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.
All-Star week has arrived, which brings a light upcoming schedule across the WNBA, with 10 teams playing a single game and two teams (Chicago and Dallas) idle until after the break. The Sky are sending three players to Las Vegas, but as far as games that count, they are wrapped up for the first half of the season.
So what are the biggest takeaways from the first half of the season?
The Mystics are not playing around as they look to get back to the WNBA Finals. Washington is 11-2 this season with Elena Delle Donne in the lineup and 0-4 when she’s out; after missing three games with a broken nose, Delle Donne returned to the lineup wearing a mask and averaged 28 points and 11.5 rebounds to earn Player of the Week honors. Washington’s 11.6 net rating is nearly five points better than any other team in the league, powered by an offense that is nearly nine points better than any other team in the league.
Don’t count out the champs. Washington isn’t the only team with its sights set on a return to the Finals as the Seattle Storm are tied for the league lead in wins (12) despite missing reigning MVP Breanna Stewart and point gawd Sue Bird for the entire season and All-Star Jewell Loyd for a third of the season.
The Aces are as scary as many expected with the addition of Liz Cambage to a squad loaded with young talent. Unfortunately, All-Star captain A’ja Wilson went down with an ankle injury this week that has her in a walking boot and is expected to sideline her for “weeks” according to coach Bill Laimbeer.
The Sun are back on track having won three straight games to enter this week tied for the top record in the WNBA. Connecticut has won its last three games by an average of 19 points per game. Now that is how you bounce back from a five-game losing streak.
Three tiers have emerged with Connecticut, Las Vegas and Washington all tied with six losses – those three teams will all vie for the top two seeds and the double-bye that comes with it in the postseason.
The second tier is loaded with Seattle, Chicago, Los Angeles and Phoenix all tied with eight losses, while Minnesota (nine) and New York (10) are not far behind. The battle for the third and fourth seeds (which come with a first round bye and home-court advantage in round two) will be fun to watch, and one or more of these teams could still climb into the top tier.
The third tier has Indiana, Dallas and Atlanta all tied with 14 losses on the season and all three teams currently holding losing streaks of four or five games. While there is still time to turn their fortunes around, it will need to happen quick to get back into playoff contention.
The Seattle Storm and Chicago Sky have both won four straight games (tied for the longest active win streak in the WNBA) and both move up two spots in this week’s rankings, to Nos. 4 and 5, respectively.
This is Chicago’s second four-game win streak of the season; they also have a four-game losing streak sandwiched in the middle as it has been an up-and-down ride for first-year head coach James Wade and the Sky.
Seattle has been more consistent, with a three-game losing streak from June 30-July 5 being their only consecutive losses of the season. They are 2-2 against the three teams ahead of them in the standings (1-1 vs. Las Vegas, 1-0 vs. Washington and 0-1 vs. Connecticut).
The Minnesota Lynx have lost two straight and three of their last four games and drop from No. 4 to No. 7 in this week’s rankings. This was less about Minnesota dropping as it was about Chicago and Seattle rising and having to pass the Lynx on their rise to the top five in the rankings. Minnesota still ranks fifth in net rating (plus-1.9), which is powered by their third-ranked defense (94.2 defensive rating).
This Week’s Rankings
1. Las Vegas Aces (12-6)
- Previous Rank: 1
- Last Week: L at SEA 69-66; W vs. MIN 79-74
- This Week: Tue. 7/23 vs. SEA
- Team Stats: OffRtg: 96.8 (5); DefRtg: 90.4 (1); NetRtg: 6.4 (2); eFG%: 47.3 (4); Pace: 100.44 (1)
2. Washington Mystics (11-6)
- Previous Rank: 2
- Last Week: (2-0) W at IND 95-88; W vs. ATL 93-65
- Games Before All-Star: Wed. 7/24 at MIN
- Team Stats: OffRtg: 108.5 (1); DefRtg: 97.2 (7); NetRtg: 11.3 (1); eFG%: 51.1 (1); Pace: 94.21 (8)
3. Connecticut Sun (12-6)
- Previous Rank: 2
- Last Week: (1-0) W vs. ATL 98-69 Wed. 7/24 vs. NYL
- Games Before All-Star: Wed. 7/24 vs. NYL
- Team Stats: OffRtg: 99.6 (2); DefRtg: 94.6 (4); NetRtg: 5.0 (3); eFG%: 46.7 (6); Pace: 94.97 (5)
4. Seattle Storm (12-8)
- Previous Rank: 6
- Last Week: (2-0) W at MIN 90-79; W vs. LVA 69-66
- Games Before All-Star: Tue. 7/23 at LVA
- Team Stats: OffRtg: 96.2 (6); DefRtg: 93.0 (2); NetRtg: 3.2 (4); eFG%: 47.0 (5); Pace: 94.26 (7)
5. Chicago Sky (11-8)
- Previous Rank: 7
- Last Week: (2-0) W vs. ATL 77-76; W vs. IND 78-70
- Games Before All-Star: No Games
- Team Stats: OffRtg: 98.0 (4); DefRtg: 97.5 (8); NetRtg: 0.5 (6); eFG%: 49.6 (2); Pace: 97.61 (3)
6. Los Angeles Sparks (10-8)
- Previous Rank: 5
- Last Week: (1-1) W vs. DAL 69-64; L at NYL 83-78
- Games Before All-Star: Tue. 7/23 at ATL
- Team Stats: OffRtg: 96.2 (7); DefRtg: 96.8 (6); NetRtg: -0.7 (8); eFG%: 46.1 (7); Pace: 96.73 (4)
7. Minnesota Lynx (10-9)
- Previous Rank: 4
- Last Week: (0-2) L vs. SEA 90-79; L at LVA 79-74
- Games Before All-Star: Wed. 7/24 vs. WAS
- Team Stats: OffRtg: 96.1 (9); DefRtg: 94.2 (3); NetRtg: 1.9 (5); eFG%: 47.7 (3); Pace: 94.96 (6)
8. Phoenix Mercury (9-8)
- Previous Rank: 8
- Last Week: (2-0) W vs. DAL 69-64; W at DAL 70-66
- Games Before All-Star: Tue. 7/23 vs. IND
- Team Stats: OffRtg: 96.2 (8); DefRtg: 96.3 (5); NetRtg: -0.1 (7); eFG%: 45.7 (9); Pace: 91.13 (12)
9. New York Liberty (8-10)
- Previous Rank: 9
- Last Week: (1-0) W vs. LAS 83-78
- Games Before All-Star: Wed. 7/24 at CON
- Team Stats: OffRtg: 95.8 (10); DefRtg: 101.5 (11); NetRtg: -5.7 (10); eFG%: 45.6 (10); Pace: 98.13 (2)
10. Indiana Fever (6-14)
- Previous Rank: 11
- Last Week: (0-2) L vs. WAS 95-88; L at CHI 78-70
- Games Before All-Star: Tue. 7/23 at PHX
- Team Stats: OffRtg: 98.8 (3); DefRtg: 101.7 (12); NetRtg: -2.9 (9); eFG%: 45.9 (8); Pace: 92.68 (10)
11. Dallas Wings (5-14)
- Previous Rank: 12
- Last Week: (0-3) L at PHX 69-64; L at LAS 69-64; L vs. PHX 70-66
- Games Before All-Star: No Games
- Team Stats: OffRtg: 91.7 (11); DefRtg: 98.4 (9); NetRtg: -6.7 (11); eFG%: 42.5 (11) 91.36 (11)
12. Atlanta Dream (5-14)
- Previous Rank: 10
- Last Week: (0-3) L at CHI 77-76; L at CON 98-69; L at WAS 93-65
- Games Before All-Star: Tue. 7/23 vs. LAS
- Team Stats: OffRtg: 89.1 (12); DefRtg: 100.4 (10); NetRtg: -11.3 (12); eFG%: 41.2 (12); Pace: 93.40 (9)