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.
What happens when you’re traveling to New York City from California to see Hamilton and you have to submit your Power Rankings on the way?
You get the latest WNBA Power Rankings set to the Hamilton soundtrack.
1. Minnesota Lynx
Last Week: 1
2016 Record: 3-0
OffRtg: 110.7 (1); DefRtg: 92.3 (3); NetRtg: 18.4 (2)
“History Has Its Eyes on You”
The Lynx are looking to make history this season as they try to become the first team to win back-to-back titles since the Sparks in 2001 and 2002, and also tie the Houston Comets for the most championships in league history. The defending champs are off to a strong start at 3-0 and continue to lead the rankings thanks to the league’s top offense (110.7 points per 100 possessions) and the third-best defense (92.3 DefRtg).
2. Los Angeles Sparks
Last Week: 5
2016 Record: 3-0
OffRtg: 106.7 (2); DefRtg: 79.8 (1); NetRtg: 26.9(1)
“The Story of Tonight”
The undefeated Sparks meet the Sky Tuesday on ESPN2 in the third game of a four-game road trip. Can Candace Parker and the Sparks keep up their early season magic against the reigning MVP Elena Delle Donne and a Sky team trying to snap a two-game skid? The marquee matchup between the MVPs definitely justifies the Hamilton lyric “Let’s have another round tonight” as I, for one, would definitely love to see these two square off as often as possible. L.A. enters the game with the league’s second-ranked offense and a dominant defense – the Sparks’ 79.8 defensive rating is nearly 10 points better than the second-place Liberty.
3. Dallas Wings
Last Week: 7
2016 Record: 3-1
OffRtg: 102.2 (4); DefRtg: 96.3 (6); NetRtg: 5.9 (3)
“You’ll Be Back”
After missing the team’s first three games, All-Star guard Skylar Diggins made her Wings debut in Saturday’s win over San Antonio in the Dallas home opener. Wings coach Fred Williams only played Diggins 12 minutes in her first game back since suffering an ACL tear early last season. Considering the team went 2-1 without Diggins in the lineup, they can afford to take a cautious approach to her return and not rush her back too quickly. Once she is up to full speed, the Wings should be a dangerous team to contend with.
4. New York Liberty
Last Week: 4
2016 Record: 2-2
OffRtg: 91.4 (8); DefRtg: 89.4 (2); NetRtg: 2.0 (5)
“It’s Quiet Uptown”
But it’s not quiet in midtown Manhattan, where the Liberty are once again making noise in the Eastern Conference. After opening the season 2-0, the Liberty have lost back-to-back games at home in overtime to the Sparks and Dream. In Tuesday’s loss to the Dream, Tina Charles put together an incredible performance – 29 points, 10 rebounds, 7 steals, 6 assists and 2 blocks. Once the Liberty can solve their overtime issues – they were held to just two points in the extra session on Tuesday – New York will be fine.
5. Indiana Fever
Last Week: 6
2016 Record: 2-1
OffRtg: 106.3 (3); DefRtg: 105.1 (9); NetRtg: 1.2 (6)
“One Last Time”
In addition to 2016 being Tamika Catchings’ final WNBA season, we learned on Monday night that this will also be the farewell season for coach Stephanie White, who is set to become the new head coach at Vanderbilt. White has been a fixture with the Fever as a player, assistant coach and head coach, and will remain in that position until the end of the Fever’s run. The question is how long will that run be? Indiana is off to a promising 2-1 start, but will the eventual departures of their head coach and franchise player become a distraction or a rallying cry? The Hamilton lyric “We’re gonna teach ’em how to say goodbye, you and I” fits very well for Catchings and White as they look to leave the Fever in a strong place when they make their respective exits.
6. Atlanta Dream
Last Week: 9
2016 Record: 3-1
OffRtg: 93.2 (6); DefRtg: 90.6 (3); NetRtg: 2.6 (4)
This isn’t a story about falling in love as it is in Hamilton – although Dream fans have to love what they are seeing from Tiffany Hayes so far this season (how about 27 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks in Atlanta’s win over New York on Tuesday!). The Helpless reference here comes in reference to Atlanta’s lack of assists – they rank last in the league at 13.0 per game and had just 11 helpers in their overtime win over the Liberty.
7. Phoenix Mercury
Last Week: 2
2016 Record: 0-3
OffRtg: 97.6 (6); DefRtg: 107.9 (12); NetRtg: -10.3 (10)
“Wait For It”
The Mercury has gotten off to a slower start (0-3) than everyone expected. Remember, this is the team that the league’s general managers picked as the favorite to win the title this season. But it is definitely not time to hit the panic button just yet. This team is reincorporating two starters that missed all of last season and had very little time in training camp to work together due to overseas commitments. Give this team a few more weeks to play together and find its rhythm and the Mercury will begin to climb up the Western Conference standings. The improvements have to begin on defense as last year’s squad ranked third in the league with a rating of 94.6, but currently ranks last while giving up 107.9 points per 100 possessions.
8. Chicago Sky
Last Week: 3
2016 Record: 1-2
OffRtg: 102.0 (5); DefRtg: 102.4 (8); NetRtg: -0.4 (7)
In an item to log under things that just don’t make sense, the Sky’s only win came in their season opener in a game that Elena Delle Donne missed due to illness. In the two games that featured a healthy reigning MVP, the Sky have lost. Much like the Mercury above, the Sky are sure to rebound from these early season hiccups to get back toward the top of the standings. Speaking of rebounds, one stat the Sky has excelled at has been rebounding percentage (leading the league at 55.5%), especially on the offensive glass, as more than a third of their possessions stay alive due to their 33.6% offensive rebound rate.
9. Seattle Storm
Last Week: 8
2016 Record: 1-2
OffRtg: 90.5 (10); DefRtg: 105.4 (11); NetRtg: -14.9 (12)
“Blow Us All Away”
Philip Hamilton’s song about living up to his father’s legacy, with the lyric “I used to hear him say that someday I would blow us all away,” provides a great connection with Seattle rookie Breanna Stewart, who is off to an impressive start to her WNBA career. In three games, Stewart is averaging 17.0 points and 10.7 rebounds, including a 14-point, 13-rebound double-double in her first WNBA victory last week against Phoenix. Of course, the Hamilton song could also prove to be a literal connection with Seattle blowing us all away once Stewart, Loyd and the young Storm come of age.
10. Washington Mystics
Last Week: 10
2016 Record: 1-3
OffRtg: 91.3 (9); DefRtg: 105.2 (10); NetRtg: -13.9 (11)
“Right Hand Man“
Tayler Hill had a career-high 24 points and seven assists as the Mystics picked up their first (and only) win of the season on Saturday in overtime against Connecticut. Hill is part of the young core of players that the Mystics are building around under the tutelage of veteran coach Mike Thibault. Hamilton’s lyric, “Here comes the General!” from “Right Hand Man” is a great way to describe both Thibault (the coach that is building this team) and Ivory Latta, the team’s point guard who has yet to play this season due to injury. Once Latta is back on the court, Thibault will have his Right Hand (Wo)man to lead his team into battle.
11. Connecticut Sun
Last Week: 11
2016 Record: 1-2
OffRtg: 87.6 (11); DefRtg: 97.6 (7); NetRtg: -10.1 (9)
Camille Little and Jasmine Thomas are the only two Sun players that have been in the WNBA for at least five seasons. The rest of the roster is full of young talent, led by 2014 Rookie of the Year Chiney Ogwumike — who continues to work her way back after missing all of last season due to injury — and a trio of first-round picks from the 2016 Draft that are, as the Hamilton lyric goes “young, scrappy and hungry.” With no players averaging more than 12.3 points per game, there are plenty of shots to go around as this team continues to grow.
12. San Antonio Stars
Last Week: 12
2016 Record: 0-3
OffRtg: 86.7 (12); DefRtg: 94.2 (5); NetRtg: -7.5 (8)
“The Room Where It Happens”
Aaron Burr wanted nothing more than to be in “the room where it happens” when Hamilton cut a deal with James Madison and Thomas Jefferson and later when Hamilton’s endorsement of Jefferson helped keep Burr from becoming President. And there is one particular room that WNBA teams don’t want to be in – that is the draft lottery room. While being in the draft lottery is a guarantee of a high pick in the following year’s draft, it also means that you’re one of the four teams that fails to make the playoffs. Dan Hughes’ final season is off to a 0-3 start; are the Stars bound for “the room where it happens” once again?