With just one week left of the 2022 WNBA regular season, here’s an idea of who will make it, who won’t, and who could make the WNBA playoffs this year.
Don’t blink or you could miss the end of the WNBA season.
That’s right. Just a little over a week until the end of the season. The battle for the playoff spots continues and this week’s Above The Break will see us assessing where each team in the league is in the playoffs now.
Teams that secured a spot in the playoffs
Chicago Sky, Las Vegas Aces, Connecticut Sun, Seattle Storm, Washington Mystics
There are five WNBA teams that have surpassed .500. These are also the five teams that officially decided the playoffs.
There are no real surprises in this set. If you tell me before the season to predict the five teams that will win in 20 games, it will be these teams. Chicago, Las Vegas, Connecticut and Seattle were the league’s wealthiest teams going into this season, with the Mystics able to be Elena Daily’s sanity without engaging her in that conversation. Delle Donne has been healthy (mostly) this season and the Mystics are 20-12 this season. I knew it was a wise decision on my part to bet them 14-1 to win the title.
The Sky is on a two-game losing streak in Vegas and Connecticut, making it look like Sky will finish the season number one.
The team not playing in the qualification
The fever of playoff competition has gone a bit. Officially at least. Unofficially, this team has been out of the running for months.
Indiana lost 15 straight games. The team consists of 5-28 per season. His best player, Kelsey Mitchell, ended the year.
There are many reasons to believe that fever is also on the right track. NaLyssa Smith played it great and Queen Egbo was a surprise. The junior class wasn’t perfect, but it helped this team build from where it was last season. There’s a future here, and it’s something that can’t be said lately. The fever felt stuck in purgatory, but by going outside now they could finally do the rebuilding they had to do for years but never got through because of bad drafts.
The Dallas Wings actually held the six
The Wings can have a really bad week and see their two-game lead for sixth place dwindle, but it seems pretty clear at this point that we’re not going to get every other team in the playoff picture to suddenly close win and threaten. Wing.
Dallas really held out this year. With Sato Sabali out for most of this season, you’d think the wings would have been folded. But the team slowly figured things out. Teaira McCowan is finally starting with beginner minutes, offering multipliers at a ridiculous price. She had 21 points and 16 plates to aces Thursday night as the team went through another game without Eric Ogunpoel. This Wings team succeeded because many of the individual characters know how to play as a team. Alisha Gray and Kayla Thornton are the kind of sticky players every team needs. Veronica Burton adds her name to this year’s long list of influencer startups. The rotation was finally starting to make some sense instead of running all over the place every night. So, unless things get weird, congratulations to the Wings on Six Seeds. Really weird.
The fight of seven and eight
New York Liberty, Atlanta Dream, Phoenix Mercury, Los Angeles Sparks, Minnesota Lynx
Herein lies the drama.
Let’s start at the bottom with Lynx. While the other teams in the losing column are all in each other’s games, Minnesota is the bottom line of the eighth seed. It looks like Minnesota’s poor start will doom the team to a stalemate. I hope to write more about Minnesota’s next move, but be sure to follow this team’s games for the long term as it seems more likely that Sylvia Fowles’ career will end in the regular season rather than the postseason.
Four teams are fighting for the two playoff places.
Liberty now sits in seventh place. They do not face either .500 team for the remainder of the season and have won three straight games despite having two games against the remaining Wards. Sabrina Ionescu has finally become the player Ionesco was expected to be. Han Xu brings some really exciting things from the bench to this team. Sure, there are still consistency issues, but overcoming New York’s 24-8 deficit in the first quarter to beat the Sparks on Wednesday wouldn’t have been possible for this team so early in the season. That they are doing it now is a sign that this team may finally be figuring out how to win ugly games.
Atlanta is now eighth. Dream has dealt with multiple injuries this season. For example, in the last game against Fever, the team needed 23 minutes from Maya Caldwell and 15 from Kia Vaughn. Naz Hillmon is playing over 30 minutes a game, which the team definitely wasn’t planning to do this season, right? But with Ryan Howard, Atlanta continues to find ways to win games. They still have Vegas plus two games to play against Liberty, so getting Sparks and Lynx in the next two games is crucial.
For the two teams sitting outside of the cropped image as of this writing, we have Mercury at 13-19 and Sparks at 12-19. Los Angeles seemed destined to make the playoffs, but a five-game losing streak brings this team down. I initially thought Liz Cambage’s move was addition through subtraction, but last week I looked at some numbers and I was starting to feel a lot more uncertain about it. And it looks like I’m right to be uncomfortable with this team! Cambage had its limitations, but it managed to score easily in the paint and could put off riding at the other end. Now that she’s gone, Sparks looks lost. With the Mystics still alive plus two games against the Sun, Los Angeles will likely be sitting at home when the playoffs begin.
That brings us to Mercury. This season was difficult. After a tough season. Phoenix’s best player Brittney Griner was unfairly jailed in Russia all season, and Mercury tried to do what he could without Griner.
It worked for a bit, but then Tina Charles called for it and Mercury had to play very small with Chea Bede and Sophie Cunningham on the starting lineup. And although these players did some good things offensively early on, the lack of depth and difficult minutes took their toll from the start. The team has now gone under 70 points in three straight games, and while many teams appear to have five games left, Phoenix have just four points left, including the season finale against Chicago. Diamond DeShields are back but Diana Torassi is now injured although she could return for the next game.
In general, the picture of the WNBA playoffs is ambivalent, but is becoming clearer and clearer. New York and Atlanta should have seven and eight ranks, depending on how the teams play. But that’s W: Something strange can always happen that completely changes the picture.