The much anticipated and historic 25th season of WNBA basketball got underway this weekend, and the action did not disappoint. There were multiple game-winning 3-pointers, standout performances from star players and the returns of multiple big-name players who missed most or all of 2020.
Sabrina Ionescu got things started by draining a deep 3 in the closing seconds to lift the Liberty over the Fever in the very first game of the season. A few hours after Ionescu's heroics, Diana Taurasi added to her collection of clutch moments by hitting what is surely the weirdest game winner of her career -- a 3 to beat the Lynx after the clock stopped.
Later in the weekend, Breanna Stewart put on a show by dropping 28 points and 13 rebounds in the Storm's emphatic win over the Aces. Meanwhile, Candace Parker did it all for the Sky in her debut with the team and put up 16 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three blocks as she led them to a 1-0 start.
Elsewhere, it was great to see some familiar names back on the court. Jonquel Jones, Liz Cambage, Tina Charles, Brittney Griner, Chiney Ogwumike, Kristi Toliver and Diamond DeShields were just some of the many who suited up again after lengthy absences. The league is a better place with them around.
With opening weekend in the books, it's a perfect time to take stock of the league with our initial power rankings. The obvious caveat being some teams have only played one game and there are a lot of early-season absences so things might be a little wonky the first few weeks.
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1. Seattle Storm (1-0)
What a statement from the Storm. Despite losing a lot of talent in the offseason, they made it clear that they aren't planning on taking a step back, and absolutely blitzed the Aces on opening night. Breanna Stewart went for 28 points and 13 rebounds and reminded everyone that while the supporting cast matters, it doesn't matter as much as having the best player in the league.
2. Chicago Sky (1-0)
The Candace Parker era in Chicago got off to a great start, as she led the way in a dominant opening night win over Washington. Her versatility on both ends makes her a natural fit with this group, but her attention to detail on defense is a game-changer. The Sky have finished eighth or worse in defensive rating in each of the last five seasons, and have to improve to contend for a title.
3. Las Vegas Aces (0-1)
You can't overreact to the first game, especially considering the Aces weren't at full strength with Angel McCoughtry's injury and late arrivals to training camp. That being said, getting blown out by the Storm in a Finals rematch on opening night was incredibly disappointing. This was a chance to show why they're one of the title favorites this season, and they didn't take it.
4. Minnesota Lynx (0-1)
The Lynx were on the receiving end of one of the strangest game-winners in WNBA history, as Diana Taurasi hit a last-second 3 with the clock stopped. And to be honest, that's about all you should take away from their first game considering Napheesa Collier was still overseas and Kayla McBride was cleared last second and played without having even practiced with the team.
5. Connecticut Sun (2-0)
No Alyssa Thomas, no problem so far for the Sun. Jonquel Jones is back after missing the 2020 season and they're off to a 2-0 start with wins over the Dream and Mercury. The defense has been strong, as expected, but they've also been shooting the ball well from downtown. Last season they finished 11th in both 3-point makes per game (5.9) and percentage (31.2), but so far they're 18 of 40 (45 percent) from deep.
6. Phoenix Mercury (1-1)
This was a pretty fitting start for this Mercury group. They really didn't play all that well in either of their first two games -- a win over the Lynx and a loss to the Sun -- yet were still right there at the end of both of them because of their talent. Once they got bailed out by some Taurasi heroics, and once they let their frustrations with the refs get the best of them.
7. New York Liberty (2-0)
After winning just two games all of last season, the Liberty have won their first two games of this campaign, and Natasha Howard hasn't even arrived from overseas yet. Sabrina Ionescu's game-winner on opening night was an awesome moment, but the biggest story so far in New York is Betnijah Laney. Last season's Most Improved Player has picked up right where she left off, and looks eager to prove that wasn't a fluke.
8. Washington Mystics (0-1)
The Mystics had a truly woeful first game, shooting 25 percent from the field and 13.3 percent from 3-point land in a 14-point loss to the Sky. They probably won't have a worse shooting game all season, however, and Elena Delle Donne still isn't ready to go after offseason back surgery so it's hard to really draw any conclusions from that one.
9. Dallas Wings (1-0)
Over the 23-year history of the Dallas Wings franchise, which dates back to their debut as the Detroit Shock in 1998, they've played 810 games between the regular season and playoffs. In that time, they've recorded 27 or more turnovers in a game on just five occasions. Only one of them resulted in a win: Friday night's triumph over the Sparks.
10. Los Angeles Sparks (0-1)
The Sparks might have had the most baffling result over the first weekend, as they learned quickly that life without Candace Parker and Chelsea Gray is going to be a lot harder. Despite forcing the Wings into 27 turnovers, they lost by 23, which really shouldn't be possible. Finding consistent offense outside of Nneka Ogwumike seems like it might be a challenge for L.A. this season.
11. Atlanta Dream (0-1)
Opening night was pretty rough for the Dream, as they were thoroughly outplayed by the Sun. But like a number of other teams they were missing multiple key players, which makes it difficult to truly evaluate that result. Cheyenne Parker is out after testing positive for COVID-19, while Tiffany Hayes didn't return to practice until Sunday after arriving late from overseas.
12. Indiana Fever (0-2)
Suffice it to say, this isn't the way the Fever would have wanted to start the season. They're in an early 0-2 hole, with both losses coming against a Liberty team that finished last in 2020, are shooting 37.6 percent and have more turnovers (33) than assists (29). If you want to try and find a positive, it's that even with the poor play both losses were only by single digits.