News Flash: The Minnesota Lynx actually lost a game!
Now that the initial shock of that event has passed, we have to take a closer look at the team that pulled off the upset – the Connecticut Sun.
In last week’s Power Rankings, we looked at how Connecticut’s 3-5 record did not correlate with their point differential (+4.9 net rating). This was a team that was playing better than its record indicated and their victory over the Lynx is more evidence to that point.
The Sun have now won four straight games – tied with the defending champion Sparks for the longest active streak in the W – to climb to .500 for the first time since the opening week of last season.
Jonquel Jones continues her amazing sophomore surge as she is the only player in the WNBA to average double-figure rebounds (12.2) to go with 15.5 points and 1.5 blocks per game. Fellow sophomore Courtney Williams continues to impress (12.7 pts, 4.9 reb, 1.8 ast) as her opportunities have grown due to the absence of Alex Bentley, who is currently playing for Belarus in EuroBasket.
After jumping up two spots in last week’s rankings, the Sun rise two more spots this week as they prepare for a clash with the Liberty – also winners of four of their last five – on Friday in New York.
1. Minnesota Lynx
Last Week’s Ranking: 1
2017 Record: 9-1; This Week: 0-1
OffRtg: 109.5 (2); DefRtg: 94.8 (1); NetRtg: 14.7 (1)
While Minnesota was unable to match last season’s record 13-game start of season win streak, their nine straight wins to open the 2017 season are tied for the fourth-longest such streak in WNBA history.
Most consecutive games won, start of season
13: Minnesota, May 14-June 21, 2016
11: Los Angeles, May 15-June 17, 2016
10: Minnesota, May 20-June 15, 2012
9: Minnesota, May 14-June 11, 2017
9: Los Angeles, May 28-June 19, 2001
9: Los Angeles, May 24-June 14, 2003
2. Los Angeles Sparks
Last Week’s Ranking: 2
2017 Record: 8-3; This Week: 3-0
OffRtg: 111.7 (1); DefRtg: 102.1 (5); NetRtg: 9.6 (2)
The defending champs hit a few hurdles in the early weeks as they suffered three losses in their first seven games. Since then, the Sparks have gone on a four-game win streak, including a 31-point win over Phoenix on Sunday in L.A. to close a three-game homestand. The Sparks are 6-0 at Staples Center, but 2-3 on the road, which is where they’ll be for the next three games beginning Saturday in Indy.
3. Washington Mystics
Last Week’s Ranking: 3
2017 Record: 7-4; This Week: 0-1
OffRtg: 108.2 (3); DefRtg: 104.9 (10); NetRtg: 3.3 (5)
The Mystics have lost two of their last three games, including a lose-from-ahead defeat to the Dallas Wings on Sunday. Washington led by as many as 12 points in the second half, but allowed Dallas to close the game on an 8-0 run to fall by four points. The Mystics face the Lynx on Friday with both teams coming off a loss.
4. New York Liberty
Last Week’s Ranking: 4
2017 Record: 7-4; This Week: 1-1
OffRtg: 102.2 (8); DefRtg: 102.1 (6); NetRtg: 0.1 (7)
The Liberty have won five of their last six games, with the only defeat coming to the suddenly-hot Sun last week. New York bounced back from that loss by scoring a season-high 102 points in an overtime win over the Wings in Dallas. It was the first time the Liberty had scored at least 100 points since June 18, 2014. This week, the Liberty get the Sun again, this time at Madison Square Garden, where New York is 5-2 on the season.
5. Connecticut Sun
Last Week’s Ranking: 7
2017 Record: 5-5; This Week: 2-0
OffRtg: 107.3 (4); DefRtg: 100.1 (4); NetRtg: 7.2 (3)
After picking up a big road win in Minnesota, the Sun remain on the road this week for matchups with New York (Friday, 7:30 ET, ESPN3) and Dallas (Sunday, 4:30 ET, NBA TV). A key for the Sun’s success has been balance, as they have five players averaging double figures in scoring, despite not having a top 15 scorer on the squad. Getting contributions up and down the roster is crucial, especially while Bentley is away and Morgan Tuck continues to be sidelined with a knee injury.
6. Seattle Storm
Last Week’s Ranking: 6
2017 Record: 6-5; This Week: 1-1
OffRtg: 105.5 (5); DefRtg: 103.2 (8); NetRtg: 2.3 (6)
After opening the season 5-2, the Storm were on a three-game skid before San Antonio came to KeyArena on Sunday. Behind 22 points, 15 rebounds and career-best five blocks from Breanna Stewart, the Storm defeated the winless Stars 75-57 to get back in the win column. Seattle has one more home game (where they are 5-2 on the season) before hitting the road for three straight (where they are just 1-3).
7. Phoenix Mercury
Last Week’s Ranking: 5
2017 Record: 6-5; This Week: 1-1
OffRtg: 101.8 (9); DefRtg: 97.8 (2); NetRtg: 4.0 (4)
Sunday featured polarizing headlines for the Phoenix Mercury. First, there was Diana Taurasi becoming the WNBA’s all-time scoring leader as she passed Tina Thompson late in the first half. On the other hand, the Mercury lost that game by 31 points as they shot a season-low 32.8 percent and committed a season-high 19 turnovers against the Sparks. You have to go back to Sept. 15, 2013 to find a Mercury loss that bad – an 89-55 loss to L.A. Back then, the Mercury bounced back to beat the Sparks four days later in the first game of a playoff series the Mercury would win. This time around, they face the Storm in Seattle on Friday as they try to bounce back.
8. Atlanta Dream
Last Week’s Ranking: 6
2017 Record: 5-5; This Week: 1-1
OffRtg: 93.9 (11); DefRtg: 99.1 (3); NetRtg: -5.3 (9)
After opening the season by winning four of their first five games, the Dream have now lost four of their past five to settle in at .500 through the season’s first 10 games. While their defense has been solid – they own the league’s third-best defensive rating – the Dream have struggled at generating offense as they are shooting a league-low 39.9 percent from the field and 23.0 percent from beyond the arc for the season. Over their past five games, the Dream have averaged just 73.8 points per game, 10 points fewer than the league average (83.9) over that stretch. The Dream will try to get back on track offensively this week against a Sky squad that allows 85.0 points per game.
9. Indiana Fever
Last Week’s Ranking: 10
2017 Record: 6-6; This Week: 2-0
OffRtg: 103.2 (7); DefRtg: 109.5 (12); NetRtg: -6.3 (10)
The Fever have won three of their last four games to climb back to .500 on the season, including a come-from-behind win over the Sky in Chicago for their first road win of the season. Indiana is now 5-1 at home and 1-5 away from Bankers Life Fieldhouse. They will remain at home this week as they prepare to host the defending champion Sparks on Saturday (7:00 ET, NBA TV).
10. Dallas Wings
Last Week’s Ranking: 9
2017 Record: 5-8; This Week: 1-2
OffRtg: 104.3 (6); DefRtg: 108.4 (11); NetRtg: -4.2 (8)
The Wings faced a tough three-game schedule last week with matchups against the Sparks, Liberty and Mystics – three of the hottest teams in the league. After dropping the first two games to extend their losing streak to three games, the Wings found themselves down by 12 in the second half in Washington before putting together a rally to an 87-83 win. After facing three teams with a combined record of 22-11, the Wings get a pair of games this week against the winless Stars before facing red-hot Connecticut on Sunday.
11. Chicago Sky
Last Week’s Ranking: 11
2017 Record: 2-9; This Week: 0-2
OffRtg: 94.4 (10); DefRtg: 103.9 (9); NetRtg: -9.5 (11)
A look at the four factors does not paint a pretty picture for the Sky. They have the second-highest turnover rate (20.1%), the lowest free throw rate (0.262), the fourth-lowest effective field goal percentage (46.9%) and the fifth-lowest offensive rebound rate (24.7%). They are the only team to rank in the bottom half of the league in all four categories.
12. San Antonio Stars
Last Week’s Ranking: 12
2017 Record: 0-11; This Week: 0-2
OffRtg: 90.6 (12); DefRtg: 103.1 (7); NetRtg: -12.4 (12)
Even a return to the friendly confines of KeyArena in Seattle could not help Kelsey Plum get on track early in her WNBA rookie campaign. While the top draft pick matched her season-high with eight points, she shot just 2-11 from the field in 21 minutes. Plum wasn’t alone as the Stars scored a season-low 57 points in their loss to Seattle to fall to 0-11 on the season. This week the Stars have a home-and-home set with the Wings, who own the league’s second-worst defensive rating. Can Plum and the Stars find their offense before heading to Minnesota to face the Lynx on Sunday?