Week 5 Power Rankings: Passing The Quarter Pole

With 54 of the 204 games that will be played in the 2017 WNBA season completed, we have officially passed the quarter mark of the season.

Thus far the preseason GM survey is looking pretty good, with the league executives correctly predicting the top teams in each conference.

Which team will have the most (regular-season) wins in the Eastern Conference?
1. New York Liberty = 58% – currently second in East, third overall
2. Washington Mystics = 33% – currently first in East, second overall
3. Atlanta Dream = 8% – currently third in East, seventh overall

Which team will have the most (regular-season) wins in the Western Conference?
T-1. Minnesota Lynx = 50% – currently first in West, first overall
T-1. Los Angeles Sparks = 50% – currently second in West, fourth overall

These five teams also rank in the playoff tier of this week’s power rankings, led by the undefeated Lynx out West.

1. Minnesota Lynx
Last Week’s Ranking: 1
2017 Record: 9-0; This Week: 2-0
OffRtg: 109.2 (2); DefRtg: 92.1 (1); NetRtg: 17.1 (1)

Here’s the scary thing about Minnesota. They went a perfect 6-0 in May while Maya Moore shot 31.5% from the field and 28.6% from three. In the first three games of June, Moore is shooting 50.0% from the field and a blistering 76.9% (10-13) from beyond the arc. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

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2. Los Angeles Sparks
Last Week’s Ranking: 2
2017 Record: 5-3; This Week: 2-1
OffRtg: 111.3 (2); DefRtg: 105.5 (9); NetRtg: 5.8 (3)

Have to give a shout out to Chelsea Gray, who has stepped into the starting lineup for the departed Kristi Toliver, and made sure the Sparks haven’t missed a beat. The third-year guard is averaging career highs across the board – 14.9 points, 4.6 assists, 3.0 rebounds – but it’s not just about playing more minutes (32.2). Gray is also shooting career-best percentages from the field (50.6%) and from beyond the arc (43.5%).

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3. Washington Mystics
Last Week’s Ranking: 5
2017 Record: 7-3; This Week: 2-1
OffRtg: 108.0 (3); DefRtg: 104.0 (8); NetRtg: 4.0 (5)

The Mystics have won six of their last seven games as the team needed little time to adjust to new talents coming in (Elena Delle Donne and Kristi Toliver) and the early season departure of Emma Meesseman, who is fulfilling national team commitments in Belgium for most of this month. Credit to Mike Thibault for his orchestration and the players for coming together so quickly.

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4. New York Liberty
Last Week’s Ranking: 7
2017 Record: 6-3; This Week: 2-0
OffRtg: 101.1 (8); DefRtg: 99.3 (5); NetRtg: 1.8 (6)

Outside of unbeaten Minnesota, no team in the WNBA is hotter than the New York Liberty, who have won four straight to improve to 6-3 on the season and stay on the heels of the Mystics in the East. As usual it begins with Tina Charles, who earned Player of the Week honors for the 23rd time to pass Tamika Catchings for the most such honors in a career.

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5. Phoenix Mercury
Last Week’s Ranking: 4
2017 Record: 5-4; This Week: 1-1
OffRtg: 103.9 (5); DefRtg: 95.7 (2); NetRtg: 8.1 (2)

While Diana Taurasi continues her climb toward Tina Thompson’s all-time scoring record – she needs just 29 points entering Friday’s game – it is her Phoenix teammate that currently leads the league in scoring. Brittney Griner tops the WNBA in points (23.8 ppg) and blocks (2.7), is tied for fourth in field goal percentage (57.7%) and tied for sixth in rebounds (8.4).

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6. Seattle Storm
Last Week’s Ranking: 5
2017 Record: 5-4; This Week: 1-2
OffRtg: 107.8 (4); DefRtg: 106.5 (10); NetRtg: 1.3 (7)

The Storm went 1-2 on a three-game road trip last week, knocking off the winless Stars before dropping a pair of games to Eastern Conference opponents, each by single digits. The Storm return to the friendly confines of KeyArena for their next three games, where they are 4-1 on the season.

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7. Connecticut Sun
Last Week’s Ranking: 9
2017 Record: 3-5; This Week: 1-0
OffRtg: 103.6 (6); DefRtg: 98.7 (4); NetRtg: 4.9 (4)

The Sun may be 3-5 in the win-loss column, but they have a point differential of a team that should be north of .500. After dropping five of their first six games, the Sun have won two straight, including a 33-point win over Atlanta on Sunday. Outside of a 14-point loss to unbeaten Minnesota, Connecticut’s other four losses have come by a combined 13 points, including two-point losses to 9-0 Minnesota, 7-3 Washington and 4-6 Indiana.

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8. Atlanta Dream
Last Week’s Ranking: 6
2017 Record: 4-4; This Week: 0-2
OffRtg: 92.0 (11); DefRtg: 97.7 (3); NetRtg: -5.7 (9)

The Dream opened up a season-long five-game road trip last week with losses in Washington, New York and Connecticut. The trip concludes this week with stops in Seattle (5-4) and Indiana (4-6) before the Dream return to the ATL for a three-game homestand.

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9. Dallas Wings
Last Week’s Ranking: 8
2017 Record: 4-6; This Week: 1-2
OffRtg: 103.2 (7); DefRtg: 106.8 (11); NetRtg: -3.6 (8)

The Wings faced a tough task last week – taking on the top three teams in the power rankings in a three-game series at home. Dallas picked up a win over the defending champion Sparks (96-90), but dropped contests to Washington (101-89) and Minnesota (91-74). This week doesn’t get easier as the Wings have a rematch with the Sparks in L.A. on Tuesday (10 ET, ESPN2) before hosting the red-hot Liberty on Friday.

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10. Indiana Fever
Last Week’s Ranking: 9
2017 Record: 4-6; This Week: 1-2
OffRtg: 101.0 (9); DefRtg: 111.6 (12); NetRtg: -10.6 (11)

Similar to Dallas, the Fever went 1-2 on a challenging week with an 83-80 win over Seattle sandwiched between losses to Phoenix (98-90) and Washington (88-70). Offseason acquisition Candice Dupree has looked great in Indiana; her 14.9 points per game leads the team and is her highest scoring average since 2013, while her 5.7 rebounds ranks second on the team and are a personal best since 2014.

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11. Chicago Sky
Last Week’s Ranking: 11
2017 Record: 2-7; This Week: 1-1
OffRtg: 93.1 (10); DefRtg: 102.2 (6); NetRtg: -9.0 (10)

After falling to Los Angeles last Tuesday to stretch their losing streak five games, the Sky got back in the win column with an 85-81 overtime victory over the winless Stars. Stefanie Dolson, acquired in the offseason trade for Elena Delle Donne, scored a career-best 25 points (11-15 FG) in the win over San Antonio. However, the Sky are averaging just 76.7 points per game – which ranks third-to-last in the WNBA – as they continue to search for offense to replace the loss of former scoring leader.

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12. San Antonio Stars
Last Week’s Ranking: 12
2017 Record: 0-9; This Week: 0-2
OffRtg: 91.8 (12); DefRtg: 103.6 (7); NetRtg: -11.8 (12)

The Stars have been so close to breaking through, with each of their last four losses coming by single digits, including an overtime loss to Chicago on Saturday. That loss to Chicago saw second-year guard Moriah Jefferson score 18 points on 8-12 shooting and match her career-high with five steals, while third-year forward Dearica Hamby score a season-best 17 points. However, rookie Kelsey Plum was held scoreless in 12 minutes as she continues to find her footing just six games into her WNBA career.

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