WNBA Power Rankings: Week 2
The reigning champions are still on top, but what about the rest of the league?
by Stephen Litel / @stephenlitel
After a little over a week since the WNBA season tipped off, there are already some teams who are standing out above the rest. Some teams will have an opportunity this coming week to move up in the power rankings, as the schedule really picks up.
1. Minnesota Lynx (4-0, Last week: 1)
Minnesota picked up where they left off last season with the best record in the WNBA. Only their game against the L.A. Sparks was truly competitive, and what should scare the rest of the league is the Lynx are doing this even with Lindsay Whalen having a slow start, compared to her MVP-like jump last year. Road games against Washington and Connecticut await this week, as well as a home game against San Antonio. A few Lynx players have mentioned how they have their eyes on the all-time best record in a 34-game season, which is 28-6. Winning their three games this week would help the cause greatly.
2. Indiana Fever (3-0, Last week: 3)
A perfect week, two of the three wins coming against the two-time defending Eastern Conference champion Atlanta Dream and a third win against the new-look Chicago Sky makes Indiana jump over Connecticut, despite their own perfect record. Last year’s MVP, Tamika Catchings, is off to another amazing start, and should this veteran team avoid the injury bug, they may very well find themselves playing in the WNBA Finals this year.
3. Los Angeles Sparks (3-1, Last week: 5)
The new-look Los Angeles Sparks are legit, folks. As is the case with the Minnesota Lynx—who are the only team to beat L.A. so far—the Sparks should scare the rest of the league because they are still “figuring it out” and looking to get healthy. Two wins against Seattle, one against Phoenix and a close game in Minnesota against the defending champs when you’re not at 100 percent yet? The Sparks are going to be good.
4. Connecticut Sun (3-0, Last week: 2)
Dropping two spots when they go undefeated is more of a compliment to Indiana and Los Angeles than it is a criticism of the Sun. A perfect week for Connecticut is a great start, although two of their wins are against the New York Liberty, who are struggling to start the year. Tina Charles is off to a great start to the season, leading the young Sun team and they are fortunate to have eight of their first 11 games at home. When Connecticut has to hit the road later in the season, it will be quite telling to see if they learned from last season.
5. San Antonio Silver Stars (1-1, Last week: 8 )
The national media annually overlooks this team, but the balance on San Antonio to start the season is remarkable. They have five players averaging over 10 ppg, led by Shameka Christon, who obviously looks solid in her return to play. The upcoming week brings home games against Chicago and Phoenix, and then they travel to Minnesota to face the Lynx. This could be a great week for the Silver Stars to serve notice to the rest of the league.
6. Phoenix Mercury (1-2, Last week: 6)
Both Candice Dupree and DeWanna Bonner are having career years to start the season, which is great with Diana Taurasi still working toward getting healthy. The Mercury’s addition of Charde Houston in the offseason was a perfect fit, and Houston looks revitalized in a new environment. Although Samantha Prahalis has had a few “Welcome to the WNBA” moments, the rookie is also a great fit. When Taurasi is back to normal, Phoenix will be the same as they always have been: a tough team to beat.
7. Atlanta Dream (1-2, Last week: 7)
Two losses to Indiana hurts, as the Fever made an early statement that the Eastern Conference runs through them this year. Atlanta can score the ball with the best of them, but the question is: How will they slow down teams who have great post players? With a leader like Angel McCoughtry, the Dream will find a way to address their weaknesses. After all, they are the two-time defending Eastern Conference champions.
8. Chicago Sky (1-1, Last week: 9)
Like the Los Angeles Sparks, the Chicago Sky are still attempting to figure out their new-look team. They lead the league in turnovers right now, which, obviously, is not something to take pride in. A .500 record is fine to start the year, but we haven’t seen enough of this team to get a true sense for who they are. Sylvia Fowles is also off to an MVP-type season, holding down the fort as they continue to work, but they need to figure it out soon. With two road games against San Antonio and Atlanta coming up this week, as well as a home game against Washington, we will get a better feel for what this team may be able to accomplish this year.
9. Seattle Storm (0-3, Last week: 4)
Yes, losing to both Los Angeles (twice) and the Minnesota Lynx is understandable, but Seattle just isn’t the same team they have been in the past. Ann Wauters is playing some rather good basketball, but this team, obviously, misses Lauren Jackson… and Swin Cash… and even Le’Coe Willingham. They don’t play again until a home game Friday against Tulsa, but then the schedule doesn’t help them out. At that point, they play seven of their next 10 on the road, including stops in L.A., Minnesota, San Antonio and Chicago.
10. Washington Mystics (1-1. Last week: 11)
Essentially, the Mystics started the season as they should in the first week, losing to Chicago and defeating the Tulsa Shock. Crystal Langhorne and Monique Currie are doing good things and Matee Ajavon was more than solid against Tulsa, but they must find a way to get Noelle Quinn rolling. Averaging 33 minutes in the first two games, Quinn is only averaging 2 points and 3 assists while shooting 18 percent from the field. This is not going to get it done, but at least she’s grabbing 7.5 rebounds per game, trying to help their cause. It gets incredibly real for Washington this week with games against Minnesota, Chicago and Connecticut coming up.
11. Tulsa Shock (0-3, Last week: 12)
Although they are 0-3 to start the season, the Shock are a much-improved team. They’d have to be after last season, right? At the very least, the dark cloud around the coaching situation last year has moved on and this squad loved Gary Kloppenburg. Tulsa is getting solid perimeter play from Temeka Johnson, Ivory Latta and Jen Lacy, while Glory Johnson is adjusting well to the professional level early in her career. They have further to go on their own road, but like San Antonio, those who don’t see the early improvements haven’t watched them play.
12. New York Liberty (0-4, Last week: 10)
Losing to Connecticut (twice), Minnesota and Atlanta is somewhat understandable, but the problem is that really only one of the games was competitive. Cappie Pondexter, the Liberty’s “franchise player,” is shooting 38 percent from the field and .059 from the three-point line. Really. With a back-to-back coming up this week against the Indiana Fever, it would not be a shock to see New York drop to 0-6 to start the year. Certainly, Cappie will pick it up as the season goes on, but can you imagine a combination of Pondexter on the perimeter with Brittney Griner in the post in New York next year? It would be nice.