WNBA.com Power Rankings: August 4, 2009

When determining the weekly Power Rankings, there are many items that we factor into our decision: current standings, recent trends, team offense, team defense, home and away records, etc. But perhaps the truest measure of how the teams stack up against each other is point differential.

Take a look at the current point-differential stats to the right and you will see many similarities to the Power Rankings below. Even if they do not match up exactly, it will usually put the teams in the same ballpark. Of course there is always an exception to the rule and in this case that goes to the Chicago Sky, which ranks second-to-last (-4.55) in point differential, but is currently seventh in our Power Rankings.

What has skewed this stat is the fact that the Sky are winning close games but suffering lopsided defeats. In their 10 wins, they have won by a double-digit margin only twice with the largest win being by 12 points. Meanwhile they have picked up wins by one, two, three and five (twice) points this season. On average, the Sky win games by 6.1 points. On the other hand, seven of the Sky's 10 losses have come by double-digit margins, including blowout defeats by 30, 29 and 20 points. When the Sky lose, they do so by an average of 16.0 points.

So the next question is how much should we take this anomaly into account when making our decision on where to rank the Sky among the rest of the teams. For me, while I do see the stat as a red flag for the blowout losses, I also see promise in the fact that they are winning close games. In the end I do not believe the stat holds true in this case as I do not see the Sky as the second-to-worst team in the league.

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.

Note: These rankings reflect games played through August 3.

2009 WNBA.com POWER RANKINGS: August 4

TEAM (last ranking) W / L NOTES
Indiana (1)
15-4 The Fever continues to roll along, picking up a pair of wins and another Player of the Week honor, this time for Katie Douglas. Indiana becomes the fifth team (Connecticut, 2005 and 2007; Seattle, 2005; San Antonio, 2008) to have three different players (Douglas, Tamika Catchings and Tammy Sutton-Brown) named Player of the Week in a season.
Looking back: 7/30 vs CON (W 94-85), 8/2 @ WAS (W 87-79)
Looking ahead: 8/5 vs CHI, 8/8 @ PHX, 8/10 @ LA
Phoenix (2)
15-6 The Mercury concludes their season-long five-game road trip Tuesday night in Seattle. They are 3-1 so far on the trip, with the one loss coming in blowout fashion (107-76) in Atlanta. It was only the second time all season that the Mercury were held under 80 points, they lost both games.
Looking back: 7/30 @ ATL (L 106-76), 8/01 @ MIN (W 87-74)
Looking ahead: 8/4 @ SEA, 8/8 vs IND
Seattle (4)
12-7 With 23 points and 13 rebounds against the Silver Stars on Saturday, Lauren Jackson appears to be back to her old self after laboring through an Achilles' tendon strain in July. Jackson's 23 points was her highest scoring output in over a month (June 26), when her eight-game 20-plus scoring streak came to an end.
Looking back: 8/1 vs SA (W 85-82)
Looking ahead: 8/4 vs PHX, 8/6 @ LA, 8/8 vs NY
Connecticut (3)
9-7 Lindsay Whalen had her best game in weeks in Sunday's win in Detroit with 22 points, six rebounds and four assists. A resurgence from Whalen could help the Sun break away from the pack of Eastern Conference teams hovering around .500. Currently the second through fifth spots in the conference are separated by half a game.
Looking back: 7/30 @ Indiana (L 94-85), 8/1 @ CHI (L 84-72), 8/2 @ DET (W 83-65)
Looking ahead: 8/7 @ MIN, 8/9 vs WAS
Washington (6)
10-9 The Mystics continue to have no luck against Indiana, as the first-place Fever account for a third of Washington's nine losses, all of which came in the last two weeks. With no games against the Fever scheduled for the next month, the Mystics (who have already matched last season's win total of 10) can focus on putting together some wins to remain in the playoff picture.
Looking back: 7/30 @ NY (W 78-75), 8/2 vs IND (L 87-79)
Looking ahead: 8/7 vs DET, 8/9 @ CON
Atlanta (8)
10-10 The Dream are currently tied with Indiana for the longest current win streak in the league at three games. The streak is also the longest in this young franchise's history and brings the Dream back to .500 for the first time since June 26. Angel McCoughtry, who was just named Rookie of the Month for July, is averaging 17.7 points during the streak.
Looking back: 7/30 vs PHX (W 106-76), 8/1 vs NY (W 89-83)
Looking ahead: 8/6 @ SA, 8/8 vs CHI
Chicago (9)
10-10 The Sky picked up back-to-back home wins to bring them back to .500 but now embark on a four-game road trip over the next 10 days. The road has not been friendly to the Sky, who are just 2-8 away from the Windy City compared to their 8-2 mark at UIC Pavillion.
Looking back: 8/1 vs CON (W 84-72)
Looking ahead: 8/5 @ IND, 8/8 @ ATL, 8/9 @ DET
San Antonio (7)
8-10 Despite dropping back-to-back overtime games on the road to Sacramento and Seattle, there is reason to be optimistic in San Antonio as the Silver Stars welcomed Ann Wauters back to the team and also have Becky Hammon playing some of her best basketball. Hammon, the Western Conference Player of the Week, posted a career-high 38 points against the Monarchs and currently leads the league in scoring and is fifth in assists.
Looking back: 7/30 @ SAC (L 101-93), 8/1 @ SEA (L 85-82)
Looking ahead: 8/4 @ LA, 8/6 vs ATL, 8/9 @ MIN
Minnesota (5)
10-10 The Lynx have lost three straight and five of their last six games to fall to .500 for the first time this season. While they still hold sole possession of the third spot in the Western Conference standings, they are now tied in the loss column with the two teams directly below them - last year's Western Conference finalists San Antonio and Los Angeles.
Looking back: 7/31 @ DET (L 91-83), 8/1 vs PHX (L 87-74)
Looking ahead: 8/7 vs CON, 8/9 vs SA
Los Angeles (11)
6-10 All signs point toward the Sparks making their run in August: 1) Candace Parker is getting better by the day (she has posted three double-doubles in her last four games); 2) Lisa Leslie has been cleared to play after missing 11 games with a sprained knee; and 3) they play 10 of their 13 remaining games this month at home, where they are 3-1 on the year compared to their 3-9 mark away from L.A.
Looking back: 8/1 @ SAC (W 59-56)
Looking ahead:8/4 vs SAN, 8/6 vs SEA, 8/10 vs IND
Detroit (12)
6-10 Welcome back Deanna Nolan! After suffering through injuries for most of the season, Nolan has posted back-to-back 20-plus point games (her first since June 8) and says, "Im close to 100% as for playing and moving and being my normal self. The defending champs sit just two games out of the playoff picture and are tied in the loss column with Atlanta and Chicago, the two teams that sit directly ahead of them for the fourth spot.
Looking back: 7/31 vs MIN (W 91-83), 8/2 vs CON (L 83-65)
Looking ahead: 8/4 vs NY, 8/7 @ WAS, 8/9 vs CHI
New York (10)
6-12 Four straight losses have dropped the Liberty to the Eastern Conference cellar and cost head coach Pat Coyle her job this week. The Liberty came within two points of advancing to the WNBA Finals last year and now appear as the longest shot to make the playoffs in the East.
Looking back: 7/30 vs WAS (L 78-75), 8/1 @ ATL (L 89-83)
Looking ahead: 8/4 @ DET, 8/7 @ SAC, 8/8 @ SEA
Sacramento (13)
5-16 There are signs of life in Sacramento as the Monarchs have gone 2-2 in their last four games, including an impressive overtime win over San Antonio at home. In the span of four days next week (Aug. 11-15) the Monarchs have another game with the Silver Stars and two games against the Sparks. If the Monarchs have any hope of leapfrogging these two teams in the standings and trying to sneak into the four spot, the next week and a half is critical.
Looking back: 7/30 vs SAN (W 101-93), 8/1 vs LA (L 59-56)
Looking ahead: 8/7 vs NY