The Las Vegas Aces move back into their preseason spot of first place in our power rankings. They are followed by the previously first-place Seattle Storm.
After a switch in spots between the Storm and Aces, the rest of our power rankings list goes by the standings, though different ballots had things mixed up. Find out why each team is where they are and what’s changed since our power rankings on June 3 and before the season.
1) Las Vegas Aces (15-6) (up 2)
The Aces get the edge over the Storm despite being one game behind in the standings. Vegas still has the most talent in the league even though Seattle has a better record. Its star center, Liz Cambage, has withdrawn from the Olympics due to mental health concerns, but if she is back when WNBA play resumes, watch out. Kelsey Plum will be an X factor for the Aces. We know they have depth with four players besides headliners A’ja Wilson and Cambage averaging double figures and another averaging nine points per game. But if Plum (13.5 points per game) becomes an elite scorer at the pro level, which she has been threatening to do, that takes them to a whole new level.
2) Seattle Storm (16-5) (down 1)
We said in our preseason power rankings that the Storm were going to be pretty reliant on Breanna Stewart to be the best player on the floor in every game. However, Jewell Loyd and Sue Bird have been phenomenal so that has not been the case. The rest of Seattle’s roster continues to put up underwhelming scoring numbers, but players like Mercedes Russell, Jordin Canada, Ezi Magbegor and others make their impacts felt with intangibles.
3) Connecticut Sun (14-6) (down 1)
Jonquel Jones has shown no signs of slowing down since her return with three games of 16-plus rebounds in five appearances. With DeWanna Bonner and Brionna Jones both performing at All-Star levels, the Sun have the legit big three we thought they wouldn’t have after Alyssa Thomas tore her Achilles. And with the scrappy play of their role players, they will be dangerous moving forward.
4) Minnesota Lynx (12-7) (up 6)
The Lynx have two gutsy wins over the Aces, which earned them a third-place vote. Napheesa Collier and Sylvia Fowles are playing like one of the best duos in the league and it’s scary to think of their ceiling. Kayla McBride has also turned it up a notch after being left out of most All-Star conversations and Layshia Clarendon’s story and play have both been inspiring. When the Lynx get Aerial Powers back, watch out. And even without Powers, they have solid contributors up and down their roster.
5) Chicago Sky (10-10) (up 4)
The Sky earned a fourth-place vote and may have a better big four (Candace Parker, Courtney Vandersloot, Kahleah Copper and Diamond DeShields) than both Connecticut and Minnesota. Their talent level and high level of play during their seven-game win streak are reasons for optimism. However, their 1-3 record over their last four games is cause for concern. In one of those losses, they scored just 58 points. They don’t seem to have the right mojo right now.
6) New York Liberty (10-11) (even)
The Liberty appear at No. 6 on this list because Natasha Howard will be returning and, remember, she has the potential to be the team’s best player, even ahead of Betnijah Laney. Given the role that Laney has played up until now and her familiarity with the rest of the team, she will likely remain the go-to scorer and the best player. However, Howard was the bigger-splash acquisition and the Liberty will have a really good big three with her back. New York has been good but inconsistent without Howard, leaving their spot on this list in question without her.
7) Phoenix Mercury (9-10) (down 3)
The Mercury’s July 7th win over the Aces was encouraging and they have gone 1-1 against the Storm since then with no other games. So momentum will be on their side after the Olympic break. And, as always, they have the top-end talent to be a contender. They received a sixth-place vote.
8) Washington Mystics (8-10) (even)
Like the Liberty, the Mystics’ spot on this list really hinges on a star player’s return. For Washington, that is Elena Delle Donne, whose status is uncertain. Ariel Atkins and even more so Tina Charles can put up a monster performance and some of those performances have resulted in Mystics wings. However, losses to the lowly Indiana Fever, Atlanta Dream and Los Angeles Sparks, as well as a blown 20-point lead against the Liberty indicate to most that this team can’t truly go far without Delle Donne. Washington did earn a seventh-place vote for this list and could be even higher with the two-time MVP back.
9) Dallas Wings (9-12) (down 2)
The Wings have been a feel-good story this year and have a lot of potential. They received a seventh-place vote for this list. However, a current three-game losing streak and a record that has now fallen a half a game behind the eighth-place Mystics are also hard to overlook. Dallas has enough key contributors to pull itself out of the slump it’s in and become a dangerous team in the playoffs. However, the Mercury and Mystics (with Delle Donne) are more talented and more experienced.
10) Los Angeles Sparks (6-13) (up 1)
With Nneka Ogwumike retuning, the Sparks will have the star power to separate themselves from the Dream. They’ve lost six in a row, but a lot of that has to do with injuries to N. Ogwumike, Chiney Ogwumike and Kristi Toliver. Our expectations for the Sparks weren’t super high coming into the season, but they have shown flashes of potential.
11) Atlanta Dream (6-13) (down 6)
Chennedy Carter’s suspension due to conduct detrimental to the team is reason for concern in Atlanta. The team was coming off a hard-fought effort in a three-point loss to the Storm when Carter’s detrimental conduct took place during a loss to the Aces and the Dream have since lost to the Sun and the lowly Fever. So they may have been headed in a good direction before things got thrown off track. We have consistently mentioned the Dream’s superb depth and that along with the return of Tiffany Hayes and the potential return of Carter are reasons for optimism.
12) Indiana Fever (4-16) (even)
The Fever have won three in a row as they try and make a push to get out of last place. Teaira McCowan has averaged 16.3 points and 11.7 rebounds during the streak. When she gets going in the post to complement what Indiana’s guards are doing, the Fever have demonstrated that they can win some games.