WNBAINSIDR POWER RANKINGS: Week 9

Every Monday during the regular season, Maurice Brooks and Aryeh Schwartz will rank the WNBA teams from 1 to 12. Also, Insidr beat writers will provide interesting tidbits on each team that they cover.

1. Seattle Storm (Last week: 1 | record: 16-6)

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Despite a tight loss to the L.A. Sparks earlier in the week, the Seattle Storm still look like one of, if not the best team in the league. They were able to rebound later in the week against the Dallas Wings thanks to a huge performance from Breanna Stewart. Behind the three-headed dragon of Stewart-Jewell Loyd-Natasha Howard and steady passing of Sue Bird, the Storm are an incredibly difficult team to beat. -- Nicholas LeTourneau

2. Phoenix Mercury (Last week: 2 | record: 15-8)

Phoenix dropped its second straight road loss this past Tuesday night, getting run off the floor by the red-hot Dallas Wings, 101-72. Diana Taurasi left the game in the first quarter and didn’t return due to illness as the Mercury were completely outplayed from the start. Despite a strong shooting performance, the Mercury dropped to 0-3 on their road trip with a 91-87 loss against Connecticut this past Friday. Phoenix got back on track on Sunday afternoon with a strong 101-81 win over the Indiana Fever to snap its three-game road losing streak behind a signature offensive performance from its core of Brittney Griner, Taurasi and DeWanna Bonner.  -- Pat Ralph 

3. Los Angeles Sparks (Last week: 5 | record: 14-9)

Who are the Sparks? Are they the crew that got blown out at home on Thursday by a Dallas team that played the entire second half without Liz Cambage? Or are they the squad that held A'ja Wilson to 6 of 20 shooting, while scoring 35 points in the fourth quarter of a blowout road win on Sunday? Los Angeles is the epitome of hot and cold: they've lost six of their last nine, yet frequently look like the best team in the league. -- Brady Klopfer

3. Atlanta Dream (Last week: 8 | record: 12-9)

The Dream are coming off probably their best week of the WNBA season. They went 3-0, including two big wins against the Washington Mystics and one against the struggling Indiana Fever. Atlanta has been blessed with consistent play from Tiffany Hayes, Angel McCoughtry, and Brittany Sykes to go along with excellent coaching from Nicki Collen. If they can keep this level of play up going into the second half of the season, Atlanta should be a lock to make the playoffs. -- Nicholas LeTourneau

5. Washington Mystics (Last week: 3 | record: 13-9)

The Mystics are fourth in the league, but if they want to stay in the top four they need to win some of their road games ahead of them. In a league so tight right now, they can start to separate themselves if they can get a few road games under their belt. Defense is certainly one of their weaknesses right now so if they can fix that and have a little more power on offense they can be a force to be reckoned with. -- Jasmine Brown 

6. Dallas Wings (Last week: 6 | record: 12-9)

The Wings made franchise history with their fifth consecutive win this week but fell to the top-seeded Seattle Storm in a close battle. The win streak, powered in part by a laser focus on defense, was enough to propel them to a tie for fifth place overall with the Lynx. Up next, a home game against a hungry Liberty team riding a two-game win streak. -- Dorothy Gentry

7. Connecticut Sun (Last week: 7 | record: 12-10)

The Sun finished 2-1 this week with key wins over the Lynx and Mercury following a tough loss to the New York Liberty. Things appear to be headed in the right direction after an Alex Bentley trade and the return of Courtney Williams. Williams finished with 25 points this past Friday night in the win over Phoenix and is averaging 17 points per game since her return a week ago. The Sun return home on Tuesday to host the Atlanta Dream, who have swept the Sun this season. They host the Storm on Friday before heading to Dallas to take on the Wings on Sunday. -- Rachel Galligan

8. Minnesota Lynx (Last week: 4 | record: 12-10)

It was another tough week for the defending champs as they finished 1-2. They were able to blow out the Fever, 87-65, before dropping their last two to the Las Vegas Aces and Connecticut Sun. Maya Moore has struggled offensively as of late averaging just 8.5 points in the last two games. Same goes for Sylvia Fowles who averaged 9.5 points in the same time frame. With only two games this week, the Lynx look to rest a bit and regroup hosting the Indiana Fever on Wednesday before heading out to Phoenix to take on the Mercury on Saturday.  -- Rachel Galligan

 

9. Las Vegas Aces (Last week: 10 | record: 10-13)

The Aces are starting to put the pieces together to possibly sneak into the playoffs. A’ja Wilson has been dominant this season and quite frankly it’s not even fair that she has been so good out the gate. Bill Laimbeer could possibly be Coach of the Year if he can get this team into the playoffs after a rough start.  -- Jasmine Brown 

10. New York Liberty (Last week: 11 | record: 7-14)

After losing at home to the Connecticut Sun earlier this season on a buzzer-beating four-point play by Shekinna Stricklen, the struggling Liberty returned the favor this past Wednesday afternoon when Shavonte Zellous banked in a game-winning three at the buzzer to give New York a much-needed 79-76 win on the road. The Liberty closed out the week with a much-needed 107-84 blowout win over the Sky at home on Sunday. With their first win streak in over a month, have the Liberty caught the winning bug like they did at the end of last season? If they’re going to save their season, the Liberty have to take it one game at a time. -- Pat Ralph 

11. Chicago Sky (Last week: 9 | record: 7-15)

July has been rough on Chicago. The Sky have gone 1-6 in the month, and removed themselves from any shot of making a playoff push. The focus turns to the future for the Sky and the development of Diamond DeShields has to make the team optimistic.  -- Brady Klopfer

12. Indiana Fever (Last week: 12 | record: 2-20)

Cappie Pondexter's addition to a young, but struggling Indiana Fever squad brought a veteran presence and energy to the team. And while the team is playing better together, it hasn't translated into victories with the exception of a win over the Lynx on the road. The team's record keeps them last in the league and it won't get easier as they face the Lynx, Sparks and Aces this week. -- Dorothy Gentry