Are the Connecticut Sun, a team that lost its leading scorer and rebounder from last season, poised to move into first place in ESPN's WNBA Power Rankings?
The Aces are still No. 1 in our Week 3 rankings, but by just a hair over the Sun. They'll meet twice this week in Connecticut. And by this time next week, we could have a change at the top.
The Sun no longer have former MVP Jonquel Jones (now with New York) or longtime coach Curt Miller (now with the Los Angeles Sparks), but Alyssa Thomas, DeWanna Bonner and Brionna Jones are still going strong for them. Thomas has put herself in the early MVP discussion after several strong performances, including Friday's 16-point, 16-assist, nine-rebound game.
In five of the Sun's seven games, Thomas has at least 10 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. In all, she has 28 such games in her WNBA career, according to ESPN Sports & Information research, second only to the Aces' Candace Parker (61).
Speaking of Parker, the Chicago Sky lost her and Courtney Vandersloot (Liberty) in the offseason and are currently down to eight available players. Still, the Sky went into New York and took advantage of a Liberty team that didn't slam the door shut after big lead.
The Sky, along with the Sun and the other eight teams that aren't named the Aces or Liberty, clearly have had their fill of talk about Las Vegas and New York being loaded with talent.
With a Friday-Sunday weekend slate in which all nine WNBA games were decided by single digits -- the average winning margin was 4.0 PPG -- Sky guard Courtney Williams put a bow on it.
"There's so much hype around the superteams," Williams said. "I mean, no shade ... but shade. At the end of the day, we're here, too."
1. Las Vegas Aces
Previous ranking: 1
This week: at Connecticut (Tuesday), at Connecticut (Thursday), vs. Chicago (Sunday)
The defending champion Aces know that no WNBA team has had a perfect season. Still, they want to stay unbeaten as long as possible. But this past week, two teams in the lower part of the standings pushed them. Friday, it took a signature Chelsea Gray jump shot to help them pull away from Atlanta 92-87. Sunday, they needed the double-digit rally to beat Indiana 84-80, the first time this season Las Vegas hasn't scored at least 90 points.
A huge game from A'ja Wilson (27 points, 10 rebounds) and some clutch plays late saved the Aces. Next up, though, is a rematch of last year's WNBA Finals with two games against the Sun.
Chelsea Gray gets the hoop and the harm
2. Connecticut Sun
Previous ranking: 2
This week: vs. Las Vegas (Tuesday), vs. Las Vegas (Thursday), at Atlanta (Sunday)
The Sun made a case for jumping to No. 1 this week after victories against Indiana, Minnesota and Dallas. Still, the undefeated Aces held on to the top spot. But everyone is looking forward to seeing the Aces-Sun matchups next.
So far, Connecticut has looked good defensively: Witness the job the Sun did in holding Dallas' Arike Ogunbowale to eight points on 3 of 16 shooting Sunday. Also, longtime Atlanta star Tiffany Hayes, in her first season with the Sun, has fit in well in Connecticut.
3. New York Liberty
Previous ranking: 4
This week: vs. Minnesota (Wednesday), at Atlanta (Friday), vs. Dallas (Sunday)
After Breanna Stewart and Vandersloot won their "homecoming" games in Seattle and Chicago, it looked like the Liberty were going to finish this past week 3-0. But they let the big lead get away in the rematch with the Sky on Sunday. The 86-82 loss, combined with the fact the Liberty only edged the Sky 77-76 in Chicago on Friday, shows New York has work to do in being more cohesive and closing out games.
The Sky overcome a 19-point deficit to beat the Liberty behind a 27-point performance from Kahleah Copper.
4. Chicago Sky
Previous ranking: 3
This week: vs. Indiana (Tuesday), at Los Angeles (Friday), at Las Vegas (Sunday)
The Sky lost by 18 at Atlanta on Tuesday, followed by the news that Rebekah Gardner is out indefinitely with a foot injury, adding to their short-handed woes. What did the Sky do then? Almost beat the Liberty in Chicago, and then did beat them in Brooklyn. Kahleah Copper had a combined 47 points and 16 rebounds in those two games. Chicago switched spots with the Liberty in the Power Rankings, but the fact they are so close means kudos to the Sky.
5. Los Angeles Sparks
Previous ranking: 7
This week: at Seattle (Tuesday), vs. Chicago (Friday), at Minnesota (Sunday)
The Sparks' 99-93 overtime victory at Phoenix on Friday was the last of four very entertaining games that night, and the highest scoring of them (the extra period helped, of course). Guard Lexie Brown's career-high 26 points led the Sparks. The next day back home in Los Angeles, Nneka Ogwumike led the way with 27 points and 14 rebounds in beating Seattle 92-85. The Sparks' only losses so far are both to the Aces.
Lexie Brown hits the 3 vs. Seattle Storm
6. Washington Mystics
Previous ranking: 5
This week: at Seattle (Friday), at Seattle (Sunday)
While the Sparks were able to win on back-to-back nights, the Mystics weren't. They edged Dallas 75-74 on Friday, but fell 80-78 Saturday to Minnesota, the Lynx's first victory this season. Elena Delle Donne, who didn't play back-to-backs last season, logged 33 minutes in both games -- but with different results: 23 points on 46.7% shooting from the field Friday, 12 points on 33.3% Saturday.
7. Dallas Wings
Previous ranking: 6
This week: vs. Phoenix (Wednesday), vs. Phoenix (Friday), at New York (Sunday)
Injuries kept forward Satou Sabally from being fully at her best during her first three seasons since being the No. 2 pick in the 2020 draft. But she has been outstanding so far in 2023, averaging 22.2 points and 10.7 rebounds. This past week, the Wings beat Minnesota but lost at Washington and Connecticut. They play five of their next six games at home, where they are 2-0.
Satou Sabally hits the 3-point shot vs. Washington Mystics
8. Atlanta Dream
Previous ranking: 10
This week: vs. New York (Friday), vs. Connecticut (Sunday)
The Dream lost their home opener May 28 to Indiana but bounced back this past week by beating Chicago and challenging Las Vegas before falling by five. Cheyenne Parker stood out against the Aces with 25 points and 11 rebounds. She was a big part of the Dream outrebounding Las Vegas 36-31.
Erica Wheeler shows off the range on trey
9. Indiana Fever
Previous ranking: 9
This week: at Chicago (Tuesday), at Minnesota (Friday), vs. Phoenix (Sunday)
The Fever went 0-2 after ending their 20-game losing streak on May 28. But considering those losses were to top teams Connecticut (Tuesday) and Las Vegas (Sunday) by a combined seven points, Indiana doesn't drop in the Power Rankings. In fact, it was about as good a winless week as the Fever could have. Aliyah Boston, who was ESPN's unanimous preseason pick for Rookie of the Year, has played well, although she was limited to seven points in facing fellow former South Carolina Gamecocks star A'ja Wilson of Las Vegas.
10. Phoenix Mercury
Previous ranking: 8
This week: at Dallas (Wednesday), at Dallas (Friday), at Indiana (Sunday)
Center Brittney Griner is returning to her home state of Texas this week, and many Baylor Bears plan to be in attendance on Wednesday for the first of the Mercury's two meetings with the Wings. Maybe Phoenix can get something going there. The Mercury lost their lone game of last week by six points in overtime to Los Angeles, but had a chance to win in regulation. Griner has started off well, averaging 22.0 points and 8.8 rebounds.
11. Minnesota Lynx
Previous ranking: 12
This week: at New York (Wednesday), vs. Indiana (Friday), vs. Los Angeles (Sunday)
The Lynx were, understandably, extremely ticked off at their 0-6 start. After a 89-84 loss at home to Connecticut on Thursday, coach Cheryl Reeve was highly critical of Minnesota's defense in particular. The Lynx did a much better job of that Saturday in at last getting into the win column, 80-78 at Washington. Tiffany Mitchell's putback off her own miss gave Minnesota the winning basket in the closing seconds. We will see if the Lynx can build on it this week.
12. Seattle Storm
Previous ranking: 11
This week: vs. Los Angeles (Tuesday), vs. Washington (Friday), vs. Washington (Sunday)
Guard Jewell Loyd is doing all she can, including a 37-point effort -- with eight 3-pointers -- in Saturday's loss at Los Angeles. She is averaging 28.8 points for Seattle, which also fell vs. New York last week with former Storm star Stewart now leading the Liberty. There seems little doubt this will be a challenging year for the Storm. But with three games at home this week, perhaps they can get their first win of 2023.