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

@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?

Esme Morgan Signs With Washington Spirit

Esme Morgan of England inspects the pitch prior to the UEFA Women's EURO 2025 qualifying match between England and France
The England national will join the Spirit in DC on July 15th. (Naomi Baker - The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

English defender Esme Morgan has signed with the Washington Spirit, the club announced Thursday. 

Morgan had been with WSL side Manchester City since 2017, with one year remaining on her contract. She’ll now make a move to the NWSL, with City receiving a fee for the move. 

"I wanted to join the Spirit because they have the ambition and tools to be the best team in the NWSL, and trying to achieve that will be a great but enjoyable challenge," Morgan said in a club statement.

"On an individual level too, the opportunity to work under Jonatan [Giráldez], one of the world's best coaches, is really exciting and I look forward to learning from him and pushing myself to become the best player I can be, hopefully helping the team to success."

According to ESPN, Morgan’s lack of playing time under City manager Gareth Taylor played a key role in her decision to leave the league championship runners-up. She’ll join the Spirit in Washington, DC on July 15th, but won’t be able to begin play until August. 

Spirit president Mark Krikorian called Morgan an "exceptional talent" and added that the club is "thrilled" to add her to the roster.

"I think she’s pretty talented," Giraldez told reporters on Friday. "A young player with a great future, but with experience already in a great league and with the national team. She’s been surrounded by great players and also great coaches, so she can give us experience."

Ledecky Goes for 4 at Olympic Swimming Trials

Swimmer katie ledecky swimming at Toyota US Open
Decorated swimmer Katie Ledecky is aiming to make her fourth-straight Olympic squad. (Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

The US Olympic Swimming Trials begin this weekend, running from June 15th through June 23rd in Indianapolis, with Katie Ledecky eyeing her fourth-straight Summer Games.

While traditionally held in Omaha, Indiana's Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the NFL's Indianapolis Colts, has been fitted with a 50-meter pool to host the meet that will determine the 2024 Paris Olympics roster.

All eyes will be on seven-time Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky, who will be competing in the 200-meter, 400-meter, 800-meter, and 1500-meter freestyle — all events in which she’s been an Olympic champion. 

Rival Ariarne Titmus had her trials last week, breaking the world record in the 200-meter freestyle. Ledecky’s 200 is intended to qualify her for the Olympic relay. Meanwhile stateside, Katie Grimes stands to be a challenger in the 1500-meter freestyle has already qualified for the Paris Olympics in the 10km open water event.

Other competitors of note include 47-year-old Gabrielle Rose, who stands to become the oldest US Swimming Olympic qualifier in the 100-meter and 200-meter breaststroke.

Additionally, Kate Douglass — an NCAA and World Champion — is a favorite to make her first Olympic team in the 200-meter IM and 200-meter breaststroke. Simone Manuel, an Olympic champion in the 100-meter freestyle, is also looking to make her third-straight Olympics.

Where to watch: The Trials will be streaming all week on Peacock, with later qualifying heats airing live on USA Network and event finals airing in primetime on NBC.

Orlando and Kansas City Shoot for 13 in NWSL Weekend Action

NWSL's T. Chawinga #6 of the Kansas City Current passes the ball during the first half of their game against the Utah Royals FC
The Kansas City Current hopes to extend its NWSL unbeaten streak to 13 with a win over Chicago. (Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

The 13th match weekend is fast approaching in the NWSL, with two season-long unbeaten streaks on the line.

League-leaders Kansas City and Orlando will attempt to survive the weekend with their unbeaten runs intact, as the Current host Chicago on Friday and the Pride travel to North Carolina for Saturday's match.

But while Kansas City and Orlando have been the gold standard this year, they're still a number of wins away from tying Washington's record for longest unbeaten streak in a single NWSL season. In 2021, the Spirit went 20 games without a loss en route to the club's first NWSL championship.

Both Gotham and Louisville are carrying momentum into their matchup on Saturday. Louisville is unbeaten in three games, and they’re looking to finally leapfrog Chicago and claim sixth place in the league standings. Gotham, on a seven-game unbeaten run, is into fifth place.

Portland and Seattle will face off in the Cascadia Clash this weekend, with Golden Boot contender Sophia Smith absent, as the decorated forward was shown a red card last weekend for time-wasting on the bench.

The Reign could use a win against their long-time rivals, as a difficult start has 13th-place Seattle registering only two wins amid nine losses so far this season.

Elsewhere in the league, 2024 expansion teams Bay FC and Utah meet for the first time this weekend, as both look to rise from the bottom half of the standings. And Washington will ride a four-game winning streak into Saturday's game against a San Diego side that's earned two hard-fought draws in recent weeks.

Watch more: "Sophia Smith is INNOCENT!" on The Late Sub with Claire Watkins

WNBA All-Star Voting Starts on June 13th

Phoenix Mercury mascot Scorch waving a 2024 WNBA All-Star flag at a 2023 home game.
Phoenix Mercury will host the 20th-annual All-Star Game on July 20th, 2024. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Voting for the 2024 AT&T WNBA All-Star Game opened at 2 PM ET today and runs through June 29th.

All active WNBA players are eligible to make the All-Star Game, set for July 20th in Phoenix. Unlike previous formats that featured two voted-in All-Star squads, this year’s contest pits a single All-Star team against the already-decided Olympic-bound USA Women’s National Team.

Fans can submit a daily ballot nominating up to 10 athletes via WNBA.com or the WNBA App.

Fan-submitted ballots account for 50% of vote, with the other 50% split equally between current WNBA players and members of the media. The top 10 athletes will automatically make the All-Star Game, with league coaches then voting from a pool of the next 36 to complete Team WNBA’s 12-player roster. The final lineup will be announced on July 2nd.

This year's All-Star Game format presents an opportunity for fans to vote for players they might consider Olympic snubs. Indiana rookie Caitlin Clark and Dallas’s Arike Ogunbawole seem like shoo-ins given the discussion surrounding their Olympic omissions, while Connecticut stars Brionna Jones and DeWanna Bonner are also expected to snag All-Star nods.

And after a career-high 20-point, 10-rebound double-double in last night’s 83-75 loss to the Sun, Chicago rookie Angel Reese could also secure a spot.

Regardless, it won't necessarily be smooth sailing for Team USA, as history has tended to favor the underdog. 

The first USA vs. All-Stars matchup took place in 2021, with the league’s squad humbling the Tokyo Olympians 93-85. With 26 points, Ogunbawole was named All-Star Game MVP after barely missing the Olympic cut. Could she and Clark turn the tables on Team USA this year?

Watch more: "Were Caitlin Clark and Arike Ogunbowale snubbed?" by Expert Adjacent

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