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.
If their offense can catch up to their defense, they will be a problem.
This has been a common refrain when discussing the Atlanta Dream this season, as they had the top-ranked defense in the WNBA, but constantly struggled to put points on the board consistently and efficiently. The talent was there, but it took time for everything to click. Well, now that it has clicked, the rest of the league better watch out.
Atlanta is riding a franchise-record seven-game win streak into this week as the Dream knocked off the league-leading Seattle Storm 87-74 points on Sunday. As expected, the Dream defense held the Storm to nearly 13 points below their season average. And, as we have seen recently, the Dream scored like a top-tier offense, rather than their 11th rank season rating.
Here is Atlanta’s scoring average and record by month this season:
- May (2-2): 76.3 points per game
- June (5-6): 73.5 points per game
- July (8-1): 87.6 points per game
Atlanta’s winning streak began on July 8; entering that game against Phoenix, the Dream were 8-9 and sitting in eighth place in the standings. Two weeks later, and the Dream enter Tuesday’s game against the Sparks sitting in second place in the standings at 15-9. Their quick ascension up the standings is due in part to their outstanding play, but also the fact that the standings are so tight.
Entering Tuesday’s four-game slate, just a single game separates the No. 2 and No. 6 seed in the playoff chase, which will make for an exciting stretch run as every game carries so much weight from here on out. If a team can catch fire like the Dream, they can rise from outside the playoffs to a team earning a first-round bye — the ninth-place Aces sit just 3.5 games back of the second-place Dream.
1. Seattle Storm (18-7)
Last Week: 1 (2-1)
OffRtg: 107.6 (1); DefRtg: 99.0 (4); NetRtg: 8.6 (1)
Seattle will enter the All-Star break with the top record in the WNBA. They sit atop the standings at 18-7 despite the loss to Atlanta and with only one game on their schedule before the weekend festivities in Minnesota, they are guaranteed to begin the post All-Star run from the lead position.
2. Atlanta Dream (15-9)
Last Week: 5 (3-0)
OffRtg: 96.2 (11); DefRtg: 96.1 (1); NetRtg: 0.1 (8)
We’ve discussed how the Dream got here during their seven-game winning streak; can they make it eight in a row when they face the Sparks in L.A. on Tuesday night (10:30 ET, Twitter) in their final game before the break?
3. Los Angeles Sparks (15-10)
Last Week: 3 (1-1)
OffRtg: 101.6 (6); DefRtg: 98.6 (3); NetRtg: 3.0 (6)
The Sparks played both of last week’s games missing two of their starters as Nneka Ogwumike (illness) and Alana Beard (groin) were sidelined. Odyssey Sims may be added to that list as she turned her ankle late in Sunday’s game. Hopefully the break can get the Sparks back to full strength.
4. Minnesota Lynx (14-10)
Last Week: 8 (2-0)
OffRtg: 100.3 (7); DefRtg: 97.2 (2); NetRtg: 3.1 (5)
The Lynx got back on track this week as they picked up wins over Indiana and Phoenix, with Maya Moore exploding for a season-high 38 points in the win over the Mercury. The Lynx host the Liberty on Tuesday (8:00 ET, ESPN2) in their final game before taking on All-Star hosting duties this weekend.
5. Dallas Wings (14-11)
Last Week: 4 (2-2)
OffRtg: 106.4 (3); DefRtg: 101.2 (7); NetRtg: 5.2 (2)
The Wings opened the week with wins over New York and Washington behind the record-breaking scoring of Liz Cambage — who set the all-time marks for points in a single game (53) and in consecutive games (88). However, the Wings dropped both of their games over the weekend by double digits, allowing a season-high 114 points to Chicago, to finish the week 2-2.
6. Phoenix Mercury (15-10)
Last Week: 2 (0-2)
OffRtg: 103.8 (5); DefRtg: 100.8 (5); NetRtg: 3.0 (7)
The Mercury have lost two straight and five of their last six games, and it was announced Monday that they have lost Diana Taurasi for their only game this week (Wednesday vs. Chicago) as she serves a one-game suspension after picking up her seventh technical foul of the season. This will be something to watch down the stretch as now every two technicals will result in another one-game suspension.
7. Washington Mystics (14-10)
Last Week: 6 (1-1)
OffRtg: 106.5 (2); DefRtg: 103.1 (9); NetRtg: 3.5 (4)
The Mystics are in the midst of a five-game road trip that spans the All-Star break. They picked up their first win of the trip on Saturday in New York and face the Sun in Connecticut on Tuesday in their final game before the break. After leading her squad at All-Star, team captain Elena Delle Donne and fellow All-Star Kristi Toliver will meet up with the rest of the squad in Atlanta to close out the trip. The squad now includes Aerial Powers, who was acquired in a Monday trade for reserve guard Tayler Hill.
8. Las Vegas Aces (12-13)
Last Week: 9 (2-0)
OffRtg: 99.3 (9); DefRtg: 101.3 (8); NetRtg: -2.1 (9)
Las Vegas is one of two teams (along with Dallas) that has the week off heading into All-Star, where Kayla McBride and A’ja Wilson will represent the Aces this weekend. Wilson is the only rookie headed to Minnesota as this will be the first of many All-Star trips to come for the No. 1 pick. The Aces enter the break on fire, having won six of their last seven games — only the Dream have a better record over the past seven games.
9. Connecticut Sun (13-12)
Last Week: 7 (1-2)
OffRtg: 105.6 (4); DefRtg: 101.0 (6); NetRtg: 4.7 (3)
The Sun picked up an important win over Dallas on Sunday to avoid their second three-game losing streak of July and third of the season. The Sun host the Mystics on Tuesday in their final game before All-Star. It is one of seven remaining home games on the schedule in their final nine games. The Sun are 6-4 at home this year, compared to 7-8 on the road.
10. Chicago Sky (8-17)
Last Week: 11 (1-2)
OffRtg: 100.1 (8); DefRtg: 110.1 (12); NetRtg: -10.0 (11)
The Sky picked up only their second win of July on Friday, but it came in historic fashion as Courtney Vandersloot became just the seventh player in WNBA history to record a triple-double. Vandersloot finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds and a career-best 15 assists as the Sky defeated the Wings 114-99. Vandersloot finished just one assist shy of Ticha Penicheiro’s single-game record, and she joined Penicheiro and Cappie Pondexter as the only players in WNBA history with at least 15 assists in a game.
11. New York Liberty (7-17)
Last Week: 10 (0-3)
OffRtg: 98.4 (10); DefRtg: 105.6 (10); NetRtg: -7.2 (10)
Not only is New York’s three-year streak of making the playoffs in serious danger; their current .292 win percentage is on pace to be a franchise low for one of the league’s original teams. The schedule doesn’t ease up for the Liberty as they face the Lynx in their final game before the break (Tuesday, 8:00 ET, ESPN2) and the Sun in their first game back (Wednesday, Aug. 1, 7:00 ET, NBA TV).
12. Indiana Fever (3-22)
Last Week: 12 (1-2)
OffRtg: 94.7 (12); DefRtg: 106.5 (11); NetRtg: -11.7 (12)
The Fever picked up their third win of the season by knocking off the short-handed Sparks. Of their three wins this season, two have come against the past two WNBA champions — the Lynx on July 3 and the Sparks on Friday, July 20.