WNBA MVP Race
A look at the top-10 WNBA players gunning for the MVP trophy.
by Christian Mordi / @mordi_thecomeup
It’s only two weeks into the season, but the action and intensity have been amazing thus far in the WNBA. Many star players have come into the season in great shape and ready to compete for the MVP and a championship.
Last year’s MVP, Tamika Catchings, will not easily relinquish her crown as the league’s top player, but there’s a host of players making serious bids to dethrone her. Each week SLAMonline will bring you the latest MVP rankings, based on players’ 2012 performance. The Sparks’ Candace Parker is finally healthy and sits atop the rankings at this early point in the season.
1. Candace Parker, L.A. Sparks
The Illinois native has been sensational, leading her team out the gates with a 4-1 record. When healthy, Parker is one of the toughest players in the league to guard. Standing at 6-4, Candace combines size with smooth ball handling, excellent court vision and range on her jumper. What has Parker atop the list are the little things she is doing at an elite level, averaging 9 rebounds and close to 2 steals and 3 blocks per game. The Sparks will go as far as Candace takes them.
2. Sylvia Fowles, Chicago Sky
The 2011 Defensive Player of the Year is looking to add a new piece of hardware to her trophy case this year: the 2012 WNBA MVP Trophy. Fowles has been unstoppable offensively to start the season, averaging 21 points and shooting close to 65 percent from the field. Fowles has been dominant on the boards as well, leading the league in rebounding at 13.8 per game. Fowles has had a huge impact on the offensive boards as well, siting close to 5 per game. So don’t worry Sky fans, if a teammate misses a shot, Fowles is there to pick up the pieces.
3. Tamika Catchings, Indiana Fever
The reigning league MVP logs in at the No. 3 spot on the list. The Fever have been impressive out the gates, and a lot of the credit should go to Catchings. Like a true MVP candidate, Tamika has been been steady against lower competition like the Liberty and has helped her team seal victories against title contenders like Atlanta and Chicago. The former Lady Vol has been solid in the early goings with averages of 19 points and 6 rebounds, but not dominant, and that’s why she sits at No. 3.
4. Tina Charles, Connecticut Sun
The NY native has been a walking double-double to start the season averaging 22 points and 10 rebounds. Her consistent play has helped the Sun come out the gates hot at 4-1. The only issue is, can Charles, a young player, continue to be as dominant against the top tier of the league as she has been early on against teams like Washington and the Liberty? Charles will be put to the test this week with matchups against Indiana and Atlanta.
5. Seimone Augustus, Minnesota Lynx
The Lynx are the defending champs and are riding a 13-game winning streak due in part to their veteran leader Augustus. The LSU alumna has been solid from the start, averaging 18 points, while shooting over 50 percent from the field. It can be argued that Seimone could drop more buckets if she wasn’t paired with her partner in crime Maya Moore, but Augustus has her eyes set on one thing only: another ring.
6. Angel McCoughtry, Atlanta Dream
The Dream have been slow out the gates, but they have faced tough competition thus far. With this team’s run-and-gun style of play, they will get better as the season goes along. McCoughtry has been a quiet storm due to the losses early on. With averages of 22 points, 4 rebounds with 3 steals and close to 2 blocks per night, she could easily be top three on the list if Atlanta had more than two wins at this point. The Dream are a good team, so look for the team to find its footing and Angel to step into the forefront of MVP talks.
7. Epiphanny Prince, Chicago Sky
The league’s budding star at this point in the season has been Prince. Epiphanny has been on cloud nine for the Sky, shooting over 50 percent from the field and behind the arc. Prince has is currently leading the league in scoring, which is even more impressive seeing as how she plays alongside another 20 ppg scorer in Sylvia Fowles. Prince is not just an offensive threat, she locks people up on defense as well, and is top five in steals at close to 3 per game.
8. Candace Dupree, Phoenix Mercury
The former Temple Owl has stepped up to the plate this year for the Mercury, and took on a greater leadership role on the team. With Diana Taurasi out indefinitely with a hip injury, look for Dupree to build upon her already nice stat line of 19 points and 6 rebounds per contest. The up-tempo system of the Mercury allows Dupree to get plenty of easy looks in transition, which explains the 58 percent field-goal percentage. Look for Candace to showcase her skills over the next couple of weeks, which will build her confidence and help the Mercury in their long-term goal of winning the chip.
9. Kristi Tolliver, L.A. Sparks
Tolliver has been a pleasant surprise for the L.A. Sparks this year. She is top five in scoring at 20 points, while still dishing out 5 assists and grabbing 4 boards. Time will tell if Kristi can keep it up, as teams now have the crafty guard on their radar. To her advantage, there is only so much teams will be able to do with her though, due to the star power she is surrounded with.
10. Becky Hammon, San Antonio Silver Stars
Becky Hammon, for many years, has been one of the most underrated players in the WNBA. Becky is the heartbeat of the Silver Stars, and the team will go as far as she takes it. Hammon has been solid thus far in the season, averaging 17 and 5 assists. Hammon has also been dead-on from the field, shooting over 50 percent from behind the arc.