Smith
and Deanna Nolan, not to mention youthful energy from Alexis Hornbuckle
and Olayinka Sanni, no one wants to see the Shock standing across the court
from them in the playoffs.
Looking ahead: 9/5 vs. IND, 9/6 @ WAS
|16-12||The Liberty looked like they were taking a pre-postseason
nosedive in losing to Chicago at home and at Detroit. But after Tuesday
night's OT win in Houston in which both Janel McCarville (33) and Lisa Willis
(22) achieved career highs in scoring, it looks like the Libs are buckling
up for the playoffs. McCarville's quickness from 10 feet and within is nearly
impossible to match. The health of Shameka Christon is a concern, but she
is expected to be back on the court later this week. The Liberty are far
from perfect and can struggle when they're not hitting their outside shots,
but they're a dangerous, young team capable of making a run.
Looking ahead: 9/5 vs. ATL, 9/7 vs. CHI
|16-13||Sacramento's five remaining
games are all against Western Conference opponents, so the Monarchs hold
their postseason fates in their own hands. Kara Lawson and Nicole Powell
are Sacramento's most reliable scorers, especially with Rebekkah Brunson
out of the lineup, so they'll need to light up the scoreboard. Major minutes
will also be needed from youngsters Crystal Kelly and Laura Harper without
Brunson and will DeMya Walker still getting up to speed.
Looking ahead: 9/5 @ PHO, 9/7 vs. MIN
|14-15||The Fever have bounced back from a humbling defeat
at the hands of the Sun to win their last two over Atlanta and Washington.
Yes, they're the bottom two teams in the East, but every win is important
if you're fighting for a playoff spot. Olympian Tamika Catchings has been
dazzling in the last two wins, averaging 24.5 points and 8.0 rebounds a
game, giving hope to coach Lin Dunn that she'll be at full strength as the
postseason approaches. Katie Douglas, too, is a huge threat at both ends
of the court and could play a big defensive role against a Detroit or New
York down the stretch.
Looking ahead: 9/5 @ DET, 9/8 @ ATL
|14-14||The Lynx are a couple of games
out of a playoff spot and will have to take down several of their Western
Conference foes in the next week-plus to make up that deficit. Seimone Augustus
and Candice Wiggins continue to lead the squad in scoring and 2007 No. 1
draft pick Lindsey Harding has reclaimed the starting point guard role since
the break. The rookie twin towers of Nicky Anosike and Charde Houston must
continue to produce if the postseason is in the offing for this up-and-coming
Looking ahead: 9/3 @ PHO, 9/6 @ SEA, 9/7 @ SAC
|14-15||Just weeks ago, the Comets were the league's
hottest team, but they've gone 0-3 since returning from their month off
and are now on the outside looking in on the Western Conference playoff
picture. They struggled in losing on the road in Seattle and Sacramento,
then proceeded to come back from a 10-point halftime deficit before finally
succumbing to the Liberty in overtime. Tina Thompson posted a season high
34 against New York and Mistie Williams' 12 points and six boards were both
season highs. Breakout forward Sancho Lyttle has been temporarily sidelined
by an ankle injury and the team will need her back and contributing if they
hope to make a run over the final week and a half of the regular season.
Looking ahead: 9/6 vs. LA, 9/7 @ PHO
|11-17||Break up the Sky! Having rookie
center Sylvia Fowles -- and her three straight double-doubles -- back in
the fray and healthy has made a huge difference for the Sky, who are 3-0
since the Olympic hiatus and sit just 2½ games behind Indiana for
the fourth playoff spot in the East. Combine her contribution with that
of Eastern POY Jia Perkins and perennial All-Star Candice Dupree and you
have a dangerous trio capable of leading a team into the postseason.
Looking ahead: 9/4 vs. SEA, 9/5 @ CON, 9/7 @ NY
|12-16||The once mighty Mercury lost their first game
back from the break, falling by 22 at the hands of San Antonio, and sit
in last place in the West. But hope and promise abound in the playoff-experienced
forms of Cappie Pondexter and Diana Taurasi... and in the facts that their
next three home games are all winnable and that four of their final six
contests are against teams narrowly ahead of them in the standings. LaToya
Pringle has played well since stepping in for the injured Tangela Smith,
but coach Corey Gaines will need more from his bench if Phoenix hopes to
make a return to the postseason.
Looking ahead: 9/3 vs. MIN, 9/5 vs. SAC, 9/7 vs. HOU
|10-19||The mid-break trade
of Taj McWilliams-Franklin to Detroit for youngsters Tasha Humphrey and
Shay Murphy hasn't paid off in any victories just yet, but Humphrey in particular
should continue to improve with increased time and looks at the offensive
end. Alana Beard is finishing up another All-Star caliber season and the
future is bright in the nation's capital, with Crystal Langhorne having
a solid rookie campaign and more help likely on the way in next year's draft.
Looking ahead: 9/6 vs. DET, 9/9 @ CHI
|3-27||It's clear that the Dream have struggled to put
many W's on the board so far this season, but it would have been tough to
expect much more in a league so full of talent across the board. Betty Lennox
remains a major high point in Atlanta, averaging 23.7 ppg since the break,
but she needs more help on the inside. Iziane Castro Marques should continue
to help in the scoring arena and fellow Brazilian Erika Desouza has been
playing well since her return from injury.
Looking ahead: 9/5 @ NY, 9/8 vs. IND