The 2023 WNBA common season has one week remaining, however we have hit the end line for the ESPN Energy Rankings.
5 groups have already certified for the playoffs, with 4 vying for the final three spots. The ultimate three have already been eradicated, and are left to attempt to end sturdy and probably play spoiler to others’ possibilities.
Who would be the general No. 1 seed? We do not know that but, however the hottest crew proper now within the WNBA is the New York Liberty, who’ve three video games remaining. They’ve received six in a row and stay atop the Energy Rankings for the third straight week.
Nonetheless, the defending champion Las Vegas Aces, which was No. 1 within the Energy Rankings the remainder of the season, has a one-game lead for the highest seed with simply two video games left — each towards the last-place Phoenix Mercury.
It has been a difficult season for the Mercury, which bought to have a good time Brittney Griner’s return to the WNBA and Diana Taurasi hitting the ten,000-point plateau, however not a lot else. They’ve misplaced eight in a row, and until they win considered one of their three remaining video games, they are going to end a season with single-digit victories for simply the third time in franchise historical past (1997-present).
After the 2 earlier occasions — in 2003 and 2012 — Phoenix ended up with the No. 1 choose within the following yr’s draft, and introduced in Taurasi and Griner.
The very best odds for getting No. 1 in 2024, although, can be with the Indiana Fever. They have been eradicated from playoff competition Friday, their seventh consecutive yr of lacking the postseason.
Nonetheless, they enter this remaining week of the common season wanting extra upbeat than the Mercury: Indiana has received 4 of its final 5 video games. And subsequent yr, it is going to add one other draft lottery choice to a lineup that already has 2023 No. 1 choose Aliyah Boston and 2022 No. 2 choose NaLyssa Smith.
The Minnesota Lynx missed the playoffs final yr for the primary time since 2010. Their postseason absence was transient, although; after an 0-6 begin to this season, they got here again to clinch a playoff berth with their victory Sunday over Phoenix.
“I simply instructed the group they deserve this,” stated coach Cheryl Reeve, who has guided the Lynx since 2010. “It is only a step. We wished to get again into the playoffs. Loads of arduous work went into that, to do what this franchise is accustomed to doing, which is competing within the postseason.”
The Atlanta Dream, Washington Mystics, Los Angeles Sparks and Chicago Sky have this week to attempt to be part of the Aces, Liberty, Connecticut Solar, Dallas Wings and Lynx within the postseason. Right here is how all of them stand within the remaining Energy Rankings.
1. New York Liberty
Earlier rating: 1
This week: at Dallas (Tuesday), vs. Los Angeles (Thursday), vs. Washington (Sunday)
After main the Liberty with 25 factors in a victory over Las Vegas final Monday, Sabrina Ionescu (calf) sat out towards Connecticut and Chicago. That did not have an effect on New York, which cruised in each video games. Proper now, her sitting out seems extra cautionary, because the Liberty wish to make sure Ionescu is at her greatest for the playoffs. How scary can the Liberty be? Sunday’s 22-0 run in beating the Sky is one instance.
2. Las Vegas Aces
Earlier rating: 2
This week: at Phoenix (Friday), vs. Phoenix (Sunday)
The Aces fell to the Liberty final Monday, night the groups’ regular-season sequence at 2-2. However then Las Vegas got here again with wins at house towards Washington and Seattle. Now, the Aces can take a minute to breathe. After enjoying 11 video games in 23 days, they’ve a five-day break earlier than their subsequent matchup. Coach Becky Hammon and the gamers talked about how useful this time to recharge might be, as they attempt to shut out with the No. 1 seed for the second season in a row.
3. Connecticut Solar
Earlier rating: 3
This week: vs. Los Angeles (Tuesday), vs. Indiana (Friday), vs. Chicago (Sunday)
The Solar went 1-1 final week, beating Phoenix and shedding to New York of their lowest-scoring sport (58 factors) of the season. However this week actually means nothing to the Solar’s postseason standing: They’re the No. 3 seed irrespective of how their three remaining video games go. They’ll, nevertheless, probably have an effect on the Sparks’ and Sky’s playoff hopes.
All issues thought-about — particularly the losses of Jonquel Jones to an low season commerce and Brionna Jones to an early-season Achilles damage — this has been an excellent season for Connecticut and first-year coach Stephanie White.
4. Dallas Wings
Earlier rating: 4
This week: vs. New York (Tuesday), vs. Seattle (Friday), at Atlanta (Sunday)
Dallas clinched its playoff berth with a victory at Indiana on Friday, through which Satou Sabally joined the WNBA’s much-expanded 40-point membership. It was the twelfth time this season a participant has scored at the least 40 factors in a sport; the earlier document was three in a season (2015, 2008, 2006). However the Wings missed an opportunity to say the No. 4 seed — and homecourt benefit for the primary spherical — when the Fever got here again for an extra time victory Sunday at Dallas. Now the Wings have one other likelihood to nail that down this week.
5. Minnesota Lynx
Earlier rating: 6
This week: at Chicago (Friday), at Indiana (Sunday)
This previous week was type of Minnesota’s season in microcosm: a troublesome loss at Washington, adopted by a gritty extra time win towards Atlanta and a business-like victory over Phoenix. Minnesota did not get its first victory this season till June 3, shedding seven of its first eight video games. However led by Napheesa Collier and rookie Diamond Miller, the Lynx righted the ship and now hope to complete above .500 as they give the impression of being towards the playoffs.
6. Los Angeles Sparks
Earlier rating: 5
This week: at Connecticut (Tuesday), at New York (Thursday), at Seattle (Sunday),
After very irritating losses to Chicago and Seattle at house, the Sparks confronted Washington on Sunday in entrance of a small crowd at USC’s Galen Middle, as a result of a scheduling battle at Crypto.com Enviornment. And Nneka Ogwumike (knee) was a late scratch. All of it regarded like a recipe for an additional loss, however the Sparks bought a much-needed victory to spice up their playoff hopes. Ending the common season with three video games on the street — two on the East Coast and one on the West Coast — plus the uncertainty about when Ogwumike will play, means the Sparks nonetheless have their work reduce out for them.
7. Washington Mystics
Earlier rating: 7
This week: at Phoenix (Tuesday), vs. Atlanta (Friday), at New York (Sunday)
The Mystics beat Minnesota, then fell at Las Vegas and Los Angeles final week. An emotional blow got here Sunday towards the Sparks, as veteran guard Kristi Toliver suffered a serious-looking knee damage. She’s been restricted to 11 video games for the Mystics this season as a result of plantar fasciitis, however they hoped to have her for a playoff run. Now, they must regroup and safe their playoff spot, whereas additionally dealing with uncertainty about starters Shakira Austin (hip) and Ariel Atkins (nasal fracture), who missed Sunday’s sport.
8. Atlanta Dream
Earlier rating: 8
This week: vs. Seattle (Wednesday), at Washington (Friday), vs. Dallas (Sunday)
August was tough and September did not begin any higher for the Dream, who’ve misplaced seven of their final 9 video games. They did get a victory over a downtrodden Phoenix final week, however then fell in extra time to Minnesota. The Dream haven’t made the playoffs since 2018, however are in place to take action this season. They want a robust final week, although.
9. Chicago Sky
Earlier rating: 9
This week: at Indiana (Tuesday), vs. Minnesota (Friday), at Connecticut (Sunday)
The Sky, led by Kahleah Copper, grabbed a 76-75 victory at Los Angeles final Tuesday that felt like a must-win sport. Then they misplaced towards New York on Sunday. The Sky have the worst document of any of the groups remaining within the playoff race, however they do nonetheless have an opportunity.
10. Indiana Fever
Earlier rating: 10
This week: vs. Chicago (Tuesday), at Connecticut (Friday), vs. Minnesota (Sunday)
Sunday’s extra time victory at Dallas was a sign of how the Fever hope to shut out this season. That they had been eradicated from playoff competition by the Wings two days earlier, however vowed they nonetheless had loads to play for. It regarded that approach as each Kelsey Mitchell and NaLyssa Smith scored 30 factors in beating the Wings. The Fever wish to end sturdy as they give the impression of being towards 2024.
11. Seattle Storm
Earlier rating: 11
This week: at Atlanta (Wednesday), at Dallas (Friday), vs. Los Angeles (Sunday)
Equally, the Storm hope to show they don’t seem to be simply enjoying out the string. That confirmed final week with a double-digit win at Los Angeles. Then, they have been no match for Las Vegas in a 26-point loss. Nonetheless, the Storm might play spoiler this week, as guard Jewell Loyd (24.3 PPG) appears to be like to wrap up the WNBA’s season scoring title.
12. Phoenix Mercury
Earlier rating: 12
This week: vs. Washington (Tuesday), vs. Las Vegas (Friday), at Las Vegas (Sunday)
The very best factor for the Mercury could be not having any extra accidents as they shut out their first non-playoff season since 2012. They nonetheless have an opportunity to affect the playoff race for different groups, however their final victory was Aug. 10.