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 each week of the season goes by, our preconceived notions and preseason predictions for these teams get more and more supplanted by what we see on the court.
While the sample size remains incredibly small – with teams having played between two and four games at this point – we can see some teams playing as we expected, some playing better than expected and some struggling out of the gate.
With that being said, here are four key takeaways from this week’s power rankings, with the full list below. Please note that these rankings/stats do not include Tuesday’s matinee between the Liberty and Sparks.
1. New Leader
The Connecticut Sun take over the top spot in the rankings after going 2-1 in the past week with wins over Indiana and Las Vegas and a road loss to Los Angeles. The Sun have been led by Jonquel Jones, who is averaging 16.8 points and a league-leading 14.3 rebounds per game. But the key to the Sun has been their balance. In four games, they have had three different leading scorers – none of which is last season’s leading scorer Chiney Ogwumike, who now plays in Los Angeles.
5/25 vs WAS: Alyssa Thomas – 23 points
5/28 vs IND: Jonquel Jones – 25 points
5/31 at LAS: Jonquel Jones – 16 points
6/2 at LVA: Courtney Williams – 19 points
On Thursday, the Sun will face Ogwumike as the 2014 Rookie of the Year and two-time All-Star returns to Connecticut for the first time since requesting a trade to Los Angeles during the offseason.
2. Biggest Rise
The Minnesota Lynx have provided one of the best stories to open the 2019 season. While the roster is much different from their four-championship run over the past eight seasons – Lindsay Whalen retired, Maya Moore is out for the season, Seimone Augustus is out indefinitely following knee surgery and Rebekkah Brunson has yet to join the team after suffering a concussion last season – the results have been very familiar to Lynx fans. The Lynx are the last unbeaten team in the WNBA as they enter this week at 3-0 and climb six spots in this week’s power rankings.
Sylvia Fowles is the key holdover from the Lynx dynasty and has been the anchor for the team thus far – leading the team in scoring (14.0) and rebounding (11.7). But it has been the seamless integration of newcomers like Odyssey Sims, Damiras Dantas, Lexie Brown and rookies Napheesa Collier and Jessica Shepard that has helped the Lynx to their early success. Major props to Cheryl Reeve and her coaching staff on getting this group to jell so quickly.
3. Biggest Fall
What is going on with the Atlanta Dream? After opening the season with a four-point win over a depleted Dallas team, Atlanta has dropped back-to-back games by 16 and 21 points, respectively. Last season, the Dream were carried by their defense early in the season before getting their offense to fully click. Through three games this season, the Dream rank last in defensive rating (105.9) and their offense ranks in the bottom third (92.3 offensive rating). Obviously, it’s early and there is still plenty of time for the Dream to get back on track. Tiffany Hayes had just two single-digit scoring performances last year as she was named to the All-WNBA First Team. She had two in her first two games this season and had just 11 points in Atlanta’s loss to Washington on Saturday. With Angel McCoughtry likely sidelined for much of the season, the Dream will need to lean more on Hayes than they did a year ago when she averaged a career-high 17.4 points per game.
4. Toughest Call
The Las Vegas Aces lost both of their games this week to fall to 1-2 on the season, but only drop to the No. 3 spot in this week’s rankings. This is where striking the balance between what we’ve seen and what we expect forces some tough decisions. Vegas lost to Phoenix on the road by two points (with A’ja Wilson missing two solid looks to tie the game in the final seconds) and lost to Connecticut (our top ranked team) by six at home. In both of those games, Liz Cambage played limited minutes off the bench as Bill Laimbeer and the team looks to integrate this game-changing player into the mix. The Aces entered the season as title favorites thanks to a deep and talented roster, but it will take time for that roster to come together and play to the best of their abilities. While they are not there yet, the Aces are still tough to pick against on a nightly basis.
This Week’s Rankings
1. Connecticut Sun (3-1)
- Previous Rank: 2
- Last Week: (2-1) W vs IND 88-77; L at LAS 77-70; W at LVA 80-74
- This Week: Thurs. 6/6 vs. LAS; Sun. 6/9 at ATL
- Team Stats: OffRtg: 100.3 (4); DefRtg: 92.8 (4); NetRtg: 7.5 (2); eFG%: 43.2 (8); Pace: 96.15 (5)
2. Minnesota Lynx (3-0)
- Previous Rank: 8
- Last Week: (2-0) W vs SEA 72-61; W at DAL 70-67
- This Week: Tues. 6/4 at SEA; Thurs. 6/6 vs. PHX; Sat. 6/8 vs. LAS
- Team Stats: OffRtg: 96.7 (6); DefRtg: 84.0 (1); NetRtg: 12.7 (1); eFG%: 47.2 (5); Pace: 95.20 (8)
3. Las Vegas Aces (1-2)
- Previous Rank: 1
- Last Week: (0-2) L at PHX 86-84; L vs. CON 80-74
- This Week: Thurs. 6/6 at ATL; Sun. 6/9 at NYL
- Team Stats: OffRtg: 96.8 (5); DefRtg: 94.4 (5); NetRtg: 2.4 (6); eFG%: 45.1 (6); Pace: 99.80 (3)
4. Washington Mystics (1-1)
- Previous Rank: 3
- Last Week: (1-0) W vs ATL 96-75
- This Week: Wed. 6/5 vs. CHI; Fri. 6/7 at NYL; Sun 6/9 vs. DAL
- Team Stats: OffRtg: 104.4 (2); DefRtg: 101.3 (8); NetRtg: 3.2 (3); eFG%: 51.1 (3); Pace: 94.50 (9)
5. Los Angeles Sparks (1-1)
- Previous Rank: 4
- Last Week: (1-0) W vs. CON 77-70
- This Week: Tues. 6/4 at NYL; Thur. 6.6 at CON; Sat. 6/8 at MIN
- Team Stats: OffRtg: 88.0 (12); DefRtg: 91.6 (3); NetRtg: -3.6 (7); eFG%: 41.3 (11); Pace: 100.20 (2)
6. Phoenix Mercury (1-1)
- Previous Rank: 5
- Last Week: (1-0) W vs. LVA 86-84
- This Week: Thurs. 6/6 at MIN; Sun 6/9 at IND
- Team Stats: OffRtg: 100.7 (3); DefRtg: 104.5 (10); NetRtg: -3.9 (8); eFG%: 54.0 (1); Pace: 92.10 (11)
7. Indiana Fever (2-1)
- Previous Rank: 9
- Last Week: (1-1) L at CON 88-77; W vs. NYL 92-77
- This Week: Fri. 6/7 vs. DAL; Sun. 6/9 vs. PHX
- Team Stats: OffRtg: 104.6 (1); DefRtg: 102.1 (9); NetRtg: 2.5 (5); eFG%: 51.2 (2); Pace: 95.80 (6)
8. Seattle Storm (2-2)
- Previous Rank: 7
- Last Week: (1-2) L at MIN 72-61; W at ATL 82-66; L at CHI 83-79
- This Week: Tues. 6/4 vs. MIN; Sun. 6/9 at CHI
- Team Stats: OffRtg: 93.7 (8); DefRtg: 90.6 (2); NetRtg: 3.1 (4); eFG%: 43.4 (7); Pace: 95.70 (7)
9. Chicago Sky (1-1)
- Previous Rank: 11
- Last Week: W vs. SEA 83-79
- This Week: Wed. 6/5 at WAS; Sun. 6/9 vs SEA
- Team Stats: OffRtg: 89.5 (11); DefRtg: 97.1 (7); NetRtg: -7.6 (10); eFG%: 49.3 (4); Pace: 103.50 (1)
10. Atlanta Dream (1-2)
- Previous Rank: 6
- Last Week: (0-2) L vs. SEA 82-66; L at WAS 96-75
- This Week: Thurs. 6/6 vs. LVA; Sun. 6/9 vs. CON
- Team Stats: OffRtg: 92.3 (9); DefRtg: 105.9 (12); NetRtg: -13.6 (12); eFG%: 42.8 (9); Pace: 94.20 (10)
11. Dallas Wings (0-2)
- Previous Rank: 10
- Last Week: (0-1) L vs. MIN 70-67
- This Week: Fri. 6/7 at IND; Sun. 6/9 at WAS
- Team Stats: OffRtg: 91.4 (10); DefRtg: 96.7 (6); NetRtg: -5.2 (9); eFG%: 40.8 (12); Pace: 90.90 (12)
12. New York Liberty (0-2)
- Previous Rank: 12
- Last Week: (0-1) L at IND 92-77
- This Week: Tues. 6/4 vs. LAS; Fri. 6/7 vs. WAS; Sun. 6/9 vs. LVA
- Team Stats: OffRtg: 95.7 (7); DefRtg: 105.5 (11); NetRtg: -9.8 (11); eFG%: 41.4 (10); Pace: 98.40 (4)