Things are starting to get pretty interesting atop the WNBA standings. The first-place Las Vegas Aces dropped back-to-back games as Chicago and Connecticut are now within a game of first place.
Chicago has the longest active win streak at three, while no other team has won more than two games in a row.
However, the biggest news of the week came when former WNBA Most Valuable Player Tina Charles’ run with the Phoenix Mercury ended after the 16 games. There were reports that the 2021 WNBA scoring champion (with Washington) initiated the events leading to her contract being bought out by Phoenix. Seattle is expected to be the next stop for Charles. It’s uncertain if that will be done before the Storm host Las Vegas Wednesday night.
Connecticut will travel to Chicago for a Wednesday matinee that could possibly put one of those teams into first place, depending how Las Vegas fares against Los Angeles Monday night. It will be one of the two games during the week between teams with winning records.
The Aces (even money) still have the top odds to win the WNBA championship, according to the sportsbook. Connecticut’s odds increased from +275 to +300, while Chicago’s odds went from +275 to +350 in the last week.
1. Las Vegas Aces
Next: at Los Angeles, Monday, 10:30 p.m. ET (NBA TV)
There were a few raised eyebrows when the first-place Aces needed to rally from 14 points down to edge a 3-12 Minnesota Lynx, 96-95, at home. Some rough waters ahead after that for Las Vegas.
Chicago trailed Vegas by 28 points, then ended by scoring 104 points to win going away by nine. Four days later, the Aces, as a nine-point favorite against visiting Washington, eventually lost, 87-86, in overtime.
After narrowly avoiding going 0-3 during a recently-completed homestand, the Aces are at Los Angeles Monday and Seattle Wednesday. Despite a 9-1 start, Las Vegas is in danger of falling out of first in the league.
2. Chicago Sky
Next: vs Connecticut, Wednesday, 12:00 p.m. ET (NBA TV)
It wasn’t easy, but the Chicago Sky won their third game in a row. Courtney Vandersloot’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer lifted Chicago to the 88-85 win over the woeful Lynx. It was the eighth game in a row Chicago scored at least 80 points.
The Sky rank second (to Las Vegas) with an average of 88.4 points during the month of June, the only WNBA team shooting better than 40% from 3-point range this month. Chicago averaging 95 points, shooting 49% on 3-pointers at home during the month.
Chicago’s without leading scorer Kahleah Copper due to a back issue.
Four of the last five games have gone over the WNBA betting lines total.
3. Connecticut Sun
Next: at Chicago, Wednesday, 12:00 p.m. ET (NBA TV)
Connecticut returned to winning, despite missing 18 of 20 shots from 3-point range and committing 21 turnovers Sunday’s at Atlanta.
Courtney Williams had 17 points and 10 rebounds (33 points over her last two games). If Williams continues to score at that rate, that will make the Sun all the more dangerous, especially with reigning MVP Jonquel Jones, DeWanna Bonner and Alyssa Thomas all capable of taking over the game.
Connecticut has had issues with Chicago, 2-6 against the Sky since the start of the 2021 season, including a four-point home loss earlier this month
Each of the last four Connecticut games finished under the total.
4. Seattle Storm
Next: vs Las Vegas, Wednesday, 10:00 p.m. ET (Prime Video)
It’s about to get even more interesting for the Seattle Storm when the signing of Tina Charles becomes official. Charles is needing seven points to move into fourth on the WNBA all-time scoring list. She will join Breanna Stewart, the current WNBA scoring leader, Jewell Loyd, WNBA career assists leader Sue Bird and rising star Ezi Magbegor on a potent Seattle roster.
How will Charles be used? Offense still runs through Stewart and Loyd, though Charles is familiar with many of her soon-to-be-teammates during her time with the U.S. national team.
Seattle is coming off an eight-point home loss to Los Angeles, outrebounded, 41-26. Charles, one of three players with 2,500 career rebounds, should help in that department.
5. Washington Mystics
Next: vs Atlanta, Tuesday, 7:00 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
It’s been quite the stretch for Washington. A 12-point loss to New York, then a defensive masterpiece in a win against Connecticut. Then, defeat at the hands of a mediocre LA team and a 14-point loss at Seattle That was before opening a few eyes, going to Vegas and surprising the Aces in overtime.
Former MVP Elena Delle Donne missed eight games this season (rest). She’s had back issues in recent seasons. The good news is that Delle Donne is expected to play the rest of the way leading into the July 10 All-Star Game.
Delle Donne is putting up 15.6 points in 27.6 minutes per game. Her last three games have seen her average 18 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocked shots.
She will be leading the eight-player rotation that hasn’t always been together. Natasha Cloud, Alysha Clark and Elizabeth Williams have missing a combined 15 games.
6. New York Liberty
Next: vs Atlanta, Thursday, 7:00 p.m. ET (Twitter)
New York’s been a different team since the arrival of Marine Johannes. Johannes, who last played for the Liberty )and in the WNBA) in 2019, is averaging 11.7 points and 4.3 assists in the half-dozen games she’s played. The Liberty are 4-2 in those contests. putting themselves into playoff position. Johannes is averaging 17 points and four assists over the last four.
New York leads the WNBA, with 10.7 3-pointers made and 30.6 3-pointers attempted during the month of June.
Sabrina Ionescu continues to pace the offense. Averaging just 12.6 points on 39.4% shooting in eight May games, she’s now contributing 19.8 points on 44.6% shooting in June.
New York is 7-3 in the month, and only Chicago has a better winning percentage in June. New York is 4-1 against the spread over its last five contests.
7. Dallas Wings
Next: at Minnesota, Tuesday, 8:00 p.m. ET (ESPN3)
Just when it looked like the Dallas team was starting to turn the corner by winning three of its previous four, the Wings came up short against a Phoenix team which had just cut loose Tina Charles and Kristine Anigwe.
An old issue reared once again, as three players combining 45 of the 67 field-goal attempts. With a franchise that had five players selected in the top five in the 2019, 2020 and 2021 drafts, the lack of scoring balance isn’t understandable. It hasn’t helped that Satou Sabally, the No. 2 pick in 2020, played in just eight games this season.
8. Atlanta Dream
Next: at Washington, Tuesday, 7:00 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Try to figure out this Atlanta team. After a three-game stretch when the Dream went 0-3 (despite averaging 93.3 points), they fell to just 72.3 points over the last three.
Rookie Rhyne Howard has been doing her part, as she’s scored in double figures in each of her last eight, although some of that is the result of being a volume shooter in her 34% stretch from the field in the last five.
Help may be en route as veteran guard Tiffany Hayes appears close to making her season debut. This after suffering a knee injury overseas. Four other players are considered to be questionable ahead of Tuesday’s game, so it could get worse before it gets any better.
9. Phoenix Mercury
Next: vs Indiana, Monday, 10:00 p.m. ET
Phoenix has not been lacking for drama this season. A disagreement during a break in the action between star guards Skylar Diggins-Smith and Diana Taurasi was caught on camera. Now, Tina Charles left town in one of the most bizarre mid-season moves in WNBA history.
After the release of Charles, the second-leading scorer on the team, and Kristine Anigwe, the shorthanded Mercury defeated Dallas.
Phoenix will become a team that needs to shoot themselves to victories, very little low-post offense. Charles wasn’t exactly making a living in the low blocks during her brief stint with the Mercury. Briana Turner and Megan Gustafson are the only players currently on the roster standing taller than 6-foot-1.
10. Los Angeles Sparks
Next: vs Las Vegas, Monday, 10:30 p.m. ET (NBA Game Pass)
LA quietly won two of its last three. and not against inferior competition. Los Angeles won at home against Washington, then downed Seattle on the road.
Nneka Ogwumike has led the way for the Sparks, averaged 18.7 points over the last six. She is shooting 62% in her last four. Katie Lou Samuelson, playing on her fourth team in as many seasons now, is contributing 12.3 points over her last four.
11. Indiana Fever
Next: at Phoenix, Monday, 10:00 p.m. ET
Indiana will have a chance to leapfrog at least one spot in the power rankings with games against Phoenix both Monday and Wednesday.
Much was made of an Indiana roster featuring five rookies. However, veteran guard Kelsey Mitchell has four 20-point efforts in her last seven. She’s also averaging 4.4 assists during that stretch.
Something to consider for those who bet online, Indiana is just 2-5 against the spread in its last seven.
12. Minnesota Lynx
Next: vs Dallas, Tuesday, 8:00 p.m. ET (ESPN3)
There may be better days ahead now that Sylvia Fowles has returned to action. Fowles is averaging 13 points, 8 rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots in the two games since she’s returned from injury for the Lynx.
Moriah Jefferson, let go by Dallas earlier in the season, scored in double figures in her last four. She is averaging 16.8 points and 6.3 assists during that span as Minnesota won back-to-back games for the first time this season. Minnesota is 2-4 over the last six, four losses by a total of 10 points.