One of the primary reasons the Las Vegas Aces finally broke through and won their first title in franchise history last season is the former No. 1 overall pick Jackie Young had a breakout campaign that earned her the Most Improved Player award. She posted career-high marks in every major stat category besides assists and, most importantly, turned into an elite 3-point shooter.
Through the first week-plus of this season, she's been even better. Young is averaging 23 points, 4.3 rebounds, three assists and 2.3 steals per game, while shooting 61.8% from the field and 56.5% from 3-point land. That's good for fourth in the league in scoring and first in 3-pointers made.
When Young has been on the floor, the Aces have a 114.2 offensive rating, and her stellar play so far has helped the Aces get out to a dominant 4-0 start. They've won three of those games by at least 20 points and look to be, by far, the class of the league.
Young isn't going to continue shooting 60% from the field the rest of the season, but she will almost always get open shots or opportunities to attack closeouts given all the attention that the Aces' other stars require. If she keeps making opponents pay to this sort of degree, it's going to be hard to beat the Aces this season.
Now, on to this week's Power Rankings:
1. Las Vegas Aces (4-0) -- Last week No. 1
No change at the top here, as the Aces have gotten their title defense off to a terrific start. They are the only undefeated team left, have the best offense and best defense in the league and boast a staggering plus-28.7 net rating. Jackie Young has been particularly impressive, picking up from her Most Improved Player campaign by averaging 23 points on 61.8% shooting so far.
2. New York Liberty (2-1) -- Last week No. 2
The Liberty got some much needed practice time this week with a full six days off and only one game due to a schedule quirk. In that contest they handed the Sun their first defeat of the season with a dominant second half on both sides of the ball. We still haven't seen this team put together a full 40 minutes, which isn't a surprise given all the new pieces, but there have been some spectacular flashes.
3. Connecticut Sun (3-1) -- Last week No. 3
Connecticut fell from the ranks of the unbeaten with a defeat by New York over the weekend, but still sit in second place in the league. While this has been a strong start to the season for the Sun, their inability to generate efficient offense is a somewhat worrying trend to watch. They're shooting just 37.6% from the field and have been living at the free throw line to an unsustainable extent; in three of their four games they've shot over 30 free throws.
4. Washington Mystics (2-2) -- Last week No. 4
Elena Delle Donne continued her brilliant start to the season with a clutch 3-pointer in the final 30 seconds to lift the Mystics over the Sky in a thriller earlier this week. She continues to be the story for this team, as she leads them in scoring at 21 points per game on 54.1/58.3/84.6 shooting splits, and is averaging 6.3 rebounds and three assists as well. At some point, you figure someone besides her and Shakira Austin will make a shot, and then the Mystics will really get going.
5. Chicago Sky (3-1) -- Last week No. 5
A last-second loss to the Mystics remains the only blemish on the Sky's resume this season, as they've impressed with a new-look squad. Courtney Williams, who arrived in free agency this winter, has been a big part of their early success. Though she's struggled around the basket, it's been fun to watch her expand her game as a 3-point shooter and playmaker. She's also leading the team in rebounds as a 5-foot-8 guard.
6. Dallas Wings (2-1) -- Last week No. 6
A solid 1-1 week for the Wings, who picked up a win over the Storm before falling to the Sky in two competitive contests. While their goal in the offseason was to improve their defense, their offense has been the story through three games. Their 104.7 offensive rating is second only to the Aces because they have two of the league's top-five scorers in Arike Ogunbowale (26.7 points per game) and Satou Sabally (22.0), play extremely fast and take care of the ball.
7. Phoenix Mercury (1-2) -- Last week No. 8
The Mercury finally got on the board this week with a near wire-to-wire win over the Lynx. Brittney Griner excelled in that victory, and is off to a better start than anyone could have imagined. Through three games, she's putting up 21.3 points and eight rebounds per game on 74.2% shooting (not a typo) and leads the league in blocks at 3.7.
8. Los Angeles Sparks (1-2) -- Last week No. 7
The schedule makers did the Sparks no favors with back-to-back games against the Aces, and if that wasn't enough of a challenge, they had a few minor injuries and illnesses pop up at the same time. As such there's not really a whole lot we can take away from those two defeats. Let's check back in with the Sparks after they've played a few more games under more reasonable circumstances.
9. Atlanta Dream (1-2) -- Last week No. 9
How's this for a strange one: the Dream went 29-of-34 from the free throw line against the Fever this week and still lost. That was just the 10th time in WNBA history that a team has dropped a game despite taking at least 34 free throw attempts and shooting 85% or better. The good news for the Dream is a few days earlier they beat the Lynx to secure their first win of the season.
10. Indiana Fever (1-2) -- Last week No. 12
In their lone game this week, the Fever picked up their first win of the season by outlasting the Dream in a nail-biter. No. 1 pick Aliyah Boston has lived up to the hype; she is now the first player in WNBA history to start their career with at least 10 points on 60% shooting in their first three games. Boston and Co. are looking at a tough week ahead, though, with both the Sun and Aces on the docket.
11. Seattle Storm (0-2) -- Last week No. 11
The Storm have only played two games, which is the fewest among all teams, and neither has gone particularly well. They've trailed by double digits for a majority of both games, and are only off last place because the Lynx have lost more games. Even worse, they have to play the new-look Liberty on Tuesday, which means they'll have faced the two title favorites and three of the top-four offenses in the league in their first three games.
12. Minnesota Lynx (0-4) -- Last week No. 10
Even considering the lowered expectations, this was not the start that Cheryl Reeve was hoping for. The Lynx are stuck in last place at 0-4 after three defeats this week, and rank 10th in offense, 11th in defense and 11th in net rating at minus-13.9 points per 100 possessions. One of the few positive signs in Minnesota is that Jessica Shepard has built on last season's career year and is leading the team in both rebounding and assists.