WNBA Power Rankings – Aces reclaim No. 1, Lynx climb and a take a look at Briann January’s legacy

Coaches will inform gamers the significance of by no means giving up on a play so long as there are sports activities. However there’s nothing like seeing it to consider it. Seattle Storm guard Briann January, who will retire on the finish of the 2022 WNBA season after 14 years within the league, embodies that sort of hustle. As we launch our penultimate WNBA Power Rankings this week, we additionally pay tribute to January. The 5-foot-8 guard made many such performs, however one stands out as the most important of her profession.

January, an Arizona State standout, was a part of the 2009 draft class that had among the best first rounds in WNBA historical past. Angel McCoughtry, Marissa Coleman, Kristi Toliver, Renee Montgomery, DeWanna Bonner, January, Courtney Paris and Kia Vaughn had been picks 1-8. Chosen at No. 11 was Shavonte Zellous, who would mix with January on the play that helped the Indiana Fever attain their greatest accomplishment in franchise historical past.

In 2012, the Connecticut Solar had the Japanese Convention’s finest file at 25-9, whereas Indiana was second at 22-12. Each Tamika Catchings and fellow Fever star Katie Douglas had turned 33 earlier that 12 months, and each knew their championship window was beginning to shut.

Within the East finals (below the previous playoff format), the Fever had been down 0-1 of their best-of-three sequence with the Solar. Late in a decent Sport 2 battle in Indiana, the Solar tied the rating at 76 however missed a free throw try on a three-point play, and Catchings grabbed the rebound.

Catchings, who noticed January break in entrance and streak towards the basket, heaved an ideal cross whereas falling that hit January in stride. She went in for the layup untouched, however her shot was a little bit laborious off the glass and the ball rolled out. January instantly chased after it, after which went diving into the courtside seats to tip the ball again to Zellous.

Zellous had made only one area aim that night time, however her foul-line jumper swished with five-tenths of a second left. The Fever evened the sequence and went on to win Sport 3 at Connecticut after which upset the defending champion Minnesota Lynx, the workforce with the league’s finest file, within the WNBA Finals.

If January had hesitated whereas lamenting her missed shot, the ball doubtless would have gone out of bounds to Connecticut with simply over 4 seconds left, giving the Solar an opportunity to win and shut out the sequence. Who is aware of what might need occurred if the sport had gone to extra time. As a substitute, the Fever acquired an emotional win and rode that wave to their title, even overcoming Douglas’ damage in Sport 3 at Connecticut that stored her from competing within the Finals.

January averaged 10.3 factors and three.9 assists that 2012 common season, and 11.5 and three.8 within the playoffs. However protection has been much more her calling card: She’s a five-time WNBA all-defensive first-team honoree, together with 2012 and final 12 months, and has twice been named to the second workforce.

January made two different WNBA Finals appearances with the Fever, in 2009 and 2015. She spent 2018 and ’19 with the Phoenix Mercury, 2020 and ’21 with Connecticut and can end her profession with Seattle.

“I was really excited when we were able to get her in free agency,” Storm ahead Breanna Stewart stated. “She’s tough and gritty and just never stops working. Whenever her number is called, she’s ready to fight. And at the same time, she’s such a great leader and has a great presence in the locker room, where she’s always continuing to help others.”

The Storm clinched a playoff spot Saturday, and whereas it’ll be a really aggressive postseason, January and teammate Sue Chook, who can also be retiring, have an opportunity to win one other title. However that 2012 championship and January’s diving play to assist save Indiana’s magical season will at all times be remembered fondly by Fever and WNBA followers.

After that East Sport 2 victory, January summed up the play matter-of-factly: “We’re going to give everything we have. That buzzer hadn’t sounded. You play until that thing goes off.”

It is the way in which January has at all times performed the sport.

Earlier rankings: Preseason | Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8 | Week 9 | Week 10 | Week 11 | Week 12

play

0:15

Chelsea Grey will get fancy with an around-the-back cross that results in a layup for the Aces.

1. Las Vegas Aces
Document: 22-8
Earlier rating: 2

The Commissioner’s Cup championship sport would not rely within the WNBA standings, however the Aces’ 93-83 victory in Chicago in that occasion impacts our Power Rankings. Admittedly, the Aces’ different two wins this week had been at last-place Indiana, however it’s all sufficient to propel them again to No. 1. They scored 93, 93 and 94 factors of their video games. However they’re going through a difficult week of contests requiring coast-to-coast journey, the outcomes of which may go fairly a methods in figuring out which workforce finally ends up with the league’s finest file. For now, it is nonetheless Chicago.

This week: at Washington (Tuesday), at Dallas (Thursday), at Seattle (Sunday)


play

0:27

Courtney Vandersloot makes a fantastic feed to Allie Quigley for the bucket because the Sky defeat the Solar 95-92 in extra time.

2. Chicago Sky
Document: 23-7
Earlier rating: 1

The Sky acquired guard Courtney Vandersloot again after lacking 4 video games with concussion signs; she returned for the Commissioner’s Cup remaining. Chicago misplaced that sport however adopted with victories towards New York and at Connecticut, each with out Candace Parker, who has been out with a non-COVID-19 sickness. Sunday’s win towards the Solar was significantly gritty. The Sky overcame a technical foul towards coach James Wade with 28 seconds left in regulation that led to a game-tying free throw, they usually went on a 9-0 run to finish the extra time. And whereas the Aces are touring the nation this week, the Sky have three video games at dwelling.

This week: vs. Dallas (Tuesday), vs. Washington (Friday), vs. Connecticut (Sunday)


play

0:34

Courtney Williams makes a fantastic effort to seize the rebound and rating because the Solar tie it with lower than 20 seconds to play.

3. Connecticut Solar
Document: 20-10
Earlier rating: 3

The Solar have performed very nicely because the All-Star Sport, with their solely losses coming to top-two groups Las Vegas and Chicago. The latter got here Sunday in extra time and needed to irritate the Solar, as they seemed to have the higher hand within the additional interval earlier than the Sky’s game-closing run. Connecticut acquired the unlucky information that current signee Bria Hartley is out for the season due to an ACL damage suffered July 24. However this can be a workforce that has proved its resilience in regard to accidents.

This week: vs. Phoenix (Tuesday), vs. Phoenix (Thursday), at Chicago (Sunday)


play

0:18

Ariel Atkins pulls up and beats the shot clock for 3.

4. Washington Mystics
Document: 19-12
Earlier rating: 4

Washington cut up with Seattle over the weekend, leaving them each tied within the standings. However the Storm gained the season sequence, in order that they have the tiebreaker. The Mystics acquired a victory at Dallas with out Elena Delle Donne, who did not journey. Then she was capable of play the back-to-back video games Saturday and Sunday towards Seattle, combining for 39 factors — an excellent signal for her and the Mystics.

This week: vs. Las Vegas (Tuesday), at Chicago (Friday), vs. Los Angeles (Sunday)


5. Seattle Storm
Document: 19-12
Earlier rating: 5

With three video games on the East Coast this previous week — at Connecticut and twice at Washington — the Storm had hoped to win no less than two. However the one they acquired — Saturday towards the Mystics — was sufficient to clinch a playoff spot. That was an emotional second for heart Tina Charles, who joined the Storm after leaving Phoenix in late June and has not appeared within the postseason since 2017, when she was with New York. “This is the most prepared team that I’ve ever been on,” Charles stated. “I’m just very thankful I had the opportunity to be with this organization.” Developing Sunday (3 p.m. ET, ABC) is Chook’s remaining regular-season sport at dwelling.

This week: vs. Minnesota (Wednesday), vs. Las Vegas (Sunday)


6. Phoenix Mercury
Document: 13-17
Earlier rating: 6

After having gained three of its final 4, together with towards Los Angeles this previous Thursday, Phoenix seemed just like the “bad Mercury” once more Sunday in an 89-69 loss at New York. It was a tough sport taking pictures for guards Skylar Diggins-Smith, Diana Taurasi and Shey Peddy, who had been a mixed 12-of-40 from the sphere. And with the small-ball model the Mercury should play this season, their kryptonite is taking pictures slumps. However we have realized to not learn an excessive amount of into anyone outcome from Phoenix, which stays put within the Power Rankings this week regardless of that loss.

This week: at Connecticut (Tuesday), at Connecticut (Thursday), vs. New York (Saturday)


play

0:17

Arike Ogunbowale assaults the paint and knocks down a jumper for the Wings.

7. Dallas Wings
Document: 13-16
Earlier rating: 9

The Wings are 3-4 because the All-Star Sport. They aren’t gaining floor, however they are not actually shedding it, both. The very best information of the week was heart Teaira McCowan having her high sport this season in a loss to Washington (27 factors, 11 rebounds), adopted by one other double-double in a win over Atlanta (14 and 14). She was a mixed 15-of-22 from the sphere in these two video games. A giant problem this week: The Wings face the highest two groups within the league two days aside.

This week: at Chicago (Tuesday), vs. Las Vegas (Thursday), vs. Indiana (Saturday)


play

0:20

Brittney Sykes drives to the basket however has her shot shut down by the outstretched arm of Sylvia Fowles inside.

8. Minnesota Lynx
Document: 12-19
Earlier rating: 11

The Lynx had been down however this previous week proved they aren’t out, as they acquired vital wins on the street at Atlanta and Los Angeles. That got here after that they had misplaced 4 of their earlier 5 and noticed their playoff hopes tremendously shrinking. However it’s not over but. Nonetheless, Minnesota has simply 5 video games left — two of them towards Seattle — so there is not a lot time to make up floor.

This week: at Seattle (Wednesday), vs. Atlanta (Sunday)


play

0:48

Brittney Sykes goes on the assault, scoring 9 straight factors to assist the Sparks battle again late within the fourth quarter.

9. Los Angeles Sparks
Document: 12-17
Earlier rating: 7

After a few years of claiming Los Angeles was the place she at all times wished to be, heart Liz Cambage left the Sparks this previous week, not making it by way of a full season. That is perhaps the final we are going to see of her within the WNBA. The No. 2 choose in 2011, Cambage was by no means all that completely happy very lengthy wherever within the league. Regardless of her measurement and abilities, no different workforce would possibly need to cope with the problems of discontentment that appear to encompass her. The Sparks misplaced to Phoenix and Minnesota after Cambage’s exit, they usually now have 4 consecutive video games within the Japanese time zone this week. It is actually sink-or-swim time.

This week: at New York (Tuesday), at New York (Wednesday), at Atlanta (Friday), at Washington (Sunday)


play

0:19

The Dream’s Rhyne Howard drains a long-distance 3.

10. Atlanta Dream
Document: 12-18
Earlier rating: 8

The Dream are going within the flawed path on the flawed time, having misplaced 4 in a row. That features falling to Minnesota and Dallas this previous week, with each video games at dwelling. They scored simply 68 factors towards the Wings. A go to from downtrodden Indiana this week — when Atlanta has two extra dwelling video games — may assist, however the Dream cannot overlook anybody now as they attempt to seize a playoff spot. That might be a pleasant method to cap off a powerful rookie marketing campaign from high draft choose Rhyne Howard.

This week: vs. Indiana (Wednesday), vs. Los Angeles (Friday), at Minnesota (Sunday)


11. New York Liberty
Document: 11-18
Earlier rating: 10

The Liberty misplaced at Chicago however then pounded Phoenix at dwelling this previous week, so additionally they stay within the oft-repeated “playoff mix.” Sabrina Ionescu had a Liberty franchise-record 16 assists within the win towards the Mercury, and nobody will likely be shocked if she breaks her personal file (possibly many instances). An fascinating factor in regards to the the rest of their schedule: The Liberty have three back-to-back foes within the Sparks, Wings and Dream, plus one sport towards Phoenix.

This week: vs. Los Angeles (Tuesday), vs. Los Angeles (Wednesday), at Phoenix (Saturday)


12. Indiana Fever
Document: 5-27
Earlier rating: 12

The Fever’s shedding streak is now at 14 after two losses to the Aces, however a merciful finish to the season is in sight with simply 4 video games left. Guard Kelsey Mitchell has had an excellent 12 months, averaging a career-best 18.4 factors. However she is completed for the season with a plantar fascia tear in her left foot. Hopefully she is wholesome for 2023, when the Fever is perhaps including a No. 1 draft choose.

This week: at Atlanta (Wednesday), at Dallas (Saturday)