A'ja Wilson didn't have much time to celebrate her 24th birthday on Saturday at the WNBA bubble in Bradenton, Florida. There was too much basketball to play and too much rest to get. But she helped make it a great weekend for the Las Vegas Aces, scoring 26 and 31 points in victories on Friday and Sunday.
In all, Las Vegas won three times this past week, and Wilson -- a 6-foot-5 forward who was the 2018 Rookie of the Year -- is making an early case for 2020 MVP. Through seven games, she's averaging a league-best 22.3 points and is tied for fourth in rebounding at 8.9.
Wilson and veteran guard/forward Angel McCoughtry, who is in her first season with the Aces, have clicked well. McCoughtry is averaging 14.6 PPG and is capable of impacting games in a lot of ways, including with her defense.
The No. 1 spot in the Week 3 Power Rankings didn't change, but Las Vegas made a big climb -- while the Washington Mystics had a big fall.
Veteran point guard Sue Bird has missed four games in a row with a bone bruise in her knee, but it hasn't slowed down the Storm. They had victories over Connecticut, Atlanta and Phoenix this past week, and Breanna Stewart (19.4 PPG, 8.3 RPG) is playing at an MVP level again.
With Bird out, the bulk of responsibility at point guard goes to Jordin Canada, who carried that all last season when Bird didn't play. Canada has scored in double figures in three of the four games that Bird has missed, and is coming off a 10-assist game vs. the Mercury. The Storm will face Chicago in an intriguing game Monday (ESPN2, 9 p.m.).
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The Aces made the biggest jump with their three victories. Sure, one of them was a 78-76 scramble Sunday against the Liberty, but Las Vegas still got the clutch winning shot late from Wilson.
The Aces are thrilled with what they are getting from Wilson and McCoughtry. But coach Bill Laimbeer also thinks guard Jackie Young, 2019's No. 1 pick who is in her second season, is making a breakthrough. She's coming off the bench because Laimbeer thinks that works best for now for Las Vegas, and she just had back-to-back 15-point games.
"Her greatest forte will be to get in that lane and raise on people and make shots," Laimbeer said of the 6-foot Young.
The Sky had a frustrating loss to Phoenix on Thursday in which they felt the officiating didn't go their way. But they bounced back Saturday with their highest point total of the season in a 100-93 win over Connecticut, as veteran guard Allie Quigley scored a season-high 22 points.
Five Sky players are averaging in double figures, and another is at 9.9 PPG. But Diamond DeShields, who was Chicago's leading scorer last season, has been slowed by injury this year. Still, she's at 7.9 PPG, so this is a deep Chicago squad that is clicking pretty well in the second year under coach James Wade.
Candace Parker has said from the start of this season that the bubble would be good for her because there's no travel. At 34, she's responding well to that, and she was one assist short of her second career triple-double in a victory over Minnesota on Sunday. Parker is averaging a double-double (14.1 PPG, 10.3 RPG, both team highs) and also is at 3.7 assists per game.
The Sparks are looking for some consistency; they've alternated wins and losses over their seven games so far. They'll look to put together back-to-back victories when they face New York on Tuesday.
Center Sylvia Fowles (calf) missed two games this past week. The Lynx were able to beat the Liberty handily without her on Wednesday. She returned to the lineup in a win over the Fever on Friday. But then Minnesota struggled to defend against Los Angeles in a loss to the Sparks on Sunday that Fowles also missed. Before this week, Fowles had not missed a game since joining the Lynx in July 2015; they hope she won't be out much longer.
There was good news for the Lynx, though, in the way guards Lexie Brown and Crystal Dangerfield and forward Bridget Carleton have played. Plus, guard Odyssey Sims, who gave birth in April, has been activated and might be able to play this week.
Everyone held their breath Saturday when veteran guard Diana Taurasi pulled up in pain during a drive to the basket in a loss to Seattle. Taurasi was limited to just six games last year with back and hamstring issues. An MRI on her lower back and oblique area revealed no structural damage. She is out for the Mercury's game Monday against Dallas (ESPN2, 7 p.m. ET).
Taurasi had played like her old self in the Mercury's previous four games. Without her and guard Bria Hartley, who is questionable with Achilles soreness, Phoenix will rely even more on center Brittney Griner and guard Skylar Diggins-Smith.
Kelsey Mitchell scored 3,402 points at Ohio State, second in NCAA history only to Kelsey Plum. So we know how much Mitchell can light up the scoreboard. She did well her first two WNBA seasons, averaging 12.7 and 13.6 PPG. But this year, she's up to 20.3, which includes Sunday's 29-point performance in a win over Washington.
The Fever also got rookie Lauren Cox, the No. 3 overall pick, on the court for the first time this past week, and she was in the starting lineup Sunday.
The Wings were disappointed to be Connecticut's first victim this season on Thursday, and they got clobbered in the process (91-68). But Dallas got a victory over Atlanta to end the week on a high note. Guard Arike Ogunbowale had 24 points vs. the Dream. Since the start of the 2019 season, she has had more games of 20 or more points (22) than any other player in the league except Brittney Griner.
This week, the Wings have a chance to play Phoenix without Diana Taurasi and then try to avenge their loss to the Sun.
After a 3-1 start, the defending champions are beginning to look more like a team that is without four of its starters from last season. They've now lost four in a row, with the worst of those defeats coming Friday against previously winless New York. The Mystics scored just 66 points in that game, their lowest total this season. They dropped six spots this week.
Coach Mike Thibault has said Washington isn't as good as the Mystics' start indicated but also not as bad as this slump might make it seem. Washington will have to dig deep this week, though, as it faces Minnesota, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
The Liberty finally got a chance to celebrate Friday, as they became the last team to win a game this season. They almost made it two in a row Sunday vs. Las Vegas, but that one got away. Still, the Liberty have played well these past two games after a heart-to-heart meeting following a blowout loss to Minnesota on Wednesday.
The team is adding guard Paris Kea to the roster, and No. 1 pick Sabrina Ionescu went to see an ankle and foot specialist in New York on Wednesday. Veterans Layshia Clarendon, Amanda Zahui B. and Kia Nurse are stepping forward and trying to make the most they can out of this season.
The Sun were the second-to-last team to get a victory, a dominant 91-68 win against Dallas on Thursday. Connecticut followed that up Saturday by again scoring in the 90s -- but the Sun gave up 100 points to the Sky.
DeWanna Bonner, in her first season with the Sun, is averaging 19.7 points. Alyssa Thomas and Jasmine Thomas are doing about what they did last year in making the WNBA Finals, and Brionna Jones is having her best season. So far though, that's all not quite enough for the Sun.
The Dream have lost four in a row, but Chennedy Carter is positioning herself well for Rookie of the Year. Thursday, she became the youngest player (21 years, 266 days) to score 30 or more points in a WNBA game.
Atlanta does have some talent, but the Dream are still figuring out who they really are. Trying to stay positive even when results aren't going their way is one of the biggest keys for them.