Mercury headline Week 1 rankings
What more do we know after 11 games of this WNBA season than we did going in? Well ... not that much. Especially with the mid-May start to the season, teams have very limited time to work together before taking the court for real. True chemistry, 2014 version, is still just developing, as teams initially run on the fumes left over from the previous season.
That said, there is some genuine happiness buzz in Phoenix, which is one of four teams to start 2-0. The latest "Godzilla" movie opened Friday and destroyed at the box office. Taking the "Godzilla" award for the WNBA's opening weekend was Phoenix's Diana Taurasi, who put on her own version of "Showtime" in Los Angeles. She had 23 points, six assists and six rebounds in the Mercury's 74-69 victory over the Sparks.
A look at espnW's first WNBA power rankings for the 2014 season.
1. Phoenix Mercury (2-0)
Nothing makes Mercury fans happier than beating Los Angeles. Phoenix did that Sunday, which followed a 17-point victory over Seattle in the Mercury's opener Saturday at home. Phoenix center Brittney Griner started her second season in the WNBA with a combined 32 points, 14 rebounds and nine blocked shots. New addition Erin Phillips had a combined 10 assists as she steps in to help drive what should be a very strong Phoenix offense.
2. Minnesota Lynx (2-0)
The defending champions got off to a strong start in the nation's capital, beating Washington 89-77 on Friday. But back in Minneapolis for their home opener on Sunday, the Lynx almost had a hiccup before holding on to beat Connecticut 90-87 in overtime. With Rebekkah Brunson and Devereaux Peters both currently out with knee issues, interior defense is a concern for Minnesota. Maya Moore, however, is a major concern for Lynx opponents. Her totals so far: 67 points, 21 rebounds. Wait, maybe she was actually Godzilla.
3. Chicago Sky (2-0)
Was I crazy to pick the Sky to finish last in the Eastern Conference? Of course I was crazy ... to try to predict the East at all! Kudos to the Sky for beating the team that eliminated them in the playoffs last year, Indiana, and then spoiling the Liberty's return to Madison Square Garden with a 14-point win over New York. With Sylvia Fowles (hip) out, Sasha Goodlett and Jessica Breland have done well inside so far for the Sky, and Elena Delle Donne had 23 points in both games.
4. Atlanta Dream (2-0)
New coach Michael Cooper is off to a good start, and you can be sure the Dream are happy to have Sancho Lyttle back. She had 21 rebounds in Atlanta's 90-88 double-overtime win at Indiana on Saturday. That followed a season-opening 79-75 victory over San Antonio in Atlanta on Friday. Old reliables Angel McCoughtry and Erika de Souza have provided big scoring. Rookie Shoni Schimmel had 11 assists versus the Stars, and 17 points and 10 assists against the Fever. Her dish to McCoughtry led to the game-winning trey at Indiana.
5. Los Angeles Sparks (1-1)
The Sparks didn't have Nneka Ogwumike (back strain) in their loss to the Mercury, and they missed her. Especially on the boards, where they were outrebounded by nine. Candace Parker and Alana Beard were in good form in both that loss and the victory over Seattle. But the Sparks weren't helped by guards Kristi Toliver and Lindsey Harding shooting a combined 11-for-39 from the field in the two games.
6. San Antonio Stars (1-1)
The Stars can't feel too bad about how they competed in the close loss at Atlanta. Then they had another four-point game -- this one a victory -- against Tulsa. That might be a familiar refrain for San Antonio this season: a lot of close games. The Stars don't seem to be a team that will actually have a dominant star; Danielle Robinson led them with 23 points in the opener, and Jia Perkins was high scorer against Tulsa with 20.
7. New York Liberty (1-1)
The Liberty defended well and spread out their offense in their opener at Connecticut with a 75-54 victory. But the Libs' defense let them down against Chicago, and they were outscored 24-10 in the fourth quarter. Not exactly the Garden homecoming the Libs and their fans were hoping for. But Cappie Pondexter, who had a rough game (3-of-16) shooting against the Sky said she didn't think it would take long for New York to learn from its mistakes.
8. Connecticut Sun (0-2)
After a pretty putrid home opener -- getting crushed by the Liberty, if not specifically by ex-Sun player Tina Charles (nine points, nine rebounds) -- Connecticut bounced back with a respectable OT loss at Minnesota. Yes, it still counts in the loss column, but taking the defending champs to overtime should help the Sun feel a little better about how this mostly young team can play. Top draft pick Chiney Ogwumike took advantage of the Lynx's injury-depleted interior, getting 25 points and 10 rebounds.
9. Indiana Fever (0-2)
Tamika Catchings is out with back issues, and it's impossible to overstate the difference it makes not having her. Plus, the Fever need more help inside. Monday, they waived Jasmine Hassell and signed free-agent center Krystal Thomas. Both losses were close games -- double overtime to Atlanta -- and the Fever's top draft pick, Natasha Howard, is off to a good start. She had 16 points and 10 rebounds against the Sky, and 21 and six versus the Dream.
10. Seattle Storm (0-2)
Sue Bird is back, but the Storm's offense so far has been pretty blah. Then again, their two opponents have been Los Angeles and Phoenix, which both have more sheer talent than Seattle. It would seem unlikely the Storm are going to be successful in high-scoring contests; they will be better off when they can control the pace more with their defense. And once she's more familiar in her new surroundings, Crystal Langhorne needs to get (demand) the ball more.
11. Tulsa Shock (0-1)
The good news so far -- in the preseason and one regular-season game -- is that last year's No. 3 overall pick, Skylar Diggins, looks very effective. In the Shock's 80-76 loss at San Antonio, Diggins had 20 points, nine assists and eight rebounds. But this year's top pick for the Stars, No. 2 overall Odyssey Sims, struggled from the field in her WNBA debut, going 1-of-11 off the bench. Courtney Paris had a double-double with 13 points and 14 rebounds.
12. Washington Mystics (0-1)
These entire power rankings are based on a very small sample size, and that's really the case with the Mystics. Their one game was against mighty Minnesota. How good is Washington? How bad? Who knows? But one thing that had to bother Mystics coach Mike Thibault was allowing the Lynx to shoot nearly 50 percent from the field. Then again, it's the Lynx. Washington's Tar Heels -- North Carolina grads Ivory Latta and Tierra Ruffin-Pratt -- led the way with a combined 42 points on 15-of-22 shooting from the field.
WNBA SEASON PREVIEW
The WNBA's 18th season tipped off Friday.