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2020 WNBA.com Power Rankings: Week 1

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 important as first impressions are, there is only so much that can be gleaned from seeing each team play a single game so far in the bubble.

Thus, the first edition of this season’s power rankings will offer a mix of reactions from opening weekend as well as preseason expectations for each team.

1. Seattle Storm (1-0)

  • Last Week: W vs. NYL 87-71
  • This Week: 7/28 vs. MIN, 7/30 vs. WAS, 8/1 vs. LAS

Breanna Stewart (18 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals) and Sue Bird (11 points, 5 assists) suited up for the Storm for the first time since Seattle won the 2018 championship and immediately made their presence felt in the Storm’s season-opening win over the Liberty. Add 14 points from Jewell Loyd, 10 points from Jordin Canada and strong defense from Alysha Clark (3 steals, 1 block), and reigning DPOY Natasha Howard (2 steals, 1 block) and it adds up to strong first step for Seattle.

2. Los Angeles Sparks (1-0)

  • Last Week: W vs. PHX 99-76
  • This Week: 7/28 vs. CHI, 7/30 vs. CON, 8/1 vs. SEA

Bold Prediction: If Nneka Ogwumike (21 points, 8-8 FG) and Seimone Augustus (14 points, 6-6 FG) never miss a shot all season, the Sparks will win the 2020 WNBA title. The duo set a WNBA record for most field goals made by teammates without a miss in any game (previous record was 11) as the Sparks defeated the Mercury. Less Bold Prediction: It will take at least five more games before I get used to seeing Seimone in that Sparks uniform.

3. Chicago Sky (1-0)

  • Last Week: W vs. LVA 88-86
  • This Week: 7/28 vs. LAS, 7/30 vs. MIN, 8/1 vs. WAS

In one of the best games from opening weekend, the Sky earned a two-point win over the Aces thanks to an Allie Quigley 3-pointer with 14.7 seconds to play. It capped an 11-0 Sky run to close the game as Chicago had seven players score eight points or more in the contest. Kahleah Copper led the way with 18 and Gabby Williams added 14 off the bench. And of course, Courtney Vandersloot orchestrated the show with 11 dimes to six different teammates.

4. Las Vegas Aces (0-1)

  • Last Week: L vs. CHI 88-86
  • This Week: 7/29 vs. ATL, 7/31 vs. PHX, 8/2 vs. DAL

Chicago’s late rally spoiled the Aces debut of Angel McCoughtry (25 points, 11-17 FG, 8 rebounds) and a big game from A’ja Wilson (22 points, 11 rebounds). The trio of McCoughtry, Wilson and Dearica Hamby (14 points, 8 rebounds) accounted for 61 of Las Vegas 86 points (70.9%).

5. Phoenix Mercury (0-1)

  • Last Week: L vs. LAS 99-76
  • This Week: 7/29 vs. IND, 7/31 vs. LVA, 8/2 vs. NYL

The Mercury debuted their new-look Big Three of Diana Taurasi (16 points, 4-12 FG, 1-7 3P), Brittney Griner (8 points, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks) and Skylar Diggins-Smith (14 points, 6 assists) on Saturday against Los Angeles, but it was not enough to slow down the Sparks. After shooting just 1-24 from beyond the arc in her six games last season, Taurasi made her second 3-point attempt of the game, but finished 1-7 from deep.

6. Washington Mystics (1-0)

  • Last Week: W vs. IND 101-76
  • This Week: 7/28 vs. CON, 7/30 vs. SEA, 8/1 vs. CHI

There has been much discussed and written (myself included) about who is not playing for the Mystics this season. Well, it’s time to start paying attention to the players that are on the floor, including Myisha Hines-Allen, who absolutely balled out in Washington’s season-opening win over Indiana. The third-year forward finished with a career-best 27 points on 11-17 shooting and added 10 boards.

7. Minnesota Lynx (1-0)

  • Last Week: W vs. CON 77-69
  • This Week: 7/28 vs. SEA, 7/30 vs. CHI, 8/1 vs. CON

The Lynx trailed by as many as 11 points deep into the third quarter before rallying for a 77-69 win over Connecticut in their season opener. Sylvia Fowles (17 points, 18 boards) was a force inside as usual, but it was a pair of former UConn teammates that helped rally the Lynx in the fourth quarter. Napheesa Collier had nine points, four rebounds and four assists in the game’s final 10 minutes, while Crystal Dangerfield had seven points on 3-4 shooting as the rookie came through in the clutch.

8. Connecticut Sun (0-1)

  • Last Week: L vs. MIN 77-69
  • This Week: 7/28 vs. WAS, 7/30 vs. LAS, 8/1 vs. MIN

DeWanna Bonner (19 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 assists, 1 block) stuffed the stat sheet in her Sun debut, but had an off-shooting night (6-18 FG, 0-6 3P) as the Sun dropped its season opener to Minnesota. Alyssa Thomas (20 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals) and Brionna Jones (10 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 assists) combined to shoot 11-17 (64.7%) from the field, while the rest of the Sun shot just 12-49 (24.5%) and 2-19 (10.5%) from deep.

9. Atlanta Dream (1-0)

  • Last Week: W vs. DAL 105-96
  • This Week: 7/29 vs. LVA, 7/31 vs. NYL, 8/2 vs. IND

Along with Washington’s Hines-Allen, Atlanta’s Monique Billings was another third-year forward that had an outstanding season debut as she posted a career-best 30 points to go with 13 boards and 2 blocks in Atlanta’s win over Dallas. Rookie Chennedy Carter had a strong debut with 18 points; while she didn’t shoot the ball particularly well (5-16 FG, 0-4 3P), she showed her ability to break down defenses and draw contact as she went 8-9 from the free throw line, while also dropping eight dimes.

10. Dallas Wings (0-1)

  • Last Week: L vs. ATL 105-95
  • This Week: 7/29 vs. NYL, 7/31 vs. IND, 8/2 vs. LVA

While the Wings had some bright spots on offense in their season debut – Arike Ogunbowale and Allisha Gray each posted 19 points, Isabelle Harrison had a double-double with 18 points and 10 boards, rookie Satou Sabally (11) and Tyasha Harris (13) each reached double figures in their pro debuts – Dallas had no answers defensively against the Dream as they allowed 105 points on 54.8% shooting and allowed 34 free throw attempts.

11. New York Liberty (0-1)

  • Last Week: L vs. SEA 87-71
  • This Week: 7/29 vs. DAL, 7/31 vs. ATL, 8/2 vs. PHX

The Storm spoiled the WNBA debut of No. 1 overall pick Sabrina Ionescu, who finished with 12 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists, but shot just 4-17 from the field and 0-8 from beyond the arc. To make matters worse, Kia Nurse went down with an ankle injury early in the second quarter and did not return; her status for this week remains unknown. A bright spot for the Liberty was the play of veteran guard Layshia Clarendon, who scored a game-high 20 points in her New York debut.

12. Indiana Fever (0-1)

  • Last Week: L vs. WAS 101-76
  • This Week: 7/29 vs. PHX, 7/31 vs. DAL, 8/2 vs. ATL

The Fever suffered the most lopsided defeat of opening weekend as the defending champion Mystics took control of the game midway through the opening quarter and didn’t look back. Some positive takeaways from Indiana include the shooting of Kelsey Mitchell (25 points on 5-7 from three), the return of Victoria Vivians (8 points) after missing all of 2019 due to injury, and Candice Dupree (13 points, 4 rebounds) taking sole possession of fifth place on the WNBA’s all-time scoring list.