Ever since the New York Liberty announced in late March that they had signed French sensation Marine Johannes, there's been plenty of excitement about her arrival in the WNBA.
But due to EuroBasket, during which Johannes helped lead France to a runner-up finish, which qualified them for the 2020 Olympics, we had to wait until mid-July to see her debut. It was worth the wait.
After two solid games to start her WNBA career, Johannes exploded on Saturday, scoring 17 points off the bench on a perfect 6 of 6 from the field, including 4 for 4 from 3-point land. She did so with her typical flair, coasting in for a smooth finger roll to start her scoring, and draining a few step-back 3s. This is what you get from Johannes -- not just strong play, but all sorts of highlights in the process.
It will be interesting to watch how Johannes plays the remainder of the season as she continues to get more comfortable with not only the Liberty, but living and playing in America. The early signs, though, are quite positive. She was instrumental in their win over the Sparks to snap their three-game losing streak, and in her first three games has an absurd plus-69.2 net rating differential.
She won't make every shot every game, of course, but her quickness and shot-making on the perimeter figures to be key for a Liberty team that has struggled on the offensive end this season, and has long been looking for a secondary scorer to complement Tina Charles.
1. Las Vegas Aces (12-6) -- last week No. 1
Las Vegas had their five-game winning streak snapped by the Storm to start their week, but bounced back with a gutsy win over the Lynx on Sunday. What really matters, though, is the health of All-Star forward A'ja Wilson, who sprained her ankle against the Storm and is now in a walking boot. It's still unclear how long she'll be out, but an extended absence would be bad news for their pursuit of a top-two seed.
2. Connecticut Sun (12-6) -- last week No. 2
The Sun only had one game this week, but they continued their positive momentum with an absolute destruction of the Dream, beating the last-place team by 29 points to extend their winning streak to three games.
3. Washington Mystics (11-6) -- last week No. 3
Masked Elena Delle Donne returned to the court this week after missing three games due to her broken nose, and did so in spectacular fashion. She went for 28 points in both of the Mystics' wins this week, as they got back on track following a three-game skid. Washington is now 11-2 when Delle Donne plays and 0-4 when she doesn't.
4. Seattle Storm (12-8) -- last week No. 7
Two more victories this week extended the Storm's winning streak to four games. It's been an impressive response after they lost three in a row and seemed to be finally succumbing to all of their injuries. Sami Whitcomb has been a huge part of their current run of form, averaging 13 points on 45.7 percent shooting during the streak and giving them a consistent scoring boost.
5. Chicago Sky (11-8) -- last week No. 6
The Sky's turnover problem came back with a vengeance this week, but they still managed to pick up comeback wins over the Dream and Fever to extend their winning streak to four games. This is their second winning streak of at least four games this season, and has boosted them to fifth place in the standings at 11-8, just 1 1/2 games out of first.
6. Los Angeles Sparks (10-8) -- last week No. 5
Though their win over the Wings was far from convincing, a 1-1 week for the Sparks is fine considering their roster situation. Candace Parker, Alana Beard and Alexis Jones are all still injured and now Riquna Williams is sidelined due to her 10-game suspension for a prior domestic violence incident.
7. Minnesota Lynx (10-9) -- last week No. 4
It's been quite an up-and-down season for the Lynx, and they're now in the midst of another little downturn. After two straight losses this week, they've lost three out of four games, and have dropped all the way to eighth in the crowded standings at 10-9. As per usual, their main problem has been on the offensive end, where they're just far too inconsistent.
8. Phoenix Mercury (9-8) -- last week No. 8
Wins are wins, and the Mercury picked up two of them, beating the Wings in both legs of a home-and-home series the two squads played this week. But with the way they played, it's hard to say they would have beaten any other team in the league. Saturday's game, in particular, was quite rough, as they won despite shooting 19-of-66 from the field.
9. New York Liberty (8-10) -- last week No. 10
The Liberty had a full five days off before their only game this week, and it appears the extra time to practice did the team well. After a three-game losing streak, they bounced back with a nice win over the Sparks, thanks in large part to new arrival Marine Johannes, who finished with 17 points on a perfect 6-of-6 shooting performance. The French rookie is a player to watch.
10. Indiana Fever (6-14) -- last week No. 11
Same old story for the Fever this week, as they competed hard, but fell a bit short against more talented teams. The two losses to the Mystics and Sky extended their losing streak to five games, and they've now lost nine of their last 10 outings. One bright spot was Teaira McCowan bouncing back from some tough performances to finish with 11 points and a career-high 16 rebounds against Chicago.
11. Dallas Wings (5-14) -- last week No. 12
The Wings lost all three of their games this week to extend their losing streak to five games. The three defeats were only by a combined 14 points, but it's getting a little late in the season for moral victories. Now 5-14, the Wings are a full five games out of the final playoff spot, and are one of the few teams with unrealistic postseason hopes.
12. Atlanta Dream (5-14) -- last week No. 9
Well, so much for last week being a sign that the Dream were starting to turn things around. They promptly returned to their losing ways, and did so in embarrassing fashion, losing by 29 points to the Sun, then following that up with a 28-point defeat to the Mystics to close out the week.