There are three games this week featuring teams with at least 10 wins, so perhaps a changing of the guard in the WNBA Power Rankings after all. For the time being, however, there’s no question which team should be at the top. It’s the Las Vegas Aces, continuing to roll right along.
If there was ever a day that displayed the unpredictability of the WNBA, it was Sunday. The struggling Indiana Fever stunned the defending champion Chicago Sky, while the Aces held on for a one-point win against the last-place Minnesota Lynx.
A showdown between the Sky and the Aces highlights an intriguing four-game slate Tuesday night. The WNBA predictions might be challenging, since two of the road teams are favored to win.
There’s a bit of the rich get richer aspect to recent action, as the top four teams in the standings are 30-10 in their last 10 games, compared to 12-28 for the four squads as bottom feeders.
The Aces (even) have the top odds to win the WNBA championship, according to the sportsbook. Connecticut (+275), Chicago (+450) and Seattle (+600) are the other leading contenders on the list
1) Las Vegas Aces
Next: vs Chicago, Tuesday, 10:00 p.m. ET (CBS Sports Network)
In the early portion of the season, former WNBA Most Valuable Player A’ja Wilson seemed like the third option on offense. Guards Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young were taking their games to a new level under first-year coach Becky Hammon. It is safe to say that Wilson has returned to being the go-to player. The last three games have seen Wilson finish with 25, 25 and 35 points, going 31-of-54 from the field and 15-for-15 from the foul line. She was named the Western Conference’s Player of the Week.
𝗣𝗟𝗔𝗬𝗘𝗥 𝗢𝗙 𝗧𝗛𝗘 𝗪𝗘𝗘𝗞
Another one, thank you 🧞♀️
— Las Vegas Aces (@LVAces) June 21, 2022
It’s not easy to find a better starting five than Wilson, Plum, Young, Dearica Hamby and Chelsea Gray. With a foot injury continuing to sideline Riquna Williams, there hasn’t been much in the way of bench scoring. That’s not much of a concern, though.
This will be an interesting week, with home games against Chicago and Washington.
2) Connecticut Sun
Next: vs New York, Wednesday, 7:00 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
It was hard to choose between Chicago and Connecticut for the No. 2 spot. Connecticut ended in that position after the Sky’s loss Sunday. Connecticut is coming off a season-low 63 points in a loss to Washington. Reigning MVP Jonquel Jones had 15 points and 16 rebounds in that game.
If all of Connecticut’s top offensive players are on their games at the same time, this is a scary team. That was the case when Jones, DeWanna Bonner, Alyssa Thomas, Courtney Williams and Brionna Jones all scored in double figures as Connecticut became the only team to beat Las Vegas at home this season.
Standouts are alternating when it comes to dominating in games. Perhaps some of that is adjusting after the season-ending knee injury suffered by veteran point guard Jasmine Thomas.
Rookie guard Nia Clouden has played 34 minutes in the last three games, and her continued development should strengthen an already deep bench for the Sun.
3) Chicago Sky
Next: at Las Vegas, Tuesday, 10:00 p.m. ET (CBS Sports Network)
A loss to a lowly Indiana team wasn’t good. It doesn’t get any easier, with Chicago heading to face first-place Las Vegas. Kahleah Copper, who had four 20-point games during last season’s playoffs in leading Chicago to its first WNBA championship, has missed four games this season. She seems to be healthy again, with 51 points, 14 rebounds and seven 3-pointers in the last two games.
Rebekah Gardner continues to be one of the best stories in the WNBA, as the 31-year-old rookie is sixth on the team in scoring and second in steals. It is hard to know what to make of second-year guard Dana Evans, who went from scoring 39 points in the first two games of the season to just five points in her last five.
Chicago is 4-2 against the WNBA odds in its last six road games.
4) Seattle Storm
Next: vs Washington, Thursday, 10:00 p.m. ET (CBS Sports Network)
The farewell tour for Sue Bird, the WNBA’s all-time leader in assists, has begun. The two games after the first pick in the 2002 WNBA Draft announced that this would be her last season came on the road against Connecticut (where she led UConn to a pair of national titles) and New York (where she was raised).
After going 4-1 on the five-game road trip, Bird and the Storm return home Thursday against Washington. Always a fan favorite in Seattle, should will get an off-the-chart reception in her first home game since disclosing her retirement.
Breanna Stewart, the WNBA’s leading scorer, averaged 24.6 points and 8.6 rebounds during the recent road trip. Gabby Williams, who didn’t have a double-digit scoring game this season, erupted for 23 points in a win at New York the last out.
Bird is averaging a career-low 7.8 points per game, but still orchestrating to the tune of 6.6 assists per game.
5) Washington Mystics
Next: at Los Angeles, Tuesday, 10:30 p.m. ET
Obviously, the big question with the Mystics is which games Elena Delle Donne plays. She’s missed seven games this season, and not playing Tuesday at Los Angeles as she manages her back issues. Washington is 8-3 when Delle Donne is there.
Ariel Atkins, one of three Washington players to appear in all 18 games, and rookie Shakira Austin, have been asked to take on larger roles in games Delle Donne sits out.
6) New York Liberty
Next: at Connecticut, Wednesday, 7:00 p.m. ET
The New York Liberty team playing in June is a much different squad than the one that stumbled their way through a 1-7 record in May. Turnovers went from 19.3 to 12.9 per game while scoring increased from 70.4 to 80.6 points per game. Scoring differential jumped from an WNBA-worst -14.9 in the first eight games to +5.5 over the last eight.
The arrival of Marine Johannes (10.5 points, 4.5 assists) and continued emergence of Han Xu have played key roles in getting some help for Sabrina Ionescu and Natasha Howard. This without the injured Betnijah Laney.
7) Dallas Wings
Next: at Atlanta, Tuesday, 7:00 p.m. ET (NBA TV)
If you love points, this is the team for you, as the winning team in each of the last three Dallas games has scored at least 92 points.
Dallas has 93 and 92 points in the last two. With the last four games in June against Atlanta, Indiana, Phoenix and Minnesota, it’s the perfect time for a Wings’ team loaded with first-round draft picks to play to its potential.
What’s hurt is that forward Satou Sabally will miss the game against Atlanta (injured knee). What’d be helpful would be if Charli Collier and Awak Kuier, the top two picks in the 2021 WNBA Draft, contribute at a number greater than the 3.1 points and 3 rebounds they’re currently combining for this season.
8) Phoenix Mercury
Next: vs Minnesota, Tuesday, 10:00 p.m. ET (NBA TV)
Considering the recent histories of both teams, it seems odd that Tuesday’s Phoenix-Minnesota game features two squads not currently in playoff position.
A team with Diana Taurasi, Tina Charles, Skylar Diggins-Smith and Diamond DeShields should not be four games under .500. Phoenix can score points in spurts, but surrenders quality shots just as quickly.
9) Atlanta Dream
Next: vs Dallas, Tuesday, 7:00 p.m. ET (NBA TV)
The trade for AD Durr is looking like a stroke of genius. The former No. 2 overall pick was a non-factor in New York with an average of 1.4 points and 7 minutes per game in their return to the WNBA after missing the last two seasons. The Georgia native is averaging 16 points, 3,3 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 27.3 minutes in the first three games they played in Atlanta. Atlanta lost all three of those games, however,
Atlanta has played all season without former All-Star Tiffany Hayes due to a knee injury. She’s on the injury report as questionable, so perhaps she’ll make her season debut soon to provide some offensive support for rookie Rhyne Howard and Durr. Something to consider for those who bet online, the total has gone under in four of Atlanta’s last five home games.
10) Los Angeles Sparks
Next: vs Washington, Tuesday, 10:30 p.m. ET
The Sparks are about to get busy. After playing just two games in the first 18 days of June, Sunday’s loss to Dallas began a stretch of five games in 10 days.
Things haven’t changed much for Los Angeles since interim coach Fred Williams took over for the fired Derek Fisher. LA is among the worst defensive teams in the league.
11) Indiana Fever
Next: at Dallas, Thursday, 8:00 p.m. ET (CBS Sports Network)
Rookie NaLyssa Smith had 26 points and 11 rebounds to lead Indiana to a much-needed win last out against the reigning WNBA champion Chicago Sky. With five rookies playing key roles, this is going to be an slow climb for Indiana. After scoring 22 points in her first 13 games, Lexie Hull recorded a career-high 10 in the last game.
12) Minnesota Lynx
Up next: at Phoenix, Tuesday, 10:00 p.m. ET (NBA TV)
With Sylvia Fowles injured and Napheesa Collier having recently given birth to her first child, this isn’t going to be one of the best seasons in the history of the Lynx. They’ve had 18 different players appear to date, as only Ariel Powers, Jessica Shepard and Nikolina Milic have played in all 16 games.
Minnesota lost its last three games by four, two and one point, so perhaps some victories in the near future..