Week 1 Power Rankings: Let’s Not Overreact

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.

In our first power rankings of the regular season, we’ll take a look at the first impressions that players and teams made over tipoff weekend. What we won’t do is overreact to them by making wild swings in the rankings after a total of seven games have been played in the 2017 season.

Only Seattle and San Antonio have played more than one game, and neither did it with a full complement of players. Between injuries and players still fulfilling overseas commitments, few teams were at full strength this weekend. Once each team has its full complement of players and a few games under their belts, we’ll have a clearer picture to present.

Until then, we had some first impressions that were quite impressive and a few that were a bit puzzling to watch unfold. Let’s dive in.

1. Los Angeles Sparks

Preseason Ranking: 1
2017 Record: 1-0
OffRtg: 104.0 (3); DefRtg: 89.5 (6); NetRtg: 14.5 (2)

The Sparks unveiled championship banner No. 3 and proceeded to defeat Seattle on opening day without two-time MVP Candace Parker, Essence Carson and Jantel Lavender, who are still competing in Turkey. Chelsea Gray (14 points, 8 assists) and newcomer Odyssey Sims (20 points, 6 assists) had strong performances as the Sparks fill the void left by Kristi Toliver’s departure.

2. Minnesota Lynx

Preseason Ranking: 2
2017 Record: 1-0
OffRtg: 82.4 (10); DefRtg: 72.6 (1); NetRtg: 9.7 (5)

The Lynx opened the season with a win over Chicago despite Maya Moore having a shooting performance she’d rather forget. Moore finished with 11 points on 5-19 shooting from the field and 1-11 from deep, but led the team with six assists. Minnesota was powered by Sylvia Fowles’ 26 points and 10 rebounds, the first of many double-doubles that will come this season.

3. Washington Mystics

Preseason Ranking: 3
2017 Record: 1-0
OffRtg: 118.7 (1); DefRtg: 97.4 (9); NetRtg: 21.3 (1)

The new-look Mystics were solid in their first regular-season outing, with Elena Delle Donne scoring 24 points in just 23 minutes to lead Washington past San Antonio. Last season’s top two scorers – Emma Meesseman and Tayler Hill – added 13 and 15 points, respectively, while Toliver had eight points and four assists in her first game back in the DMV.

4. New York Liberty

Preseason Ranking: 4
2017 Record: 1-0
OffRtg: 97.3 (5); DefRtg: 83.1 (4); NetRtg: 14.2 (3)

Similar to Moore in Minnesota, New York’s Tina Charles had a rough shooting performance (5-19), but her team still picked up a win in its season debut. New York’s starting five combined for 41 points on 14-38 (36.8%) shooting, while its bench contributed 32 points on a much more efficient 12-23 (52.2%).

5. Seattle Storm

Preseason Ranking: 5
2017 Record: 1-1
OffRtg: 101.3 (4); DefRtg: 106.0 (10); NetRtg: -4.7 (7)

Seattle was one of two teams to open the season with a back-to-back, and it came out of the weekend with a split despite not having Sue Bird for either game and Breanna Stewart for one. While Stewart made several key plays in the closing minutes to lift Seattle past Indiana, the weekend belonged to Jewell Loyd, who had 25 in a loss to L.A. and 27 in the win over Indiana, shooting 10-18 from the field in each game and a combined 5-10 from deep.

6. Dallas Wings

Preseason Ranking: 8
2017 Record: 1-0
OffRtg: 91.9 (7); DefRtg: 79.5 (2); NetRtg: 12.4 (4)

Rookie Kaela Davis had an impressive debut for the Wings as she finished with 20 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals off the bench in Dallas’ 68-58 win over Phoenix on Sunday. Davis and the rest of the bench matched Dallas’ starting five in points (34 apiece), but did so much more efficiently as the reserves shot 12-22 (54.5%) from the field compared to 13-40 (32.5%) for the starters. Similar to Moore and Charles above, Skylar Diggins-Smith (2-12) is a much better shooter than what she showed in game No. 1 of 34.

7. Phoenix Mercury

Preseason Ranking: 6
2017 Record: 0-1
OffRtg: 79.5 (11); DefRtg: 91.9 (7); NetRtg: -12.4 (11)

In the latest edition of superstars having off shooting nights to open the 2017 season, we present Phoenix’s Diana Taurasi, who went just 1-11 from the field and 1-9 from deep in the Mercury’s loss to Dallas on Sunday. Taurasi was the only Phoenix player to shoot less than 50 percent, but the team shot just 21.1 percent from downtown and 53.3 percent on free throws while being outrebounded 41-17 in the 68-58 loss. Phoenix’s 58 points were its fewest since being held to 56 by Minnesota nearly two years ago (June 27, 2015).

8. Atlanta Dream

Preseason Ranking: 9
2017 Record: 1-0
OffRtg: 96.4 (6); DefRtg: 88.1 (5); NetRtg: 8.3 (6)

The Dream opened up their season with a win over Connecticut as four players – Tiffany Hayes (19), Bria Holmes (15), Layshia Clarendon (14) and Damiris Dantas (13) – all scored in double figures. Atlanta committed just eight turnovers and paraded to the free throw line for 27 attempts, where it made 25, including a record 21 in the first half alone. Whether that type of effort is repeatable remains to be seen.

9. Indiana Fever

Preseason Ranking: 7
2017 Record: 0-1
OffRtg: 107.9 (2); DefRtg: 113.0 (12); NetRtg: -5.1 (8)

The Fever got strong showings from Briann January (23 points), Shenise Johnson (24 points) and Tiffany Mitchell (17 points off the bench), but the rest of their squad scored just 18 points combined on 7-30 (23.3%) shooting in the season-opening loss to Seattle. Indiana was outrebounded by nine and committed 10 more fouls than Seattle, which put the Storm on the line 27 times compared to Indiana’s 15 attempts.

10. Chicago Sky

Preseason Ranking: 10
2017 Record: 0-1
OffRtg: 72.6 (12); DefRtg: 82.4 (3); NetRtg: -9.7 (10)

The Sky lost the league’s second-leading scorer in the offseason, and it showed in their season debut, a 70-61 loss to Minnesota. Stefanie Dolson (4-6) and Kahleah Cooper (3-6) – the two players that came over from Washington in the Delle Donne trade – were the only ones to shoot better than 43 percent for the game. The rest of the squad shot just 17-56 (30.4%) as the Sky finished 1-7 from downtown and 12-19 from the free throw line. That adds up to a league-low 72.6 offensive rating.

11. Connecticut Sun

Preseason Ranking: 11
2017 Record: 0-1
OffRtg: 88.1 (9); DefRtg: 96.4 (8); NetRtg: -8.3 (9)

Despite dropping their season-opener to Atlanta on Saturday, the Sun did get strong performances by second-year players Morgan Tuck (career-high 21 points), Jonquel Jones (career-high 20 rebounds) and Courtney Williams (18 points off the bench). Connecticut touts one of the youngest teams in the WNBA, with six-year veteran Jasmine Thomas as its most experienced player. Continuing to develop young talent like the trio above will pay dividends down the line for the Sun.

12. San Antonio Stars

Preseason Ranking: 12
2017 Record: 0-2
OffRtg: 90.2 (8); DefRtg: 108.0 (11); NetRtg: -17.8 (12)

The Stars had to play their first two games of the season with their top picks from the last two drafts – 2017 No. 1 overall pick Kelsey Plum and 2016 No. 2 overall pick Moriah Jefferson – sidelined with injuries. With the Stars of the future out of action, it provided a huge opportunity for veterans like Monique Currie to step up. The 11-year vet followed up a 23-point effort in the season opener against New York with a career-best 31 points in San Antonio’s loss to Washington on Sunday.