THE UNDEFEATED: The Los Angeles Sparks and defending champion Minnesota Lynx are the WNBA’s last unbeaten teams: Both are 4-0 with three road victories. The Sparks’ start, fueled by Candace Parker (20.5 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 4.0 apg, 2.0 spg, 1.5 bpg), is dramatically different from last season’s, when Los Angeles began 0-7 before rallying to make the playoffs. Los Angeles has outscored opponents by a staggering 24.6 points per 100 possessions – a net rating that dwarfs that of every other team except Minnesota, which is outscoring opponents by 16.1 points per 100 possessions. Minnesota forward Maya Moore is the WNBA’s early scoring leader at 25 points per game, including a season-high 34 in Wednesday’s 85-78 win at the Phoenix Mercury. Moore is receiving plenty of support from 2015 Finals MVP Sylvia Fowles, who is averaging 18.5 points and 10.8 rebounds (third in the WNBA) and shooting 65.3 percent from the field (second in the WNBA).
LIVING THE DREAM: Guard Layshia Clarendon hasn’t needed much time to settle in with the Atlanta Dream. Acquired in a trade with the Indiana Fever four days before the start of the regular season, Clarendon is averaging 12.8 points and ranks fifth in the WNBA in field goal percentage (58.6). She scored a career-high 19 points against her former team in a 94-85 loss to the Fever – the Dream’s only defeat in four games. With Clarendon complementing Angel McCoughtry and Tiffany Hayes (16.5 ppg each), the Dream is off to a promising start in its bid to return to the playoffs after a six-year postseason streak was snapped in 2015.
HOT WINGS: In their inaugural season in Texas, the Dallas Wings are 3-1 with wins over the Fever, Washington Mystics and San Antonio Stars. While 2014 WNBA All-Star Skylar Diggins works her way back from last season’s knee injury (she played 12 minutes in her season debut Saturday), the Wings are receiving key contributions from a host of players. Guard Odyssey Sims, a Dallas-area native, leads the team in scoring (18.3 ppg); the starting frontcourt of Courtney Paris (9.5 ppg, 11.3 rpg) Karima Christmas (12.5 ppg, 6.8 rpg) and Plenette Pierson (9.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg) has been productive; and rookie forward Aerial Powers is proving to be a nice addition (9.5 ppg). NBA TV’s next telecast features two 3-1 teams as the Wings play host to the Dream on Friday, May 27 at 8:30 p.m. ET.
What to watch for around the WNBA over the next week (all times Eastern):
Thursday, May 26: Candace Parker and the Los Angeles Sparks look to improve to 5-0 when they visit the Connecticut Sun at 7 p.m. on WNBA LEAGUE PASS.
Friday, May 27: In their first meeting since last year’s riveting WNBA Finals, the defending champion Minnesota Lynx face the Fever at Target Center (8 p.m., WNBA LEAGUE PASS).
Saturday, May 28: Former UConn teammates reunite when rookies Breanna Stewart of the Seattle Storm (No. 1 pick) and Morgan Tuck of the Connecticut Sun (No. 3 pick) face off in Seattle (10 p.m., WNBA LEAGUE PASS).
Sunday, May 29: Indiana forward Tamika Catchings’ Legacy Tour tips off in Atlanta in a game against the Dream at 3 p.m. on NBA TV.
Tuesday, May 31: ESPN2 has reigning WNBA Players of the Week Maya Moore of Minnesota and Tina Charles of the Liberty leading their respective teams at Madison Square Garden (8 p.m.).
Wednesday, June 1: Elena Delle Donne and the Chicago Sky visit the Washington Mystics (7 p.m.on WNBA LEAGUE PASS), while the Fever meets the Storm in Indiana (7 p.m. on WNBA LEAGUE PASS).
Cosmopolitan.com spoke with Sky rookie center Imani Boyette about overcoming depression and followed her on draft day for this new video.
Reigning WNBA Rookie of the Year presented by Samsung Jewell Loyd of Seattle scored a career-high 30 points in a recent win over the Mercury and is averaging 21.3 points (tied for fourth in the WNBA) in three games.
Tamika Catchings (1,425) has passed Shannon Johnson for sixth place on the WNBA’s career assists list. The Fever star is also the WNBA’s second-leading scorer and rebounder of all time.
Indiana entered the season without ever having seven double-figure scorers in a game, but the Fever accomplished this feat in back-to-back games last week. Rookie guard Tiffany Mitchell is the team’s leading scorer at 13.3 points per game.
New York’s Tina Charles finished with 29 points, 10 rebounds, seven steals and six assists inTuesday’s 85-79 overtime loss to the Dream. Charles became the first player to reach each of those four totals in a game since Brandy Reed in 2000.
With 323 career blocked shots, Mercury center Brittney Griner has tied Yolanda Griffith for 15th place on the WNBA’s all-time list. Griner has cracked the top 15 in only 91 career games, averaging a WNBA-record 3.5 blocks.
Breanna Stewart has had an eventful start to her WNBA career, averaging 17.0 points (11th in the league) and 10.7 rebounds (fourth in the league) and taking her turn defending the likes of Candace Parker, Sylvia Fowles and Brittney Griner. For more on Stewart’s rookie season, check out the first episode of The Cycle’s behind-the-scenes video series.
The Stars announced that they will retire Becky Hammon’s No. 25 jersey on Saturday, June 25when they play host to the Dream. Hammon, now an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs, played eight seasons with the Stars and ranks as the franchise’s all-time assists leader.
Tara Sullivan, The Record: “Twenty years later, they’re still here. Bigger and better than ever, the WNBA is using the entire 2016 season to celebrate its roots, to remember a time when no one was sure the league would last, when no one knew if a woman could dunk, when no one could guarantee the fans would show up, when all of that seemed possible — but none of it guaranteed.”
Nneka Ogwumike, Sparks forward: “I really feel like the chemistry has been established That doesn’t mean we’re going to just automatically come in and play well on the court, but it means we get better in practice because we understand each other.”
Elena Delle Donne, Sky forward: “I try to be versatile. … It’s something that’s been in league for several years now, starting with Candace [Parker]. You know you always have to give credit to the ones who did it first. And Candace was the one that truly inspired me.”