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.
Entering the third full week of the 2016 WNBA season, the defending champion Lynx and the Sparks remain undefeated with perfect 5-0 records. Unfortunately, we have to wait three more weeks before these two powerhouses meet for the first time this season. Go ahead and circle Tuesday, June 21 (3:30 ET, NBA TV) and Friday, June 24 (8 PM ET, WNBA League Pass) on your calendar now because that home-and-home is a must-see.
The Atlanta Dream make the biggest leap in this week’s power rankings, as they are riding a four-game winning streak and equal the Lynx and Sparks with five wins. Perhaps the most impressive part of these three teams already racking up five wins is that the majority of them have come on the road, with three road wins apiece for the Lynx and Dream and a 4-0 road mark for the Sparks.
1. Minnesota Lynx
Last Week: 1
2016 Record: 5-0
OffRtg: 105.7 (T-1); DefRtg: 91.7 (3); NetRtg: 14.0 (2)
The Lynx picked up wins over the Mercury and Fever this week to remain unbeaten at 5-0 as they get set to face the Liberty in New York tonight on ESPN2. Maya Moore continues her incredible start to the season as she ranks third in scoring (21.8 ppg), second in assists (5.8 apg) and ninth in field goal percentage (54.9%).
2. Los Angeles Sparks
Last Week: 2
2016 Record: 5-0
OffRtg: 105.7 (T-1); DefRtg: 85.0 (1); NetRtg: 20.7 (1)
The Sparks picked up two more road wins this past week in Chicago and Connecticut to improve their road record to 4-0. The team splits next four games between L.A. and Texas before returning home for an extended homestand, with nine of the following 10 games at the Staples Center.
3. Atlanta Dream
Last Week: 6
2016 Record: 5-1
OffRtg: 99.0 (7); DefRtg: 93.6 (4); NetRtg: 5.4 (3)
Atlanta had an impressive week, with wins over the Liberty, Wings and Fever to climb to the top of the East standings. The Dream have had a nice balance to their offense, with Angel McCoughtry (19.0 ppg), Tiffany Hayes (15.7 ppg) and Layshia Clarendon (14.5 ppg) leading the way. No team gets to the line more frequently than the Dream (0.498 free throw rate) as they attempt (34.0) and make (24.8) more free throws than any other team — accounting for nearly 29% of their offense.
4. New York Liberty
Last Week: 4
2016 Record: 2-2
OffRtg: 91.4 (10); DefRtg: 89.4 (2); NetRtg: 2.0 (4)
The Liberty have yet to play since dropping their second straight home game in overtime last Tuesday to the Dream. New York wraps up a five-game homestand this week with games against last year’s WNBA Finals contestants — the champion Lynx on Tuesday and the runner-up Fever on Friday.
5. Dallas Wings
Last Week: 3
2016 Record: 3-3
OffRtg: 104.5 (3); DefRtg: 103.5 (8); NetRtg: 1.0 (5)
After making a brief appearance (12 minutes, two shots) in the Wings’ first-ever game in Dallas, Skylar Diggins has been back on the shelf as she continues to recover from last season’s ACL tear. Diggins is back on day-to-day status and the Wings have plenty of days until their next game on Saturday against Minnesota. The return of Diggins, along with Glory Johnson, who has just one more game left on her suspension, should help a team that has maintained a .500 record and positive net rating without them.
6. Chicago Sky
Last Week: 8
2016 Record: 2-4
OffRtg: 103.1 (4); DefRtg: 105.6 (10); NetRtg: -2.5 (7)
The Sky snapped a four-game losing streak with a much-needed win over Dallas on Sunday. The Sky had six players in double figures as they racked up 92 points against the Wings. This week, Chicago has a home-and-home with Washington, which owns the league’s worst defensive rating, allowing a league-high 106.7 points per 100 possessions. The Sky’s fourth-ranked offense could climb even higher this week.
7. Indiana Fever
Last Week: 5
2016 Record: 2-3
OffRtg: 100.0 (6); DefRtg: 102.4 (7); NetRtg: -2.4 (6)
The Fever not only got the news that they were losing their coach at season’s end; they also lost a pair of games last week to fall to 2-3 on the season. Indiana faces the Storm at home before hitting the road for contests with New York and Connecticut to close the week. Tiffany Mitchell is leading the Fever in scoring (14.0 ppg), ranking second among all rookies behind top pick and Wednesday opponent Breanna Stewart. Mitchell also ranks fifth in the league in steals at 2.2 per game, proving to be an asset Coach Stephanie White can rely on night in and night out.
8. Phoenix Mercury
Last Week: 7
2016 Record: 1-4
OffRtg: 101.7 (5); DefRtg: 106.1 (11); NetRtg: -4.4 (8)
After opening the season 0-4, the preseason favorite picked up its first win of the season on Sunday with a 16-point victory over the Mystics at home. The Mercury remain at home for a contest with the Sun on Tuesday before hitting the road to face the Storm on Friday. With a combined record of 3-7, these are the teams Phoenix needs to beat before the season gets much further along.
9. Seattle Storm
Last Week: 9
2016 Record: 2-3
OffRtg: 97.3 (8); DefRtg: 103.7 (9); NetRtg: -6.4 (10)
The Storm split their two games last week — first a tough loss to Washington after rallying back from a 14-point deficit to force overtime, then a solid win over Connecticut, which featured a 26-point, 5-assist performance from second-year guard Jewell Loyd for the Storm’s second win over the season. Crystal Langhorne added 18 points on a perfect 8-of-8 shooting. Meanwhile, Stewart had the lowest-scoring game (11 points) of her young career in the win over the Sun, but has racked up seven blocked shots in her last two games.
10. Washington Mystics
Last Week: 10
2016 Record: 2-4
OffRtg: 94.5 (9); DefRtg: 106.7 (12); NetRtg: -12.2 (12)
The return of Ivory Latta paid immediate dividends as she knocked down a clutch three-pointer in overtime to help the Mystics defeat the Storm for their second straight win. The Mystics closed the week with a loss to Phoenix on Sunday, and get set for a home-and-home with Chicago beginning this Wednesday with a matchup of 2-4 teams. While Latta’s return will help Washington’s ninth-ranked offense (94.5 pts/100 poss), where they need their most help is on defense, as they have allowed a league-worst 106.7 points per 100 possessions.
11. San Antonio Stars
Last Week: 12
2016 Record: 1-3
OffRtg: 90.3 (12); DefRtg: 95.6 (5); NetRtg: -5.4 (9)
The Stars picked up their first win of the season this week as they rallied past the Chicago Sky thanks to a 16-point fourth quarter from Haley Peters. San Antonio’s 79 points were a season high as they continue to have the league’s worst offense at just 90.3 points per 100 possessions. What has kept the Stars in games — their three losses are by 10, four and five points, respectively — is their top-five defense, which has allowed just 95.6 points per 100 possessions. Building on their first win may prove difficult with a pair of games against the Sparks this week.
12. Connecticut Sun
Last Week: 11
2016 Record: 1-4
OffRtg: 90.9 (11); DefRtg: 101.0 (6); NetRtg: -10.0 (11)
The Sun have lost a league-high three straight games and are set to face a Mercury team Tuesday in Phoenix that is just as desperate for wins early in the season. With the league’s second-to-last rated offense, the Sun do not need to try to run with the Mercury and their fifth-ranked offense. Chiney Ogwumike continues to play limited minutes as she tries to get her game legs back underneath her.
ASSOCIATED PRESS POWER POLL
1. Minnesota (14)
2. Los Angeles
4. New York
11. San Antonio