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2022 WNBA Power Rankings: Week 1

Last week’s preseason power rankings were all about evaluating teams on paper.

This week’s power rankings are all about first impressions and how much those first impressions should influence the on-paper evaluations from a week ago.

How far should we drop the Sky and Sun – the two teams that topped the preseason rankings – after each fell in their season openers? How much should the Aces, Mystics, and Sparks rise after opening the season with a pair of wins?

Only nine total games have been played since the 2022 season tipped off last Friday. While the sample size is extremely small, some of the impressions were large and are reflected in the rankings below.

1. Las Vegas Aces

  • Previous Ranking: 4
  • Last Week: (2-0) W 106-88 at PHX; W 85-74 vs. SEA
  • This Week: Tuesday at WAS; Friday at ATL
  • Team Stats: OffRtg: 113.0 (1); DefRtg: 96.4 (6); NetRtg: 16.6 (1); eFG%: 58.2 (1); Pace: 84.25 (3)

The Becky Hammon era could not have gotten off to a better start in Las Vegas as the Aces opened the season with wins over Phoenix and Seattle. The Aces have won the past three Sixth Woman of the Year Awards – Dearica Hamby in 2019 and 2020 and Kelsey Plum in 2021 – but those two super-subs are now in the starting lineup for the Aces. Las Vegas is playing with pace and space, pushing the ball at every opportunity, spreading the floor and – unlike previous seasons – shooting 3s. After ranking dead last in the 3-point attempts in the past five seasons, the Aces are seventh after the opening weekend at 19.5 attempts per game – their highest mark since 2012 in San Antonio. Each member of the Aces starting five has scored in double figures in both games so far this season.

2. Washington Mystics

  • Previous Ranking: 6
  • Last Week: (2-0) W 84-70 vs. IND; W 78-66 at MIN
  • This Week: Tuesday vs. LVA; Friday vs. DAL
  • Team Stats:  OffRtg: 102.5 (6); DefRtg: 86.6 (3); NetRtg: 15.9 (2); eFG%: 47.5 (7); Pace: 78.75 (10)

After playing in just three games since leading the Mystics to the 2019 WNBA title, Elena Delle Donne was back on the court for Washington in their season-opening win over Indiana on Friday, finishing with 21 points and nine rebounds in 30 minutes of action. As good as EDD looked on Friday, the Mystics are continuing to be cautious with her as she makes her way back. Delle Donne did not play in Washington’s win at Minnesota on Sunday, as the Mystics got 20 points from Ariel Atkins, a double-double (13 points, 10 rebounds) from No. 3 pick Shakira Austin, and 19 points from Natasha Cloud – who also made quite a declaration during her in-game interview with Ros Gold-Onwude.

3. Los Angeles Sparks

  • Previous Ranking: 8
  • Last week: (2-0) W 98-91, OT at CHI; W 87-77 at IND
  • This Week: Wednesday at ATL; Saturday at CON
  • Team Stats:  OffRtg: 101.6 (7); DefRtg: 92.8 (4); NetRtg: 8.8 (3); eFG%: 51.5 (5); Pace: 85.41 (1)

The Sparks open the 2022 season with four straight road games, which included an opening night matchup with the defending champion Chicago Sky. Between 21 points and eight assists from one of the newest Sparks in Jordin Canada and 19 points, seven boards and three steals from the longest-tenured Spark in Nneka Ogwumike, Los Angeles was able to knock off Chicago in overtime. Two nights later in Indiana, it was Liz Cambage’s time to shine in her second game with the squad as she finished with game-highs of 22 points and 11 rebounds in L.A.’s 87-77 win. This is an excellent example of a roster that looks great on paper with so much talent, but there were questions about bringing so many new players together and finding the right chemistry and lineup combos early in the season. Through two games, the Sparks have had the answers with a pair of W’s.

4. Seattle Storm

  • Previous Ranking: 3
  • Last Week: (1-1) W 97-74 vs. MIN; L 85-74 at LVA
  • This Week: Wednesday at PHX; Saturday vs. PHX
  • Team Stats:  OffRtg: 103.0 (4); DefRtg: 95.8 (5); NetRtg: 7.2 (5); eFG%: 51.8 (4); Pace: 83.00 (7)

In their first game back in downtown Seattle – at the newly renovated and Climate Pledge Arena – the Storm put on a dominant performance in a 97-74 win over Minnesota on Friday with Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd scoring 17 points apiece and Sue Bird coming up one assist shy of a double-double. However, the Storm could not replicate that success in their first road outing in Las Vegas on Sunday as they fell to the Aces 85-74 in a game Seattle led by one after three quarters. This week, the Storm have a home-and-home series with Phoenix in a rematch of last season’s second-round playoff matchup that the Mercury won in overtime.

5. Chicago Sky

  • Previous Ranking: 1
  • Last Week: (0-1) L 98-91 vs. LAS
  • This Week: Wednesday vs. NYL; Saturday at MIN
  • Team Stats:  OffRtg: 96.8 (8); DefRtg: 103.2 (8); NetRtg: -6.3 (8); eFG%: 56.4 (2); Pace: 84.00 (t-4)

The Sky opened their title defense with an overtime loss to Los Angeles on Friday in a game that Chicago played without two of its starters from last year’s championship squad – Finals MVP Kahleah Copper is still fulfilling overseas commitments and guard Allie Quigley is out with a knee injury. The Sky saw all five of its starters score in double figure, including a career-best 24 points from Dana Evans and 21 points from Candace Parker. However, the Sky bench was outscored 37-10 by the Sparks’ reserves. The Sky also committed 20 turnovers – including an uncharacteristic eight from Courtney Vandersloot and six from Parker. On a positive note, Parker did join Vandersloot in the top 10 all-time in career assists; Parker is now ninth at 1,428 while Vanderlsoot is fourth at 2,188. Parker also entered the top 10 in scoring as she surpassed 6,000 career points. However, Sylvia Fowles passed Parker on Sunday as the top two picks in the 2008 draft will likely trade that top 10 spots until they pass Lisa Leslie in ninth place.

6. New York Liberty

  • Previous Ranking: 9
  • Last Week: (1-0) W 81-79 vs. CON
  • This Week: Wednesday at CHI; Friday vs. IND; Sunday vs. DAL
  • Team Stats:  OffRtg: 105.2 (2); DefRtg: 102.6 (7); NetRtg: 2.6 (6); eFG%: 55.9 (3); Pace: 77.00 (t-11)

Despite missing last season’s leading scorer – Betnijah Laney at 16.8 ppg, who was out due to a knee soreness – the Liberty opened the 2022 season with an 81-79 win over Connecticut on Saturday. Sabrina Ionescu finished with 25 points and six dimes and sparked a late run with three clutch baskets in the final four minutes to lead the Liberty to the win. Natasha Howard (16), Sami Whitcomb (15) and Jocelyn Willoughby (13) also scored in double figures as New York won in new head coach Sandy Brondello’s first game at the helm. After opening the season against the team that finished first in the East in 2021, the Liberty follow that up with a game against the defending champions on Wednesday. Hopefully Laney as well as Didi Richards (hamstring) are able to make it back so New York is at full strength.

7. Connecticut Sun

  • Previous Ranking: 2
  • Last Week: (0-1) L 81-79 at NYL
  • This Week: Saturday vs. LAS
  • Team Stats:  OffRtg: 102.6 (5); DefRtg: 105.2 (10); NetRtg: -2.6 (7); eFG%: 45.3 (8); Pace: 77.00 (t-11)

The Sun are short-handed as they open the 2022 season with DeWanna Bonner not with the team as she fulfills her overseas commitments and Courtney Williams serving her two-game suspension. So, while the Sun came up just short in their season-opening loss to the Liberty on Saturday, don’t expect Connecticut to stay this low in the rankings for long. Especially if they continue to get performances from Alyssa Thomas like we saw on Saturday as she finished with 25 points on 10-16 shooting to go with seven boards, four steals and two assists in 36 minutes. Keep in mind, the Sun finished with the best record in the WNBA last season (26-6) with the Engine appearing in just two games following Achilles surgery.

8. Phoenix Mercury

  • Previous Ranking: 5
  • Last Week: (0-1) L 106-88 vs. LVA
  • This Week: Wednesday vs. SEA; Saturday at SEA
  • Team Stats:  OffRtg: 104.8 (3); DefRtg: 124.7 (12); NetRtg: -19.9 (11); eFG%: 49.3 (6); Pace: 84.50 (2)

The short-handed Mercury opened the season with a 106-88 loss to the Aces on Friday in a game that saw Skylar Diggins-Smith score a game-high 25 points, but Diana Taurasi held to just nine points in 32 minutes. It was the first time since 2018 (and only the 17th time in her career) that Taurasi played at least 30 minutes and did not reach double-figure points. Phoenix was playing without its top two rim protectors – Brittney Griner and Brianna Turner – as well as guards Kia Nurse and Diamond DeShields. Turner and DeShields are expected to return for Wednesday’s game against Seattle, giving the Mercury some much-needed reinforcements. Speaking of DeShields, if you have not watched this feature on her recovery from a spinal surgery in 2020 that she did not publicize, take six minutes and watch this now.

9. Atlanta Dream

  • Previous Ranking: 11
  • Last Week: (1-0) W 66-59 at DAL
  • This Week: Wednesday vs. LAS; Friday vs. LVA; Sunday at IND
  • Team Stats:  OffRtg: 78.6 (11); DefRtg: 70.2 (1); NetRtg: 8.3 (4); eFG%: 37.3 (11); Pace: 84.00 (t-4)

Welcome to the WNBA Rhyne Howard! The No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 WNBA Draft shined in her professional debut, finishing with 16 points, four assists, four blocks and two steals in Atlanta’s 66-59 win over Dallas in the season opener for both teams on Saturday. The Dream and Wings have opened the season against one another in four of the past five seasons; Atlanta improved to 3-1 in those games with Saturday’s win. Atlanta hosts Los Angeles and Las Vegas this week before hitting the road to take on Indiana on Sunday.

10. Minnesota Lynx

  • Previous Ranking: 7
  • Last Week: (0-2) L 97-74 at SEA; L 78-66 vs. WAS
  • This Week: Tuesday at IND; Saturday vs. CHI
  • Team Stats:  OffRtg: 87.5 (10); DefRtg: 108.0 (11); NetRtg: -20.5 (12); eFG%: 40.3 (10); Pace: 80.50 (9)

The Sylvia Fowles farewell season did not get off to the start that the Lynx were hoping for as Minnesota dropped its first two games of the season. Like a number of teams around the league, the Lynx are playing short-handed to begin the 2022 campaign. Already without All-Star Napheesa Collier as she is pregnant and expecting later this month, the Lynx have also been without Kayla McBride (overseas commitments), Damiris Dantas (foot) and Angel McCoughtry missed Friday’s season-opener and played only 13 minutes on Sunday as she deals with knee soreness. The Lynx look to avoid their second straight 0-3 start when they visit Indiana on Tuesday. Meanwhile, keep an eye on the all-time leaderboards with Fowles as she passed Candace Parker for 10th place all-time in scoring on Sunday. She is already the all-time leader in career rebounds and field goal percentage, and she ranks fourth in career blocks.

11. Dallas Wings

  • Previous Ranking: 10
  • Last Week: (0-1) L 66-59 vs. ATL
  • This Week: Friday at WAS; Sunday at NYL
  • Team Stats:  OffRtg: 70.2 (12); DefRtg: 78.6 (2); NetRtg: -8.3 (9); eFG%: 27.1 (12); Pace: 84.00 (t-4)

To say the Wings’ season got off to a slow start would be an understatement as Dallas was held to just 59 points in Saturday’s loss to Atlanta. While Marina Mabrey scored 20 points on 8-16 shooting in 24 minutes off the bench, the rest of the team combined to score just 39 points on 9-54 (16.7%) shooting. Keep in mind that Dallas is without two key players still fulfilling overseas commitments in Satou Sabally and Teaira McCowan. The Wings are off until Friday when they visit the Mystics in DC before heading up to Brooklyn to face the Liberty on Sunday.

12. Indiana Fever

  • Previous Ranking: 12
  • Last Week: (0-2) L 84-70 at WAS; L 87-77 vs. LAS
  • This Week: Tuesday vs. MIN; Friday at NYL; Sunday vs. ATL
  • Team Stats:  OffRtg: 88.6 (9); DefRtg: 103.6 (9); NetRtg: -15.1 (10); eFG%: 44.3 (9); Pace: 82.75 (8)

The Fever dominated the 2022 WNBA Draft with four of the first 10 selections; they have five rookies on their roster, including three that were in their starting lineup – No. 2 pick NaLyssa Smith, No. 10 pick Queen Egbo and No. 20 pick Destanni Henderson. While the Fever were unable to get a win in their first two games of the season against Washington and Los Angeles, there were plenty of bright spots for this young team as they continue to build a foundation. The Fever are back in action with three games this week as they host Minnesota and Atlanta with a trip to New York in between.

Longtime WNBA reporter Brian Martin writes articles on WNBA.com throughout the season. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the WNBA or its clubs.