The WNBA is back! The league made a powerful statement about social justice by honoring Breonna Taylor, and some teams made statements with strong starts to this season in Bradenton, Florida. No. 1 draft pick Sabrina Ionescu of the New York Liberty was one of several rookies who made their pro debuts, but none was better than No. 4 selection Chennedy Carter of the Atlanta Dream.
The league also welcomed back players such as Breanna Stewart, Sue Bird, Angel McCoughtry and Skylar Diggins-Smith, who were out last season, and there were some big individual performances from players who previously haven't been in the spotlight.
After opening weekend, here are the Power Rankings.
They might have let the Liberty hang around in the opener a little longer than most expected, but we'll credit New York for that. The Storm will look sharper, but their performance was OK for getting the season off the ground. Breanna Stewart returned in great form after missing last year, and depth is going to be a big strength for the Storm.
We expected them to be good, but they looked really good in beating Phoenix 99-76 on Saturday. Nneka Ogwumike and Seimone Augustus were a combined 14-for-14 from the floor, and the Sparks shot 55.9% overall. Defensively, they limited Brittney Griner to eight points. The Sparks are always watched to see if their chemistry is good; it was.
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The defending champs are missing a lot of big names this season, but it didn't matter in a 101-76 thumping of Indiana. The Mystics shot 55.9% from the floor, and third-year pro Myisha Hines-Allen had her best game, with 27 points and 10 rebounds. Washington got 29 points off the bench, and Alaina Coates had nine rebounds.
Beating the Aces, who broke the Sky's hearts in last year's second-round playoff game, was a good way for Chicago to start. That it came on a late Allie Quigley 3-pointer made it better. On a day when Diamond DeShields was dealing with a sore knee, her replacement as starter, Kahleah Copper, had 18 points. Courtney Vandersloot had 11 assists.
The Lynx trailed the Sun 57-50 going into the fourth quarter, and then it was UConn time. Former Huskies teammates Napheesa Collier and Crystal Dangerfield combined for 16 points as the Lynx outscored the Sun 27-12 for the victory. Sylvia Fowles had 17 points and 18 rebounds, and she'll need to keep being that stalwart inside.
After a difficult 2019 in which the Dream won just eight games and had the lowest-scoring offense, Atlanta busted out with 105 points on opening weekend. Third-year pro Monique Billings had a career-high 30 points, and Chennedy Carter had the top rookie debut, with 18 points and eight assists. It was a great start, and the Dream are still waiting to add Courtney Williams, Glory Johnson and Kalani Brown.
Angel McCoughtry had 25 points in her Aces debut, and A'ja Wilson, dealing with an ankle sprain, had 22. However, Vegas was 0-of-5 from behind the arc and lost by two points to a Sky team that made nine 3s. Kayla McBride and Sugar Rodgers should help from long range once they get in better game shape.
The Sun had the upper hand against the Lynx until the game got away in the fourth quarter, when Connecticut appeared more tired than Minnesota. Neither team was good from 3-point range, but the Sun were worse (2-for-19). DeWanna Bonner had 19 points and eight rebounds in her Sun debut, but she was 0-for-6 from behind the arc.
The Mercury trailed by just four at halftime vs. the Sparks, then took a nosedive. They were outscored 30-8 in the third quarter. Skylar Diggins-Smith had a good Mercury debut, with 14 points and six assists, but Diana Taurasi was 1-for-7 from behind arc, despite a team-high 16 points, and Brittney Griner was limited to eight points.
The good news is the Wings scored 95 points vs. Atlanta. The bad news is they gave up 105 points. But this is a very young squad, and the Wings are probably going to have growing pains on defense especially. Rookies Tyasha Harris and Satou Sabally combined for 24 points and nine assists, and Isabelle Harrison and Allisha Gray combined for 37 points.
No, Sabrina Ionescu and the Liberty didn't shoot well in their opener. But considering that this is a seven-rookie team with a first-year head coach and that one of the leaders, Kia Nurse, missed three-quarters of the game because of an ankle sprain, keeping it close against Seattle until the fourth quarter was a positive sign for New York.
Center Teaira McCowan didn't score from the field in playing less than 14 minutes. That also hurt the Fever defensively inside, and Washington took advantage. Kelsey Mitchell led the Indiana offense with 25 points, but the Fever were thoroughly outplayed. No. 3 draft pick Lauren Cox should be able to play fairly soon, which will help.