Rank this

This week’s ESPN power rankings:

1. Mercury
2. Dream
3. Lynx
4. Stars
5. Fever
6. Sun
7. Sky
8. Sparks
9. Liberty
10. Storm
11. Shock
12. Mystics

Seattle Times reporter Jayda Evans also has power rankings:

1. Mercury
2. Dream
3. Lynx
4. Stars
5. Sun
6. Fever
7. Sparks
8. Sky
9. Liberty
10. Shock
11. Storm
12. Mystics

swishappeal.com has a WNBA team midseason report card:

Atlanta A-
Connecticut B
Chicago C-
Indiana B-
New York D+
Washington B

Phoenix A
Minnesota B+
San Antonio B+
Los Angeles D+
Seattle C-
Tulsa B

Statistical explanation for rankings is here.

swishappeal.com ranks the rookies:

1. Chiney Ogwumike
2. Odyssey Sims
3. Bria Hartley
4. Anna Cruz
5. Alyssa Thomas
6. Jamierra Faulkner
7. Kayla McBride
8. Damiris Dantas
9. Natasha Howard
10. Stefanie Dolson

Honorable mention:

Shoni Schimmel
Jordan Hooper
Tricia Liston

My team groupings are more simple for now. Teams are either surpassing preseason expectations, meeting expectations, or falling below expectations:

Surpassing expectations

Sun – They had such a dismal season last year, and this year had almost an entirely new roster. But they are pulling together and grinding out wins. When they get more experience and team chemistry, they’ll be dangerous.

Mercury – Though Sandy Brondello has been a head coach before, she hadn’t been known for a firebrand personality, and Phoenix is loaded with stars. Penny Taylor is healthy, Diana Taurasi has still got it, and Brittney Griner has grown leaps and bounds since last year. They are killing.

Stars – San Antonio didn’t make out like bandits in the draft, with their only big fish being Kayla McBride. They began the season slowly, too, but have picked it up and are winning games. In numerous interviews, different players talk about team chemistry, playing for each other and coming together. That is the talk of champions.

Meeting expectations

Dream – No surprise that Atlanta is kicking butt. The defending Eastern Conference champs returned almost everyone, added super-rookie Shoni Schimmel, and got Michael Cooper as coach.

Lynx – I may have been the only one who predicted Minnesota wouldn’t have an easy walk to the Western Conference playoffs this year. Beginning the season with eight healthy players takes a while to come back from. Whether or not the Lynx can pull it together still remains to be seen.

Storm – Coach Brian Agler has a penchant for veterans, and Seattle may have the oldest roster in the league. They’re going to need more young players if they want to stay relevant.

Shock – They are doing about as well as I expected them to, and the improvement from last year is sharp and optimistic for fans. Skylar Diggins gets props for improving her game over the winter.

Falling below expectations

Sky and Fever – I put them together because it’s the same story: none of the injuries/illnesses that have plagued both teams could have been foreseen. If either squad had been healthy so far this year, things would be much different.

Sparks – What can I say that hasn’t been said by seemingly every fan of the league? No one expected an all-star roster to under-perform the way Los Angeles has so far this season. Of course some of that has been due to the absence of key players, but a lot of it has been lack of chemistry and just plain bad basketball. In a post-game interview last week, one of the Sparks’ starters said they hadn’t yet addressed the issues. They might want to before they’re automatically eliminated from the playoffs.

Liberty – Coach Bill Laimbeer won two rings with the former Detroit Shock, and fans thought last season’s poor Liberty record was just a fluke. Their terrible start this year indicates otherwise. New York has won three straight as of yesterday, putting a glimmer of hope in the hearts of fans. Let’s see if they can maintain it.

Mystics – Washington did well last year, and they only embellished their roster this season with two top rookies and a great veteran. Coach Mike Thibault’s basketball IQ is through the roof. So why are they struggling? More importantly, are they going to get it together?