WNBA.com Power Rankings: June 16, 2009

Like every week during the season, it's time for the latest edition of the WNBA.com Power Rankings. After a week-and-a-half of basketball, only one team remains unbeaten, while another is still in search of its first win, and the rest of the league is somewhere in between. With so many teams bunched up in the middle, there should be 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.

2009 WNBA.com POWER RANKINGS: June 16

TEAM (last ranking) W / L NOTES
1
Washington (2)
3-0 The league's only remaining unbeaten team lands at the top of our rankings list this week. In their only game since last week's rankings, the Mystics defeated the defending champion Shock in Detroit, 75-69. The Mystics currently rank fourth in the league in both team offense (78.0 ppg) and defense (70.0 ppg) and their scoring differential of +8.0 ranks second in the league behind Minnesota. Led as always by Alana Beard (16.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.7 spg), the story so far this season has been the help she has received from her teammates. However, with rookie Marissa Coleman (the team's second leading scorer at 12.3 ppg) being sidelined for four to six weeks with a high ankle sprain, Washington will need to show even more depth if they want to remain undefeated.
Looking back: 6/10 @ DET (W, 75-69)
Looking ahead: 6/19 @ ATL, 6/20 vs. CHI
2
Phoenix (6)
3-1 In our first rankings, the Mercury had only played one game, it was tough to judge just how good they are playing. After going 2-1 on the week, including a 115-104 overtime win vs. Sacramento that set a WNBA record for points scored in a single game, the Mercury make the leap up to the No. 2 spot in this week's rankings. Diana Taurasi (22.0 ppg) and Cappie Pondexter (20.3 ppg) are leading the way as usual as the Mercury have taken over the top spot as the highest scoring team in the WNBA (91.75 ppg). On the other hand, they are giving up 89.25 ppg, which is the most in the league. Phoenix has a homestand with Minnesota, Los Angeles and Seattle coming in over the next five days, which will give us an indication of where this team stands among the conference's best teams.
Looking back: 6/10 vs. NY (W, 91-84), 6/12 @ SAC (L, 90-71), 6/13 vs. SAC (W, 115-104, OT)
Looking ahead: 6/17 vs. MIN, 6/19 vs. LA, 6/21 vs. SEA
3
Minnesota (1)
3-1 The next three spots could have gone 3a, 3b, and 3c with each having a claim as the best team among the group. I'm giving Minnesota the No. 3 spot despite their home loss to the Storm on Friday night. The top team in last week's rankings went 1-1 since our last rankings and is tied with Phoenix for the best record in the West. Seimone Augustus was just named Western Conference Player of the Week for the third time in her career after averaging 21.8 points while shooting 33-for-61 (.541 FG%) from the field in Minnesota's first four games. The Lynx are currently second in scoring average and first in scoring differential in the league at +8.25. The Lynx kick off a tough three-game road trip tonight in Sacramento, followed by stops in Phoenix and Seattle.
Looking back: 6/10 vs. LA (W, 87-76), 6/12 vs. Seattle (L, 88-71)
Looking ahead: 6/16 @ SAC, 6/17 @ PHX, 6/19 @ SEA
4
Chicago (12)
2-1 The Sky make a huge leap this week after a pair of wins at home against Atlanta and Seattle. There is a case to be made that since the Sky beat the Storm and the Storm beat the Lynx, that the Sky should be ranked above the Lynx. However, I kept the Lynx ahead of the Sky this week based on the Lynx's full body of work this season. As for the Sky, they are off to their best start in franchise history behind the play of Eastern Conference Player of the Week Candice Dupree (19.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg) as well as Jia Perkins (18.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg) and Sylvia Fowles (15.0 ppg, 8.3 rpg). This week the Sky have a home-and-home set with Connecticut before heading to D.C. to face the currently unbeaten Mystics.
Looking back: 6/12 vs. ATL (W, 81-73), 6/14 vs. Seattle (W, 64-57)
Looking ahead: 6/16 vs. CON, 6/19 @ CON, 6/20 @ WAS
5
Seattle (2)
3-2 I know that a drop from No. 2 to No. 5 may seem a bit odd after the Storm went 1-1 over the past week, including an 88-71 road win over the previously unbeaten Lynx. But if you go back a bit further you'll see the Storm have lost two of their last three games on their first extended road trip of the season. And as impressive as the win over Minnesota was, the Storm followed it up with a loss to the Sky two days later where they scored a season-low 57 points. And as I stated above in the Lynx and Sky notes, these three teams are really on the same level for me right now, but since I can't rank them tied at No. 3, I have the Storm at the bottom of the group due to their 1-2 record over their last three games. However, the Storm have a chance to prove me wrong this week with games against Minnesota at home and Phoenix on the road. A pair of wins will definitely have them moving up again.
Looking back: 6/12 @ MIN (W, 88-71), 6/14 @ CHI (L, 64-57)
Looking ahead: 6/19 vs. MIN, 6/21 @ PHX
6
Indiana (10)
2-2 In their first game without Yolanda Griffith (torn Achilles' tendon, out for the season), the Fever defeated the Sparks at home to get back to .500 after opening the season with two losses. Katie Douglas (17.3 ppg) has led the way in the early going as the Fever look for Tamika Catchings (12.5 ppg, .244 FG%, .313 3P%) to rebound from a slow start on the offensive end. In recent wins of Seattle and Los Angeles, Indiana has stepped up on the defensive end as well, giving up an average of 63.5 points in those two games, which is a huge improvement after giving up 87 and 96 points in their first two games of the season. Up next for Indiana is a home-and-home set with their nemesis, the Detroit Shock.
Looking back: 6/12 vs. LA (W, 73-61)
Looking ahead: 6/19 @ DET, 6/21 vs. DET
7
San Antonio (9)
1-1 The schedule continues to give us little to see from San Antonio, but the defending Western Conference champs grabbed their first win of the season with a 63-60 win over the Liberty in their only game of the week. Sophia Young (20 ppg, 7.5 rpg) and Becky Hammon (18.0 ppg, 6.0 apg) lead the way for San Antonio with veteran Ruth Riley (10.5 ppg, 9.5 rpg) helping fill in for Ann Wauters while she remains in Europe for the first part of the WNBA season. Speaking of Europe, that is where Hammon is now, as she has left the Silver Stars for the upcoming week to play for the Russian National Team in the 2009 European Championships. Can San Antonio deal with her absense during this week's two-game road trip to New York and Connecticut?
Looking back: 6/13 vs. NY (W, 63-60)
Looking ahead: 6/19 @ NY, 6/21 @ CON
8
Atlanta (8)
2-2 With two wins in four games played, the Dream are already halfway to last season's win total (it took them 19 games to reach two wins last year). In Sunday's road win over the Sun, Sancho Lyttle posted a 20-point, 15-rebound performance in her first start of the season. In four games, coach Marynell Meadors has started three different lineups as she tries to find the right combination of players on her revamped roster. Lyttle along with veteran Chamique Holdsclaw lead the Dream in scoring at 13.5 ppg. While the Dream currently hold a -2.0 in scoring differential, they have found ways to win close games (one-point win over Indiana, five-point win over Connecticut) which will be necessary as they battle to remain among the top teams in the East.
Looking back: 6/12 @ CHI (W, 81-73), 6/14 @ CON (W, 67-62)
Looking ahead: 6/19 vs. WAS, 6/21 vs. NY
9
Connecticut (7)
1-2 After picking up their first win of the season on June 7 in New York, the Sun had a week off before the Dream came to town for their next game. Despite the week to prepare, the Sun fell to Atlanta, 67-62, in their only game of the week. Coach Mike Thibault has to be concerned for his team's lack of offense (66.0 ppg, last in the league) and rebounding (-2.0 reb differential). It is not a good sign when your point guard, Lindsay Whalen (8.3 rpg), is your leading rebounder by over three rebounds per game. Things don't get much easier for the Sun as they face the Sky for a home-and-home set this week, followed by San Antonio (sans Becky Hammon) coming to Mohegan Sun.
Looking back: 6/14 vs. ATL (L, 67-62)
Looking ahead: 6/16 @CHI, 6/19 vs. CHI, 6/21 vs. SA
10
Detroit (5)
1-2 While they only lost one game this past week (a 75-69 home loss to unbeaten Washington), the biggest damage to the Shock came yesterday when head coach and general manager Bill Laimbeer resigned just three games into the season. Assistant coach Rick Mahorn ascends to head coach and will attempt to keep the continuity that has led the Shock to three straight WNBA Finals. On top of the coaching change, the Shock continue to deal with a depleted frontline with Cheryl Ford, Plenette Pierson and Kara Braxton still out of the lineup. While the deck appears stacked against them, if we have learned anything about the Shock over the past few years it's that they thrive on the us-against-the-world mentality. With Deanna Nolan and Katie Smith still healthy, the Shock remain a dangerous team on any given night.
Looking back: 6/10 vs. WAS (L, 75-69)
Looking ahead: 6/19 vs. IND, 6/21 @ IND
11
Los Angeles (4)
1-3 Perhaps the most commonly asked question in WNBA circles over the past week has been: What's up with the Sparks? This week brought a pair of road losses in Minnesota and Indiana and frustration for the Sparks as they look to find themselves in the early part of the season. If there was one bright spot from last week is was Lisa Leslie's performance against Indiana (21 pts, 13 reb) after she had performed below her standards in LA's first three games of the season. Coach Michael Cooper has some work to do to get his talented roster clicking soon before too many losses pile up.
Looking back: 6/10 @ MIN (L, 87-76), 6/12 @ IND (L, 73-61)
Looking ahead: 6/19 @ PHX, 6/21 vs. SAC
12
Sacramento (13)
1-3 The Monarchs played their second straight home-and-home set of the season this past week, this time against the Phoenix Mercury. The result was a splt that brought the Monarchs their first win of the season on Friday and a loss that will go down in the record books on Saturday. Sacramento, a team know for its defense, gave up a WNBA-record 115 points to the Mercury in Saturday's overtime loss. A positive that can be taken from that game is the fact that the game went into overtime at all, as the Monarchs stormed back in the final 2:41of the game to erase a 10-point deficit to force the extra session. Nicole Powell shined in the series against the Mercury, scoring 19 and 28 points, respectively, in the two games. The Monarchs will need her to keep scoring when they host Minnesota (the second leading scoring team in the league) tonight.
Looking back: 6/12 vs. PHX (W, 90-71), 6/13 @ PHX (L, 115-104)
Looking ahead: 6/16 vs. MIN, 6/21 @ LA
13
New York (11)
0-3 The Liberty are the only team in the league without a win and therefore find themselves at the bottom of this week's power rankings. This week the Liberty lost a pair of road games - at Phoenix and at San Antonio - to bring their record to 0-3 on the season. The Liberty have been hit by the injury bug early this season with starting PG Loree Moore nursing a sore hamstring that was injured overseas, and leading scorer Shameka Christon missing the Phoenix game after suffering a sprained ankle in the season opener against Connecticut. The good news is that Christion came back to play against San Antonio and scored a game-high 21 points off the bench so it appears the ankle injury was not too serious. The Liberty get another shot at the Silver Stars on Friday at home as they look to finally get into the W column.
Looking back: 6/10 @ PHX (L, 91-84), 6/13 @ SA (L, 63-60)
Looking ahead: 6/19 vs. SA, 6/21 @ ATL

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