WNBA Power Rankings: Week Four
Has there been a shakeup at the top?
by Stephen Litel / @stephenlitel
After a week off due to illness, the WNBA power rankings return to SLAM. We are already getting to the point in the season where many teams are beginning to separate themselves from the rest of the pack and that should make for a good amount of conversation regarding the top of the rankings. Let the debate begin…
1. Minnesota Lynx (9-0. Last week: #1)
Of course the team that became only the third team in WNBA history to start 9-0 remains in the top spot this week. What is even more impressive is they have won the last two games without Seimone Augustus, their leading scorer. They will look to become the first team to start 10-0 on Friday in Phoenix.
2. Los Angeles Sparks (6-1. Last week: #3)
The Sparks are on a four-game winning streak and have looked impressive most of the time. They are still adjusting to each other and all the new faces, as well as dealing with playing without Nicky Anosike and Sharnee Zoll. They haven’t been truly tested yet, as three of their wins this year come against the Seattle Storm already and another comes via the Tulsa Shock, so the upcoming week will be telling. They play Connecticut, Atlanta and San Antonio all on the road.
3. Connecticut Sun (6-1. Last week: #4)
To start the 2012 season, the Sun are winning the games they should, which is most of them. They beat New York twice, as well as San Antonio and Washington. However, the telling games were against the Indiana Fever, which the Sun defeated in Indiana and played the reigning champion Minnesota Lynx well before ultimately losing the game. If the Sun can continue as they are, a deep postseason run is in the future.
4. Indiana Fever (4-2. Last week: #2)
A two-game losing streak drops the Indiana Fever in this week’s rankings, although losing to the Connecticut Sun is nothing to sneeze at since they are a highly ranked team. However, losing to New York in not something to be proud of if you’re the Fever, but after five days of rest this week, Indiana can make amends. They play on the road in Washington on Friday and host the Chicago Sky the following night.
5. Chicago Sky (6-1. Last week: #8)
This new-look Chicago team is now on a five-game winning streak with three of the five wins coming on the road against San Antonio, Atlanta and New York. Things are coming together nicely for Chicago, as it seems that each game they have more flow to their game. If they continue to improve and win, they will go even higher in the rankings soon.
6. San Antonio Silver Stars (3-4. Last week: #5)
There is a pattern to San Antonio’s season so far: win one game, followed by two losses. Since they won their last game Saturday against Seattle, Silver Star fans hope the pattern is broken now. In a scheduling oddity, the Stars don’t play their next game until Saturday, giving them a week off between games…and then don’t play again until June 22. They can’t complain about being over-worked for the next few weeks.
7. Atlanta Dream (3-5. Last week: #7)
The two-time reigning Eastern Conference champions are just trying to hang on until they get their full team back after the Olympic break. Right now, they are doing an adequate job, but must find a way to get a few more wins. They are winning at home and losing on the road, essentially, so they must come together and snag some road wins. Remember, this is a team that started slowly last year…and then made it all the way to the WNBA Finals. They have been here before.
8. Phoenix Mercury (2-5. Last week: #6)
The Mercury are similar to the Atlanta Dream in the fact they are waiting for reinforcements since Diana Taurasi is out indefinitely with a strained hip flexor. Hopefully, she can return soon to help give the Mercury a little more bite and the schedule has been rough. Their two wins are against the Tulsa Shock and, as a whole, five of their seven games have been on the road. With three of the next four at home in front of the fans who support them, it will be a nice change of pace for Phoenix.
9. New York Liberty (3-6. Last week: #12)
Before losing to the Chicago Sky on Sunday, the Liberty were on a three-game winning streak. With two of those wins coming against the Indiana Fever and the Atlanta Dream, New York reminded WNBA fans they are better than their record indicates. It is no coincidence that New York got back to winning games when Cappie Pondexter’s shooting percentages went up and she was scoring 20+ with regularity. Their next three are all on the road against Connecticut, Atlanta and Minnesota, so they could really make a statement coming up.
10. Seattle Storm (1-6. Last week: #9)
Like the Phoenix Mercury, five of Seattle’s first seven games have been on the road, including two stops each in Los Angeles and Minnesota. That is a brutal schedule for a team trying to find their identity without Lauren Jackson for the time-being. The finally got a win on the books in 2012 against the Tulsa Shock, but they are certainly looking forward to playing in Seattle more. The problem is they seven of their next twelve games are still on the road. After the Olympic break, they play all six of their games in August at home. Will that be too late for this team? This schedule is ridiculously amazing.
11. Washington Mystics (1-5. Last week: #10)
As is the case with a few other struggling teams, the Washington Mystics only win came against the Tulsa Shock. They have also had a murderer’s row of teams on the schedule, playing Chicago twice, as well as Minnesota and Connecticut. The schedule doesn’t loosen up anytime soon either with Indiana coming to Washington, followed by a three-game road trip for Washington to Los Angeles, Phoenix and Seattle. With the struggles Phoenix and Seattle both have as well, Washington will really need to find a way to come away with W’s there.
12. Tulsa Shock (0-8. Last week: #11)
What can you really say about the Tulsa Shock? They do play hard on defense and force a good amount of turnovers from their opponents, but it hasn’t translated into a win yet. The question becomes when the first win will happen for the Shock because you know all the other teams in the league do not want to be the first team to lose to them. You have to give Coach Klop credit though because this team enjoys playing for him and they continue to fight. That’s something, right?
Photo by Matthew Fleegel