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    WNBA Power Rankings: Aces still No. 1, Sparks fall to No. 11 via five-game losing streak
    • July 10, 2023

    The Sparks season has been described as “uncanny” by head coach Curt Miller when asked about the team’s recent rash of injuries and illnesses.

    However, the Sparks have one more opportunity to break their now five-game losing streak before the WNBA All-Star break, which will mark the halfway point of the 2023 season.

    The Sparks (7-12) will host the Las Vegas Aces (17-2) at Arena on Wednesday at 7 PT.

    Dearica Hamby (ankle), Karlie Samuelson (foot), Nia Clouden (knee), Lexie Brown (non-COVID illness), Chiney Ogwumike (foot), and Layshia Clarendon (foot) are all currently sidelined, with Hamby and Samuelson’s injuries being the most recent.

    The current number of healthy Sparks is seven; Jordin Canada, Jasmine Thomas, Azurá Stevens, Nneka Ogwumike, Zia Cooke, Destanni Henderson, and Rae Burrell. Henderson and Burrell are currently on temporary emergency hardship contracts with the Sparks, granted by the league when it was deemed that they did not have enough healthy players to safely play games.

    That’s not to mention Katie Lou Samuelson (pregnancy) and Steph Talbot (ACL) who were already slated to miss the entire season before training camp in May.

    Despite all that adversity, the Sparks are ninth in the WNBA standings, one spot outside playoff contention but have dropped two slots below that in the latest WNBA power rankings.

    The rankings (and records through Monday, July 10):

    1. Las Vegas Aces (17-2): Kelsey Plum’s 40-point performance in 31 minutes at Minnesota on Sunday, is the latest reason why the Aces are the team to beat in the WNBA. Las Vegas is led by All-Star captain, two-time MVP, and DPOY A’ja Wilson, who alongside All-Star guards Chelsea Gray, Jackie Young and Plum, give the Aces a dynamic core group of players. However, you know Las Vegas is the quintessential definition of a ‘superteam’, when two-time MVP, DPOY, and future Hall of Famer Candace Parker is the team’s fifth option and the lone starter to not make the 2023 All-Star team.

    Previous: 1

    2. New York Liberty (13-4): The Liberty are led by All-Star captain Breanna Stewart, who averaging a career-high 23.4 points and 9.8 rebounds per game this season. The Liberty are 8-2 in their last 10 games, vaulting over Connecticut after an 89-81 win on June 27. However, New York still has work to do in chasing a WNBA title, after their borderline blowout 98-91 loss at Las Vegas on June 29.

    Previous: 3

    3. Connecticut Sun (14-5): The Sun are 7-3 in their last 10 games but dropped to No. 3 because of their 89-81 loss to the Liberty on June 27. However, as long as All-Star reserve forwards Alyssa Thomas and DeWanna Bonner are on the court, Connecticut will give every team in the league fits and matchup nightmares.

    Previous: 2

    4. Dallas Wings (10-9): The Wings moved into the top four of this week’s rankings after their thrilling 80-78 win at home against the Las Vegas Aces Friday. Dallas is 5-5 in its last 10 games but any team that beats the Aces is squarely in the conversation to make some noise in the playoffs. Arike Ogunbowale, Satou Sabally and Natasha Howard are all playing like All-Stars.

    Previous: 6

    5. Washington Mystics (10-8): The Mystics had seemingly cemented their position as a top-four team in the league but injuries to Elena Delle Donne, Natasha Cloud, Shakira Austin, and Kristi Tolliver mean Washington could be one of the teams that benefit the most from this weekend’s All-Star break. The Mystics are 5-5 in their last 10 games.

    Previous: 4

    6. Atlanta Dream (10-8): The Dream are 7-3 in their last 10 games, including a five-game winning streak against Mystics, Sparks (twice) and Sky (twice). Dream guard Rhyne Howard is now averaging a team-high 18.7 points per game, despite not being selected as an All-Star reserve alongside her teammates Allisha Gray and Cheyenne Parker.

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    7. Minnesota Lynx (9-10): The Lynx are also 7-3 in their last 10 games but suffered a 113-89 loss at home to the Aces on Sunday. Meanwhile, All-Star forward Napheesa Collier is averaging 21.8 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. Collier is playing at an All-WNBA level as rookie guard Diamond Miller, the No. 2 pick in the 2023 Draft, continues her impressive play adding 12.7 points per game.

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    8. Chicago Sky (8-11): The Sky are in transition after the sudden resignation of general manager/head coach James Wade, who accepted a new position as an assistant coach with the Toronto Raptors. All-Star guard Kahleah Copper is averaging a team-high 17.0 points per game but the Sky are 3-7 in their last 10 games.

    Previous: 9

    9. Indiana Fever (5-14): The Fever are on a seven-game losing streak but six of the seven games have been close losses to the No. 1 Aces, No. 4 Wingsm No. 5 Mystics, No. 7 Lynx, and No. 8 Sky. Despite the losses, Aliyah Boston, Kelsey Mitchell, and NaLyssa Smith have all played at an All-Star level. The Fever are 2-8 in their last 10 games.

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    10. Phoenix Mercury (4-14): Brittney Griner threw down the first dunk of the WNBA season to lead the Mercury to a 78-72 win at home against the Sparks Sunday. The 6-foot-9 Griner finished with a double-double with 29 points and 11 rebounds. That’s the type of tantalizing play that always gives Phoenix a chance. The Mercury are 2-8 in their last 10 games.

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    — Phoenix Mercury (@PhoenixMercury) July 9, 2023

    11. Sparks (7-12): Injuries may be the reason but the fact remains the Sparks are on a five-game losing streak heading into Wednesday’s home game against the No. 1 ranked Aces. The Sparks entered Sunday’s 78-72 loss at Phoenix with eight healthy players and headed back to LA with just seven healthy players after Dearica Hamby’s ankle injury. This weekend’s All-Star break, in which Nneka Ogwumike will be an All-Star starter for the second consecutive season, will be a great time for the Sparks to reset and rest up for the second half of the WNBA’s 40-game regular season. The Sparks are 2-8 in their last 10 games but veteran point guard Jasmine Thomas believes there’s still time to turn around this season.

    Previous: 5

    Sparks PG Jasmine Thomas on her current confidence level after playing her first 11 games with the Sparks after returning to play from a torn ACL injury that she suffered in May 2022. @jaszthomas is encouraged about Sunday’s game at Phoenix and the rest of the 2023 WNBA season.

    — John W. Davis (@johnwdavis) July 8, 2023

    12. Seattle Storm (4-14): The Storm are on a five-game losing streak and All-Star starter Jewell Loyd, who is leading the league at 24.9 points per game, suffered a sprained ankle on Saturday. The return of Storm forward Gabby Williams can’t come soon enough as the team is 2-8 in its last 10 games.

    Previous: 10

    WNBA Power Rankings: Aces are No. 1, Sparks rise to No. 5 after clinching season series against Dallas

    WNBA Power Rankings: Aces are No. 1, Sparks at No. 6 after close losses to Sun, Lynx

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    ​ Orange County Register