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WNBA Power Rankings: Watch out for the Phoenix Mercury

Skylar Diggins-Smith (@PhoenixMercury)

We’re nearly a month into the WNBA season, and due to injuries and international commitments, we still haven’t seen some teams at full strength.

What we have had are competitive matchups and thrilling finishes, with three games this past week ending on last-second 3-pointers.

We only hope you can find as much excitement in this week’s edition of the JWS power rankings.

12. Indiana Fever (1-9) —

The Fever have lost five in a row and their smallest margin of defeat during that streak was 15 points against the Storm. Indiana is scoring the fewest points per game in the league (74.7) and surrendering the most (89.6). You have to wonder when coach Marianne Stanley will start giving first-round draft picks Kyrse Gondrezick and Lauren Cox more playing time.

11. Chicago Sky (2-7) -3

The only losing streak worse than Indiana’s is Chicago’s. The Sky have lost seven straight games since winning their first two and they’ve yet to play any of the top three teams in the league. Their defense has kept them in games and given them a chance to win, but turnovers and inefficient shooting continue to plague them.

10. Washington Mystics (2-5) —

The Mystics have the individual talent to keep up with some of the best teams, which explains how they played both the Sun and Aces close this past week. But when you’re shooting as many 3-pointers as Washington does — currently leading the league with 29.1 attempts per game — you have to connect on more than 32.4 percent of them to close out games.

9. Los Angeles Sparks (4-3) +2

The Sparks’ wins have come against the two worst teams in these power rankings. They’ve tightened up their defense since surrendering 90-plus points in each of their first two games, but they haven’t been tested as much as other teams. Amanda Zahui B. should at least help the Sparks improve on the glass, where they rank last in the WNBA.

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

The Liberty are pin-balling around these power rankings, and you might disagree with their placement here given they’re sixth in the actual league standings. For the middle tier, I accounted for head-to-head results, common opponents and strength of schedule. For New York and Atlanta, who have similar track records up to this point, it comes down to the fact that the Liberty have lost three straight, with one of those losses being to Atlanta.

7. Atlanta Dream (4-4) -2

The Dream dropped two straight to the Lynx since going on a four-game winning streak, which is more excusable now that the Lynx are looking like the team many believed to be a contender. The Dream are still scoring at will and third-leading scorer Chennedy Carter should return to the lineup this month after missing two games with a hyperextended elbow.

6. Dallas Wings (3-5) +3

The Wings get the award for the best team with the worst record. Each of their losses this season have been by single digits and they’ve played the Storm — No. 1 in our power rankings — close every time, which translated to a win over Seattle on Sunday and makes you believe more are coming. They’re a young team, but their bench is deeper than most.

5. Minnesota Lynx (3-4) +2

This is why I wasn’t sleeping on the Lynx when they lost four straight to open the season. Napheesa Collier has given the team a jolt of confidence in her return, not only getting hers but also drawing defenders to take some of the pressure off her teammates. Crystal Dangerfield is also settling into her role as the first player off the bench, giving Minnesota another weapon.

4. Phoenix Mercury (5-3) +2

The Mercury haven’t been overpowering opponents, but they’re showing the value of their veteran lineup by closing out tight games. Skylar Diggins-Smith and Brittney Griner are averaging 24.3 and 18.7 points per game, respectively, during Phoenix’s three-game win streak. That Kia Nurse is looking more comfortable, too, is only a good sign for this team while it waits for Diana Taurasi to return.

3. Las Vegas Aces (7-3) —

When you have six players who can step up and lead you to victory on any given night, as the Aces do in their starting lineup plus Dearica Hamby and Kelsey Plum off the bench, you’re set up for success. They showed that this past week, holding on to defeat the Liberty and Mystics despite suffering defensive breakdowns at times.

2. Connecticut Sun (8-2) —

We’ve written before about the powerhouse offensive duo of Jonquel Jones and DeWanna Bonner. An underrated aspect of the Sun’s surge this season is their defense, which is giving up the fewest points per game in the WNBA and consistently winning on the glass. That could be what sustains them while Jones misses at least four games for EuroBasket.

1. Seattle Storm (7-2) —

If there’s anything for the Storm to worry about, it’s that no one outside of their Big 3 of Breanna Stewart, Jewell Loyd and Sue Bird has emerged as a consistent offensive weapon. That was evident in their loss to the Wings on Sunday, when the most any other player scored was four points. The good news is those three have already led them to seven wins and the role players are bound to improve.

Midge Purce-Backed Docuseries ‘The Offseason’ to Drop This Summer

cast of the offseason nwsl reality series
'The Offseason' follows a group of NWSL stars as they prepare for preseason play. (The Offseason)

The Offseason, a reality series created by Gotham and USWNT star Midge Purce, has officially confirmed its streaming debut, Purce announced in Cannes on Tuesday.

The six-episode, half-hour docuseries will stream this summer on X, though a specific premiere date hasn't yet been set.

The Offseason was filmed in Miami, two weeks before the NWSL preseason. It's a crucial time for athletes, a period where they prepare to join their respective teams and compete for both starting and roster spots. Production designed all the facilities, bringing in top-tier trainers, masseuses, chefs, and gym equipment to create a high-level training environment, ensuring the players were in peak condition, per the show's release. Throughout filming, athletes lived together in one house — a reality TV conceit rife for entertainment.

The series follows a number of NWSL stars, including Purce (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Maria Sanchez (Houston Dash), Lo’eau LaBonta (Kansas City Current), Michelle Alozie (Houston Dash), Taylor Smith (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Nikki Stanton (OL Reign), Ally Watt (Orlando Pride), Taryn Torres (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Paige Nielsen (Angel City FC), and Ify Onumonu (Utah Royals).

"We wanted to create a series that truly captures the essence of what it means to be a professional athlete," said Purce. "This series has always been about more than just sports — it's about the human experience behind the athlete, as well."

The show promises a behind-the-scenes look at professional women's sports, teasing major life decisions, on-field tensions, and players taking stock of the environments they'll be entering once their preseason trip is over. The series delves into the real-life challenges faced by the athletes, including club trades, contract negotiations, burnout, and the relentless pressure from outsiders commenting on the players' personal lives.

The Offseason's official trailer, released on Tuesday, shows snippets of Hubly contemplating retirement, Sanchez joining the group after signing a high-profile contract, and a healthy amount of banter about on-field achievements.

The spirit of the series is reflected in its producers: Box To Box Films is known for their sports content (Drive to Survive, Break Point, Full Swing), whereas 32 Flavors is the creative force behind Vanderpump Rules and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. The series was funded by Seven Seven Six, and executive produced by Purce.

Lilia Vu adds Meijer LPGA Classic to tour wins record

Lilia Vu won in her first tournament in two months. (Photo by Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Lilia Vu won her fifth LPGA Tour event on Sunday, taking home the Meijer LPGA Classic title in her first tournament since March. 

The world No. 2 had been sidelined with a back injury, but returned with a vengeance. She began the day eight shots back of leader Grace Kim, and survived a three-hole playoff against Kim and former champion Lexi Thompson to take the title. 

“I think this is the most meaningful win,” said Vu, “because there was a time two months ago where I was just crying on the range not being sure if I would ever play a tournament again without pain.”

A two-time major champion, Vu hadn’t before won the Meijer LPGA Classic, but a birdie on the third playoff hole helped secure it. She’s now 2-for-3 in LPGA Tour playoffs. 

She said on Sunday that being unable to defend her title at the Chevron Championship was the “breaking point” in her season.

“Not being able to compete there really killed me,” she said. “I feel like I thought I was taking the steps in the right direction, but I’m glad that I was able to take a couple months off and reevaluate my body, let it recover, do what I needed to do to get back out here again.

“And we did the right thing and took two months off. I think it hurt me not to play competitive golf because I literally live for competitive golf, but we did the right thing and that’s why I’m here today.”

Top tennis players pull out of Olympics citing health reasons

Aryna Sabalenka will not play in the Olympics. (Photo by ALAIN JOCARD/AFP via Getty Images)

Ons Jabeur and Aryna Sabalenka joined a growing list of tennis stars opting out of the Olympics on Monday.

Sabalenka, the reigning Australian Open champion and world No. 3, told reporters in Berlin that she was looking after her health while citing WTA tournament participation requirements. The Belarusian had struggled with a stomach bug during the French Open, where she lost in the semifinals of a major for the first time since 2022. 

“Especially with all the struggles I was having last month, I feel like I need to take care of my health. … It’s too much with the scheduling,” Sabalenka said. “It’s just too much. I made the decision to take care of my health.”

Similarly, Jabeur cited the health risks that come with the change of surface. The world No. 10 has been battling knee injuries this season, and lost in the French Open quarterfinals to Coco Gauff. 

Players will spend the next few weeks playing on grass in the lead-up to Wimbledon, while the Olympics will be played at Roland-Garros and be held on clay. 

“After consulting with my medical team regarding attending the Olympics in Paris, we have decided that the quick change of surface and the body’s adaptation required would put my knee at risk and jeopardize the rest of my season,” Jabeur posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Unfortunately, I will not be able to participate in the 2024 Paris Olympics. I have always loved representing my country in any competition, However, I must listen to my body and follow my medical team’s advice.”

The two join Emma Raducanu in opting out of the Olympics. Raducanu – who has dealt with a number of injuries since her US Open win in 2021 – cited the changing surface as “not worth the risk.”

Jaedyn Shaw Breaks NWSL Record for Most Goals Scored as a Teenager

Jaedyn Shaw of the san diego wave
Jaedyn Shaw is now holds the record for most NWSL goals as a teenager. (Julia Kapros-USA TODAY Sports)

Jaedyn Shaw continues to make NWSL history, surpassing Trinity Rodman for the most NWSL goals by a teenager on Saturday. 

She did it in a game against Rodman's Washington Spirit in the 20th minute of the 1-1 draw. It brings her total to 13 league goals, after making her NWSL debut at 17 years old in July 2022. 

The goal is her third this season. Shaw currently leads Wave alongside Makenzy Doniak. 

Shaw has also been a member of the USWNT, alongside Rodman, netting seven goals over 14 national team appearances. If she gets called up to this summer’s Olympics under Emma Hayes, it will mark her first official tournament with the USWNT.

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