There is so much parity in the WNBA this year! And that’s going to be relevant come playoff time with the new format.
We’ve had some change since the preseason, but our Top 4 remains intact, just in a different order. Here are our midseason power rankings:
1) Chicago Sky (16-6)
The Storm are now a super team and the Aces are one too with arguably an entire starting lineup that should have made the All-Star Game. But Seattle is still getting used to having Tina Charles on the squad and Vegas has lost five of seven. The Sky have won six of seven and are the defending champs until someone takes that title from them. They matched the Aces with four All-Stars and it was the four players we expected (they all made our Top 30 list). One criticism of the Sky is that they don't have a ton of blowout wins. But they are finding ways to win and have all the positive vibes in the league in their corner.
2) Seattle Storm (15-8)
The Storm turned heads in their final game before the All-Star break, shooting a franchise-record 64.6 percent from the field and receiving 57 points from Breanna Stewart, Tina Charles and Jewell Loyd combined. This was against a depleted Sparks team, so we can't be too sure about how much meaning it holds. Still, skepticism of Charles may be overblown. It may not be, but for the sake of these power rankings, let’s give her fit with the Storm the benefit of the doubt. She is a player who wants to win and, even if she wasn’t, the culture in Seattle won’t let her be a selfish player. That’s Breanna Stewart, Sue Bird and Jewell Loyd’s team and they have championship chemistry. It is unlikely that Charles will detract from that and, on the other end of the spectrum, she could contribute to it greatly.
3) Las Vegas Aces (15-7)
If this team had played loose last year, they would have won the championship. The same probably goes for this season. When they’re just having fun out there, they can run up the score on anyone with the league’s best offense. Nobody is more competitive than A’ja Wilson and Kelsey Plum and they won’t rest until they win a title. The two teams above the Aces in these rankings are just as loaded on paper as the Aces are and we gave them both the edge because of championship experience and current momentum. But the Aces still own the best stretch of basketball any team has had this season. They just need to get their mojo back.
A'ja Wilson: "This isn’t us. This isn’t us. We lost our identity. We just got to find us.”— Paloma Villicana FOX5 (@PalomaVillicana) July 7, 2022
4) Connecticut Sun (14-8)
The Mystics earned a vote for fourth; on that ballot Connecticut was fifth. It’s reasonable to be skeptical of the Sun seeing as they’ve lost four of six. However, our voting does give them the edge over Washington. They are still certainly a force to be reckoned and, on paper, lean more toward being a part of the group of three above them than they lean toward being in the same tier as the Mystics. Look no further than our Sun beat writer Cat Ariail’s July 1st update to learn why they have been struggling. She writes that it’s been cold shooting and a lack of aggressiveness attacking the basket. The Sun have lost once more since that update and shot 4-of-20 from three in that contest.
5) Washington Mystics (14-10)
While standing by the comment that the Mystics are a tier below the four teams above them, it’s fair to acknowledge that they have been threatening to break down that barrier all season long. We talk about big threes, fours and fives all the time and sometimes disrespect the supporting cast surrounding Elena Delle Donne, because they too form a big something. Whether it’s three four or five is up for debate, but Ariel Atkins is a heck of a second-best player and Natasha Cloud probably should have been an All-Star alongside Atkins. Then we know what Myisha Hines-Allen is capable from her All-WNBA season in 2020 and you’ve got Alysha Clark and Shakira Austin playing at a high level as well, with Elizabeth Williams rounding things out as a strong defensive presence.
6) Los Angeles Sparks (10-12)
The next six are very hard to pick between. The Sparks have an MVP candidate in Nneka Ogwumike and while the gaudy scoring average of 2018 Liz Cambage has disappeared over the last three seasons with no signs of returning, the team’s flashy offseason acquisition deserved some All-Star consideration. Brittney Sykes does what she does on defense and she’s averaging a solid 10.3 points and a career-best 3.9 assists. Then you’ve got right around the Jordin Canada you expected and an improved Katie Lou Samuelson and Lexie Brown. The Sparks need to get healthy, but they lean toward the high end of the talent spectrum when it comes to these six teams.
7) New York Liberty (9-13)
It needs to be said that Marine Johannès is one of the most exciting players to watch in the league. Her an Han Xu will be the X factors as the team gets Betnijah Laney back and knows what it wants from its big three. Then you’ve got Stefanie Dolson, Sami Whitcomb and Rebecca Allen all with star qualities. Heck, you’ve even got two recent rookies of the year in Michaela Onyenwere and Crystal Dangerfield who have decreased roles but high ceilings. Round things out with Jocelyn Willoughby and DiDi Richards and there really are no weak links. Like the Sparks, the Liberty lean toward having more talent than the rest of this section of the power rankings. They actually tied the Sparks in our vote; LA got the tiebreaker because of a better record.
8) Minnesota Lynx (8-15)
The Lynx are 11th in the standings but appear here at eighth in our power rankings. They dominated the Aces 102-71 on July 3 and changed their luck in close games by defeating the Sky 81-78 on July 6. So they can beat any team in the league and they believe they can replicate that in the playoffs. Aerial Powers said after the Sky game: “The way our team feels now is ‘Hey, we get a number behind us, whoever we play is in trouble.’” Sylvia Fowles is still a good enough best player to lead a good team and look for her to play even better in the second half as her numbers are down a bit from last year. Cheryl Reeve is going to put this team in the best possible position to win. Let’s see if they can execute.
9) Atlanta Dream (10-12)
The Dream’s talent level is pretty solid as long as Tiffany Hayes is playing. It is very impressive that they had their pleasantly surprising start without her. Now that she's back, one would expect them to be a whole lot better, which is bad news for the other teams competing for the final few playoff spots. Rhyne Howard needs to continue to be productive and not disappear behind the team’s other scorers. She is the best player on the team and needs to play like a star in order for the Dream to hang onto playoff position.
10) Dallas Wings (10-12)
The Wings need to sort through their issues and turn momentum around because they’ve lost four of six. They did beat the Sun right before the break, but they seem like they might just barely miss out on the playoffs because of the competitiveness of this six to 11 range. Last year, they were an exciting up-and-coming team with Marina Mabrey emerging as a star. This year Allisha Gray is the one really backing up Arike Ogunbowale and that trio has the talent and grit to perhaps prove us wrong and turn Dallas into that exciting team once again. And perhaps Satou Sabally, who has been back for the last two games, can step up and be a fourth star.
11) Phoenix Mercury (10-14)
The Mercury’s fate will be heavily impacted by what happens with Skylar Diggins-Smith. How frequently does a team want to give up an MVP candidate midseason? Not only is she having a phenomenal season, but she helped lead the team to within two wins of a WNBA championship just a year ago. Do the Mercury really want to give her up? It seems Phoenix is always voted “most disappointing team” in our roundtables, but their playoff run last year was a huge exception to that narrative. Can they prove they are being disrespected by these rankings?
12) Indiana Fever (5-19)
It’s hard not to root for the Fever to at least move out of last place. But while the power ranking status of all the other teams constantly changes, the Fever remain separated from the pack as the team that is consistently the weakest. Perhaps Aliyah Boston can be a Rhyne Howard-type savior.