Sport WNBA Power Rankings: Candace Parker’s strong debut keeps Chicago Sky on top

19:11  17 may  2021
19:11  17 may  2021 Source:   fansided.com

The 25 Greatest Moments in WNBA History

  The 25 Greatest Moments in WNBA History From the inaugural All-Star Game to The Shot by T-Spoon to Say Her Name. Plus, more to look forward to in the next quarter century. © Provided by Sports Illustrated In 1984, the year after her Women’s American Basketball Association championship victory with the Dallas Diamonds, Nancy Lieberman was a reigning champion in a league that folded almost as quickly as it started. In the midst of deliberating her next plan of action to continue playing basketball, Lieberman received word that David Stern, then NBA commissioner, wanted her to come to New York to speak with him.

We got our first look at all 12 WNBA teams in the season's opening weekend. There are still plenty of questions but a hierarchy is taking shape.

Candace Parker standing next to a body of water © Provided by Fansided

The 2021 WNBA season is just three days old, but it's been an eventful three days. There have been game-winning 3s from Diana Taurasi and Sabrina Ionescu. There have been dominant showings from Jonquel Jones, who sat out 2020. And there's been the Chicago Sky, who look poised to claim the title of "most fun basketball team ever."

Still, three days isn't a lot of time, and just four teams have played more than one game. We don't know a ton about the league yet.

Candace Cameron Bure Says ‘Spicy’ Sex Life is the Secret to Her Nearly 25-Year Marriage with Valeri Bure

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But we maybe know enough to speculate about how the team's stack up! Maybe! And even if we don't, we're going to overreact to the first three days of the season with this week's power rankings.

Where does each team rank in this week's WNBA Power Rankings?

The Indiana Fever were expected to be the league's worst team and through two games they appear to be on track to actually be the league's worst team. At 0-2 with a pair of losses to a New York Liberty squad that's still missing their prize offseason acquisition Natasha Howard, it's hard to see a path right now for Indiana to rise out of this 12th spot, though their schedule isn't the toughest over the next four games, as they face Atlanta once and the Mystics twice, who've had their own struggles. And on a bright note, Teaira McCowan is off to a strong start, averaging 14 points and 13 rebounds.

That Scream! Inside Kaitlyn Bristowe and Jason Tartick’s Engagement

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Atlanta's rotations are a little messy, as they essentially are starting three point guards in their current lineup. This is an exciting team, but they're not at full strength after Cheyenne Parker caught COVID-19 and is now sidelined. And Aari McDonald struggled in 16 minutes in her WNBA debut, going 0-for-4 from the floor. Add in that their head coach left just before the season and you get a recipe for a long, long year in Atlanta.

We've reached the most confusing part of this week's rankings: making sense of the Sparks getting destroyed by the Dallas Wings. The Wings went to L.A. and had a turnover rate of 26.1 percent, but still beat the Sparks 94-71. Nneka Ogwumike had 18 points and Chiney Ogwumike had 12, but there weren't a lot of positives beyond that. Erica Wheeler struggled in her Sparks debut. Te'a Cooper was 1-for-10 from the floor. Rookie Jasmine Walker, coming off a strong preseason, wasn't really a factor. This team will get Amanda Zahui B. back soon to add some more scoring, but that first game was still a disaster. (With that said, I'm not ready to say the Sparks aren't a playoff team, because they have the Ogwumikes.)

How each WNBA team could win the championship this season

  How each WNBA team could win the championship this season The WNBA has as much parity as any sports league and 2021 will be no exception. Everyone has a chance at a title -- here's how it could happen for each team. There is no frontrunner to win the 2021 WNBA championship, which speaks to league parity and the surplus of talent a 12-team league ha s to offer. While targets will be out on the reigning champion Seattle Storm, they won't be nearly the consensus favorite they were last year after two key departures in the offseason. In just a 32-game regular season, anything can happen.

Sure, Dallas looked great against the Sparks, but I can't move a team with this many young pieces up too far…yet. Allisha Gray looks like she could win Most Improved this year, Charli Collier had a strong debut, and this team is still missing two very important players in rookie Awak Kuier and last year's No. 2 overall pick Satou Sabally. Dallas is ninth right now, but this is a team that's ready to skyrocket up these rankings if we get a slightly bigger sample that proves Friday wasn't just a fluke.

The Liberty won two games in 2020. They've now won two games in 2021. Sure, those games were against the Indiana Fever and both were closer than they probably should have been, but the Liberty are clearly a much-improved team. Betnijah Laney has been a huge addition, giving them a consistent source of scoring on the outside and someone who can work as a secondary playmaker with Sabrina Ionescu. This offense is predicated on 3-pointers, which was their Achilles last year as they just couldn't make any, but this season things look different, as they're shooting 43.1 percent from deep thanks to Ionescu, Laney, and rookie Michaela Onyenwere all shooting 50 percent from long-range.

Our WNBA 2021 season preview with title predictions, MVP picks, and more

  Our WNBA 2021 season preview with title predictions, MVP picks, and more Our huge WNBA preseason roundtable includes predictions for all of the league’s big questions.The WNBA returns to home arenas this year after spending last season in the bubble wubble. The Seattle Storm enter the year as defending champions, and will be searching for their third title in four years. Storm forward Breanna Stewart is on her way to becoming one of the most accomplished players in the history of the sport, while veteran point guard Sue Bird remains a steady floor general as she enters her 18th season.

The Mystics need help, but they aren't going to get it quite yet. When Elena Delle Donne and Myisha Hines-Allen are back on the floor, this will be a formidable team, but the 70-56 loss to Chicago highlighted some big flaws with this team. They don't have the outside scoring they need yet. They're having to play Theresa Plaisance and Erica McCall heavily. Tina Charles is being asked to do too much. The Mystics will be fine by the end of the year, but they appear headed for a rocky start.

Here's the most absolutely ridiculous part of these rankings. I can't justify putting the Lynx higher than this based on their team right now at this moment, but they're going to get Napheesa Collier back soon and will be right back to being a top-four team. They almost defeated Phoenix, but a Diana Taurasi buzzer-beater lifted the Mercury to the win. Kayla McBride should be shooting more 3s than she did in the opener, but look: get Collier here, moves Damiris Dantas to the bench and let her be your Sixth Woman, and this team will be strong, though I do worry about guard depth.

Phoenix is a miracle shot away from being 0-2, so maybe fifth is too high? It's probably too high, but it's hard to put an 0-1 Lynx team over them when Phoenix is the reason Minnesota is 0-1. The Mercury have the exact issue we thought they'd have: depth. The starting five is among the best in the league, but against Minnesota, the bench only attempted seven shots, with Shey Peddy being the only reserve to play more than six minutes. Megan Walker helped change that in the second game with a nice performance in 16 minutes, but this is still arguably the most top-heavy team in the WNBA.

'Wow, I'm here': Rookie Kysre Gondrezick ready to burn bright with WNBA's Indiana Fever

  'Wow, I'm here': Rookie Kysre Gondrezick ready to burn bright with WNBA's Indiana Fever In a surprise, Kysre Gondrezick was selected by Indiana with the No. 4 overall pick in the WNBA draft, but the rookie guard is confident she belongs.Gondrezick, a WBCA honorable mention All-American, averaged 19.5 points, 4.5 assists and 2.9 rebounds for the Mountaineers in the 2020-21 season. She transferred to West Virginia after her freshman year from Michigan, where she was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team and the All-Big Ten Second Team. She ended her senior campaign with the Mountaineers earning a unanimous selection to the All-Big 12 First Team, becoming the rare player to earn all-league accolades with two different conferences.

The Sun are 2-0, led by the return of Jonquel Jones. Jones is a top-five player in the W, and it feels like a lot of people forgot that after she sat out last season. But her combination of size, agility, and scoring make her a huge mismatch. How many bigs are bringing the ball up the floor at times? Or handling the ball in the halfcourt? I couldn't talk myself into squeezing them past the 0-1 Aces in these rankings yet, but Connecticut is playing some great ball. Plus, they don't even have Jasmine Thomas yet, and they're doing this without the glue of the team, Alyssa Thomas, who is out for the season. Fun things are happening in Uncasville.

The Aces entered this year with a lot of hype and they had a chance to show they were ready to live up to it in the opener against Seattle. Instead, they lost by a pretty comfortable margin, with the Storm coming out on top 97-83. Chelsea Gray's Aces debut wasn't great, and the team's lack of depth showed as they played just eight players. But look, I'm not ready at all to say we're all wrong about this team. A'ja Wilson is still A'ja Wilson, which means that depending on who you ask, she's at least the second-best women's basketball player alive, and she even made a 3 in the game! Liz Cambage played just 19 minutes, so the Aces will need to figure that out, but I think this loss was more about Seattle getting hot than anything else. Sure, head coach Bill Laimbeer needs to make some lineup adjustments and Kelsey Plum leaving soon because of her 3-on-3 commitments is a big negative, but I still trust the Aces because I trust A'ja Wilson.

The WNBA’s Rising Stars Are Taking Center Stage

  The WNBA’s Rising Stars Are Taking Center Stage The first week of the 2021 season has been jam-packed with stellar performances from the likes of Sabrina Ionescu & Co., Arike Ogunbowale and A’ja Wilson. Each Thursday this season, Sports Illustrated’s Ben Pickman is diving deep into the WNBA story lines you need to know.The Liberty had waited 575 days between the announcement of their impending move to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center and their home opener Friday night against the Fever. In the intervening months, few moments were as important as the night of Sept. 17, 2019.

Breanna Stewart had 28. Jewell Loyd had 22. Seattle isn't as good as they were last year because the players they brought in to replace Alysha Clark and Natasha Howard aren't as good as those two, but it seems we forgot over the offseason that this team really isn't just Stewie. The guard play in particular is really strong for Seattle. I don't expect them to just roll over everyone, but these are still the defending champs and they still have that extra gear where they can just tear any team apart.

Candace Parker made her Sky debut on Saturday. She had 16 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists. On paper, those numbers are fine. But oh my, did Parker and the Sky pass the eye test. They pushed the pace. They made lots of great passes because having Parker, arguably the best passing big in the league, and Courtney Vandersloot, inarguably the best point guard in the WNBA, makes for a lot of fun passing. I mean, this team now has the luxury of bringing an elite 3-point shooter, Allie Quigley, off the bench. Kahleah Copper is what…their fourth-best player and she scored 19 points? Plus, Azurá Stevens isn't even playing yet, which is just going to make this team that much better. Sure, there are going to be times where defense is a problem because of how much energy this team exerts on offense, but through the first weekend of the season, I feel even more confident in my decision to put them No. 1 in the preseason rankings.

All In on Five: Betnijah Laney, Sabrina Ionescu have Liberty rolling past expectations .
The New York Liberty (5-1) are the most surprising story of the young 2021 campaign. The success goes beyond the return of 2020 No. 1 overall pick Sabrina Ionescu, but in explaining the team’s best season-opening streak since 2007, the triple-double queen is a good place to start. Ionescu was named the first Eastern Conference Player of the Week after her historic triple-double and showed again Monday night how she earned it. The former Oregon superstar will do whatever is needed that night for the team, whether it be scoring in droves or dishing out no-look assists or pulling down rebounds. And you don’t want to get in a close game against her.

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