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WNBA Power Rankings: Atlanta Dream rise, Chicago Sky fall

Courtney Williams connects on a game-winning 3 against the Liberty. (@AtlantaDream)

The story of the past week in the WNBA was injuries. Diana Taurasi and Natasha Howard were the notable additions to a growing list of sidelined players, opening the door for more movement in the league standings.

With a full slate of competitive games ahead, we’ll see which teams take advantage. Before that, let’s dive into the latest edition of the power rankings.

12. Indiana Fever (1-7) —

The Fever didn’t have an easy schedule last week, but they didn’t show many signs of progress, either. In their three losses, they averaged 74.7 points for and 99.7 points against, including giving up 113 points to the Aces on Friday — a Las Vegas franchise record.

11. Los Angeles Sparks (2-2) —

This ranking might not feel fair after the Sparks picked up two straight wins over a preseason favorite in the Sky, but Chicago is severely shorthanded as Candace Parker and Allie Quigley work their way back from injuries. Los Angeles’ depth for the season also took another hit when No. 7 draft pick Jasmine Walker suffered a season-ending ACL tear.

10. Washington Mystics (2-4) -1

The Mystics have picked up their game over the past week and Tina Charles again played like an MVP candidate in a close loss to Connecticut. Even with Myisha Hines-Allen back in the fold, however, their short bench continues to raise concerns.

9. Dallas Wings (1-4) -2

Yes, Dallas has dropped four straight games. Yes, they’re still averaging 90.4 points per game, second most in the WNBA. Yes, they’re getting Allisha Gray and Satou Sabally back shortly from the 3×3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament. No, I’m not worried about them.

8. Chicago Sky (2-4) -3

It hasn’t been pretty for the Sky since Parker and Quigley went down and Stefanie Dolson left to represent Team USA in the 3×3 qualifying tournament. Dolson’s on her way back and Parker appears closer to returning than Quigley does. No matter the timelines, Chicago has to clean up its possession and defense, as it currently leads the league in turnovers (20.8 per game) and averages the third-most personal fouls (20.7).

7. Minnesota Lynx (1-4) +1

Napheesa Collier is back, Layshia Clarendon is signed, Sylvia Fowles continues to tear it up and the Lynx are showing marked signs of improvement after starting the season 0-4. In their win over Connecticut on Sunday, they out-rebounded and out-shot the Sun from 3, two areas where they’ve otherwise struggled this season.

6. Phoenix Mercury (3-3) —

Diana Taurasi is expected to miss at least three more weeks with a sternum fracture, making it even more difficult to know what this team is all about after six games. If Brittney Griner, Skylar Diggins-Smith and Kia Nurse step up like they did Saturday against Dallas, scoring more than 20 points each, Phoenix can manage until Taurasi returns.

5. Atlanta Dream (4-2) +5

Offense has always been the Dream’s calling card, and the most promising development of their 3-0 week was the way they spread the wealth. Eight or more players got on the board in each of their three wins. Courtney Williams also looks more comfortable in her role as the go-to scorer, averaging 21 points over that stretch, and No. 3 pick Aari McDonald grows with each game.

4. New York Liberty (5-2) -2

The Liberty didn’t play their best basketball Saturday against Atlanta and still came close to winning in overtime. The good news is Sabrina Ionescu won’t shoot much worse than the 18.2 field goal and 28.6 3-point percentages she finished with Saturday, and New York continues to shoot lights out from deep as a team, leading the league at 43.2 percent.

3. Las Vegas Aces (5-2) +1

The Aces’ offense is starting to fire on all cylinders and will add Kelsey Plum back into the lineup after she helped the U.S. qualify for the Olympics in 3×3. Las Vegas’ two straight games of 100-plus points did come against the last-place Fever, but that they are a league leader in nearly every scoring category except 3-pointers is no joke.

2. Connecticut Sun (6-2) -1

The Sun’s only losses this season have come against the red-hot Storm in overtime and a Lynx team on the rise. There’s not much reason to worry when Jonquel Jones and DeWanna Bonner continue to get theirs, but I do wonder if they’ve messed with a good thing by replacing Natisha Hiedeman with Briann January in the starting lineup.

1. Seattle Storm (5-1) +2

The biggest question for the Storm is how they respond to new head coach Noelle Quinn after Dan Hughes retired over the weekend. The odds are good the transition goes smoothly given Quinn’s long ties to the organization, in which case Seattle is once again the team to beat.