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2020 WNBA Power Rankings: Week 4

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 the 2020 WNBA season hits its midpoint after Tuesday’s trio of games, its time to take a closer look at the historic pace that the Seattle Storm are currently on as they ride an eight-game win streak into this week’s action and have a showdown with Las Vegas (on a seven-game win streak) on the horizon this Saturday.

Before we break down what the Storm are doing in 2020, first let’s go back and review what they did back in 2018, when they won their third title in franchise history.

In 2018, the Storm went 26-8 to finish atop the standings and post the second-best record in team history, trailing only the 2010 team that went 28-6 and also won the WNBA championship. In 2018, the Storm had the league’s second-ranked offense (108.5 points per 100 possessions), third ranked defense (99.3 points allowed per 100 possessions) and top net efficiency (plus-9.2 point differential per 100 possessions).

The eye test showed how dominant they were on both sides of the ball, and the numbers backed it up, as league MVP Breanna Stewart led the Storm to their third title and first in eight seasons, since the aforementioned 2010 season.

With Stewart and Sue Bird missing all of the 2019 season due to injury, the Storm’s hopes of becoming the first team to successfully defend the WNBA title since 2002 were dealt a crushing blow. While the team put up a good fight, led by Defensive Player of the Year and All-WNBA First Team selection Natasha Howard, to go 18-16 and qualify for the Playoffs, the Storm were ousted in the second round by Los Angeles.

Now let’s fast forward back to 2020. Breanna Stewart is healthy and looking like she hasn’t lost a step after battling back from a torn Achilles. Sue Bird is healthy, although she just returned after missing five games with a bone bruise in her knee, and continues to hold off Father Time. The full squad that won the 2018 title and never had the chance to defend it together, is back and looking as dominant as ever.

Take a look at their starting five of Bird, Alysha Clark, Howard, Jewell Loyd and Stewart. In 2018, they posted a net rating of 20.6 in 538 minutes on the court together. In 2020, that same five-woman lineup has a net rating of 27.1 in 77 minutes together (the minutes took a hit with Bird missing five games).

But it goes beyond that starting five. The team is on pace to post one of the most statistically dominant seasons on record. Remember in 2018, the Storm ranked second in offense, third in defense and first in net efficiency. In 2020, they rank first across the board: 107.7 offensive rating, 90.9 defensive rating and plus-16.8 net rating.

That last number is what puts them in historical context. Below is a look at the 15 times in WNBA history that a team finished with a net rating in the double digits. The 2020 Seattle Storm currently rank third on this list, trailing only two of the early Houston Comets teams that ran roughshod over the league in its first four seasons.

*2000 Houston Comets: 18.4
*1998 Houston Comets: 17.4
2020 Seattle Storm: 16.8
*2019 Washington Mystics: 14.8
*2017 Minnesota Lynx: 14.1
*1999 Houston Comets: 13.1
*2014 Phoenix Mercury: 12.3
**2012 Minnesota Lynx: 12.2
*2013 Minnesota Lynx: 11.8
*2001 Los Angeles Sparks: 11.6
**2016 Minnesota Lynx: 10.8
**2017 Los Angeles Sparks: 10.6
2001 Cleveland Rockers: 10.6
*2011 Minnesota Lynx: 10.2
*2010 Seattle Storm: 10.0

In case you’re wondering what those asterisks mean:

*Those 10 teams with one asterisk won the WNBA championship that season.

**Those three teams with two asterisks made it to the WNBA Finals that season, but did not with the title, including the 2017 Sparks who lost to another team on that list, the 2017 Lynx.

The only team that finished with a double-digit net rating and did not at least make the WNBA Finals was the 2001 Cleveland Rockers.

The Storm are on pace to top Washington’s 14.8 mark from last season when they won their first title in dominant fashion. The question is can they keep up this pace in the second half of this shortened WNBA season.

1. Seattle Storm (10-1)

Previous Rank: 1
Last Week: (3-0) W vs. ATL 100-63; W vs. DAL 83-65; W vs. CON 95-72
This Week: 8/18 vs. NYL; 8/20 vs. IND; 8/22 vs. LVA
Team Stats: OffRtg: 107.7 (1); DefRtg: 90.9 (1); NetRtg: 16.8 (1); eFG%: 54.7 (2); Pace: 96.49 (8)

2. Las Vegas Aces (8-2)

Previous Rank: 2
Last Week: (3-0) W vs. IND 98-79; W vs, MIN 87-77; W vs. WAS 88-73
This Week: 8/18 vs. CHI; 8/20 vs. CON; 8/22 vs. SEA
Team Stats: OffRtg: 105.9 (2); DefRtg: 95.5 (3); NetRtg: 10.3 (2); eFG%: 51.6 (5); Pace: 99.72 (2)

3. Los Angeles Sparks (7-3)

Previous Rank: 5
Last Week: (3-0) W vs. NYL 93-78; W vs. WAS 81-64; W vs. IND 90-76
This Week: 8/19 vs. PHX; 8/21 vs. ATL; 8/23 vs. DAL
Team Stats: OffRtg: 104.2 (5); DefRtg: 95.8 (4); NetRtg: 8.5 (3); eFG%: 54.4 (3); Pace: 99.06 (3)

4. Chicago Sky (7-4)

Previous Rank: 4
Last Week: (2-1) W vs. PHX 89-71; L vs. CON 77-74; W vs. ATL 92-67
This Week: 8/18 vs. LVA; 8/20 vs. NYL; 8/22 vs. IND
Team Stats: OffRtg: 104.3 (4); DefRtg: 100.0 (5); NetRtg: 4.3 (5); eFG%: 55.1 (1); Pace: 98.89 (4)

5. Minnesota Lynx (7-3)

Previous Rank: 6
Last Week: (2-1) W vs. WAS 68-48; L vs. LVA 87-77; W vs. NYL 94-64
This Week: 8/19 vs. DAL; 8/21 vs. PHX; 8/23 vs. ATL
Team Stats: OffRtg: 101.1 (7); DefRtg: 94.2 (2); NetRtg: 6.9 (4); eFG%: 49.2 (7); Pace: 95.46 (12)

6. Phoenix Mercury (6-5)

Previous Rank: 3
Last Week: (1-2) L vs. CHI 89-71; W vs. ATL 96-80; L vs, DAL 95-89
This Week: 8/19 vs. LAS; 8/21 vs. MIN; 8/23 vs. WAS
Team Stats: OffRtg: 105.7 (3); DefRtg: 102.8 (8); NetRtg: 2.9 (6); eFG%: 52.5 (4); Pace: 99.93 (1)

7. Connecticut Sun (4-7)

Previous Rank: 9
Last Week: (2-1) W vs. DAL 70-66; W vs. CHI 77-74; L vs. SEA 95-72
This Week: 8/18 vs. IND; 8/20 vs. LVA; 8/22 vs. NYL
Team Stats: OffRtg: 98.9 (9); DefRtg: 102.3 (7); NetRtg: -3.4 (7); eFG%: 46.1 (11); Pace: 96.27 (9)

8. Indiana Fever (4-6)

Previous Rank: 7
Last Week: (1-2) L vs. LVA 98-79; W vs. NYL 86-79; L vs. LAS 90-76
This Week: 8/18 vs. CON; 8/20 vs. SEA; 8/22 vs. CHI
Team Stats: OffRtg: 104.1 (6); DefRtg: 109.8 (11); NetRtg: -5.6 (10); eFG%: 50.2 (6); Pace: 96.12 (10)

9. Dallas Wings (4-7)

Previous Rank: 10
Last Week: (1-2) L vs. CON 70-66; L vs. SEA 83-65; W vs. PHX 95-89
This Week: 8/19 vs. MIN; 8/21 vs. WAS; 8.23 vs. LAS
Team Stats: OffRtg: 99.3 (8); DefRtg: 104.6 (9); NetRtg: -5.2 (9); eFG%: 46.8 (10); Pace: 95.73 (11)

10. Washington Mystics (3-7)

Previous Rank: 8
Last Week: (0-3) L vs. MIN 68-58; L vs. WAS 81-64; L vs. LVA 88-73
This Week: 8/19 vs. ATL; 8/21 vs. DAL; 8/23 vs. PHX
Team Stats: OffRtg: 96.8 (10); DefRtg: 100.4 (6); NetRtg: -3.6 (8); eFG%: 47.4 (9); Pace: 96.84 (7)

11. New York Liberty (1-9)

Previous Rank: 11
Last Week: (0-3) L vs. LAS 93-78; L vs. IND 86-79; L vs. MIN 94-64
This Week: 8/18 vs. SEA; 8/20 vs. CHI; 8/22 vs. CON
Team Stats: OffRtg: 89.2 (12); DefRtg: 105.7 (10); NetRtg: -16.5 (12); eFG%: 42.8 (12); Pace: 98.64 (5)

12. Atlanta Dream (2-9)

Previous Rank: 12
Last Week: (0-3) L vs. SEA 100-63; L vs. PHX 96-80; L vs. CHI 92-67
This Week: 8/19 vs. WAS; 8/21 vs. LAS; 8.23 vs. MIN
Team Stats: OffRtg: 96.1 (11); DefRtg: 111.5 (12); NetRtg: -15.4 (11); eFG%: 47.8 (8); Pace: 98.51 (6)