After a surprising run to the semifinals last season in the bubble, Cheryl Reeve and the Minnesota Lynx came up with an offseason plan to re-tool the roster and make sure the team remained a serious playoff threat.
Unfortunately, things haven't quite worked out the way the Lynx were hoping, due largely to a rash of injuries. First-round pick Rennia Davis hasn't played all season due to a stress fracture in her foot, while key free agent signings Aerial Powers (hamstring, thumb) and Natalie Achonwa (knee) have been limited to four and eight games, respectively.
Yet despite an 0-3 start and the fact that they've rarely had their best players on the floor together, the Lynx have surged to a 10-7 record that has them all alone in fourth place. They're on a five-game winning streak, which is their longest since 2019, and if the season ended today they would earn a first-round bye in the playoffs.
That's because during their offseason spending spree, the Lynx also added Kayla McBride. The three-time All-Star has not only stayed healthy, but is one of the team's leading scorers and has played her best basketball of the season to lead them on this current hot streak. This may not have been the exact blueprint Reeve and Co. sketched out, but things are working out all the same.
Over the last three games, McBride is averaging 25 points, three rebounds and three assists, while shooting a ridiculous 69.2 percent from the field and 61.1 percent from 3-point land. She's also played a key role on the other end of the floor, where she's often asked to check the other team's best perimeter scorer.
"She's passionate about her teammates and passionate about being a Minnesota Lynx," Reeve told the Minnesota Star Tribune recently. "Those things we knew, which is why we wanted her to be a part of this. Your selection of people is the single most important aspect of putting together a team, and we hit it out of the park with Kayla McBride."
Below are this week's WNBA Power Rankings:
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1. Seattle Storm (15-4) -- Last week No. 2
It hasn't always been pretty, but the Storm are back to their winning ways. Thanks to their current three-game winning streak, they've improved to 15-4 and moved back into sole possession of first place. Since the start of July, Ezi Magbegor is averaging 13 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in less than 20 minutes per game off the bench. If she's starting to figure things out that would be a huge boost for the Storm.
2. Las Vegas Aces (14-5) -- Last week No. 1
The Aces' four-game winning streak came to an end with an overtime loss to the Mercury. And just like that, their short-lived reign at the top of the standings is over as well. Such are the harsh standards among the league's elite. It will be interesting to see how they incorporate Kiah Stokes after picking her up on the waiver wire this week. She played for Bill Laimbeer previously with the Liberty.
3. Connecticut Sun (12-6) -- Last week No. 4
The Sun's four-game winning streak came to an end in somewhat stunning fashion, as they lost to the last-place Fever in one of their worst offensive outings of the season. On the bright side, Brionna Jones has been playing terrific basketball as of late, and was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week after her career-high 34-point outing.
4. Minnesota Lynx (10-7) -- Last week No. 5
Minnesota just keeps rolling along. It has now won five games in a row to record its longest winning streak since 2019, and have climbed up into fourth place. Big free agent signing Kayla McBride has been playing her best basketball of the season during the winning streak, putting up 18.6 points and shooting 48.1 percent from 3-point land.
5. Chicago Sky (10-9) -- Last week No. 3
In their only game of the week, the Sky submitted their worst defensive performance of the season in a loss to the Wings. And since their franchise-record seven-game winning streak, they've now lost two of their last three games to fall into a tie for fifth place. Given how they've played overall with Candace Parker in the lineup, however, there's not much reason for concern.
6. Phoenix Mercury (8-9) -- Last week No. 6
This was a quintessential Mercury week. They got completely destroyed by the Lynx, losing by 31 points for their biggest defeat since 2017 (which weirdly also came against the Lynx). Then, despite no Diana Taurasi, they bounced back to take down the Aces in overtime. You never know what you're going to get from the Mercury, but they have too much talent to write off.
7. New York Liberty (10-9) -- Last week No. 10
Things are trending up again for the Liberty. They've now won three of their last four games, and set a franchise record with 15 3-pointers in their win over the Wings earlier this week. So far this season the Liberty are 8-4 when they make at least 10 3-pointers and 2-5 when they fail to reach that mark. No other team is as dependent on the outside shot as the Liberty, who score 38.4 percent of their points from downtown.
8. Washington Mystics (7-10) -- Last week No. 7
The Mystics only played once this week and they blew a 20-point lead to the Liberty to run their losing streak to four games. All of a sudden they've dropped down into ninth place and out of playoff position. This team is so shorthanded right now, however, that it's hard to even read too much into their recent performances.
9. Dallas Wings (9-11) -- Last week No. 8
After starting the week with one of their best wins of the season over the Sky, the Wings followed that up with back-to-back frustrating losses. So it goes for this young team this season. They can play with anyone but haven't been able to turn their solid performances into wins on a consistent enough basis. Still, they're hanging on to the final playoff spot and are just 1.5 games out of fifth.
10. Los Angeles Sparks (6-12) -- Last week No. 9
The schedule makers have done the Sparks absolutely no favors recently. As if back-to-back games with the Aces wasn't enough, they then had to play back-to-back games against the Storm. Unsurprisingly, things didn't go too well for the Sparks. Overall they've now lost five straight games -- their longest losing streak since 2015 -- and nine of their last 11 to fall into 11th place in the standings.
11. Atlanta Dream (6-11) -- Last week No. 11
After the first few weeks of the season, the Dream were sitting in fourth place at 4-2. Since then, they've gone 2-9 and things are quickly going from bad to worse. Earlier this week, after a loss to the Aces in which she played just five minutes, the Dream suspended Chennedy Carter until further notice for conduct detrimental to the team.
12. Indiana Fever (2-16) -- Last week No. 12
The Fever have finally won a game. After nearly six long weeks, they snapped their 11-game losing streak with a surprising victory over the Sun. In the process, they avoided what would have been the worst start in franchise history. No one has any illusions about this team, but it was nice to see the Fever get that weight off their shoulders.