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.
As we wrap up the month of May, there is an oddity in the league that has to be discussed – the Minnesota Lynx are not at the top of the standings.
Entering this season, the Lynx had won 23 straight games in the month of May, which tied them with the 2000-02 Sparks for the all-time record of consecutive wins in a month across seasons as the Sparks dominated July back in the Lisa Leslie era.
You have to go all the way back to 2010 to find the last loss by the Lynx in the month of May before their season-opening loss at the buzzer to Chelsea Gray and the Sparks. Since the Minnesota dynasty began in 2011, the Lynx have owned the month of May (in the four seasons that featured games in the month; three seasons did not start until June).
Lynx May Schedule, Since 2010
- 2010: 1-5
- 2011: 0-0 (Lynx opened season on June 3)
- 2012: 5-0
- 2013: 0-0 (Lynx opened season on June 1)
- 2014: 6-0
- 2015: 0-0 (Lynx opened season on June 5)
- 2016: 6-0
- 2017: 6-0
- 2018: 2-2
Not only was Minnesota’s May winning streak snapped, they also surrendered an 18-point lead to Washington in a loss to the Mystics on Sunday to drop them to 2-2 in the month. To put that in perspective, last season the Lynx opened the season 9-0 and did not suffer their second loss until their 15th game of the season.
Tuesday, they are in Atlanta for a matchup with the Dream (7 PM ET, Twitter) looking to close out the month with a winning record.
1. Los Angeles Sparks (3-1)
Last Week: 1
OffRtg: 107.1 (3); DefRtg: 100.0 (7); NetRtg: 7.1 (3)
While the Sparks lost the Ogwumike Sister Showdown on Thursday in Connecticut, they did bounce back with a win over Phoenix on Sunday that saw the return of Candace Parker after she missed the first three games with a back injury. Parker had 10 points, three rebounds and two assists in her season debut and bolsters the Sparks’ frontline that is still missing Jantel Lavender and Maria Vadeeva.
2. Connecticut Sun (3-0)
Last Week: 3
OffRtg: 115.6 (1); DefRtg: 94.4 (2); NetRtg: 21.2 (1)
The Sun picked up a pair of wins this week, beginning with Chiney Ogwumike getting her first W over big sister Nneka and the Sparks on Thursday, followed by a nine-point win over 0-5 Indiana. After opening the season with three games in the friendly confines of Mohegan Sun Arena, the Sun hit the road for four straight games to open June, beginning Friday in Chicago.
3. Washington Mystics (4-0)
Last Week: 7
OffRtg: 106.3 (4); DefRtg: 95.6 (3); NetRtg: 10.6 (2)
The Mystics earned their first three wins of the season against Indiana (twice) and Las Vegas – two teams that have combined to open the season 0-8. But Sunday was a different story as the Mystics hosted the Lynx and rallied from 18 points down to beat the defending champs 90-78. With most of their starters struggling (Kristi Toliver had 19 points, the other four starters combined for 13), the Mystics relied on its bench to carry them. Rookies Ariel Atkins (14 points) and Myisha Hines-Allen (15 points, 13 rebounds) shined along with fourth-year pro Natasha Cloud (14 points, 8 assists) and sophomore Shatori Walker-Kimbrough (9 points in under 6 minutes on 4-4 shooting).
4. Minnesota Lynx (2-2)
Last Week: 2
OffRtg: 95.9 (9); DefRtg: 98.1 (5); NetRtg: -2.2 (8)
If any team has earned the benefit of the doubt after a few early losses, its the Minnesota Lynx. While a slow start to the season is abnormal for this team – as discussed above – their level of talent and experience are reason enough not to hit the panic button just yet. If they’re sitting at .500 a few weeks from now, then we can talk. Until then, riding with the Lynx is a strong bet.
5. Seattle Storm (3-1)
Last Week: 9
OffRtg: 109.8 (2); DefRtg: 103.3 (10); NetRtg: 6.5 (4)
A common question heading into this season was whether this would be the year that the duo of Jewell Loyd and Breanna Stewart make the leap and bring the Storm back into championship form. The No. 1 picks in 2015 (Loyd) and 2016 (Stewart) have been brilliant though the Storm’s first four games. They currently lead the league in scoring – Loyd at 22.0 points per game, followed by Stewart and 20.5 a night – while veteran Sue Bird is third in assists at 5.5 per game. The Storm host the unbeaten Mystics on Tuesday (10 PM ET, Twitter) in what should be a good test for both teams.
6. Phoenix Mercury (2-2)
Last Week: 4
OffRtg: 100.7 (5); DefRtg: 102.0 (9); NetRtg: -1.3 (7)
After opening the season with wins over Dallas and Seattle over tip off weekend, the Mercury have dropped two straight, falling to the Storm and Sparks over the past week. In both losses, the Mercury were beaten on the boards (minus-10 to Seattle and minus-7 to L.A.) and shot poorly from beyond the arc (31.3% vs. Seattle and 25.0% vs. L.A.) for a team that shoots over 35% for the season. The Mercury look to avoid the three-game skid on Wednesday when they host the Mystics before heading out on the road for three games.
7. Dallas Wings (2-2)
Last Week: 5
OffRtg: 96.7 (8); DefRtg: 92.3 (1); NetRtg: 4.5 (5)
It’s been a see-saw for the first four games for Dallas: Loss to Phoenix, Win over Atlanta, Loss to Minnesota, Win over Atlanta. The Wings get a chance to earn a win over a team other than the Dream on Tuesday night as they visit the Liberty in New York (7 PM ET, League Pass). Through four games, the Wings have the league’s top-rated defense, allowing just 92.3 points per 100 possessions. Having the league-leader in blocks (Liz Cambage at 3.3 per game) sure makes a difference for a team that had the second-worst defensive rating a year ago (107.4 points per 100 possessions).
8. Chicago Sky (2-2)
Last Week: 6
OffRtg: 98.1 (6); DefRtg: 98.4 (6); NetRtg: -0.3 (6)
The Sky got off to a promising start with back-to-back wins over Indiana and New York, but their momentum was halted by losses to Atlanta and Seattle last week. The Sky are off until Friday when they host the Sun and then follow that up with the Aces coming to town on Sunday. Point guard Courtney Vandersloot should be back for both games as she has wrapped up her overseas commitments and is ready to get back on the WNBA floor.
9. New York Liberty (0-2)
Last Week: 8
OffRtg: 96.7 (7); DefRtg: 101.9 (8); NetRtg: -5.2 (9)
Katie Smith is still looking for her first win as a WNBA head coach after the Liberty opened the season with a pair of single-digit losses to Chicago and Minnesota. The Liberty are still trying to get back to full strength as Sugar Rodgers missed the Lynx game due to a knee injury and Brittany Boyd (Achilles) and Epiphanny Prince (concussion) have yet to make their season debuts. One player that will back in the lineup this week is Kia Vaughn, who finished her overseas commitments. Vaughn’s 6-foot-4 presence should help the Liberty on the boards as they were outrebounded by 13 against Chicago and 10 against Minnesota.
10. Atlanta Dream (1-2)
Last Week: 10
OffRtg: 91.2 (11); DefRtg: 96.8 (4); NetRtg: -5.6 (10)
Through three games, the Dream are 1-2 with a solid win over Chicago (giving Nicki Collen her first win as a head coach) and a pair of losses to the Wings. With so much changeover from last season to this season – new coach, new system, three new starters – the Dream will need time to hit their stride. One thing that must improve is their shooting as Atlanta has the lowest field goal percentage in the league (36.2%).
11. Las Vegas Aces (0-3)
Last Week: 11
OffRtg: 87.9 (12); DefRtg: 106.8 (11); NetRtg: -18.9 (12)
In their home debut, the Las Vegas Aces put on a great show – filled with pyrotechnics, performances by Boyz II Men, Jabbawockeez and Cirque du Soleil – but unfortunately the home team did not come up with a win in the first game in the WNBA’s newest city. Rookie A’ja Wilson did score the first WNBA bucket in the Mandalay Bay Events Center and finished with a game-high 27 points in the loss. After the Storm spoiled their home debut, the Aces get a chance to enact some revenge as they take on the Storm in Seattle on Thursday (10 PM ET, League Pass).
12. Indiana Fever (0-5)
Last Week: 12
OffRtg: 93.4 (10); DefRtg: 108.9 (12); NetRtg: -15.4 (11)
The Fever have been the busiest WNBA team so far this season with five games already in the books. However, Indiana is still looking for its first win as they have faced some tough competition to open the season: Washington (4-0) twice, Connecticut (3-0), Los Angeles (3-1) and Chicago (2-2). The Fever are off until Saturday when they host the Liberty; it is Indiana’s only game in an 11-day span, which should give the team plenty of practice time to try to get things back on track.