WNBA Power Rankings 2021: Sparks Surge after Break

The WNBA returned with a bang following the Olympic break.

We’ve since witnessed the first-ever Commissioner’s Cup final, dozens of close games, and some truly impressive individual performances.

With less than a month remaining in the regular season, it’s time to update the WNBA Power Rankings!

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WNBA Power Rankings: Updated 8/24

12. Atlanta Dream (6-17)

Previous: 11 (-1)

The Dream are reeling right now and are on a losing streak of eight games. With games coming up against Chicago and Las Vegas, it’s going to take an impressive effort to turn things around. Perhaps it’s time to start thinking about the draft in Atlanta: play the rookies more, see what you have, and start preparing for 2022.

11. Indiana Fever (5-18)

Previous: 10 (-1)

After dropping very close games to LA and Phoenix, the Fever were able to come out on top of an 83-81 road contest against Dallas. The playoffs still seem unlikely for Indiana, but if Kelsey Mitchell can put up efficient scoring performances they’ve got a chance to beat any team in the WNBA.

10. Washington Mystics (8-14)

Previous: 8 (-2)

The scheduling gods were not smiling down on Washington by matching them up against Las Vegas (twice), Phoenix, and Seattle. After a dominant start to the first Aces game, the Mystics fell apart in the fourth quarter and lost on a last-second shot by Chelsea Gray. Then, despite the emotional return of Elena Delle Donne, the Mystics were unable to pull off a close game against Seattle. The talent is there for Washington, but they are running out of time to turn things around.

9. Dallas Wings (10-14)

Previous: 9 (0)

Few players in the league are relied upon like Arike Ogunbowale is for the Wings. Unforutnately for Dallas, her slow shooting start of just 18 for 44 hasn’t been enough. The Wings have dropped two out of three since the break, and are looking at a pivotal back-to-back against a very hungry Mystics team. Will the feel-good story of the first half have a happy ending, or are the Wings destined to miss the playoffs yet again?

8. New York Liberty (11-14)

Previous: 7 (-1)

Although the Liberty were able to grab a win against the short-handed Seattle Storm, they’ve dropped three of four since the break. With Laney shooting just 33% from the field, New York has struggled to keep up when opponents score in the high-80s or 90s. Even with this bumpy start to the second half, the Liberty certainly have the talent to make a run and be in the playoffs this season.

7. Chicago Sky (11-12)

Previous: 6 (-1)

Just like New York, the Sky were able to capitalize and get a win over Seattle without Bird or Stewart in the lineup. They proceeded to drop games to Dallas and Minnesota – two quality teams. The Sky will have to overcome a very difficult schedule to make the playoffs. They’ll be facing Seattle and Vegas each twice, so they’ll need to perform up to their ceiling in order to get back to a winning trend.

6. Los Angeles Sparks (10-13)

Previous: 12 (+6)

The Sparks closed their first half on an awful six-game losing streak, but they’ve managed to turn things around in an impressive fashion. After ripping off four straight wins against teams in the bottom of the standings, we’ll see how LA is able to handle the remaining schedule which includes three matchups against the Connecticut Sun. There’s no doubt that a healthy Sparks team should make the playoffs. Now, the question becomes: can they enter contender status?

5. Minnesota Lynx (14-9)

Previous: 4 (-1)

The Lynx had a tough task ahead of them to start this half of the schedule: go to Connecticut and face the Sun in back-to-back games in their building. Unfortunately, they dropped them both. If the Lynx can get back to winning close games like they did to end the first half, they should be in a position to close the regular season with a high playoff seed. They’ll play Indiana three times in a row before ending their regular season on the road against Washington.

4. Phoenix Mercury (13-10)

Previous: 5 (+1)

The Mercury look very scary when Brittney Griner plays up to her MVP potential. With Griner absolutely dominating inside, and a healthy DT, Phoenix’s biggest concern moving forward will be keeping everyone healthy. This roster certainly has the makeup to get into the playoffs and make a serious run.

3. Connecticut Sun (17-6)

Previous: 3 (0)

Sun fans may not love to see their squad stuck at number three this week after running off a four-game winning streak. However, their lack of upward movement has very little to do with their performance – and everything to do with the fact that Seattle and Las Vegas have continued to impress. Even though Connecticut came out flat against Seattle in the Commissioner’s Cup final, their dominant defense has continued to win them games, and they remain in the highest tier of WNBA title contenders.

2. Seattle Storm (18-7)

Previous: 2 (0)

The Storm came out and beat Connecticut in impressive fashion to claim the first-ever Commissioner’s Cup. They did lose to New York and Chicago, but it’s hard to put too much stock into a lineup missing Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart. With everybody available (and off of maternity leave – congrats, Stewie!), the Storm look as tough as ever. Good news for Storm fans: all seven of their remaining games will be broadcast nationally.

1. Las Vegas Aces (17-6)

Previous: 1 (0)

The Aces’ second half got off to a temporarily rocky start. After being put up against the ropes by a firey Mystics team, Vegas fought back to clinch a last-second win. The big three of Gray / Wilson / Cambage is as good as you’ll find in the WNBA. It’d be a shock if the Aces enter the playoffs as anything but a top seed – but with nine games remaining, anything can happen!

WNBA Power Rankings: Post-Olympic Break Edition – Originally posted 8/7/21

With the NBA season and Tokyo Olympics in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to lock back in on the WNBA season before the start of the second half.

The WNBA’s 25th season was preceded by more player movement than WNBA fans have been accustomed to, and the standings certainly have been shaken up from what many would have predicted to start the year.

Still, the juggernauts are at the top: Seattle and Las Vegas. Many would speculate that we could see a repeat of last year’s WNBA finals, but there are a handful of serious contenders to get in the way of that happening.

Which teams are best positioned for a second-half run?

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WNBA Power Rankings Post-Olympic Break

12. Los Angeles Sparks (6-13)

We knew this year would look different for the Sparks after the departure of Candace Parker, but it’s safe to say even the most pessemistic predictions didn’t have them towards the bottom of the standings. Closing the first half on a six-game freefall, LA will be looking for a massive turnaround in the next few weeks.

If Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike can stay on the court with Erica Wheeler and Amanda Zahui B. – who have been fantastic so far this season – the Sparks could potentially make that turnaround a reality.

11. Atlanta Dream (6-13)

The Dream ended a rocky first half of the season on a four-game losing streak. Atlanta’s offense is very respectable, but their last-place defensive rating of 109.6 points per 100 possessions is causing them to have a lot of trouble closing games.

10. Indiana Fever (4-16)

The Fever stumbled out of the games in a major way this year. They currently rank second-to-last in both offensive and defensive rating, but their first half ended on a three-game win streak which is encouraging to fans in Indiana.

The area in which Indiana needs to improve most of all is their long-range shooting. Other than Kelsey Mitchell, who’s shooting 30% on 6.3 attempts per game, the Fever haven’t been knocking down outside shots.

9. Dallas Wings (9-12)

Fans in Dallas have to be pleased with the improvement that the Wings have made this season. After loading up on young talent in the draft, this team is completely overhauled.

Their leading score, Arike Ogunbowale, has fueled an offense that ranks third in both three point percentage and offensive efficiency.

For the youngest team in the WNBA, there is a ton of upside to climb these rankings and make a playoff push!

8. Washington Mystics (8-10)

The Mystics entered the season in the contender tier according to many. While they certainly haven’t lived up to that hype, there are signs that this team still could get on track and make the playoffs.

Tina Charles has been an MVP-level pace, averaging 26.3 points, 10 rebounds, and shooting 37% from three. With the news that Elena Delle Donne has returned to practice, things are looking up for the Mystics to have a huge second half!

7. New York Liberty (10-11)

With the second-youngest roster in the WNBA, the Liberty have been much improved this season after a last-place finish in the standings last year. Granted, they did lose their budding superstar Sabrina Ionescu during their third game in the 2020 bubble.

After posting her first career triple-double and hitting a game-winning shot in the opening week, the Liberty quickly became media darlings and stole headlines everywhere. However, it’s been incredible up-and-down for Ionescu since then, particularly in the scoring department

New York has an excellent pace of play and is behind only Las Vegas in that statistical category. Betnijah Laney has emerged as a legitimate first-option scorer for this team, and Natasha Howard has continued to show that she can stretch the floor.

6. Chicago Sky (10-10)

Many WNBA fans thought the Sky had a chance to improve significantly after landing Candace Parker in free agency. Unfortunately, injuries have played a major role in how the first half played out for Chicago.

Along with Parker, Allie Quigley and Stefanie Dolson both missed games due to injury.

The stellar point guard play of Courtney Vandersloot has helped steady the offense, but the Sky need significant defensive improvements in the second half to become serious title contenders.

5. Phoenix Mercury (9-10)

Ready for the most freezing cold take of all time? Diana Taurasi is good at basketball. Unfortunately for the Mercury, the all-time leading scorer in the WNBA missed over four weeks with a sternum fracture, and the team sorely missed her during the stretch.

There’s no doubt that when fully healthy, Diana can lead a team to the Finals with Skylar Diggins-Smith, Brittney Griner, and a plethora of talented role players.

With the level of defense, Phoenix has been able to maintain in Taurasi’s stead, they surely have a chance to shoot up the standings and grab a top playoff seed.

4. Minnesota Lynx (12-7)

The Lynx has pivoted extremely well after facing the fact that they’d be without Maya Moore for a second-straight season. Despite a bumpy start of 5-7, Minnesota rattled off seven straight wins to close the first half.

The veteran leadership of Sylvia Fowles has continued to anchor this squad. In her 14th WNBA season, Fowles is shooting over 60% from the field and grabbing almost 10 boards per game.

One place to be optimistic for offensive improvement is the shooting of Napheesa Collier. After shooting over 40% last year, Collier has struggled from deep, so some regression to the mean should be likely in the second half for her.

3. Connecticut Sun (14-6)

Perhaps the best defensive team in the WNBA, the Sun have exceeded what were pretty lofty expectations heading into this season.

Thanks to the forward trio of DeWanna Bonner, Jonquel Jones, and Brionna Jones, the Sun are far and away the most dominant rebounding team in the WNBA. Their offensive rebounding, in particular, has been critical since Connecticut ranks last in the league in pace of play.

A win over the Storm in the Commissioner’s Cup Final would be huge for getting the second half off to a good start for the best team in the East.

2. Seattle Storm (16-5)

Although Connecticut is closer to the defending champs than some fans are willing to admit, Seattle cannot be discounted as a primary title contender along with Las Vegas. The defending champs have the talent and the experience to get it done again this year, and defending Finals MVP Breanna Stewart is dominant per usual.

The first half was a good signal that Sue Bird can stay healthy, as she started in all 21 games in the first half. The 40-year-old point guard has shot an incredible 43.5% on 5.5 3-point attempts per game.

Even if she can’t be around for every game in the postseason, having options like Jordin Canada and Jewell Loyd at the guard spot is as good of insurance as any team can hope to have.

1. Las Vegas Aces (15-6)

The case for the Aces being in the number one spot is clear: they rank first in the league in margin of victory, offensive rating, and defensive rating. Plus, they’ve won two of three head-to-head matchups with the aforementioned Storm.

Defending MVP A’ja Wilson has put together another impressive regular season thus far, posting averages of 19.4 points, 9 rebounds, and 3.1 assists in the first half. Center Liz Cambage has proven to be a dominant force in the middle and even shown tastes of what she can do beyond the arc. Hot-shooting guards Riquna Williams, Kelsey Plum, and Chelsea Gray have been able to keep defenders honest and make things easy inside for the dominant bigs.

The only knock on Vegas is a lack of experience getting it done in the Finals. By all indications, this year’s team is stronger than the current Seattle roster – but a lot of fans will be watching the Aces with a “show me when it matters the most” until they see it happen.

The regular season resumes on Sunday, August 15th, with a full slate of games featuring all twelve teams. But first, we’ll see the first-ever Commissioner’s Cup final between the Seattle Storm and Connecticut Sun on the 12th.

Buckle up, WNBA fans. This is going to be a fast and furious ride to the finish, and this year’s playoffs are sure to br

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Founder of HoopSocial. Girl Dad. WNBA stan. Syracuse Orange and Charlotte Hornets fan. Sarcasm is my native tongue. You can follow me on Twitter at @mike_hoopsocial.