Somehow, this is the seventh edition of the 2023 Winsidr Power Rankings, and the end of the regular season is coming around the bend. The playoff picture is starting to solidify, but seeding is still a scramble. Just a game separates spots 5 through 7 right now, with Atlanta (16-16) just ahead of both Washington (15-17) and Minnesota (15-17). Behind them, Los Angeles (13-18) has leapfrogged Chicago (12-20) for the eighth and final playoff spot. The top hasn’t been without its excitement, too: New York knocked off Las Vegas in the Commissioner’s Cup final, but lost the rematch that counted in the standings. So, yeah, chaos abounds!
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. While there wasn’t as much movement as usual, in crunching the numbers behind the scenes, some teams are closer to one another than they’ve been all season long.
All right, time to dive right in!
12. Phoenix Mercury (9-23, No. 11 last rankings)
It has turned into another difficult season in the desert, despite the return of Brittney Griner and the celebration surrounding Diana Taurasi’s 10,000-point milestone. Last year, the Merc overcame all the on- and off-court difficulties to miraculously land an eight spot in the playoffs, but this year, that’s beginning to slip away. Phoenix, who has lost three straight, holds a league-worst -6.2 point differential, and there are few bright spots to focus on behind the two Hall of Famers. Still, the X-Factor remains loyal, a testament to the strength of the fan base and the love they’ve got for BG. The Mercury, who—per Across the Timeline—bring in an average of 8,913 fans a night, trail only the Las Vegas Aces for the highest attendance in the WNBA this season.
11. Indiana Fever (9-24, No. 12 last rankings)
While I know Fever fans are tired of waiting, I’d advise patience and perspective when looking back at the 2023 season. There’s still a lot to figure out with this roster this coming offseason, but Aliyah Boston has proven to be a star since day one, exceeding the already-high expectations by compiling efficiency numbers rarely ever approached by a WNBA rookie. I’m still a big believer in the frontcourt combination she can be alongside NaLyssa Smith, who is a tenacious rebounder and talented scorer. Grace Berger has been another rookie revelation, and the trio of Kelsey Mitchell, Erica Wheeler, and Victoria Vivians are all guaranteed contracts in 2024, but we’ll see if any of them are moved when Indiana is ready to shake it up with another lottery pick this coming offseason.
10. Seattle Storm (10-22, No. 10 last rankings)
The Storm continue to battle, night in and night out, and they’re easily playing their best basketball of 2023, winners of six of their last nine contests. We’ve seen glimpses of an Ezi Magbegor breakout before, but I’ll say she’s here, with career-high averages of 13.9 points per game (PPG), 7.9 rebounds per game (RPG), 1.3 steals per game (SPG), and 1.9 blocks per game (BPG). While Jewell Loyd has put up a Sisyphean effort, battling night after night to keep this team in games, the complementary pieces have begun to support her, finding their way to wins even on nights where Loyd struggles to find the bottom of the basket. That’s a whole lot of growth from the team we saw back in May.
9. Chicago Sky (12-20, No. 7 last rankings)
As Chicken Little once shouted, inducing mass hysteria, the Sky is falling. While his apocalyptic pronouncements turned out to be false, it’s tough right now to argue in favor of this Chicago team, which appears to be in mid-freefall. Losers of five straight, they’ve tumbled down the standings, failing to score 80 points in any of those contests after eclipsing the century mark in three straight. With eight games still to play, there’s still time to turn it around, but it’ll be an uphill climb, especially with the Sky drawing the fourth toughest remaining schedule, facing opponents with a .516 win percentage the rest of the way. Mark down Tuesday, August 29 as a must-win, when they head to Los Angeles to try and inch closer to the Sparks in the teams’ final matchup this season.
8. Los Angeles Sparks (13-18, No. 9 last rankings)
Here come the Sparks, the hottest team in the WNBA. Los Angeles is winners of four straight, punctuated by a victory on Saturday in Las Vegas that snapped the defending champs’ 21-game regular season home winning streak. This, as mentioned in the opening grafs, has helped them to leapfrog the Sky for the eighth and final playoff spot, currently holding a 1.5-game cushion there. With all the adversity this team has faced this season—far too much to list in just a couple of sentences—this has been an admirable run. The narrowest margin (just one total vote placement) has the Sparks behind the Mystics in this week’s rankings.
7. Washington Mystics (15-17, No. 8 last rankings)
It looked like the Mystics were finally getting healthy, returning Elena Delle Donne, Shakira Austin, and the newly-extended Ariel Atkins to the court for the stretch run, after sliding way down in the standings during those absences. EDD played just 11 minutes in her return from an ankle injury, though, with hip discomfort pulling her from play again. Austin sat out Sunday’s loss to the Wings with a “rest” designation, as she works back to full strength. In the interim, the Natasha Cloud/Brittney Sykes backcourt continues to do all they can to keep the Mystics competitive, but we’re nearing the playoff push, and it’d be great for DC to get some reps together before the games tighten up in September.
6. Minnesota Lynx (15-17, No. 6 last rankings)
It’s been an extremely up and down year for the Lynx, who have shown themselves to be formidable during stretches of this season. Recently, though, it’s been a mediocre stretch of play in Minnesota. This is a roster that battles, that scores 44.9 percent of its points in the paint without having a traditional center on the floor most of the time. At this point in the year, though, Minnesota ranks just eighth in offensive rating (99.3) and 11th in defensive rating (105.5). Only the Fever (84.6 PPG) surrender more points than the Lynx (84.4 PPG), a tough number to swallow come playoff time.
5. Atlanta Dream (16-16, No. 5 last rankings)
The Dream are another team that has given us glimpses, but it feels right that they’re sitting at exactly .500 at this point in the season. There are three All-Stars on this roster, all putting up their strongest season as pros to this point, yet there are times where the Dream seem to lack offensive cohesion. As a team, they rank ninth with a 63.6 assist percentage, handing out just 18.5 assists per night (10th) against 15.1 turnovers (10th). With defenses able to lock in at the point of attack, Atlanta’s scorers are often forced to put up difficult shots. This tracks through to their 42.7 team field goal percentage, which bests only Los Angeles and Seattle.
4. Dallas Wings (18-14, No. 4 last rankings)
The Wings, anchored by their dominant frontcourt, are looking like a force again, and I honestly expected to see them get more love at no. 3 this week. After back-to-back dominant wins over the Sun, they’ve now played to a 4-4 stalemate against the top teams in the league, and they’re the only team that has defeated the triumvirate of Las Vegas, New York, and Connecticut. Putting up 90+ in consecutive games against the Sun—who surrender just 71.9 PPG, the fewest in the W—really made a statement, and with the easiest remaining schedule (an opponent win percentage of just .421), Dallas has given itself an outside chance to push for the three seed.
3. Connecticut Sun (22-10, No. 3 last rankings)
Yes, the Sun have stumbled a bit of late, losing three straight (first to the struggling Mercury, then back-to-back against the Wings, as mentioned above), but they’ve maintained enough of a cushion to remain here at the no. 3 spot. In fact, with a win over the Sky on Sunday, they became the third team to clinch a spot in the postseason! Across seven games in August, Alyssa Thomas continues to make her push for MVP, putting up 18.7 PPG on 49.1 percent shooting (her high for a month this season), padding the stat sheet with 10.7 RPG and 8.0 APG. While A’ja Wilson and Breanna Stewart battle it out head-to-head, slowing one another during the seemingly endless matchups between Las Vegas and New York, The Engine keeps chugging along, that MVP award clearly within reach with 80 percent of the regular season in the books.
2. New York Liberty (25-7, No. 2 last rankings)
A little peek behind the curtain here: for much of the season, the Aces were the unanimous no.1 pick, but the Liberty—following a 38-point statement win a few weeks back and a 19-point victory in the Commissioner’s Cup final—have made a push. Yes, they also lost to the Aces by 13 a couple of days after celebrating the team’s first CC championship, but they’ve shown that they can hang, and we’ve seen that represented in the voting. The Aces edged out the Liberty again, but by a much narrower 9-6 margin across our 15 votes. Including that exhibition win, New York has gone 16-3 since the start of July, and everything has really started to click for them on both ends of the court. Jonquel Jones, in particular, has been a difference maker of late, and their ability to dominate inside and out makes the Liberty a true title contender.
1. Las Vegas Aces (28-4, No. 1 last rankings)
The Aces have shown a moment of vulnerability, especially on their home floor, in this past week. Although their loss to the Liberty in the Commissioner’s Cup final did not technically break their long-running home win-streak, Friday’s defeat by the Sparks did. The Aces are just 1-5 when they score fewer than 80 points in a game, and their game against LA was a rare inefficient effort. Not often will you lose a game when you attempt 22 more shots than your opponent, but the Aces did just that, shooting 36.0 percent (27/75), while allowing the Sparks an ultra-efficient 52.8 percent (28/53).
Wonderful press conference moment from A'ja Wilson yesterday when she was reminded that the Sparks had a week off before beating the Aces. A'ja had originally said fatigue didn't affect her. (h/t @WillieGRamirez for the question) pic.twitter.com/9uR42PDeZL
— Sabreena Merchant (@sabreenajm) August 20, 2023
Sometimes, the simple answer is just fatigue, as A’ja Wilson alluded to in this hilarious postgame soundbite. Is that, perhaps, a worry come playoff time, when you think about the cumulative toll on their four All-Star starters? Still, that could be nitpicking at what remains a dominant team who has already proven they can weather a ton of minutes to be holding a trophy at season’s end.
Largest Climb: Indiana Fever, Los Angeles Sparks, Washington Mystics (+1 spot)
Largest Fall: Chicago Sky (-2 spots)
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