We’re back for round five of the 2023 Winsidr Power Rankings! This week we return from the All-Star break with tons of action. I’m filling in for the inimitable Myles Ehrlich, who brought you round four of these rankings toward the end of the WNBA’s first half.
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.
Let’s get into it!
12. Seattle Storm (4-18, No. 11 last rankings)
It’s pretty clear that Seattle is the worst team in the league this season, an unsurprising conclusion given the talent it lost in the offseason. The Storm have lost nine straight and are two games below everyone else, alone in the cellar. They have the worst offense and the worst Net Rating in the league. Still, there’s reason for optimism. Jewell Loyd is on pace to break the WNBA scoring record. Many young players on the roster have proven themselves and project bright futures ahead. Wins may be in short supply this season, but Seattle’s forecast signals sunnier skies soon.
11. Indiana Fever (6-16, No. 10 last rankings)
The vibes remain positive with this young and improving team, but the losses are piling up. Indiana is last in Defensive Rating and just 1-9 in its last 10 games. Since this is a full rebuild, let’s look on the bright side. The Fever had lost eight straight entering the All-Star break, but beat Washington in their first game of the second half behind strong play from Kelsey Mitchell and Aliyah Boston. Indiana is fifth in offense and seventh in Net Rating, implying that its play has been better than the 6-16 record would indicate. NaLyssa Smith is out with a stress fracture in her foot, placing even more of an onus on Boston’s capable shoulders to carry the squad.
10. Los Angeles Sparks (7-15, No. 9 last rankings)
Oh no. The Sparks have lost eight straight, falling into ninth place and two games out of the final playoff slot. Lexie Brown is back and has instantly made an impact, but Los Angeles can’t seem to string together a full 40 minutes of successful basketball. The Sparks’ defense has been passable, but they are 11th in offense and often go through extended droughts from the field. The return of Brown’s shooting will help with that issue, but there’s definitely questions of fit – namely with LA’s premier offseason signing, Azurá Stevens. A great, championship caliber player, Stevens has been unable to find her groove this season. The Sparks have a chance to right the ship this week with back-to-back games at home versus Indiana.
9. Phoenix Mercury (6-16, No. 12 last rankings)
Phoenix has kept its season alive with a pair of wins over Connecticut and Chicago coming out of the All Star break. Still, the Mercury are three games back from grabbing a playoff spot and have the second worst point differential in the WNBA. Brittney Griner is an All-WNBA talent, but after Griner, the Mercury get thin, quick. One bright spot is guard Shey Peddy, who scored 20 points in Thursday’s 18 point win over the Sky. Peddy is one of the W’s most reliable and clutch veterans, a player who can create her own shot whenever necessary. The Mercury need more scorers like Peddy to step up if they want to make a late-season playoff push.
8. Chicago Sky (9-13, No. 8 last rankings)
Chicago ended its skid with a much needed win in Seattle on Saturday. Kahleah Copper was spectacular, scoring 29 points and going 11-of-11 from the free throw line. Marina Mabrey added 22 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds, and Alanna Smith posted an eye-popping statline of 9 points, 17 rebounds, 4 steals, and 3 blocks. The Sky need more all-around performances like that one as they’ve fallen to the eighth and final playoff spot. Morgan Bertsch and Ruthy Hebard are back, helping the team out from a depth perspective. Has anyone replaced James Wade as the team’s general manager with the trade deadline fast approaching? Chicago is certainly in an odd state of flux this season.
7. Minnesota Lynx (10-13, No. 7 last rankings)
Remember when we all thought Minnesota was on the express train to snare a lottery pick? Now the Lynx are alone in seventh place, fueled by the MVP level play of Napheesa Collier. The 6th overall pick in the 2019 draft is averaging a career-high 21.7 points, and Minnesota needs every single one of them. Diamond Miller has looked way more comfortable after returning from injury, helping the Lynx get to fifth in the WNBA’s defensive rebounding percentage leaderboard. There remain serious areas of concern – namely on defense. Only Indiana has a worse Defensive Rating. Things won’t get easier as Minnesota travels to New York on Friday and Connecticut on Sunday.
6. Washington Mystics (12-10, No. 4 last rankings)
Injuries have derailed Washington, as Elena Delle Donne, Ariel Atkins, and Shakira Austin are all missing from the starting lineup. Washington does have impressive depth given how many key contributors are out, but its inability to score consistently has dropped the team to the middle of the pack. Still, players like Brittney Sykes deserve serious credit for helping the Mystics avoid a complete freefall. Sykes is known as one of the best defenders in the league, but her offensive explosiveness has kept Washington afloat during this turbulent patch of the regular season. The Mystics notched a key victory at home on Sunday over Phoenix, made all the more important given this week’s tough road trip in Minnesota, Dallas, and Atlanta.
5. Atlanta Dream (12-10, No. 6 last rankings)
Atlanta righted the ship with an impressive seven game win streak before Connecticut put an end to its fun with back-to-back victories over the Dream this week. Still, Atlanta has stabilized, tied for fifth in the standings and firmly in the playoff picture. Rhyne Howard has been on a heater since initially being snubbed from the All-Star Game, raining 3s and devastating defenders with one-on-one dribbling maneuvers. Allisha Gray has been every bit the two-way force that Atlanta hoped she would be. The Dream got Aari McDonald back from injury, helping improve their depth and defensive mettle. In what could be considered a brewing rivalry, Atlanta heads to New York on Thursday night for a major test.
4. Dallas Wings (13-9, No. 5 last rankings)
Has Dallas made the leap from “fringe playoff team” to “contender?” The Wings are third in offense, fourth in defense, and fourth in Net Rating. They’ve won five in a row, including a double-digit victory in New York coming out of the All-Star break. The team is gelling – both because of the play of its stars and the number of secondary weapons. Arike Ogunbowale is in the midst of the best all-around season of her career. So too is Satou Sabally. Natasha Howard joined Ogunbowale and Sabally in scoring at least 25 points on Saturday in a win over Los Angeles. That’s not all. Crystal Dangerfield has been instrumental on both ends. Teaira McCowan has picked up where she left off after returning from injury, giving teams headaches in the paint and on the glass. The Wings’ win streak will be put to the test on Tuesday night as Dallas hosts Connecticut.
3. Connecticut Sun (17-6, No. 3 last rankings)
Connecticut is second in defense and fourth in offense, chugging along and enjoying yet another regular season near the top of the standings. Alyssa Thomas is firmly in the MVP conversation, averaging 14.8 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 8 assists per game. The Sun don’t care about your rosy storylines, putting an end to Atlanta’s aforementioned seven game win streak with back-to-back victories over the Dream. It was Natisha Hiedeman who stole the show in this home-and-home, exploding for 20 points in the third quarter on Thursday and then following it up with five 3s in Atlanta on Sunday. Though losing Brionna Jones for the season was devastating, Connecticut’s depth and star power has allowed it to not lose any ground. Tuesday night will be another test as the Sun travel to Dallas to play the red hot Wings.
2. New York Liberty (16-5, No. 2 last rankings)
Perhaps it took a truly listless loss for the Liberty to flip a switch. Let’s be clear: New York is second in win percentage and second in Net Rating. No one is pressing the panic button. But with Las Vegas’s dominance, there’s a sense of pressure for the Liberty to keep pace. Wednesday’s 98-88 loss to Dallas at Barclays Center was a loud reminder that there’s still much work to be done for the team in seafoam. New York responded to this disappointing effort with convincing wins over Washington and Indiana. Neither of those teams is on Dallas’s level as currently constituted, but it was the way New York played that’s so promising. Jonquel Jones looked way stronger on the interior while still knocking down 3s. Betnijah Laney is becoming a focal point of the offense, attacking the basket relentlessly rather than just being a spot-up threat. It’s only 80 minutes of hoops, but the flow is much improved in New York.
1. Las Vegas Aces (21-2, No. 1 last rankings)
What more is there to say? Las Vegas has the best offense in the league, the best defense in the league, and the best Net Rating in WNBA history. There are numerous metrics that put the Aces in a class of their own. A’ja Wilson posted a statline of 35 points, 14 rebounds, and 3 steals in a win over Minnesota on Saturday. Wilson’s bid for a second straight MVP award and her third overall is gaining serious steam, as is her bid for back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year crowns. Jackie Young, Chelsea Gray, and Kelsey Plum all have serious cases to be named All-WNBA. The only current concern for Las Vegas is a foot injury that has Candace Parker sidelined for an undetermined amount of time. If Parker and Riquna Williams return healthy, it’s nearly impossible to imagine a team beating the Aces three times in five games.
Largest Climb: Phoenix Mercury (+3 spots)
Largest Fall: Washington Mystics (-2 spots)
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Unless otherwise noted, stats courtesy of WNBA.com.