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.
With the regular season set to end on Sunday and the playoffs tipping off one week from today, below are the final power rankings of the 2018 season.
After two years of dominance by Minnesota and Los Angeles, the 2018 season brought a new level of parity to the league, which was reflected in the standings on a daily basis and on a week-to-week basis in these rankings with five different teams holding the top spot at some point over the past 13 weeks.
With just 17 games left to play across the league, there is still much to be decided in the playoff picture. Below we’ll examine the remaining schedule for each team and the playoff ramifications they hold.
* Clinched Playoff Berth
^ Eliminated From Playoffs
1. Seattle Storm (24-8*)
Last Week: 1, 2-1 (W at IND, L at WAS, W at MIN)
OffRtg: 108.1 (1); DefRtg: 98.2 (2); NetRtg: 9.9 (1)
Fri, Aug 17 vs NY Liberty, 10:00 PM, NBATV
Sun, Aug 19 vs Dallas, 7:00 PM
The Storm have clinched a top two seed and need a win or an Atlanta loss to wrap up the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs. With a top two seed in hand, the Storm have a double-bye to the semifinals, but if they can capture the top overall seed, it would give them home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. Seattle is currently 11-4 at KeyArena and will play their final two regular season games there.
2. Atlanta Dream (22-10*)
Last Week: 2, 4-0 (W vs LVA, W vs LAS, W vs DAL, W at NYL)
OffRtg: 98.2 (10); DefRtg: 95.9 (1); NetRtg: 2.3 (7)
Fri, Aug 17 @ Phoenix, 10:00 PM
Sun, Aug 19 @ Las Vegas, 6:00 PM
By owning the head-to-head tiebreaker over Seattle by winning their season series, the Dream have an outside shot at the No. 1 overall seed. They would have to maintain their winning streak – currently at six games – and hope that Seattle loses out, which would give them matching 24-10 records. The Dream need a win or a Washington loss in the final week to clinch a top two seed. Atlanta has maintained its winning ways since losing Angel McCoughtry for the season as they are 3-0 in her absence.
3. Washington Mystics (20-11*)
Last Week: 5, 3-0 (W at PHX, W vs SEA, W vs DAL)
OffRtg: 106.1 (3); DefRtg: 102.9 (9); NetRtg: 3.2 (3)
Wed, Aug 15 @ Indiana, 7:00 PM, NBATV
Fri, Aug 17 vs Los Angeles, 7:00 PM, NBATV
Sun, Aug 19 @ Minnesota, 7:00 PM, ESPN2
The Mystics have caught fire at the right time, as their six-game win streak has them in great position to earn at least a first-round bye, while having an outside shot of passing Atlanta for a top two seed. Washington is two games up in the loss column on both Connecticut and Los Angeles with all three teams having three games to play. The Mystics and Sparks meet on Friday in a game that will determine the head-to-head tiebreaker between the teams should they finish with matching records.
4. Connecticut Sun (18-13*)
Last Week: 4, 2-1 (W at DAL, L at CHI, W at CHI)
OffRtg: 106.9 (2); DefRtg: 100.6 (5); NetRtg: 6.3 (2)
Tue, Aug 14 vs Dallas, 7:00 PM
Fri, Aug 17 vs Minnesota, 7:00 PM
Sun, Aug 19 vs Los Angeles, 3:00 PM
The Sun have won six of their last seven games as they head into the final week with all three of their games at home, where they are 10-4 on the year. The Sun and Sparks currently have matching 18-13 records, but the Sun own the tiebreaker by winning the first two games of the season series, even before their third and final meeting on the final day of the regular season. As for the Mystics, who currently sit ahead of the Sun in the three spot, the teams split their season series, so the tiebreaker would go to the team with the better winning percentage against all teams with .500 or better record at the end of the season.
5. Los Angeles Sparks (18-13*)
Last Week: 3, 1-2 (W at NYL, L at ATL, L at PHX)
OffRtg: 101.5 (6); DefRtg: 98.8 (3); NetRtg: 2.7 (6)
Tue, Aug 14 vs NY Liberty, 10:30 PM, NBATV
Fri, Aug 17 @ Washington, 7:00 PM, NBATV
Sun, Aug 19 @ Connecticut, 3:00 PM
After winning three straight games out of the All-Star break, the Sparks dropped two in a row at the worst time possible as they have fallen to the No. 5 seed in the standings. The Sparks are going to need Washington or Connecticut to slip in order to secure a first-round bye. The good news for the Sparks is that they can help that happen as they have games with both teams over the final three days of the season. While they can’t earn the tiebreaker over Connecticut, they can with Washington if they win their matchup on Friday.
6. Phoenix Mercury (18-14*)
Last Week: 6, 2-1 (L vs WAS, W vs IND, W vs LAS)
OffRtg: 105.4 (5); DefRtg: 102.5 (6); NetRtg: 2.9 (5)
Fri, Aug 17 vs Atlanta, 10:00 PM
Sun, Aug 19 vs NY Liberty, 6:00 PM
Phoenix’s hopes for a top four seed and a first round bye are fairly slim heading into the final week of the season as the Mystics, Sun and Sparks all sit ahead of them vying for the two coveted spots. Making matters worse is that Phoenix holds only one tiebreaker among that group (Connecticut), while Washington and LA have already wrapped up season series wins over the Mercury. If they are unable to move up and earn a bye, the Mercury can look to their own history for solace. Since the playoff format changed in 2016, the Mercury are a perfect 4-0 in single-elimination games in the first two rounds of the playoffs.
7. Minnesota Lynx (17-14*)
Last Week: 7, 2-1 (W at CHI, W at LVA, L vs SEA)
OffRtg: 99.1 (9); DefRtg: 99.0 (4); NetRtg: 0.1 (8)
Tue, Aug 14 vs Chicago, 8:00 PM, NBATV
Fri, Aug 17 @ Connecticut, 7:00 PM
Sun, Aug 19 vs Washington, 7:00 PM, ESPN2
The Lynx have been the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs in both years of the new playoff format as they have hosted back-to-back Game 5s in the WNBA Finals thanks to that home-court advantage. As the Lynx look to make it back to the Finals for the fourth straight year and seventh time in the last eight years, they will have to travel a new path. Of course, the Lynx are the defending champs until somebody is able to knock them off. But for the first time in their history, that could come with a single loss as opposed to the five-game series they are accustomed to playing.
8. Las Vegas Aces (13-18, currently 9th)
Last Week: 9, 1-2 (L at ATL, L vs MIN, W vs IND)
OffRtg: 100.3 (8); DefRtg: 102.7 (7); NetRtg: -2.4 (9)
Wed, Aug 15 vs NY Liberty, 10:00 PM, NBATV
Fri, Aug 17 @ Dallas, 8:00 PM
Sun, Aug 19 vs Atlanta, 6:00 PM
The Aces picked up a much-needed win on Saturday to stop a five-game losing streak and keep their playoff hopes alive. The eighth and final playoff spot is the only one left to be determine and it will go to either the Aces or the Wings. Vegas currently trails Dallas by a game and Dallas already owns the head-to-head tiebreaker regardless of the outcome of Friday’s matchup between the teams. But that game is still an absolute must-win for the Aces because the combination of a Dallas win and Vegas loss eliminates the Aces from playoff contention.
9. Dallas Wings (14-17, currently 8th)
Last Week: 8, 0-3 (L vs CON, L at ATL, L at WAS)
OffRtg: 105.9 (4); DefRtg: 102.8 (8); NetRtg: 3.0 (4)
Tue, Aug 14 @ Connecticut, 7:00 PM
Fri, Aug 17 vs Las Vegas, 8:00 PM
Sun, Aug 19 @ Seattle, 7:00 PM
It has been nearly a month since the Wings last won a game (July 19 vs Washington). Since then, Dallas has lost eight straight games and made a coaching change following their latest loss (Aug. 12 at Washington). With Fred Williams out, Taj McWilliams-Franklin has taken over head coaching duties for the remainder of the season. The Wings need either two wins or a win and a Las Vegas loss in the final week of the season in order to clinch a playoff berth. They’ll have to face Connecticut on the road, Las Vegas at home and Seattle on the road to close the season. Making things more difficult has been the absence of league-leading scorer Liz Cambage, who has missed the last two games.
10. Chicago Sky (11-20^)
Last Week: 10, 1-2 (L vs MIN, W vs CON, L at CON)
OffRtg: 101.3 (7); DefRtg: 109.6 (12); NetRtg: -8.4 (11)
Tue, Aug 14 @ Minnesota, 8:00 PM, NBATV
Sat, Aug 18 @ Indiana, 4:00 PM, NBATV
Sun, Aug 19 vs Indiana, 6:00 PM
The Sky are out of the playoff picture and have just one of the final three games against a team in the playoff race as they face the Lynx in Minnesota on Tuesday on NBA TV. Following that game, the Sky will close out the season with a home-and-home back-to-back with Indiana. Keep an eye on Courtney Vandersloot over the final three games as she looks to break her own assists-per-game record that she set last season. She is currently averaging 8.6 assists per game, which would top her previous mark of 8.1.
11. New York Liberty (7-23^)
Last Week: 12, 0-2 (L vs LAS, L vs ATL)
OffRtg: 97.2 (11); DefRtg: 105.5 (10); NetRtg: -8.4 (10)
Tue, Aug 14 @ Los Angeles, 10:30 PM, NBATV
Wed, Aug 15 @ Las Vegas, 10:00 PM, NBATV
Fri, Aug 17 @ Seattle, 10:00 PM, NBATV
Sun, Aug 19 @ Phoenix, 6:00 PM
The Liberty are the busiest team over the final week of the season with four games in six days, all of which come on the road against teams in contention for the playoffs. New York could play a huge spoiler role against former coach Bill Laimbeer and the Las Vegas Aces on Wednesday. They can also impact the race for the first round byes with games against Los Angeles (Tuesday) and Phoenix (Sunday). But more important than affecting playoff races, the Liberty will look to end the season on a positive note. They enter this week riding a nine-game losing streak.
12. Indiana Fever (5-26^)
Last Week: 11, 0-3 (L vs SEA, L at PHX, L at LVA)
OffRtg: 94.5 (12); DefRtg: 106.1 (11); NetRtg: -11.6 (12)
Wed, Aug 15 vs Washington, 7:00 PM, NBATV
Sat, Aug 18 vs Chicago, 4:00 PM, NBATV
Sun, Aug 19 @ Chicago, 6:00 PM
The Fever are likely to finish with the worst record in the league for the first time in franchise history (they tied for the lowest mark with three other teams in 2001, their second year in the WNBA). Of their five wins this season, four have come against teams currently in the playoffs (Atlanta, Los Angeles, Minnesota and Dallas), with the other coming against New York. The Liberty hold the head-to-head tiebreaker, so Indiana would need to win out and have New York lose out in order to climb out of the cellar.