WNBA Power Rankings: Connecticut Sun at the top; Minnesota Lynx continue to struggle
The Sun look like the class of the league, while the defending champion Lynx are really struggling
What is going on with the Minnesota Lynx? That is the question everyone around the WNBA is asking after the first few weeks of the season. The defending champions have opened the season just 3-6, and sit in tenth place in the standings, currently outside of the playoff picture.
Now, no one is too worried about them missing out on the playoffs, but it is pretty astounding considering they lost just seven regular season games last season and only six in 2016. And with only 25 games left for them, it's not like they have all sorts of time to figure things out. Remember, if you don't get a top-two seed in the WNBA playoffs, you have to play at least one single elimination round, or possibly two if you finish fifth through eighth. So these early season struggles do matter.
As for the actual problems? Well, we can start by looking at their turnovers. They lead the league with a turnover percentage -- an estimate of turnovers per 100 plays -- of 19.6. Essentially, they're turning the ball over on a fifth of all of their possessions. That's a main reason their offensive rating is down from first in the league last season at 108.3 to ninth in the league this season at 96.9. It's hard to score when you're not even getting a shot up 20 percent of the time.
In addition, we've seen a steep drop off from the three oldest players of their core -- Seimone Augustus, Lindsay Whalen and Rebekkah Brunson. Last season, the trio combined to average 29.1 points per game, while shooting 47.1 percent from the field. So far this season, they're down to 22.5 points on 41.1 percent shooting. Their minutes are down slightly, but they've been much more inefficient.
- Connecticut Sun (7-1)
Well, so much for any fears that the Sun would have trouble living up to their breakout campaign last season. They're first in the league with a 7-1 record, boast an absurd 19.1 net rating, and have six different players averaging double figures.
2. Phoenix Mercury (7-3)
Diana Taurasi, DeWanna Bonner -- who sat out last season on maternity leave -- and Brittney Griner are all healthy and playing for just the second season since 2014, and it's paying dividends. The Mercury are the hottest team in the league and have won five in a row.
3. Los Angeles Sparks (5-2)
It's been more of the same for Sparks, who are once again near the top of the standings. That's thanks in large part to Chelsea Gray, who has continued to excel in an increased role. Also, it was nice to see No. 11 overall pick Maria Vadeeva finally got her visa issues sorted out and has arrived stateside. She didn't play in Sunday's win over the Sky, but should make her debut soon.
4. Seattle Storm (6-3)
The Storm appear to have taken the leap under new coach Dan Hughes. Out to a 6-3 start, they should break their streak of four straight sub-.500 seasons. Natasha Howard has been a revelation in her first season with the team, averaging career-highs in points, rebounds and blocks.
5. Dallas Wings (4-3)
Liz Cambage has been everything the Wings were hoping for when they finally lured her back to the WNBA for the first time since 2013. The Australian center -- who was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 Draft, but spent the past five years playing in Australia and China -- has been spectacular, averaging 20.4 points, 10.6 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game.
6. Atlanta Dream (5-3)
It's been an up-and-down start to the season for the Dream as they try to work in a number of new pieces. They still have some things to figure out, but one thing that's for sure is they're glad to have Angel McCoughtry back in action. The six-time All-WNBA and seven-time All-Defensive First Team performer sat out last season to rest.
7. Washington Mystics (5-4)
The Mystics are 4-1 with Elena Delle Donne in the lineup, but just 1-3 in her absence due to illness. That's the main storyline for the Mystics so far, but they've also gotten nice contributions from their two rookies, Ariel Atkins and Myisha Hines-Allen.
8. Minnesota Lynx (3-6)
It's been a strange opening few weeks for the Lynx, who are off to an uncharacteristic 3-6 start. For comparison, they lost seven games last season and just six in 2016.
9. New York Liberty (3-4)
What a steal the Liberty got in Kia Nurse. The No. 10 overall pick is second on the team in scoring with 14.6 points per game. Among rookies she's third in scoring, seventh in rebounding, third in assists and second in 3-point percentage.
10. Chicago Sky (3-5)
The young Sky have a lot of talent -- they debuted three top five picks this season -- but they still haven't figured out how to stop anyone on the defensive end. Their 105.5 defensive rating is 11th in the league, and among the bottom three for the third straight season.
11. Las Vegas Aces (1-7)
It's been a rough start for the young Aces in their first season in Las Vegas. The good news is save for two blowouts they've been competitive in every game, and No. 1 pick A'ja Wilson is already dominating down low.
12. Indiana Fever (0-8)
The Fever might not have any wins, but they do have Kelsey Mitchell. The No. 2 overall pick already looks legit on offense. She's averaging 19.4 points per game, while shooting 41.3 percent from 3-point land.
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