WNBA Power Rankings: Aces on top ahead of opening night; Liberty, Storm in hot

Preseason games are over, rosters have been finalized and training camp is coming to a close. All of which means that it’s time to start a new WNBA season. The 2024 campaign tips off Tuesday night with a loaded four-game slate that includes the defending champion Las Vegas Aces and No. 1 overall pick Caitlin Clark.

Here’s a look at Tuesday’s full schedule:

  • New York Liberty at Washington Mystics, 7 p.m. ET — WNBA League Pass
  • Indiana Fever at Connecticut Sun, 7:30 p.m. ET — ESPN2
  • Phoenix Mercury at Las Vegas Aces, 10 p.m. ET — ESPN+
  • Minnesota Lynx at Seattle Storm, 10 p.m. ET — ESPN3

Before the games begin, let’s take a look at where each team stands with CBS Sports’ preseason power rankings. As always, these rankings will be updated every Monday throughout the season.

1. Las Vegas Aces

Just ahead of training camp, the Aces took a big hit when Candace Parker decided to retire. While they only ever had her for 18 games at the beginning of last season, she turned the team into a cheat code and was a big reason why they were the overwhelming favorites to win it all again. They remain the best team in the league, but their margin of error is smaller without Parker.

2. New York Liberty

Results don’t matter at this time of year, but the Liberty’s 48-point drubbing at the hands of the Sky was such a shocking, low-effort performance that head coach Sandy Brondello felt compelled to call it out as “embarrassing.” The Liberty remain one of the best and most talented teams in the league, but that was not the way anyone expected their preseason would begin.

3. Seattle Storm

The new-look Storm debuted in the Canada game up in Edmonton, and a few minutes in there was a play where Jewell Loyd came off a pindown, took a pass from Skylar Diggins-Smith, and flipped it back to her new teammate. Diggins-Smith then dribbled off a screen from Nneka Ogwumike and threw a skip pass to Mercedes Russell in the opposite corner. Loyd, meanwhile, had kept on going after giving up the ball, flew into a handoff with Russell and buried a 3-pointer. In short, yes, it appears the Storm will be awesome.

4. Connecticut Sun

The Sun’s preseason was positive, if not all that exciting. They acquired Queen Egbo for some extra frontcourt depth, had a solid tune-up game against the Liberty and welcomed Brionna Jones back to the court for the first time since she tore her Achilles tendon last June. It will take Jones some time to fully get back up to speed, but her return is a welcome boost for the Sun.

5. Phoenix Mercury

There wasn’t much cause for concern when the Mercury ruled Brittney Griner out for their final preseason game with a foot injury, but that changed quickly when she showed up to the game in a walking boot and riding a scooter. The team has not made any official announcement, but it certainly appears she may miss some time in the regular season, which would be a tough break for the new-look Mercury.

6. Minnesota Lynx

The Lynx didn’t get as much attention as the Storm or Mercury for their offseason changes, but they quietly revamped their team. Without putting too much stock into preseason results, the early returns are positive, especially on the offensive end, where Courtney Williams, Alanna Smith and Natisha Hiedeman give them a ton of versatility and spacing around Napheesa Collier.

7. Dallas Wings

The Wings will be without Satou Sabally until after the Olympics due to a shoulder injury, which is disappointing news after her breakout season in 2023. Injuries have played a major role in Sabally’s career, and that trend will unfortunately continue this summer. It will be interesting to see if the Wings are able to hang around the playoff picture until she returns; last season they had a minus-6.6 net rating with her off the floor.

8. Atlanta Dream

Like a few teams around the league, the Dream were dealing with a key injury during training camp. Offseason acquisition Jordin Canada is sidelined with a hand injury, but the team has not provided any further details, so it’s unclear when she may make her season debut. In other news out of Atlanta, it seems that Tina Charles will start in the frontcourt alongside Cheyenne Parker-Tyus.

9. Indiana Fever

As expected, No. 1 overall pick Caitlin Clark was the talk of the league during preseason, and there was so much interest in her debut that they were showing highlights during halftime of NBA playoff games. Perhaps the most interesting on-court aspect of Clark’s first WNBA action was watching her try to find the balance between scoring and playmaking now that she doesn’t have to do literally everything for her team.

10. Los Angeles Sparks

The early indications are that No. 2 overall pick Cameron Brink will start, while No. 4 pick Rickea Jackson will come off the bench. Both had some encouraging moments during the preseason, but it appears Brink will be more impactful early on, which isn’t much of a surprise given her size and defensive capabilities. This season will be all about their development as the Sparks begin their rebuild.

11. Washington Mystics

Based on the Mystics’ two preseason games, it appears that Karlie Samuelson and Stefanie Dolson have won the two starting spots vacated by Natasha Cloud and Elena Delle Donne. That alone says all you need to know about the step back the Mystics will be taking this season. Acquiring Jade Melbourne from the Storm was a savvy move, as she’s still just 21 and played extremely well in her native Australia during the winter.

12. Chicago Sky

The Sky’s rebuilding project got off to an unfortunate start when No. 3 overall pick Kamilla Cardoso injured her shoulder in the team’s first preseason game. She will be sidelined for four-to-six weeks, which will keep her out of at least 18 games, and perhaps many more. That will be valuable time lost, not only for Cardoso to adapt to the league, but for the team to evaluate how she and No. 7 pick Angel Reese fit together.

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