Perfect Week Lifts Mercury in WNBA Power Rankings

For much of this season, the Phoenix Mercury hasn’t quite been able to find its rhythm and fire on all cylinders.

But despite still sitting under the .500 mark at 12-14, the team’s recent play has many believing its loaded roster, which features six Olympians, might be coming into form at the right time.

The Mercury, which entered the season as one of the title favorites, has won four out of its last five games, including its first two tilts following the Olympic break versus the Dallas Wings and the 21-5 Los Angeles Sparks. Phoenix’s only loss in that span came against the Chicago Sky via a buzzer-beater on July 19.

In this week’s power rankings, released by the WNBA and The Associated Press, the Mercury received some strong praise for its resurgence. Here’s what each wrote about Phoenix, which came in at No. 6 in both polls:

Brian Martin of “There’s always a question about how players will return from the Olympic break, whether they were participating in the Games or using the five-week break to heal up and work on their game. For Diana Taurasi, who led the USA in scoring (15.6 ppg) and set three-point shooting records en route to her fourth gold medal, she’s come back to the WNBA on fire. Take a look at her numbers in the final two games before the break compared to the two the Mercury have played since the season resumed: Before Break: 8-30 (26.7%) FG, 6-18 (33.3%) 3FG, 31 PTS (15.5 PPG). After Break: 14-25 (56.0%) FG, 7-15 (46.7%) 3FG, 39 PTS (19.5 PPG).”

Staff of The Associated Press: “The Mercury are finally looking like the team that was predicted to win the WNBA crown this season. The Mercury will try and continue their rise in the standings as they visit the Liberty on Saturday.”

With eight regular season games still to be played, the Mercury is in seventh place in the WNBA standings, two games ahead of the eighth and final playoff position. Phoenix is just 1.5 games out of fourth place, which represents the final spot that earns a bye into the second round of the postseason.