WNBA Power Rankings: Lynx legend Lindsay Whalen gets the sendoff she deserves in jersey retirement ceremony
Whalen retired last season after winning four titles; here's where the Lynx rank now behind a new No. 1
"Once upon a time, there was a young lady named Lindsay Whalen. She was a fierce competitor, humble soul … a warrior."
So began Seimone Augustus in a touching tribute video the Minnesota Lynx prepared for longtime point guard Lindsay Whalen ahead of her jersey retirement ceremony on Saturday afternoon. For the first time since 2009, the Lynx are playing without Whalen this season, but she was with them for one more day last weekend, as they honored her incredible career and commitment to not only the Lynx, but the state of Minnesota.
The Minnesota-born Whalen spent the last eight seasons of her legendary 15-season career with the Lynx, leading them to four titles in a seven-year span from 2011-2017. She retired at the end of last season as the winningest player in WNBA history, and ranks third all-time in assists. Along the way, she also racked up two Olympic gold medals with the U.S. Women's National Team.
But statistics, and even championship rings and gold medals alone can't quite sum up Whalen's impact. She was one of the best point guards to ever play the game and tremendous competitor, yes, but she was an even better teammate, and someone who went out of her way to make life easier for everyone she interacted with -- something I experienced firsthand as a young writer working for the WNBA.
"So what's a legacy?" UConn head coach Geno Auriemma asked rhetorically at the end of Whalen's tribute video. "Lindsay, your legacy is pretty simple, when you think about it. The game of basketball existed long before you got there, and it will exist way after you leave. But you made the game better, and the game was better because you were in it. I don't think there's a better legacy than that."
Cheers to Whalen on a fantastic career. She made the WNBA a better place, and will be missed as she continues her basketball journey as the head coach of the University of Minnesota's women's basketball team.
1. Connecticut Sun (5-1) -- Up 1
The Sun completed a perfect 2-0 week to run their winning streak to three games and climb to the top of the standings at 5-1. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Sun's strong start has been their stellar defense. They boast the best defensive rating in the league, which has helped carry them through some poor shooting stretches.
2. Washington Mystics (4-1) -- Up 1
The Mystics continue to rack up wins. They've won four in a row now since their season-opening loss, and are still undefeated with Elena Delle Donne in the lineup. While they haven't had the most difficult schedule, they've been absolutely destroying teams, with three wins by at least 18 points already.
3. Minnesota Lynx (4-2) -- Down 2
The Lynx are no longer undefeated after a 1-2 week. Though their defense is still elite, it's clear they're going to have trouble scoring at times, especially against other good teams. More concerning than the losses or the offensive struggles, though, is the fact that they lost rookie Jessica Shepard to a torn ACL.
4. Los Angeles Sparks (3-2) -- Up 2
With the amount of injuries and absences the Sparks are dealing with, coupled with the new pieces they're trying to integrate under a new head coach, it's no surprise we haven't seen the best of what they have to offer. Still, they're starting to put things together, and Sunday's win over the Lynx was impressive.
5. Seattle Storm (3-3) -- Down 1
The Storm have been inconsistent to start the season, which is of little surprise considering they're playing without last season's MVP and their veteran point guard. When they get enough production from their supporting cast, they'll still be tough to beat, but it's unrealistic to expect that every night.
6. Indiana Fever (3-2) -- Down 1
The Fever already have half as many wins as they did all of last season, and even though they've opened up with a bit of a soft schedule, that's still an impressive accomplishment. As they proved by battling back in the second half of their loss to the Mercury, this team is going to be a tough out every single night.
7. Phoenix Mercury (2-2) -- No movement
Another week, another set of up and down performances from the Mercury as they continue to figure things out without Diana Taurasi. DeWanna Bonner is proving once again that she can handle a bigger role, leading the league in scoring at 23.3 points per game. Until Taurasi gets back, though, they need someone else other than Brittney Griner to step up consistently.
8. Las Vegas Aces (2-3) -- No movement
As the loss to the Liberty on Sunday showed, the Aces' grand experiment is still a work in progress. Their defense has been stout, but they haven't been consistent enough on the offensive end. They're once again eschewing 3s in favor of mid-range jumpers, and haven't shown anything close to dominance inside.
9. Chicago Sky (2-2) -- No movement
Unfortunately for the Sky, they aren't allowed to play the Storm at home every game; that just wouldn't be fair for the rest of the league. While it's no surprise that they're once again struggling on defense, their sputtering offense is more concerning. Cutting down on their 18.5 turnovers per game would help in that regard.
10. New York Liberty (1-4) -- Up 2
The Liberty got their first win on Sunday, and did it in style over the Aces. Tina Charles' efficiency has dipped as she puts the Liberty on her back, but she's putting up career-best scoring numbers early on and nearly averaging a double-double. Just a bit of consistent help from her supporting cast would go a long way.
11. Atlanta Dream (1-4) -- No movement
The Dream still haven't won since opening night, and continue to be a complete disaster on the offensive end; to wit, they managed just two points over the final six minutes in their loss to the Sun on Sunday. Their 85.6 offensive rating would be the worst in WNBA history since the Storm put up an 83.1 offensive rating way back in 2000.
12. Dallas Wings (0-4) -- Down 2
Rookie guard Arike Ogunbowale has been having a really tough time to start the season. The No. 5 overall pick is shooting just 26.7 percent from the field for the season and was recently demoted to the bench. If that wasn't enough, she suffered a nasty looking ankle injury in the Wings' loss to the Mystics on Sunday.
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