The Las Vegas Aces and the Seattle Storm are dominating the 2021 WNBA season and other teams are just playing catch-up.
Some, like the Minnesota Lynx, Chicago Sky and Dallas Wings, have done complete turnarounds since the start of the season, putting together multi-game win streaks.
But many of the league’s teams right now are stagnant and not making any progress in the WNBA standings. The Phoenix Mercury, for example, are on a two-game losing streak and 4-6 in their last 10 games. Despite having Diana Taurasi back from injury to play alongside Skylar Diggins-Smith and Brittney Griner, the Mercury would barely make the playoffs if the season ended today.
The Atlanta Dream have also lost two consecutive games, while the Los Angeles Sparks and Washington Mystics have each dropped four in a row. As a result, there were no major climbers in the Week 8 Power Rankings.
With a week to play before the Olympic break, which teams can ride some momentum into the midway point of the season?
The WNBA will halt play for about a month following the WNBA All-Star Game in Las Vegas on July 14 (7 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN App).
Previous rankings: Preseason | Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7
1. Las Vegas Aces
Previous ranking: 1
The Aces have only lost once in their past 10 games, are on a four-game winning streak and are sitting atop the rankings for the second week in a row.
Sunday’s win — Las Vegas scored a season high and franchise record in beating Atlanta 118-95 — sends the Aces into the final week before the Olympic break feeling like the best team in the WNBA. In the victory, six players scored in double figures, including Kelsey Plum (13.3 PPG), who dropped 23 points off the bench and passed 1,000 for her career.
At 107.8, the Aces have the best offensive rating in the league, while also averaging a league-leading 91.8 PPG. They’re shooting lights out from the floor — a league-high 47.2% — and their defense also has the best rating in the league at 93.9.
Las Vegas is just so deep and clicking on all cylinders. It leads the league in rebounds per game (38.8) thanks to players like Liz Cambage (14.6 PPG, 9.0 RPG), A’ja Wilson (19.3 PPG, 8.8 RPG) and Dearica Hamby (11.4 PPG, 6.5 RPG). The Aces also rank second in the league with 21.1 APG.
This week: PHO, MIN, @DAL
2. Seattle Storm
Previous ranking: 2
The Storm bounced back from their first two-game losing streak of the season by winning two in a row. Like the Aces, they are at or near the top of the league in every statistical category and are 7-3 in their past 10 games. The Storm rank first in assists per game (22.7), second in PPG (88.1) and fourth in rebounds per game (36.6). Their defense is just as good, with a fourth-best defensive rating of 97.3.
Seattle’s assists stand out above all. In addition to Breanna Stewart’s leadership and offense (team-high 21.0 PPG and 9.5 RPG), the Storm’s ball movement is a thing of beauty. Sue Bird (11.2 PPG, 5.7 APG) and Jewell Loyd (18.1 PPG, 4.4 APG) both rank in the WNBA’s top 10 assist leaders.
The Storm are right up there with the Aces, but that 1-2 record vs. Las Vegas keeps them from being the top team.
This week: LA, @PHO, PHO
3. Chicago Sky
Previous ranking: 4
The Sky have looked a little shaky and are 1-2 in their past three games, punctuated by one loss with subpar offense — they had just 58 points — and another with subpar defense, giving up 100 points for just the second time this season.
In Friday’s 100-91 loss to Dallas, however, everyone played the types of games they are known for. Candace Parker scored 22 points, Diamond DeShields had 16 and Courtney Vandersloot added seven points, six rebounds and nine assists. But the defense was lagging and the Wings were able to withstand the Sky’s rallies.
Still, Chicago is 8-2 in its last 10 — powered by that seven-game win streak in June — and the Sky’s impressive team stats — third in assists (20.9) and fifth in rebounds per game (36.2) — mean they still belong in the conversation as one of the best teams in the league. The offensive rating — 99.1, the fourth-worst in the league — must change if they want to turn it around for the second half of the season and go far in the playoffs.
Chicago plays just one more game before the Olympic break.
This week: WASH
4. Connecticut Sun
Previous ranking: 3
The Sun’s four-game winning streak came to an end at the hands of the Fever, who got their second win of the season against one of the best teams in the league. The loss came amid the Sun’s fourth game in seven days, three of which were on the road.
Saturday’s 73-67 loss to Indiana illustrates how important Jonquel Jones (21.1 PPG, 10.2 RPG) is. Despite having 16 points and nine rebounds, she shot just 5-of-17 from the field.
The Sun remain one of the most in-sync teams in the WNBA. Their offensive rating (103.4) ranks fourth in the league and their defensive rating (96.5) is third.
This week: ATL, @NY
5. Minnesota Lynx
Previous ranking: 6
After starting the season as one of the worst teams in the league, the Lynx are riding a four-game winning streak and have won five of their last six games.
The turnaround has been twofold, starting with Napheesa Collier’s return from overseas. The third-year pro is averaging a career-high 17.8 PPG and 3.4 APG, while adding 6.8 RPG.
And alongside her, Kayla McBride (13.9 PPG) has found her stride in her first season with the Lynx. She dropped 26 and 24 points in the past two wins — both of which came against Phoenix — and showed just how easily she can score from anywhere on the court, hitting a combined 9 of 13 3-pointers in those games.
While Collier and McBride show off offensively, Sylvia Fowles has been playing outstanding defense. She’s also averaging 16.5 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 2.3 SPG and 1.9 BPG.
The Lynx look like the championship-caliber team we all thought they were at the beginning of the season.
This week: DAL, @LV, @LA
6. New York Liberty
Previous ranking: 7
After a bit of struggles, the Liberty are back on track with a two-game winning streak.
Betnijah Laney (19.6 PPG, 5.3 APG, 3.9 RPG) hasn’t scored in single digits since June 8, and dropped 19 and 18 points in New York’s past two wins. The 2020 Most Improved Player continues to get better, doing it all for the Liberty.
Sami Whitcomb is also shining, scoring 26 points in Monday’s 99-96 victory over New York. The former Seattle Storm reserve has notched the only two 25-point games of her career within the last four games; Whitcomb had a career-high 30 points in a June 26 win.
But New York continues to struggle as a unit offensively, averaging 81.1 PPG. Its defense isn’t doing much better; the 102.8 defensive rating ranks eighth in the league.
Monday’s win against Dallas is a start in getting back into an offensive rhythm. The Liberty made a franchise-record 15 3-pointers on 31 attempts. Whitcomb led the way, hitting 6-of-11.
This week: @IND, CON
7. Dallas Wings
Previous ranking: 5
The offense was rolling and Dallas was surging in the Week 7 rankings. But the Wings went 1-2 last week, splitting back-to-back home games with the Sky before Monday’s road loss against the Liberty.
Arike Ogunbowale is still doing it all for the Wings, averaging 19.8 points, 3.4 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game.
Despite ranking third in the WNBA with 85.8 PPG, Dallas’ defensive rating needs work at 102.0, which ranks seventh in the league.
The team is young, so the inconsistencies are to be expected. And this week’s schedule isn’t in the Wings’ favor, either: After a rare Monday game on the road against New York, Dallas heads to Minnesota to play the surging Lynx before hosting Las Vegas at home.
This week: @MIN, LV
8. Phoenix Mercury
Previous ranking: 8
On a two-game losing streak and having lost six of their last eight games, the Mercury’s entire rhythm is off.
In their last two losses, they scored just 76 and 68 points, and their average has dipped to 78.6 PPG, third worst in the league. Phoenix is struggling on defense as well. In addition to having the fourth-worst defensive rating (103.4), they are turning over the ball 13.6 times per game.
Despite Saturday’s loss, Skylar Diggins-Smith became the fastest player in WNBA history to reach 3,000 career points, 1,000 assists and 200 steals.
The Mercury must find some consistency if they want to make the playoffs. Their three games before the Olympic break could make or break their season.
This week: @LV, SEA, @SEA
1,000 assists ✅
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 4, 2021
9. Atlanta Dream
Previous ranking: 11
The Dream remain one of the best scoring teams in the league, averaging 84.2 PPG, which ranks fourth in the WNBA. But they continue to slide, are on a two-game losing streak and have won just twice in the past 11 games.
Consistency is the key for the Dream if they want to elevate past some of the teams with similar records. The Dream can’t afford to pick and choose who they are competitive against. In two of their last wins, they beat the Mystics by 23 points, but turned around and only won by three points against the Liberty.
Atlanta also has to step up on defense. Their defensive rating of 107.5 ranks second to last in the league.
Courtney Williams (17.4 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 4.1 APG) remains a bright spot; she is having a great season leading the Dream.
On Sunday, the Dream announced that guard Chennedy Carter (14.2 PPG) has been suspended indefinitely for “conduct detrimental to the team.”
This week: @CONN, IND
10. Washington Mystics
Previous ranking: 9
The Mystics are back to struggling and have dropped four consecutive games.
Plagued by injuries, they had just nine active players in their 82-79 loss Saturday against New York. Natasha Cloud (ankle), Myisha Hines-Allen (knee) and Erica McCall (knee) are all currently out. There is still no timetable for Elena Delle Donne to return.
Still, Tina Charles continues her MVP-caliber season. She’s averaging a league-best 25.8 PPG, as well as 9.6 RPG.
This week: @CHI
11. Los Angeles Sparks
Previous ranking: 10
Injuries continue to plague the Sparks, who are on a four-game losing streak. They’ve won just once in the past seven games.
The Sparks’ offense continues to struggle as Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike and Kristi Toliver are still sidelined with injuries. Los Angeles is averaging just 74.5 PPG, which ranks second to last in the WNBA.
The Sparks have a good defense they can lean on as they try to turn things around. At 98.9, their defensive rating ranks fifth in the league.
Brittney Sykes has also stepped up with her teammates injured. She recorded her first double-double of the season in Sunday’s 84-74 loss to Seattle with 19 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.
This week: @SEA, MIN
12. Indiana Fever
Previous ranking: 12
The Fever beat a very good Sun team 73-67 on Saturday to get their second win of the season and break a 12-game losing streak.
In the victory — Indiana’s first since May 23 — Danielle Robinson tied her career high with 19 points and Kelsey Mitchell had 14 points. Arguably the best player on the team, Teaira McCowan (10.6 PPG, 8.8 RPG), had 13 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks.
But the Fever are going to have to work hard to get their third victory. Their offensive rating is the second-worst in the league (93.0) and their defense rating is the worst (108.6).
This week: NY, @ATL