WNBA Power Rankings: No. 1 New York riding 8-game win streak

The WNBA's top plays of the past week (1:57)

Check out some of the WNBA's top plays of the previous week, including nice shots by Sabrina Ionescu and Arike Ogunbowale. (1:57)

The first couple of weeks of any season typically bring hot takes and overreactions. The New York Liberty didn't fall for it, despite back-to-back losses in May. Eight consecutive wins later, they're right where they want to be.

"Everybody is doing what they're good at and understanding it's not an individual thing," New York forward Jonquel Jones said. "We're all there for each other."

The Liberty are No. 1 in ESPN's WNBA Power Rankings for the second week in a row. An upcoming stretch of five games in eight days could further solidify their spot and get them a second Commissioner's Cup title, as they face the Minnesota Lynx in the final on June 25.

New York beat the Las Vegas Aces last year in the Cup championship game, then fell to the Aces in the WNBA Finals, the first time since 2002 the Liberty had played for the league championship.

This season, the Liberty are the only team to defeat the Connecticut Sun and they're coming off a victory at Las Vegas on Saturday. New York is clicking despite the absence of point guard Courtney Vandersloot, who has missed the past four games for personal reasons.

"Losing two games early really woke us up in terms of what wasn't working for us," Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu said of losses to the Chicago Sky at home on May 23 and at Minnesota on May 25. "Last year, that might have rattled us a little bit more.

"Having the experience of one year together helps. I know last year, I was a deer in the headlights in trying to be the best I could be and lead."

She looked way more confident than that; Ionescu was an All-Star and second-team All-WNBA selection in 2023. She said she just tried to play hard through any uncertainty. Ionescu was in her third full season in 2023 -- having missed most of her rookie season in 2020 with an ankle injury -- and the Liberty brought in Vandersloot, Jones and Breanna Stewart. New York had a lot to adjust to that year.

"Now, it's so much nicer to have gone through so much already because there's nothing really surprising," said Ionescu, who with Stewart was named last week to the U.S. Olympic 5-on-5 team. "You know the level you have to try to maintain even through highs and lows to be able to grind it out."

Stewart, a two-time MVP, leads New York in scoring (18.6 PPG) and rebounding (9.6), with Jones, Ionescu and Betnijah Laney-Hamilton also averaging double figures in scoring. Vandersloot also missed one game with back issues; Kayla Thornton has stepped in to start the five games she has been out, and Ionescu has handled point guard duties.

"When we lost the game against Chicago, I just didn't think we competed in the right way," Liberty coach Sandy Brondello said. "We always say, 'Connection equals commitment.' It was like, 'You guys have to be committed, you have to compete, you have to communicate.'

"We have an experienced group. There are still areas where there is a little slippage, and video shows it. But they are quick learners."

Previous rankings: Preseason | May 20 | May 27 | June 3 | June 10

1. New York Liberty (12-2)

Previous ranking: 1

This week: @ PHO (June 18), vs. LA (June 20), vs. LA (June 22), @ ATL (June 23)

With just one game last week, the Liberty could focus on preparing for the Aces and won 90-82. Jones had a career-high 34 points, including four 3-pointers; when she's a threat from outside, it makes her even more difficult to guard. Ionescu had 12 of the Liberty's 21 assists, along with 15 points.

"Being able to get to the rim a lot more this year I think [is] just adding a new dimension to my game," Ionescu said. "It was nice to see how many players I was able to get open just by attacking."

New York's strong second half powers Liberty over Aces

Jonquel Jones scores a career-high 34 points as the Liberty defeat the Aces 90-82.

2. Connecticut Sun (12-1)

Previous ranking: 2

This week: vs. LA (June 18), @ LV (June 21), @ SEA (June 23)

After their June 8 loss to the Liberty, the Sun bounced right back by going 3-0 last week, beating Indiana, Chicago and Dallas. They had a different leading scorer in each game: DiJonai Carrington, Alyssa Thomas and Rachel Banham. Connecticut is holding foes to a league-low 70.8 PPG. The Sun make their first 2024 trip to the West Coast this weekend.

Alyssa Thomas gets 13 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists for the Sun

Alyssa Thomas drops 13 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists as the Sun defeat the Wings.

3. Minnesota Lynx (10-3)

Previous ranking: 3

This week: vs. DAL (June 17), vs. ATL (June 19), vs. PHO (June 23)

The Lynx have won six of their past seven, including against Las Vegas and Los Angeles last week. Courtney Williams had a combined 19 assists in those games, and the Lynx lead the WNBA in assists at 24.8 per game. They are second in the league in scoring average (86.2 PPG) and scoring defense (76.0 PPG).

Napheesa Collier (30 points) Highlights vs. Los Angeles Sparks

Napheesa Collier (30 points) Highlights vs. Los Angeles Sparks, 06/14/2024

4. Seattle Storm (9-5)

Previous ranking: 4

This week: @ LV (June 19), vs. CON (June 23)

The Storm got victories against Los Angeles and Dallas last week but lost Sunday at Phoenix. It was still good enough to stay put in the Power Rankings, just ahead of the Mercury. Seattle's veteran free agent additions continue to make a big impact: Nneka Ogwumike had a combined 58 points and 25 rebounds last week, while Skylar Diggins-Smith had 54 points and 20 assists.

Nneka Ogwumike (15 points) Highlights vs. Phoenix Mercury

Nneka Ogwumike (15 points) Highlights vs. Phoenix Mercury, 06/16/2024

5. Phoenix Mercury (7-7)

Previous ranking: 5

This week: vs. NY (June 18), @ MIN (June 22)

The Mercury may have a .500 record, but they're dangerous. They lost to Las Vegas but beat Seattle last week, and center Brittney Griner is rounding into form after missing Phoenix's first 10 games with a toe injury. She had a combined 53 points and 18 rebounds last week and was named to her third Olympic team. Kahleah Copper, named a first-time Olympian, had her fifth game of 30 or more points, the most in the WNBA this season.

6. Las Vegas Aces (6-6)

Previous: 7

This week: vs. SEA (June 19), vs. CON (June 21)

The Aces are struggling to find themselves, especially defensively. So far in 2024, they've had their first three-game losing streak since 2019 and have lost as many games as they did in the entire 2023 regular season. They went 1-2 this past week, and A'ja Wilson's emotional reaction to Saturday's loss to New York was understandable because she's playing at an MVP level, but things aren't clicking for Vegas. Chelsea Gray's return, whenever that might be, will help.

7. Atlanta Dream (6-6)

Previous ranking: 6

This week: @ MIN (June 19), vs. IND (June 21), vs. NY (June 23)

Some team had to be the first in 2024 to fall to the Washington Mystics, and it was the Dream last week. That was followed by a loss at Indiana, setting up a game that wasn't "must-win" but probably felt like it Sunday at home vs. Los Angeles. Atlanta got the victory, led by Allisha Gray, Tina Charles and Rhyne Howard. The Dream have had ups and downs, but they're still in a playoff spot.

Dream pick up the home win over the Sparks

Dream pick up the home win over the Sparks

8. Indiana Fever (5-10)

Previous ranking: 10

This week: vs. WAS (June 19), @ ATL (June 21), @ CHI (June 23)

After losing at Connecticut last week, the Fever had their first consecutive wins of 2024, beating Atlanta and Chicago. Those games had nearly identical scores (91-84 and 91-83) with the Fever shooting a season-high 56.5% against the Sky. The back-to-back No. 1 pick duo of Aliyah Boston and Caitlin Clark worked well together. In the two victories, Boston had 46 points on 61.8% shooting and 27 rebounds, while Clark had 30 points, 12 rebounds and 15 assists.

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9. Washington Mystics (2-12)

Previous ranking: 12

This week: @ IND (June 19), vs. DAL (June 22), vs. DAL (June 23)

Look who made a big leap. The Mystics started the season 0-12, so they're still parked in the basement of the WNBA standings. However, after victories against Atlanta and Chicago last week -- following two near-wins the week before -- Washington earned a boost in the Power Rankings. Brittney Sykes returned against the Dream (18 points) after missing 10 games, but then was reinjured and is out again. That's a terrible break for her and the Mystics, but guard Ariel Atkins had her best week of the season with a combined 47 points on 65.2% shooting and 8 assists.

10. Los Angeles Sparks (4-10)

Previous ranking: 8

This week: @ CON (June 18), @ NY (June 20), @ NY (June 22)

It always seems like the weirdest scheduling things happen to the Sparks, such as their current seven-game road swing. It hasn't started well, with losses to Seattle, Minnesota and Atlanta last week. Now, they play three games against the WNBA's top two teams, then end the road stretch at Phoenix on June 28. It will be tough for the Sparks to avoid a seven-game losing streak before their next home game July 2. Some good news: Rookies Rickea Jackson and Cameron Brink led the Sparks in scoring the past two games, with both registering 16 points vs. the Dream and Jackson dropping 19 vs. the Lynx.

11. Chicago Sky (4-9)

Previous ranking: 9

This week: vs. DAL (June 20), vs. IND (June 23)

The Sky went 0-3, losing to Connecticut, Washington and Indiana last week. They have lost four in a row and six of their past seven, prompting a lineup change Sunday as guards Chennedy Carter and Lindsay Allen got their first starts of the season. Frustrating as the week was for Chicago, posts Angel Reese and Kamilla Cardoso both had double-doubles against the Fever, the first time a WNBA rookie duo has done that in a game since 2008.

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12. Dallas Wings (3-9)

Previous ranking: 11

This week: @ MIN (June 17), @ CHI (June 20), @ WAS (June 22) @ WAS (June 23)

The Wings lost two games last week and are at seven losses in a row. Now they face four straight games -- and six of the next seven -- on the road. It will be a big challenge for Dallas to pull out of this nosedive. Notable in Saturday's game against Connecticut: Arike Ogunbowale wasn't the Wings' leading scorer for the first time this season; Teaira McCowan (16 points) was. Ogunbowale -- who revealed on a podcast last week that she took herself out of the U.S. Olympic team pool because she sensed "the vibe" was not in her favor -- had a season-low 11 points vs. the Sun.