We’re back with the third round of the 2023 Winsidr Power Rankings! We didn’t see too much shuffling in Volume 2, but there has been lots of movement in this edition. We’ve hit the quarter way point in the season, which also means that (all too soon), we’ve got our list of All-Star starters.
Three Aces will take the floor for opening tip, representing their home city, as they continue to coast through their schedule. The list of reserves, voted on by the league’s head coaches, will be revealed on July 1. Still, aside from All-Star, there’s tons of excitement to be found, as the Commissioner’s Cup race also heats up.
— WNBA (@WNBA) June 25, 2023
If this is your first time reading our rankings, welcome; if it’s not, welcome back! As a refresher for how this works, we do this somewhat differently from other sites. While the words are mine, the rankings themselves are aggregated by our entire staff. You’re not just reading my takes, but the averages of where the entire Winsidr staff believes the teams shake out. Throughout the season, we will periodically poll our staff to compare each team’s standing with how they’ve performed since our most recent check-in.
12. Phoenix Mercury (2-10, No. 9 last rankings)
The Vanessa Nygaard era is over in Phoenix after a year and change of many, many losses. There’s just not much to say with the league-worst Mercury right now. Phoenix was struggling to win even with Brittney Griner playing at an All-WNBA level. When Griner missed a few games due to injury, things got even tougher. Players like Sug Sutton and Michaela Onyenwere are stepping up and battling admirably, but there’s simply not enough talent on this team outside of Griner and with Skylar Diggins-Smith out. Phoenix’s best hope for this season is to identify a coach that can lead the team back to relevancy, and to continue playing its young players while positioning itself in the lottery.
11. Minnesota Lynx (4-9, No. 11 last rankings)
If only the Lynx could play Los Angeles every night, they’d be the greatest team of all time. Minnesota is 3-0 against the Sparks and 1-9 versus the rest of the league. Cheryl Reeve’s squad has the worst offense in the league and the second worst Net Rating. But rather than focus on negatives for a team that is likely comfortable netting another lottery pick this season, let’s focus on the overwhelming positive: Napheesa Collier. The return of Collier has been nothing short of dynamic, her offense and defense equally impressive on a daily basis. Recently, Lindsay Allen has been dishing with verve, giving the team a much-needed boost in the passing department. Four of Minnesota’s next five are against Seattle and Phoenix, the two teams bracketing it at the bottom of these rankings. A few more Lynx wins could be on the way.
10. Seattle Storm (4-9, No. 12 last rankings)
Without any expectations of contention, the Storm have been a pleasant surprise this season, staying competitive in a bunch of games and racking up a few wins in the process. I’d be remiss if I didn’t focus on one of the games of the year, in which Seattle bested Dallas on national television, 109-103 on June 17. Jewell Loyd, an All-Star starter and the best two guard in the league, scored 39 that afternoon, propelling the Storm past a frisky Wings group. Seattle also bested Phoenix twice since our last Power Rankings. The fun part is that even when the Storm lose, many promising young players are receiving extended playing time. Ezi Magbegor appears to have taken a leap offensively, pairing improved shooting and scoring with her elite defense. The pieces are in place for a promising rebuild, and perhaps there won’t be as much losing as anticipated.
9. Chicago Sky (5-9, No. 6 last rankings)
Whoops. It was all going so well in Chicago, vibes on point and the basketball equally entertaining to begin a season without Courtney Vandersloot, Candace Parker, Allie Quigley, and Azurá Stevens. Unfortunately, the Sky have hit a rough patch, losing six straight as they battle injuries and a litany of tough opponents. Chicago is 9th in Net Rating and 10th in offense. Kahleah Copper, Marina Mabrey, and Courtney Williams can only do so much, and the Sky are struggling to slow opposing frontcourts. The good news? Chicago has lots of talent, one of the best coaches in the league, and will host four of their next five games at Wintrust, including two straight against the Sparks.
8. Indiana Fever (5-8, No. 9 last rankings)
Aliyah Boston is the first rookie to be named an All-Star starter in nearly a decade. Yes, you read that right! Boston has been exceptional, helping lift a frustrated fanbase into much happier waters. Indiana is third in offense, largely because of the attention Boston demands down low. Double (or triple) teaming Boston is risky as she loves to dot brilliant passes when help is sent her way. The efficiency has been equally remarkable; Boston is shooting 65 percent from the field. She’s not doing it alone. Kelsey Mitchell will be a deserving All-Star once reserves are announced. NaLyssa Smith is a lethal scorer, capable of punishing teams for swarming Boston. Others are stepping up. Indiana has rarely looked overmatched, its only double-digit losses coming to New York and Las Vegas. The future is brighter than bright for the team with the longest active playoff drought in the WNBA.
7. Atlanta Dream (5-7, No. 8 last rankings)
After a fairly rocky start, Atlanta has begun to look like the team we envisioned it could be entering the season. Though the Dream have lost two in a row, they peeled off a sterling three-game road win streak by beating New York, Connecticut, and Indiana in their own homes. That proves that the pieces are in place for a competitive playoff basketball team in Atlanta. Allisha Gray didn’t get the starting nod for the midseason exhibition, but she’s playing at an All-Star level on both ends of the floor. Inserting Haley Jones into the starting lineup at point guard seemed to instill some much-needed confidence in the rookie, who is battling understandable first-year turnover issues but has shown flashes of greatness. Cheyenne Parker is quietly putting together a fantastic season. Rhyne Howard hasn’t taken the leap yet, but it feels imminent. Atlanta now prepares for three straight back-to-back sets against Washington, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
6. Dallas Wings (6-8, No. 5 last rankings)
After an auspicious start to the season, and to Latricia Trammell’s head coaching career in Dallas, the Wings have stalled in a major way, losing five of six. The team ranks in the top half of the league in Offensive and Defensive Rating, so what is the issue? Things often feel disjointed with this ballclub. Dallas has the worst assist ratio in basketball, often standing around and watching others embark on isolations. The Wings are tenacious on the glass and rarely turn the ball over, but their shot quality is often poor. They play fast and can verge on falling out of sorts, failing to turn pace into efficiency. Luckily, the team is overflowing with talent. Players like Satou Sabally, Arike Ogunbowale, Crystal Dangerfield, Kalani Brown, Teaira McCowan, Natasha Howard, and others have proven that they are some of the best in the world. If and when it all clicks—watch out.
5. Los Angeles Sparks (7-7, No. 7 last rankings)
Can you help me figure this team out? Against Minnesota, the Sparks look like a lottery team. Curt Miller’s bunch has gone 0-3 against its former rivals, losing all three games by six points or fewer. Against the rest of the league, Los Angeles is 7-4, winners of two straight against the floundering Dallas Wings. Every time we check in on them, they’re at .500. Nneka Ogwumike is playing at an MVP level, pacing this team amid absences due to injuries and illness. Dearica Hamby continues to look stronger and stronger. The team recently signed Destanni Henderson, who immediately made a massive impact in the backcourt with Lexie Brown out. It hasn’t always been pretty, but Los Angeles is making a habit out of finding ways to win. With the fourth best defense in the league, the Sparks just need to make enough shots and they’ll be a tough opponent for anyone in this league.
4. Washington Mystics (8-5, No. 4 last rankings)
After peeling off three convincing wins in a row, Washington suffered a heartbreaker Sunday, squandering a double-digit first quarter lead and losing by a point to New York in overtime. The good news? Natasha Cloud and Ariel Atkins were brilliant, the former driving to the hoop with fervor and dishing up a storm, the latter hitting shots from everywhere on the court. The Mystics backcourt has been a source of concern during a tepid start to the season, but things seem to have stabilized as both All-Star caliber players were lethal at Barclays Center. Though Washington was able to gain some momentum over the past two weeks, dispensing the Sky in back-to-back contests, this remains a team of two sides. The Mystics are 1st in Defensive Rating and 11th in Offensive Rating. Atkins regressing positively to the mean from behind-the-arc would do a lot to improve that offensive mark.
3. New York Liberty (9-3, No. 3 last rankings)
New York continues to exhibit tantalizing potential, looking like the title co-favorites it entered the season as when everything is clicking. Case in point: on Friday night, the Liberty cooked Atlanta, 110-80, with Courtney Vandersloot dishing up a storm and snatching a career-best seven steals as everyone else chipped in. So what’s keeping New York from the top two slots? Consistency. The Liberty dropped a home game to that same Dream team on June 13. On Sunday, New York dug itself a 17-point first quarter hole, needing every second of regulation and a five-minute overtime period to climb out of the ditch and defeat Washington. Don’t get me wrong: this was a gritty win. Vandersloot tied the game with two seconds left in regulation on a brilliant coast-to-coast layup. Sabrina Ionescu was phenomenal, dropping 31 points on an array of tough triples. But to take the next step, New York will need to prove it can sustain this level. Playing Connecticut and Las Vegas this week will tell us a lot.
2. Connecticut Sun (12-3, No. 2 last rankings)
Connecticut continues to roll, despite some extremely disheartening news as Brionna Jones tore her Achilles tendon and will miss the remainder of the season. The Sun have suffered brutal injuries to key players over the past few seasons, and Jones was in the midst of yet another spectacular campaign. With the frontcourt significantly weakened, even more responsibility falls onto Alyssa Thomas’s capable shoulders. Playing like an MVP frontrunner, Thomas soared on Sunday, logging 14 points, 12 assists, and 11 rebounds to propel the Sun over the Sky. Things will only get more difficult for Stephanie White’s bunch—Connecticut’s next two opponents are New York and Las Vegas.
1. Las Vegas Aces (11-1, No. 1 last rankings)
The defending champions keep on chugging, winners of five straight after their lone loss to Connecticut. Perhaps even more impressively, Las Vegas sports a +16 point differential, placing them in historic territory. There’s something for everybody on this team. A’ja Wilson and Jackie Young are firmly in the MVP conversation. Chelsea Gray is an All-Star starter, partially because she casually throws passes like these. Kelsey Plum and Candace Parker round out one of the greatest starting fives in basketball history, while Alysha Clark and others comprise a much-improved bench. Taking nothing away from Las Vegas’s dominance, the team has largely coasted against weaker competition over the last two weeks. That will change soon, as the Aces host New York and Connecticut this week.
Largest Climb: Los Angeles Sparks, Seattle Storm (+2 spots)
Largest Fall: Chicago Sky (-3 spots)
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