When Alyssa Thomas tore her Achilles tendon while playing in the Czech Republic in January, there were immediately all sorts of questions about how the Connecticut Sun would fare this season without her. Turns out, pretty well.
After the first week-plus, the Sun are tied atop the standings at 5-1. Dating back to 1999, when they debuted as the Orlando Miracle, this was just the second time in franchise history that they won their first five games, and they're already halfway to their 2020 win total. Even acknowledging that last season was shorter than usual due to the pandemic, that's still a remarkable feat.
Jonquel Jones has picked up where she left off after sitting out in 2020, and at 20 points and 11.2 rebounds is currently seventh in scoring, first in rebounding and is one of just three players putting up a double-double. DeWanna Bonner, meanwhile, is putting up 18.7 points per game, which is ninth in the league and the third-best mark of her career.
This hasn't been a case where the Sun are just cleaning up on an easy schedule to start the season. They've already beaten the Mercury twice and took down the Aces on the road. Three of their five wins have come by double digits, and they have the best net rating in the league at a whopping plus-12.9. We'll see if they can maintain such a big advantage, but as it stands that would be the fourth-best net rating this decade.
1. Seattle Storm (4-1) -- Last week No. 1
It hasn't always been super pretty for the Storm after their dominant opening night win. They were blown out by the Aces in a rematch, had to stage a huge fourth-quarter comeback to beat the Lynx and then snuck past the Wings and Sun in one-possession games. Wins are wins, though, and they've been scoring at will. Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd are both in the top-five in scoring.
2. Connecticut Sun (5-1) -- Last week No. 5
The Sun are first in offensive rating, defensive rating and net rating, and it doesn't get any better than that. Jonquel Jones is back and looks dominant, DeWanna Bonner is having a career season shooting the ball from 3 and the defense has been terrific. There were a lot of questions about the Sun heading into the season, but so far the defending champion Storm are the only team that's been able to beat them, and even that took overtime.
3. New York Liberty (5-1) -- Last week No. 7
What a start for the Liberty. It's taken them two weeks to more than double last season's win total, and they sit in a tie for first place at 5-1. Even better, Natasha Howard has returned from overseas and slid seamlessly into the starting lineup. It's still early, but the offseason acquisitions are paying off, and the Liberty are well on their way to returning to the playoffs.
4. Las Vegas Aces (3-2) -- Last week No. 3
It hasn't always been pretty for the Aces, who are not only trying to adjust to a new-look roster, but currently playing without two key rotation players: Angel McCoughtry (torn ACL) and Kelsey Plum (international commitments). The good news is that despite some of the struggles at times, they're still 3-2, rank top-four in offensive and defensive rating and Jackie Young is building on the improvement she showed last season.
5. Chicago Sky (2-2) -- Last week No. 2
Things went a little bit sideways for the Sky this week. Candace Parker sprained her ankle -- the picture she posted on Instagram looks absolutely awful -- and Allie Quigley tweaked her hamstring. Neither has been available since opening night and it's unclear when they'll play again. With those two injured and Stefanie Dolson away on international duty, it's little surprise the Sky looked average the last few games.
6. Atlanta Dream (3-2) -- Last week No. 11
Three straight victories now for the Dream, which gives them their longest winning streak since 2018, and makes them one of only five teams above .500. Tiffany Hayes, who sat out last season, has shown exactly why the Dream missed her so much. She's put up 26 points in each of their last two outings, and is now leading the team in scoring at 17.8 points per game.
7. Phoenix Mercury (2-3) -- Last week No. 6
Injuries have been a running storyline for the Mercury for the past few seasons, and that hasn't changed this time around. They were already without Bria Hartley due to a torn ACL, and now they're down another key guard. Franchise legend Diana Taurasi will be out for at least a month after suffering a fractured sternum back on May 16. Skylar Diggins-Smith and Brittney Griner will really have to step up with Taurasi on the sideline.
8. Washington Mystics (2-3) -- Last week No. 8
The Mystics are still without Elena Delle Donne, who's recovering from offseason back surgery, and unsurprisingly they've been pretty hit or miss without her. When Tina Charles plays well and they make a lot of 3s, they can still win. When one or neither of those things happen, they don't. In three losses this season, they're 9 of 85 from beyond the arc. In two wins, they're 28 of 69.
9. Minnesota Lynx (0-3) -- Last week No. 4
Napheesa Collier has passed through quarantine after arriving back in the United States, practiced for the first time over the weekend and is expected to make her season debut on Thursday. That's a huge boost for a Lynx team that had big expectations after their offseason acquisitions, but has started out 0-3. The fourth quarter collapse against Seattle last time out was especially poor.
10. Dallas Wings (1-3) -- Last week No. 9
The young Wings haven't been able to rack up many wins, but their three losses are by a combined 16 points. At the very least, that points to a group that's more prepared and comfortable heading into this season. Marina Mabrey, who's playing more minutes with Allisah Gray overseas, has been fantastic for them. She's sixth in scoring and has been lights out from 3-point land.
11. Los Angeles Sparks (0-2) -- Last week No. 10
Really no choice but to drop the Sparks down even further after this disastrous start. For a team that has pretty much only known success, they are facing a harsh new reality. They're 0-2 for just the fourth time in franchise history, and both of those losses have been by at least 23 points. Prior to this season, they had only had 22 losses by that many points in the entire history of the franchise.
12. Indiana Fever (1-5) -- Last week No. 12
The Fever did finally get a positive result when they beat the Mystics last weekend, so at least they won't be going winless. Unfortunately, it's hard to find too many positives beyond that. The defense, which has been an issue for a few seasons now, is bad once again, they turn the ball over on a regular basis and they're one of the worst 3-point shooting teams in the league.