Storm continue dominance, Sun struggle to persist

It’s hard to believe the WNBA is already past the quarter-way mark of the 2020 season. Given how fast this year has gone by away from the basketball court, it won’t be long until the league crowns its champion in the fall.

Here’s a look at each team’s position heading into the trio of games on Aug. 10. Unsurprisingly, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has made for a wacky beginning.

1. Seattle Storm (6-1 record)

The Storm hit a bump in the road during their third game of the season, falling 89-71 against the Washington Mystics. They quickly bounced back, stringing together four consecutive wins. With Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird returning to the team’s lineup, Seattle is off and running, vying for its fourth championship in franchise history.

2. Minnesota Lynx (5-2 record)

After losing in the first round of last year’s playoffs as the seventh seed, Minnesota has been a pleasant surprise thus far. They suffered a 90-66 loss against the Storm in their second game of the season but then responded with four straight victories. Their 2019 leading scorer, Odyssey Sims, will soon return to make them even more of a threat.

3. Chicago Sky (5-2 record)

Most wouldn’t view the Sky as a championship contender, yet they’ve performed to the level people would’ve expected and have defeated some strong opponents in the process. Chicago doesn’t have the offensive talent or firepower of other top WNBA teams, but their starting lineup evenly distributes the scoring output in most games.

4. Las Vegas Aces (5-2 record)

As the fourth seed in last year’s postseason, Las Vegas fell short in a best-of-five semifinals matchup with the eventual champions. It took them a few games to get going, losing two of three to start, but the Aces appear to have hit their stride after four straight wins. A’ja Wilson has been simply outstanding, averaging just over 22 points per game.

5. Los Angeles Sparks (4-3 record)

For a team that finished third in the league standings and made it to the playoff semifinals in 2019, it would’ve been reasonable to expect more from the Sparks at this point. They’ve failed to win consecutive games this season, making way for other teams to take on higher positions. Los Angeles must establish consistency before it’s too late.

6. Phoenix Mercury (4-3 record)

While it was a rough start for Phoenix, losing their first two games by a combined score of 205-176, they could’ve changed the trajectory of the season with their four-game win streak. Bria Hartley, Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi are all averaging around 17 points per game or more, giving the Mercury a new lease on life heading into this week.

7. Dallas Wings (3-4 record)

Just like last season, Dallas is relying on the offence of sophomore Arike Ogunbowale putting up roughly 20 points per game. They’ve also injected rookie Satou Sabally into their lineup, with the second overall pick averaging about six rebounds per game. The Wings need more from their other starters and depth players if they hope to succeed.

8. Washington Mystics (3-4 record)

In many instances, watching the defending champions struggle out of the gate is surprising. However, when four of the seven minutes played leaders in last year’s playoffs aren’t in Washington’s lineup this season, they were due for misfortune. It’ll be a tough time for them without Elena Delle Donne, Natasha Cloud and LaToya Sanders.

9. Indiana Fever (3-4 record)

Indiana finished two games back of a playoff berth in 2019, meaning they’re on par with last season’s outcome. Their 2-2 start looked promising, but dropping two straight put them in a less ideal position despite winning their most recent game. One major bright spot is the play of 24-year-old Kelsey Mitchell, averaging just over 20 points per game.

10. Atlanta Dream (2-5 record)

The Dream had a nightmare season in 2019, finishing in last place with a mere eight wins. To make matters worse, they lost the draft lottery despite having the best odds at 44.2%. Following a 2-1 start, Atlanta has cooled off during a four-game skid. Fourth overall pick Chennedy Carter looks impressive, averaging about 19 points per game.

11. New York Liberty (1-6 record)

Heading into the delayed season, it was an exciting time for Liberty fans. They would finally get to see first overall pick, Sabrina Ionescu, in a New York uniform, but she suffered an ankle injury in their third game against the Dream. The team won their first game after a 0-5 start, but it’s still a big hole to dig out of without their franchise player.

12. Connecticut Sun (1-6 record)

The Sun had an excellent year in 2019, finishing second in the league’s standings, but ultimately falling short in Game Five of the WNBA Finals. This season has been a notable drop off for Connecticut, losing their first five games. DeWanna Bonner has stepped up with almost 20 points per game, but the absence of Jonquel Jones has been evident.

Featured photo credit: Syracruse.com

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