The Seattle Storm are every bit as formidable as we thought they would be this 2020 WNBA season. Somewhat surprisingly, Breanna Stewart looks even better than her 2018 MVP season despite tearing her Achilles more than a year ago.
It’s the halfway point of the 2020 WNBA season calendar and half of the teams have played 11 of their 22 total games. That includes league-leading Seattle, which heads the Yahoo Sports power rankings going into the second half. The Storm have their best start in franchise history and are getting contributions everywhere. As a team they have the best offensive rating (107.7), defensive rating (90.9) and net rating (+16.8).
But will Stewie add another MVP trophy to her expanding awards case? She’ll have a tough race against a certain star from Vegas. And the Rookie of the Year award is as complicated as ever.
WNBA Power Rankings
1. Seattle Storm (10-1)
Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart are now a meme after looking bored in a rout of the Dallas Wings. Their average margin of victory over the last four games is 24 points and they have seven of 10 victories by double-digits.
Stewart looks even better than before her Achilles injury (the emoji on this highlight tweet is scarily fitting) with an MVP caliber start. She’s averaging 18.9 points on 51.4 percent shooting with 7.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.4 blocks per game.
2. Las Vegas Aces (8-2)
The Aces are on a seven-game winning streak behind MVP candidate A’ja Wilson. Wilson is second in the league in points (20.3 PPG) and fourth in rebounds (8.5).
3. Los Angeles Sparks (7-3)
Candace Parker is averaging close to a double-double in the wubble with 12.7 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. She’s averaging 3.7 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.3 blocks to join the MVP discussion.
Riquna Williams (13.0 PPG) was the star of the weekend by tying the franchise record for made 3-pointers in a game.
The Sparks rank second in defensive rating (97.1) and in 3-point shooting (41.8 percent).
4. Minnesota Lynx (7-3)
Minnesota’s hopes took a blow when Sylvia Fowles re-aggravated a calf injury last week. She is out indefinitely.
It will be tough to fill that void, but reigning Rookie of the Year Napheesa Collier (14.9 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 3.3 APG) has stepped up in the past two games. The WNBA co-player of the week averaged 18.3 points, 13.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists while going 1-1.
5. Chicago Sky (7-4)
Always check in on your Sky friends during games. This team seems to always find itself in close games and we’ll almost assuredly see another one Tuesday night when they play the Aces again.
The Sky are shooting 49.5 percent, leading the league. Cheyenne Parker is having a career season shooting a team-best 54.2 percent and averaging 13.7 points and 6.2 rebounds per game.
6. Connecticut Sun (4-7)
It’s not how you start, it’s how you look when playoffs creep up and we’re beginning to get there.
DeWanna Bonner was named the Eastern Conference player of the week for averaging 15.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game over a 3-1 record. She leads the league with 26 total steals.
7. Phoenix Mercury (6-5)
The Mercury are ... confusing? After a streaky start, they’re trading wins and losses while looking great at times and rough at others.
They rank third in offensive rating (107.7) and first in total points scored (966). Plus they got Diana Taurasi back on the court on Sunday. Brittney Griner (18.1 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 3.2 APG) is again at the top of the league and Skylar Diggins-Smith (16.1 PPG, 4.3 APG) has played well.
8. Dallas Wings (4-7)
If there were a “sophomore sensation” award, it would go to Arike Ogunbowale. She’s averaging a league-best 21.5 points per game with 2.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.5 steals. And that’s after a rookie year in which she was the third-leading scorer in the league.
In an impressive victory against the Mercury, she dropped 33 points and had a key steal to seal a win. Give the young Dallas squad a few years and they’ll be contenders with Ogunbowale as the league’s clear-cut MVP.
9. Indiana Fever (4-6)
The Fever were blown out by two of the best teams in the league (Aces, Sparks) this past week but did get a win over the Liberty. Kelsey Mitchell is averaging 19.6 points per game, ranking third in the league, but the team’s defense is doing her no favors.
Their 112.5 defensive rating is second to last in the league. Both the Fever and Dream trail the 10th place team (Liberty, 106.8) by a good margin.
10. Washington Mystics (3-7)
The Mystics looked uninspired in recent games. Reigning MVP Elena Delle Donne explained on the “Tea with A & Phee” podcast last week how hard it was for the leaders who opted out to help the team from afar.
11. Atlanta Dream (2-7)
The Dream have the worst defensive rating (113.0) in the league and have allowed at least 90 points in the least four games. To be fair, those teams are the Sky, Mercury, Storm and Sun.
Scoring has also been hard to come by. It’s a bright future for the Dream, but it’ll take some tough times to get there.
12. New York Liberty (1-9)
It looked like the young Liberty squad would turn a competitive corner after a win against the Mystics and a two-point last-second loss to the Aces.
But they were crushed by the Sparks, Fever and Lynx in the games since. They’ll play the Storm (yikes) on Tuesday.
A’ja Wilson for MVP
Wilson ranks second in points per game and fourth in rebounds and has guided the Aces in tight games. She’s shooting 47.5 percent.
The 2018 Rookie of the Year was the key reason the Aces were able to beat the Liberty two Sundays ago, hitting the winning shot with 6.7 seconds left. She scored 12 of her 31 in the fourth quarter.
Wilson’s efficiency rating (21.3) trails Stewart’s (23.6) but she has been nearly unstoppable low and is showing the same power Stewart showed in 2018. It will be a tight race and depend on how each fares against the other — since their teams are clearly pacing themselves from the rest of the pack — when they play Saturday.
Rookie of the Year in an odd season
The 2020 Rookie of the Year award race, pandemic or not, was always going to be close. Right now the edge has to go to the Atlanta Dream’s No. 4 pick Chennedy Carter, who ranks seventh in the league at 17.0 points per game despite sitting out with an ankle injury.
It comes with the asterisk that she returns soon and that could happen next week. If she keeps up with the playmaking that made her youngest player to score at least 30 points in an WNBA game, the nod is hers.
In the second half of the season, keep an eye out for Minnesota Lynx rookie Crystal Dangerfield (13.6 PPG, 47.1% FG, 3.2 APG, 1.7 RPG). The UConn alumna was taken in the second round and is coming on strong for a team that lost its MVP candidate to injury.
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