Select Team

2018 Power Rankings: Week 3

Note: WNBA.com’s Power Rankings, released every Tuesday during the season, are the opinion of this writer and do not reflect the views of the WNBA or its clubs.

The Sun Rises … no.
Here Comes The Sun … no.
The Rising Sun … no.
The Blazing Sun … maybe.

There are so many clichés to choose from to announce that the Connecticut Sun have climbed to the top spot in the WNBA.com Power Rankings this week.

The Sun have been the hottest team in the WNBA through three weeks. They lead the league in scoring (97.4 PPG), field goal percentage (50.8%), 3-point percentage (40.0%) and have racked up three 100 point games in five outings this season.

Speaking of those five outings, they have all been victories as the Sun is the last remaining undefeated team in the league with their franchise-best start of 5-0.

Connecticut got off to a slow start last season (1-5) before blazing a trail to a top-four seed in the playoffs. This season, they’re off to a hot start and now the question is whether or not they can sustain this success.

1. Connecticut Sun (5-0)

Last Week: 2
OffRtg: 116.0 (1); DefRtg: 88.8 (1); NetRtg: 27.2 (1)

The highest scoring team in the WNBA does not have a single player ranked in the top 20 in individual scoring. The name of the game in Connecticut is balance as the Sun feature six players averaging at least 11 points per game, but none higher than Alex Bentley’s 14.2 average, which ranks 21st in the WNBA. After going 2-0 last week (wins at Chicago and Washington), the Sun have three games on the horizon this week (at Atlanta on Tuesday and at New York on Thursday) before hosting the Lynx on Saturday (2 p.m. ET, NBA TV).

2. Los Angeles Sparks (4-1)

Last Week: 1
OffRtg: 104.8 (3); DefRtg: 98.5 (3); NetRtg: 6.3 (3)

Candace Parker is back on the court and had a strong showing in her first start of the season against Minnesota on Sunday as she finished with 19 points on 9-of-15 shooting to go with 10 rebounds and 3 assists. L.A. just got Jantel Lavender back and are awaiting the arrival of rookie Maria Vadeeva to complete their roster. L.A. won its only game last week (a second victory this season over it’s nemesis from Minnesota) and have a pair of home games on the schedule for this week (vs. Seattle and vs. Chicago).

3. Seattle Storm (5-2)

Last Week: 5
OffRtg: 110.9 (2); DefRtg: 103.1 (9); NetRtg: 7.8 (2)

While a team like Connecticut has no players ranked in the top 20 in scoring, the Storm are the exact opposite – they have two players ranked in the top three in scoring. Breanna Stewart (22.3 points per game) and Jewell Loyd (21.6) rank second and third, respectively in the WNBA. The young one-two punch has been complemented well by the addition of forward Natasha Howard, who is averaging 13.4 points and 6.1 rebounds through her first seven games in Seattle. The Storm and Sun are the only teams in the WNBA to have won five games in a row this season. Seattle’s streak was snapped by a loss to Dallas on Saturday and the Storm get another tough road test Thursday when they face the Sparks in L.A. (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

4. Phoenix Mercury (4-3)

Last Week: 6
OffRtg: 104.3 (4); DefRtg: 104.5 (10); NetRtg: -0.2 (7)

The Mercury snapped their three-game losing streak with a win over the defending champion Lynx on Friday and followed it up with a victory over the Dream on Sunday – with both wins coming on the road. The road trip continues with a New York matinee Tuesday (11 a.m. ET, Twitter) before the Mercury head home to close out the week with home games against Chicago and Las Vegas. Through seven games, Diana Taurasi is averaging 18.6 points per game with four 20-point games; she had nine 20-point games in 31 games last season. Speaking of 20-point games, DeWanna Bonner has tallied three in a row as she continues to look more and more comfortable on the court after missing last season.

5. Washington Mystics (5-3)

Last Week: 3
OffRtg: 102.3 (5); DefRtg: 101.5 (7); NetRtg: 0.8 (6)

After opening the season 4-0, the Mystics went 1-3 over the past week with losses to Seattle, Las Vegas and Connecticut and a win over Phoenix. Washington played all four of those games without Elena Delle Donne, who has been sidelined with an illness since leaving Washington’s May 27 win over Minnesota after just 13 minutes. The Mystics got impressive performances from their rookies in that game to defeat the defending champs. But the team has not seen the same level of success with their leading scorer (16.5 ppg) and rebounder (7.3) off the court. After a busy schedule last week, the Mystics have just one game this week when they host the Lynx on Thursday (4 p.m. ET, League Pass).

6. Minnesota Lynx (2-5)

Last Week: 4
OffRtg: 95.7 (9); DefRtg: 98.9 (5); NetRtg: -3.2 (8)

How long has it been since we’ve had to write the following sentence? The Minnesota Lynx have lost four games in a row. If you guessed 2010, you are correct. It was Cheryl Reeve’s first year as coach of the Lynx, Lindsay Whalen’s first year back where she starred in college and a year before Maya Moore entered the WNBA. Minnesota suffered losing streaks of five games, four games and five games that season as they finished 13-21. Since then, they have never won fewer than 22 games in a season, never lost more than three straight games (once in 2012, once in 2012 and once in 2016) and won four WNBA championships. The Lynx will look to end this rare losing streak Thursday in D.C. when they face the Mystics before a clash with Connecticut on Saturday (2 p.m. ET, NBA TV).

7. Dallas Wings (3-3)

Last Week: 7
OffRtg: 101.4 (6); DefRtg: 98.8 (4); NetRtg: 2.6 (4)

So much for it taking some time to integrate Liz Cambage into the Wings system in Dallas. The 6-foot-8 center from Australia earned WNBA Player of the Week honors for the third time in her career on Monday and the first time since 2013, when she last played in the WNBA before returning to Dallas this season. The Wings split their two games last week (a loss at New York and a home win vs. Seattle) with Cambage averaging 26.5 point and 11.5 rebounds in those two games. Similar to Seattle, the Wings feature two 20-point scorers (Cambage at 20.0 and Skylar Diggins-Smith at 21.0). The duo will have the opportunity to add to those averages this week when the Wings face a Fever team that allows the second-most points per game this season.

8. New York Liberty (2-2)

Last Week: 9
OffRtg: 100.9 (7); DefRtg: 100.0 (6); NetRtg: 0.9 (5)

Kia Nurse was the ninth overall pick in the 2018 WNBA Draft and the third player chosen from her school with Gabby Williams and Azurá Stevens preceding her selection. But after a 34-point outburst in New York’s win over Indiana on Saturday, Nurse (19.0 points per game, 9th overall) sits behind only top pick A’ja Wilson (21.0 ppg, 4th overall) as the top scorer in this rookie class. The play of Nurse along with the usual brilliance from Tina Charles – the league’s scoring leader (23.5 ppg) just earned her 29th Player of the Week honor to extend her own record – has the Liberty back to .500 after a slow start. New York has played only four games (the fewest of any team in the league), but have a three-game week ahead beginning with a Tuesday matinee with Phoenix (11 a.m. ET, Twitter) and followed by match-ups with Connecticut and Indiana.

9. Chicago Sky (3-3)

Last Week: 8
OffRtg: 96.4 (8); DefRtg: 103.0 (8); NetRtg: -6.6 (10)

The Sky got point guard Courtney Vandersloot back from overseas commitments last week and after a tough first outing (11 points, 3-of-8 FG, seven assists, eight turnovers) in a loss to Connecticut, Vandersloot had a much better showing in Chicago’s win over Las Vegas as she finished with 19 points on 5-of-9 shooting (2-of-3 from three) to go with nine assists and just two turnovers. Rookie Diamond DeShields continues to impress as she is averaging 15.3 points and 5.2 rebounds per game through the first six games of her WNBA career. After splitting their two home games last week, the Sky hit the road for match-ups with Phoenix, Los Angeles and Seattle over the next seven days.

10. Atlanta Dream (2-3)

Last Week: 10
OffRtg: 91.5 (12); DefRtg: 95.9 (2); NetRtg: -4.4 (9)

While the Dream have the second-best rated defense through the first three weeks of the season, their offense has been M.I.A. The Dream are tied with the Fever for the lowest scoring average in the league (75.2 points per game) and stand alone as the only team shooting below 40 percent from the field (37.5%). The Dream have the second-lowest 3-point percentage (28.0) and have the lowest free throw percentage (72.4%) as well. Tiffany Hayes (16.4) and Angel McCoughtry (16.2) rank 16th and 17th, respectively, among the league’s scoring leaders. The Dream either need those two scorers to climb into the top 10 or get more than three players averaging in double figures to provide more scoring punch on a nightly basis. Atlanta will be tested Tuesday as they take on the high-scoring Sun (8 p.m. ET, League Pass).

11. Las Vegas Aces (1-5)

Last Week: 11
OffRtg: 93.4 (10); DefRtg: 107.0 (12); NetRtg: -13.6 (12)

Last week, the Aces picked up their first win since their relocation to Las Vegas as they slayed the Mystics in front pf over 5,500 fans at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. After dropping a close game to the Sky in Chicago on Sunday, the Aces are back home to host the Dream on Friday afternoon (3 p.m. ET, League Pass). Rookie A’ja Wilson has been as good or better than advertised. Not only does she lead all rookies in scoring (21.0), she is tied for fourth in the WNBA. She has put together four straight games with at least 21 points and has five blocked shots in her last two games.

12. Indiana Fever (0-6)

Last Week: 12
OffRtg: 93.2 (11); DefRtg: 106.6 (11); NetRtg: -13.4 (11)

The Fever are the only team still searching for their first win of the 2018 season. Indiana has had its chances with four of their six losses coming by single digits, but they have yet to put everything together to get a notch in the W column. On a promising note, rookie Kelsey Mitchell has showed star potential in her first few weeks as a pro. She has scored at least 20 points in three of her last four games (and had 18 in the other one) as she is averaging 18.3 points, which ranks third among rookies and 11th overall. Mitchell and the Fever have two chances this week to get that elusive first win as they host the Wings on Friday and face the Liberty in New York on Sunday.