WNBA power rankings: Why it’s too early to worry about the Minnesota Lynx

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@minnesotalynx

We’re back this week with more results and data to use in our evaluation of all 12 teams in the WNBA.

While some teams haven’t seen the floor as much as others through the first week and a half of the season, a few have clearly separated themselves from the pack. For others, the return of players from overseas has brightened their outlook.

Who are the risers and fallers since we unveiled our first edition of the power rankings? Let’s get to it.

12. Indiana Fever (1-4) —

The Fever played a much cleaner game against the Mystics on Sunday, reducing their number of turnovers and personal fouls to get their first win of the season. They’ve still given up over 82 points per game through five games, and I’ll need to see more than better fundamentals and one win to move them out of this spot.

11. Los Angeles Sparks (0-2) -2

It’s tricky to compare outlooks at this point in the season when a team like the Sparks has played just two games and the Liberty have played six. What’s easier to see is that in those two games, Los Angeles has looked completely out of sync, surrendering over 90 points in each and ranking near the bottom of the league in almost every statistical category.

10. Atlanta Dream (1-2) +1

Other than getting out-rebounded in every game so far, the Dream are playing much better defense than last season, when they gave up the second-most points in the WNBA. If they can keep that up and get Chennedy Carter going on offense, they could compete, but it’s going to take more than a four-point win over the Fever to convince me.

9. Washington Mystics (1-3) +1

Hoping Tina Charles can score 34 points each night, as she did in the Mystics’ lone win against the Liberty, isn’t going to be a recipe for consistent success. Myisha Hines-Allen’s arrival should give this team a boost, but Elena Delle Donne’s extended stay on the sideline is becoming tougher and tougher for them to weather.

8. Minnesota Lynx (0-3) -3

OK, how does a winless, last-place team bump up this high in the power rankings? It starts with the return of Napheesa Collier, who’s been one of the most valuable players to her team over the past two years, and it ends with the fact that no Lynx player other than Sylvia Fowles has played up to their potential.

7. Dallas Wings (1-2) —

Dallas’ record doesn’t indicate how dangerous this team has looked through three games, especially since they’re no longer just relying on Arike Ogunbowale getting 20-plus points a night (which she’s doing anyway). Thirteen seconds away from beating the Storm in regulation over the weekend, the Wings showed they can play with the best.

6. Phoenix Mercury (2-2) —

It’s hard to fault the Mercury for their two losses to the Sun when no WNBA team has been able to solve Connecticut this season. They’ll need to score more than the 67 points they put up in their last game against the Sun, but I like their odds of shooting better than 38.2 from the field and 25 percent from 3 with the scorers they have on their roster.

5. Chicago Sky (2-1) -2

That the Sky played the Liberty close on Sunday while without Candace Parker and Allie Quigely is a good sign. Kahleah Copper, Astou Ndour-Fall and Ruthy Hebard have all stepped up while Chicago’s stars either get healthy or hit their stride. As a team, they need to take better control of the ball, currently turning it over 17 times a game.

4. Las Vegas Aces (2-2) —

The Aces don’t like to shoot a lot of 3s, so when a team can beat them at their own game in the paint, they’re in trouble. That’s what Connecticut did to them on Sunday, out-rebounding Las Vegas 44 to 26. The Aces didn’t help themselves by shooting 76.2 percent from the free-throw line. Bill Laimbeer will make sure they learn from the loss.

3. Seattle Storm (3-1) -2

Really, the only reason the Storm have moved down from the top spot is because the Sun and Liberty have more evidence of their team success. While the Wings outplayed the Storm for most of their matchup on Saturday, that Seattle fought back to pull out the win in overtime says a lot about the fortitude of this team.

2. New York Liberty (5-1) +6

The Liberty are making the biggest jump in this week’s power rankings, not only because they’re off to their best start since 2007, but also because Natasha Howard is finally with the team. That fortune could change if the knee injury that forced Howard to leave Monday night’s game in the fourth quarter is serious, but for now, New York is riding high.

1. Connecticut Sun (5-0) +1

If the Sun were still flying under the radar at 4-0, they’ve since captured the league’s attention with their win over Las Vegas. Connecticut is holding its opponents to a WNBA-leading 68.8 points per game, mainly by dominating on the glass, at the rim and from beyond the arc. How’s that for executing a game plan?

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