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We’re nearly a month into the season and two things are clear: Seattle is very good and Atlanta is a close second. After them, the rest of the placements in the WNBA.com Power Rankings are up for grabs.
|2010 WNBA.com POWER RANKINGS: 6/11|
|TEAM (last week)||W / L||NOTES|
The Storm are hotter than any fresh cornbread biscuit you’d get at Cracker Barrel. Their four-game win streak is the best run going in the league, and their 8-1 record is also tops. The big reason behind Seattle’s early-season success is the spectacular play of former MVP Lauren Jackson, who has added two Player of the Week trophies to her case so far. Let’s also give them credit for knocking off last year’s Western Conference champions, the Phoenix Mercury, two times already, including a 97-74 thrashing last Sunday.
Next Three Games: 6/11 vs. Los Angeles, 6/17 at Indiana, 6/18 at New York
Atlanta opened the season with a six-game win streak before traveling to Seattle to have it snapped. Just how did they follow-up that 90-72 loss to the Storm? With another loss. This time it came at home against the Chicago Sky. The Dream have since rebounded, knocking off the Washington Mystics in the nation’s capital on Saturday. With matchups against the New York Liberty, San Antonio Silver Stars and Sky over the next week, the Dream have a good opportunity to build on their two-game lead in the East.
Next Three Games: 6/11 at New York, 6/13 vs. San Antonio, 6/15 at Chicago
The No. 3 spot in our rankings is certainly up for grabs this weekend as the Sun take on the Indiana Fever in a home-and-away series. Connecticut goes in with a two-game win streak, keeping them in second in the East, and their 5-0 record at home puts them tied with the Storm for the WNBA’s best. Tina Charles continues to dominate, averaging a double-double (16.4 ppg, 10.6 rpg) over her first seven games. It’s fair to say that she’s the skeleton key to their success.
Next Three Games: 6/11 vs. Indiana, 6/13 at Indiana, 6/18 vs. Los Angeles
A three-game win streak is on the line when the Fever travels to Mohegan Sun Arena on Friday night. The Sun, who haven’t lost at home yet this season, will be a tough matchup for last season’s Eastern Conference champs. These two teams haven’t met yet this season, so for being arguably the best defensive team in the league – they lead in steals (11.4) and blocks (6.4) – it will be interesting to see their game plan against Charles. If they can perform anywhere near Sunday’s showing against Minnesota, in which they held the Lynx to 20 percent shooting, the streak will continue.
Next Three Games: 6/11 at Connecticut, 6/13 vs. Connecticut, 6/17 vs. Seattle
Over the last week, the Mystics knocked off the East’s second-best team, the Sun, before being knocked off themselves by the conference-best Dream. We’ll call that an okay week. More than okay over the last two games has been the play of Crystal Langhorne, who posted 23 against Atlanta and 17 versus Connecticut. Similar numbers should help the Mystics when they play back-to-back Friday and Saturday against conference foes, the Sky and Liberty.
Next Three Games: 6/11 at Chicago, 6/12 vs. New York, 6/19 vs. Chicago
I know what you’re saying: Finally, he’s given me a second team from the West. It’s nothing personal, really. We’ve just yet to see a team from there other than the Storm perform well on a regular basis. The Mercury definitely have a good shot at moving up the board over next couple of weeks. If they can get their defense on par, they’ll be in great shape. Phoenix is currently the WNBA’s top scoring team (89.6). The downside, however, is they're also giving up the most points (91.3), as well as rebounds (40.7) and assists (21.7). Friday’s game against Tulsa should be a good one. A loss would put them in a tie for second, while a win would widen the gap. Both teams play high-tempo, so expect lots of scoring.
Next Three Games: 6/12 vs. Tulsa, 6/18 vs. San Antonio, 6/20 vs. Connecticut
The Sky strung together a nice four-game win streak before Tuesday’s 85-70 loss at home against New York. The silver lining in that contest, however, was freshman Epiphanny Prince’s 20 points. Chicago has two conference games this week at home – Washington on Friday, Atlanta on Tuesday. Those are big, especially at a time when teams are trying to create some separation. A pair of wins would indeed be huge in their quest to catch the Dream.
Next Three Games: 6/11 vs. Washington, 6/15 vs. Atlanta, 6/19 at Washington
The Shock currently rest in third place in the West, with a 3-4 record. While their placement is good, their record is not so much. Tulsa’s next four games are in conference, including two against Minnesota, whom they’ve already beaten twice this season. Plenette Pierson has been superb off the bench for head coach Nolan Richardson. She’s averaging nearly 13 points in just 17 minutes of action a night.
Next Three Games: 6/11 at San Antonio, 6/12 at Phoenix, 6/18 at Minnesota
New York (6)
If New York were in the West, they’d be in third place. Since they’re in the East, they’ll have to settle for last. It’s just the way things have swung thus far. After our previous rankings, the Liberty went 1-2, all against conference opponents. Those are games they need to win. Cappie Pondexter has played up to her usual level, but her teammates need to step up. Only two others – Taj McWilliams-Franklin (11.9 ppg) and Janel McCarville (10 ppg) – average more than 10 a game. On a side note: The Liberty have a great shot at winning close games, as their .831 free-throw percentage ranks number one.
Next Three Games: 6/11 vs. Atlanta, 6/12 at Washington, 6/18 vs. Seattle
Los Angeles (12)
The Sparks have won their way out of the ranking’s basement, thanks in big part to the play of Candace Parker. The former MVP is the league’s leading scorer (22.6 ppg) and rebounder (10.9 rpg) through eight games. Taking one from Phoenix on Tuesday was huge, as could a victory in Seattle on Friday night. It’s certainly possible to complete a two-game sweep of the conference’s best teams, but Los Angeles needs to cut their turnovers, which are a league-worst 12.6 a game, in order for that to happen.
Next Three Games: 6/11 at Seattle, 6/13 vs. Minnesota, 6/18 vs. Connecticut
San Antonio (11)
There’s no hiding the fact that San Antonio has struggled this season. Their two wins are tied for the worst in the league, they're riding a three-game losing streak and the absence of Becky Hammon (right quad) for the last two games hurts, as well. Hammon is expected to return against Tulsa on Friday night. After that meeting, the Silver Stars have three straight on the road, where they’ve yet to win. Sophia Young and Chamique Holdsclaw have played well together, but those two aren’t enough to carry this team. Hammon’s return is a start.
Next Three Games: 6/11 vs. Tulsa, 6/13 at Atlanta, 6/18 at Phoenix
The Lynx may be positioned at the bottom of this week’s rankings, but there’s hope. Thursday marked the return of All-Star Seimone Augustus, who’s missed the team’s first nine games with a torn ACL and abdominal surgery. Augustus dropped 13 points in 32 minutes in their 99-88 loss to Phoenix. With a three-game losing streak and 2-8 record, the Lynx certainly need all the help they can get if they want to turn their season around.
Next Three Games: 6/13 vs. Los Angeles, 6/18 vs. Tulsa, 6/19 at Tulsa