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SECAUCUS, N.J., May 27, 2008 —
Like every Tuesday during the season, it's time for the latest edition of the
WNBA.com Power Rankings. We're still early in the season, but with two unbeaten
teams, three winless teams (including the defending champs) and a bunch somewhere
in the middle, there's plenty of 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.
After their sparkling
opening day win over Phoenix, they've only played once, an 18-point win
on Sunday over the expansion Dream. But this appears to be the most complete
team in the league right now. Candace Parker's second game as a professional
was less startling than her first, but she's still averaging 23.0 points
a game and is tied for the league lead in assists (7.0). Lisa Leslie is
averaging a double-double at 15.5 and 11.0 per game, DeLisha Milton-Jones
is averaging similar numbers and the Sparks have a deep bench. Thursday
night at Indiana will be a good gauge of where L.A. sits in the league hierarchy.
Tonight poses a tough test for the
unbeaten Sun, who face off against former fan favorite Katie Douglas and
the Fever. But Connecticut has impressed to this point, leading the league
in scoring and outrebounding its opponents by an average of 15.3 per game.
They easily shrugged off Sacramento on Saturday behind 21 points from PG
Lindsay Whalen. Tamika Whitmore has exceeded expectations down low, rookie Amber Holt is averaging nearly eight points a night and Barbara Turner has been
reinvigorated with her move back to the Constitution State. Oh, and Sandrine Gruda has joined the Sun from overseas. This is looking more and more like a playoff team.
The Storm suffered
their first setback of 2008 Saturday in San Antonio, but they'll still be
a force to be reckoned with in the West. Yes, they had to play from behind
in winning their first three games, but there's too much talent on this
roster to miss out on the postseason. Lauren Jackson's 30-point, nine-board
game in the win over Phoenix was the first glimpse of her MVP performance
of a year ago, but she'll no doubt heat up. Sue Bird is scoring and dishing
at will and Swin Cash looks like a different person after a relative off
year in Detroit.
None of Detroit's four wins have
come against a team ranked higher than seventh in this week's rankings,
but Bill Laimbeer's crew is among the East's beasts yet again. Despite not
starting a single game, Plenette Pierson has been the Shock's most dependable
scorer at 17.0 ppg. Kara Braxton, too, has been excellent off the bench
and Deanna Nolan has been improving since spraining her ankle overseas.
Meanwhile, veterans Katie Smith and Cheryl Ford are as dependable as ever.
After falling in
their opener in Sacramento, the Silver Stars have caught fire, topping Phoenix
and Seattle at home this past week. Third-year forward Sophia Young may
be the league's MVP to this point, Becky Hammon is starting to rebound from
her early shooting woes and Erin Buescher seems healthy and ready to contribute.
Furthermore, Ann Wauters has joined the squad from Europe and will add another
dimension down low against the other big posts in the West.
There's still just a single game
under the Lynx' belts, but they get the benefit of the doubt after topping
Detroit last Sunday. Stilll, road games this week at Houston and Chicago
will be solid tests of Minnesota's mettle. Will Charde Houston bounce back
after her impressive opening performance? Will fellow rookie Candice Wiggins
earn a spot in the starting lineup? Will third-year forward Seimone Augustus
continue her rise to WNBA superstardom? Most importantly, can the Lynx make the playoffs for
the first time since 2004? We'll find out.
The Fever were dropped
in Detroit in a midweek matchup, but they should still be near the top in
the East. Katie Douglas has continued her torrid scoring and looks
to light up her old teammates tonight in Connecticut. Tan White, too, has
been a solid scorer for new coach Lin Dunn. But without Tamika Catchings,
as the Fever will once again be tonight, this is a team that struggles to
put the ball in the basket. Thankfully, they have the best defense in the
league, which is allowing a WNBA-low 64.5 ppg. But this is a tough stretch
for Indy, who travels to Connecticut tonight, then hosts L.A. and Detroit
later in the week.
The Sky are still right on the cusp
of the playoffs in the hard-to-call Eastern Conference, but the win last
week against the Monarchs was a solid one. Rookie of the Year Armintie Price
showed that she's more than just a good athlete, putting up 22 points on
9-12 shooting. Candice Dupree added 22 of her own and rookie center Sylvia Fowles started her second straight game and vastly improved on her debut,
notching 11 points, seven rebounds and four blocks.
The Liberty looked
terrific in Thursday's big home win over Washington, but lost over the weekend
in Detroit. While New York has talent at every position -- especially in
Shameka Christon, Cathrine Kraayeveld and PG Loree Moore -- the team still
lacks a consistent, dependable scorer... a position they hoped 2007 Most
Improved Player Janel McCarville would fill. But McCarville sprained her
thumb in the win over the Mystics and -- like Erin Thorn -- has struggled
to live up to last season's standard. Second-year forward Tiffany Jackson
is beginning to establish herself as a big-time player down low.
The Monarchs are a good team. Rebekkah Brunson is a rising star and Kara Lawson has been filling it up since being
thrust into a starting role. The Monarchs even posted an impressive season-opening
win over the Silver Stars, but they've lost three straight since. The issue
is the struggles of Sacramento's trademark defense: they're allowing the
third most points per game in the league (78.0) and are getting outscored
by an average of nine points a night.
You and I both know
that the Mercury aren't the 11th best team in the WNBA, but because record
is a major part of these rankings, Phoenix falls to this spot. Their three
losses have come to three excellent Western Conference opponents -- L.A.,
San Antonio and Seattle -- by just five, five and four points respectively,
so it shouldn't take much to turn this ship around. Especially given that
Cappie Pondexter and Diana Taurasi remain two of the most dangerous offensive
players in the game.
lost starting point guard Nikki Blue (she may miss a month with a high-ankle
sprain) from an offense already averaging a league-low 60.7 ppg, the Mystics
are struggling to put the ball in the hoop. Amber Jacobs takes the reins
and will continue to try to get the ball to veteran forward Taj McWilliams-Franklin
and newly healthy Alana Beard. Yes, they snuck past the Comets on Sunday,
but Atlanta poses another threat Tuesday night.
The team with the
second lowest scoring average in the league has reason for concern as well.
Despite landing veterans Shannon Johnson and Mwadi Mabika in the offseason,
the Comets are leading the league in turnovers a game with 23.5. Tina Thompson
is still playing at an All-Star level, but she's the only Houston player
averaging in double figures. Rookie Matee Ajavon continues to impress off
the bench, but center Michelle Snow needs to contribute more than eight and
five a night.
Two sell-outs to
open the season in Atlanta does mean the Dream are getting some serious
support, but the team is going to struggle in its debut season. Sure, they've
lost their first three games by an average of 21 points a night, but the
teams they've lost to are a combined 9-1 so far in 2008. Also on the positive
side, Betty Lennox and Iziane Castro Marques are filling up the scoresheet
and Erika Desouza is leading the league in rebounding.
Last week, Lauren Hill of Mount St. Joseph University courageously took the floor for her first college game, refusing to let an inoperable brain tumor keep her from achieving her dream – and WNBA stars Elena Delle Donne and Tamika Catchings were on hand to lend their support.