The top three spots look pretty similar to how I thought they would before the season started. It may have taken the Liberty a minute to find their legs, but they found their equilibrium nonetheless.
The middle has been churning like crazy, and it doesn't look like a very deep pool; after the top three, I wouldn't bet on any of the other eight to have a legitimate shot at contention. I just don't really see the path forward for them.
I've decided, in the interest of doing something mildly interesting with these weekly rankings, to split the teams into different tiers. The first tier will be legit contenders; the second will be teams who could with a lucky break, and so on and so forth. You get the idea.
Actually, no, never mind; I want to split them up based on Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire quotes. None of this really makes any sense. Just enjoy the cross-#branded content.
SPOILERS FOR BOOKS THAT ARE TWENTY, EIGHTEEN, SIXTEEN, ELEVEN, AND FIVE YEARS OLD!!!!!!!!
"There are no men like me. There's only me."
1) Los Angeles Sparks
I'll be real: I only did this quote thing because I wanted to use "Promise me, Ned" as one of the quotes and now I can't find a spot for it, and I'm a little upset. Anyway, as far as basketball is concerned, there is no team like the Sparks.
I am personally convinced that Los Angeles is the best team in the league, and the traditional and advanced statistics have my back on this.
I knew they'd be good, because they were incredible when Candace Parker came back last year, but I did not expect them to be this good. I am very, very glad that they have been so good, because it's going to make those titanic clashes between the Sparks and Lynx that much more appealing.
"I'm honest. It's the world that's awful."
2) Minnesota Lynx
This quote is a might be unfair to Minnesota, as they are not far off from the Sparks pace, but I have pushed all of my decidedly metaphorical chips to the center (no gambling allowed) on the Sparks.
The Lynx have won three titles over the past few years, and have clearly cemented themselves as a dynasty; they're not at a point where they're too old to compete, but each year a championship gets harder and harder to reach. They could still beat Los Angeles, and I wouldn't really be surprised, but I have my doubts.
"Rhaegar fought valiantly, Rhaegar fought nobly; Rhaegar fought honorably. And Rhaegar died."
3) New York Liberty
The amount of back patting that went on when I chose this line was astronomically high.
The Liberty are going to put up a hell of a fight; I really believe that. But they're going to need a good break to, well, break through and win the championship. They just don't have the offensive firepower to keep up with Los Angeles or Minnesota, though they have a comparable, dominant defense.
I don't think they're ever going to be running some Warriors/Spurs type offense or anything, but they've been competent enough to win seventeen out of twenty-four games, and that can't be discounted.
They also have Tina Charles, who is a black hole on defense and a... a wormhole on offense? Like, they pass the ball to her, and it comes out the other side in a place they couldn't reach without her help yes okay this metaphor works.
"No. Now it ends."
4) Phoenix Mercury
5) Chicago Sky
6) Atlanta Dream
7) Indiana Fever
This is a collective ranking for all of these teams. They have, in my mind, no shot at the title. None of them have enough power defensively, and no offense, even as one as potent as the flamethrower that Phoenix trots out each and every night can make up for the second-worst defensive rating in the entire league.
I had higher hopes for Atlanta, especially overall, but they haven't been able to take that next step; they still rely heavily on free throws, too heavily some might say, and outside of some really promising, really engaging play from center Elizabeth Williams, they've struggled in the offensive department.
"None of us wants trouble, but I fear these are troubled times."
8) Seattle Storm
9) Dallas Wings
10) Washington Mystics
Yeah. I mean, one of these three teams is going to make the playoffs, probably the Dallas Wings. However, I would be super-duper surprised if they won a first round series, or really even a game against the right team. The Mystics, more so than the Storm or the Wings, have the ability to turn it around and make some noise down the road, but I very much doubt it. It's troubled times, even though none of them want trouble.
"You know nothing, Jon Snow."
11) Connecticut Sun
12) San Antonio Stars
Self-explanatory. These two teams are the worst in the league, and know very little. The nice flip side to this quote is that Jon Snow does learn things, while eventually living up to his great potential; these two teams could be sort of like that, as they continue to get high draft picks and top college players to replenish their depleted rosters.