Week 12 Power Rankings: Creating Separation

A quick look at the current WNBA standings shows the top six teams in the league all riding win streaks of at least two games, with the 19-2 Lynx leading the way at six in a row. Meanwhile, the bottom six teams are all riding losing streaks, with all but one being multiple games long heading into this week.

The first week following the All-Star break allowed more separation to emerge and leave us with three distinct tiers to examine.

1. Teams with single-digit losses: Lynx (19-2), Sparks (17-6), Sun (14-9) and Mystics (14-9)

These teams are near locks to make the playoffs and will compete for first and second round byes the rest of the way.

2. Teams with double-digit wins and losses: Mercury (13-10), Liberty (12-10), Wings (11-14), Dream (10-13) and Storm (10-13)

These five teams are separated by just three games. The top priority for these teams is not to be the one left out of the playoff picture come September.

3. Teams with single-digit wins: Fever (8-16), Sky (8-16) and Stars (3-21)

These teams need to make a strong push to get back into playoff contention before its too late and they lock up a spot in the lottery.

1. Minnesota Lynx

Last Week’s Ranking: 1
2017 Record: 19-2; This Week: 3-0
OffRtg: 109.9 (1); DefRtg: 96.6 (1); NetRtg: 13.2 (1); TS%: 56.9 (3)

Not only are the Lynx extending their franchise-best start with every victory, their most recent W also clinched them a playoff berth. In July. With five weeks left in the regular season.

The Lynx are in striking distance of the single-greatest seasons in WNBA history both in terms of win percentage (.900, 27-3, 1998 Houston Comets) and total wins in a season (29-5, 2014 Phoenix Mercury, best record in a 34-game season). At 19-2 (.905),the Lynx are slightly ahead of the 1998 Comets and can lose just one more game this season in order to set a new mark. Finishing 31-3 would give them a win percentage of .912, while 30-4 would be .882. That would still be the second best win percentage ever and the top mark for a 34-game season.

Top Winning Percentages, WNBA History

2. Los Angeles Sparks

Last Week’s Ranking: 2
2017 Record: 17-6; This Week: 3-0
OffRtg: 107.9 (2); DefRtg: 99.0 (2); NetRtg: 8.9 (2); TS%: 57.1 (2)

The defending champs have won three straight to keep a strong hold on the No. 2 seed and the double playoff bye that comes along with it as they will attempt to become the first team to successfully defend the WNBA title in 15 years. On Friday, Candace Parker became just the sixth WNBA player to ever record a triple-double and followed it up with a 23-10 game against Dallas on Sunday.

3. Connecticut Sun

Last Week’s Ranking: 3
2017 Record: 14-9; This Week: 2-0
OffRtg: 107.7 (3); DefRtg: 101.4 (7); NetRtg: 6.4 (3); TS%: 53.9 (5)

The only thing able to slow down Connecticut last week was a roof leak in Washington that caused a marquee game between two of the top teams in the East – the Sun and Mystics – to be postponed. That game could prove important come the end of the season as the Sun, Mystics and Mercury continue to battle for playoff position and a first round bye.

4. Washington Mystics

Last Week’s Ranking: 4
2017 Record: 14-9; This Week: 2-0
OffRtg: 104.6 (5); DefRtg: 100.7 (6); NetRtg: 3.9 (4); TS%: 52.6 (6)

Elena Delle Donne made an emphatic return in Washington’s first game since the All-Star break as she racked up 29 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and three blocks in a win over San Antonio. During their three-game win streak, Emma Meesseman has averaged 21.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.3 blocks and 1.7 steals and is coming off a career-best 30-point game against Atlanta.

5. Phoenix Mercury

Last Week’s Ranking: 6
2017 Record: 13-10; This Week: 2-1
OffRtg: 102.3 (7); DefRtg: 100.1 (5); NetRtg: 2.2 (5); TS%: 54.1 (4)

After losing four straight following the injury to Brittney Griner, the Mercury got back on track with wins over Chicago and San Antonio last weekend. However, after facing two teams with a combined 11 wins, the Mercury now hit the road to face Connecticut and Washington, who each enter the week at 14-9 for a combined 28 wins. Currently fifth in the playoff picture, can the Mercury hold their position until the league’s leading scorer returns?

6. New York Liberty

Last Week’s Ranking: 5
2017 Record: 12-10; This Week: 2-1
OffRtg: 100.4 (8); DefRtg: 99.9 (3); NetRtg: 0.5 (6); TS%: 51.3 (10)

New York’s last three games have been decided by a total of six points, with the Liberty getting edged out by the Lynx in Minnesota before securing close wins in Indiana and Chicago. The road trip continues this week as the Liberty head west to face San Antonio and Los Angeles on Tuesday and Friday, respectively, with both games on NBA TV. Tina Charles extended her record for most Player of the Week honors as she picked up the 25th of her career and fourth of the season on Monday.

7. Seattle Storm

Last Week’s Ranking: 8
2017 Record: 10-13; This Week: 1-2
OffRtg: 104.9 (4); DefRtg: 105.4 (10); NetRtg: -0.5 (7); TS%: 58.7 (1)

The Storm faced a tall task coming out of the All-Star break with road games against last year’s finalists – Minnesota and Los Angeles. While the Storm dropped both of those games, they did earn a home win over Dallas to go 1-2 on the week. At 2-7 away from home, the Storm now face their next four games on the road, beginning with a Texas two-step with Dallas and San Antonio on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

8. Dallas Wings

Last Week’s Ranking: 9
2017 Record: 11-14; This Week: 1-2
OffRtg: 103.2 (6); DefRtg: 108.4 (12); NetRtg: -5.3 (9); TS%: 52.0 (9)

The Wings came up empty-handed on a two-game West coast swing to Seattle and Los Angeles last week. In their loss to the Storm, the Wings allowed a season-high 109 points. It was the sixth time this season that a Dallas opponent has reached triple digits, with the Wings only winning one of those game – a double-overtime classic with the Sky. After facing the Storm and Sparks on the road last week, the Wings host those same two teams this week as part of a three-game homestand.

9. Atlanta Dream

Last Week’s Ranking: 10
2017 Record: 10-13; This Week: 1-2
OffRtg: 98.8 (10); DefRtg: 99.9 (4); NetRtg: -1.1 (8); TS%: 50.2 (11)

On Monday, the Dream completed a trade with Chicago to acquire Tamera Young and Imani Boyette in exchange for reserve forward Jordan Hooper and a 2018 first round draft pick. The 6-7 Boyette gives the Dream an additional interior presence that will help them defensively and on the boards as the Dream rank 10th in rebound percentage on the season. Young returns to the team that drafted her back in 2008 when she was Atlanta’s first-ever draft selection. The veteran forward is averaging career-highs in points (10.2), assists (2.5), steals (1.3) and 3-point percentage (34.4%) in her 10th WNBA season.

10. Chicago Sky

Last Week’s Ranking: 7
2017 Record: 8-16; This Week: 0-3
OffRtg: 98.2 (11); DefRtg: 104.1 (8); NetRtg: -5.8 (10); TS%: 52.6 (7)

After winning five of six games heading into the All-Star break, the Sky have lost three straight since to fall to 8-16, making a playoff push all the more difficult. As part of the trade with Atlanta, the Sky moved on from Tamera Young and Imani Boyette to acquire fourth-year pro Jordan Hooper and an additional first round pick in next year’s draft. Considering both the Sky and Dream are currently in the bottom half of the standings, the Sky are in position to have two high picks in next year’s draft.

11. Indiana Fever

Last Week’s Ranking: 11
2017 Record: 8-16; This Week: 0-3
OffRtg: 99.0 (9); DefRtg: 107.6 (11); NetRtg: -8.6 (11); TS%: 52.4 (8)

With their record playoff streak looking more and more in danger of ending this year, the Fever have a pair of home games this week with the Sky and Lynx to try to snap their four-game losing skid and make a final push for the eighth seed (2.5 games back). Indiana is 5-6 at home compared to just 3-10 on the road and will be at home for six of their final 10 games.

12. San Antonio Stars

Last Week’s Ranking: 12
2017 Record: 3-21; This Week: 0-3
OffRtg: 93.8 (12); DefRtg: 104.7 (9); NetRtg: -10.8 (12); TS%: 50.0 (12)

At 3-21 and all but guaranteed to be headed back to the lottery for a third straight year, our evaluation of the Stars must focus on the future. And there are some positives to hold onto as the team continues to rebuild. First, top pick Kelsey Plum averaged 10.7 points and 3.3 assists in July, while shooting her best percentages of her young career (37.8% overall, 32.0% from three). While Moriah Jefferson’s scoring is down from her rookie season, her efficiency is up, with her effective field goal percentage (55.0%) rising by nearly nine percent from last season (46.4%). She is also averaging more assists with a better assist/turnover ratio. Second-year center Isabelle Harrison, acquired from Phoenix in the Danielle Robinson trade, is one of 14 players to average 11.5 points and 5.5 rebounds this season and she’s doing so in the fewest minutes per game (25.9).