After the opening week when Phoenix Mercury in the middle Brittney Griner‘s official “welcome back” was the biggest story of the WNBA, the Chicago Sky were the top movers in the league in ESPN’s WNBA Power Rankings.
The Sky jumped six spots to No. 4 after winning on the road Minnesota Lynx and Mercury, the latter of which focused on Griner making his first home after disappearing last season while in prison in Russia.
The Sky, led by 15 points from Kahleh Copper in Phoenix on Sunday, they kept the Mercury from going bad on BG’s big day and started their season in a way that made people rethink their preseason predictions.
Loss of Courtney Vandersloot and Candace Parker in free agency has sent Sky down in many rankings, including the ESPN preseason rankings. And it’s still early, a 2-0 start was exactly what Chicago and coach James Wade were hoping to get.
Meanwhile, Breanna Stewart made his debut in their group New York Liberty unforgettable and a franchise-record 45 points Sunday in beating the Indiana Fever. If you are a Seattle Storm fans, no need to throw your Stewie jersey on fire; she helped the franchise win the 2018 and 2020 WNBA championships during her six years in the Emerald City.
However, you may feel like packing a jersey far and wide after the “I feel like I made the right decision” comment on what it was like taking the court in Brooklyn in front of family and friends. It’s understandable for the Syracuse native to feel that way, but it hurts Seattle fans to think that Stewart won’t end his career with the Storm. But to paraphrase Humphrey Bogart, you’ll always have Sue Bird.
1. Las Vegas Aces
Previous rankings: 1
This week: at Los Angeles (Thursday), vs. Los Angeles (Saturday), vs. Minnesota (Sunday)
The defending champion Aces continued where they left off last year, beat the Storm with a record-41 points in Seattle for the 2023 season. Coach Becky Hammon was suspended for the game and the first game this week by the WNBA after investigating former player Dearica Hamby’s allegations against Las Vegas when she was traded to the Sparks in January. Check out who the Aces play next to each other this week: Hamby and Sparks. It can be difficult.
2. Connecticut Sun
Previous rankings: 4
This week: in Washington (Tuesday), in New York (Saturday)
Jonquel Jones, Jasmine Thomas and coach Curt Miller have both moved on, but the Suns are off to a strong start under new head coach Stephanie White. After extending the Indiana Fever’s odds in the new season by beating them 70-61 on Friday, Connecticut then defeated the Mystics 80-74 on Sunday in the best game of the week. Sun “Big Three” — Alyssa ThomasDewanna Bonner is Brionna Jones – led the way, as expected all season.
3. Washington Mystics
Previous rankings: 3
This week: vs. Connecticut (Tuesday), Chicago (Thursday)
The Mystics held on to the No. 3 spot on the strength of their season-opening 80-64 win over Liberty, where Stewart had just 12 points. Washington then fell to Connecticut, but Shakira Austin and Helena Delle Donne both had two doubles for the Mystics. We’ll see what head coach Eric Thibault does differently in the rematch with the Suns this week.
4. Chicago Sky
Previous rankings: 10
This week: vs. Washington (Friday), vs. Dallas (Sunday)
We knew that returning star Copper would be a solid player for Sky; had a combined 35 points in Chicago’s wins over Minnesota and Phoenix. One newcomer to Chicago also appeared: the military headquarters Elizabeth Williams with 24 points combined with 14 rebounds. With post players Parker, Emma Meesseman and Azura Stevens both gone to last year’s Sky team, Williams should be a key factor in Chicago’s success.
5. New York Liberty
Previous rankings: 2
This week: vs. Connecticut (Saturday)
The Liberty fell to the Mystics in the season opener on Friday, but before anyone could pull one WNBA team, New York hosted the Stewie Show on Sunday. It came against struggling Indiana, but it set the tone for Stewart’s home run in a Liberty uniform. Stewart led New York in rebounds, and Courtney Vandersloot was the leadoff hitter in both games.
6. Los Angeles Sparks
Previous rankings: 8
This week: vs. Las Vegas (Thursday), Las Vegas (Saturday)
There was a lot to like when the Sparks opened the Curt Miller era with a 94-71 victory over Phoenix: as a rookie. Zia Cooke from the South Carolina Gamecocks is scoring 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the field and looking like a pro already. Also, Ogwumike’s sisters, Nneka and Chiney, combined for 32 points and were both at plus-19. In addition, Hamby had nine points when she returned to action after the birth of her second child.
7. Dallas Wings
Previous rankings: 5
This week: in Seattle (Friday), in Chicago (Sunday)
The Wings looked like they had a dominant Saturday opener against the Atlanta Dream, but it got a little too close for comfort in the end. However, a win is a win, and Arike Ogunbowale still a tour de force scorer, opening with 27 points, right Satou Sabally was 25 and Natasha Howard 20. Between Taylor McCowan he had to leave the game with an apparent knee injury, so this could be a concern.
8. Minnesota Lynx
Previous rankings: 7
This week: vs. Atlanta (Tuesday), Phoenix (Thursday), Las Vegas (Sunday)
All the pieces to be a good team seem to be there for Lynx, but they need time to come together. You could say that about a number of WNBA teams early on, but that’s the feeling here after Minnesota’s 77-66 loss to Chicago in the opener. Napheesa Collier, who missed most of last season on maternity leave, was 5 of 14 from the field against the Sky. That inefficiency is something they seem to be fixing soon.
9. Atlanta Dream
Previous rankings: 9
This week: at Minnesota (Tuesday), vs. Indiana (Sunday)
Rhyne Howard2022 no. 1 draft pick and WNBA Rookie of the Year, led the Dream in their season-opening loss at Dallas with 20 points, while Cheyenne Parker he had 18 points and 11 rebounds. Those two look like they could be pillars of whatever the Dreams accomplish this season, as well Alisha Gray.
10. Phoenix Mercury
Previous rankings: 6
This week: vs. Minnesota (Thursday)
After an exciting and stressful week of welcoming Griner home, the Mercury and their constellations are hoping things calm down a bit. Also, he hopes to be in good health. Sophie Cunningham was on limited minutes Sunday due to injury, and Megan Gustafson and Shay Peddy he’s still out there. Brianna Turner He hasn’t shot in the field yet, so that’s something Phoenix will look to fix, too.
11. Seattle Storm
Previous rankings: 11
This week: vs. Dallas (Friday)
Someone had to experience Las Vegas for the first time this season; Unfortunately for the Storm, it was them. Six Aces players scored in double figures on Saturday, and the team shot 54.8% in a 105-64 victory over Las Vegas. A guard Jewell Lloyd he was the only Seattle player to score in double figures, and the Storm shot just 32.1%. Seattle needs to put this game in the rearview mirror and do whatever it takes to become a better team.
12. Indiana Fever
Previous rankings: 12
This week: in Atlanta (Sunday)
The Fever ended last season on an 18-game losing streak; it’s up to 20 now after Indiana fell to Connecticut and New York over the weekend. The good news was the number one pick He is in Boston averaged 15 points per game. We’ll see how he goes. Fever seems to have a long road ahead.