WNBA MVP Race, Week 9
A look at the top-10 WNBA players gunning for the MVP trophy.
by Christian Mordi/ @mordi_thecomeup
After a month-long hiatus, the WNBA is back. Players have shown much excitement in the first couple games, and there have been plenty of high-scoring affairs this week.
Looking to take their experience from London back to their respective franchises, Candace Parker and Tina Charles have been sensational since the break. Charles has dominated down low and Parker has displayed a smooth inside-out game from the door, showing no ill effects from past injuries.
It will be interesting to see which players take control in the second half of the season, attempting to set the tone for a championship, and locking up the MVP trophy.
1. Candace Parker, L.A. Sparks (Last Week, 1)
The Sparks have continued their winning ways post-Olympics, and that is due to the play of their leader Parker. CP3 has stepped it up on the defensive end since the break, with 2 steals and 4 swats in her last game against the Indiana Fever. Everyone is aware of how versatile Parker’s offensive game is, but we rarely acknowledge how solid a defender she is down low or on the perimeter. Look for the Illinois native to continue to dominate on both sides of the ball as L.A. looks to chase down Minnesota for the top spot in the West.
2. Angel McCoughtry, Atlanta Dream (Last Week, 3)
The Baltimore native continues to fly up the list as her team rises in the standings. AMac has been sensational this season for Atlanta, leading the WNBA in scoring at 22.7 points per game. Angel was used as the key spark off the bench for Team USA, using her defensive prowess to create turnovers and easy fast-break buckets. McCoughtry didn’t leave her defense-first principles in London, posting a chunky stat line of 25 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists and a whopping 5 steals and 2 blocks against Chicago last game. Atlanta looks to continue their trend of peaking at the right time, as they push toward the postseason.
3. Tina Charles, Connecticut Sun (Last Week, 2)
Charles has been solid all year, and a virtual walking double-double since day one. After catching her game last week, I wondered if Charles will take hold of the MVP Race this year. Charles has been a steady hand for the Sun all year, but sometimes steady isn’t enough—Connecticut needs her to dominate. If the Sun look to win their first Playoff series and take the East from the explosive Atlanta Dream, they will need Charles to be unstoppable in the post from this point on.
4. Sophia Young, San Antonio Silver Stars (Last Week,7)
The Silver Stars have been the hottest team in the league with a 12-game winning streak, and one of the main reasons has been Young’s stellar play. The former Lady Bear has been solid on the offensive end, posting a 16 ppg average. Sophia has also shown a willingness to mix it up down low, grabbing 7 boards per contest. Her post-Olympic numbers haven’t been too gaudy, but that is partially due to blowouts against Phoenix and others. Look for the Silver Stars to continue to rise up the rankings, and as a result, Young will rise up the MVP Ranks.
5. Tamika Catchings, Indiana Fever (Last Week, 5)
Catchings has been a steady force for the Fever all year, leading the team in almost every statistical category thus far. The former Lady Vol quietly entered the Olympic break hot offensively, averaging 20.4 in the last five games. Tamika and the Fever look to show that slow and steady will win the race this year as they hold a firm lead on second place in the Eastern Conference. It will be interesting to see if Catchings will heat up again and make that push to win back-to-back MVP trophies.
6. Sue Bird, Seattle Storm (Last Week, 6)
Bird has been a key catalyst for the Storm all year. This year, she has played without her better half, WNBA superstar Lauren Jackson, but the Storm has continued to rage. The floor general has done everything her team asks: rebound, score, drop dimes, take out the trash, change the linens, etc. When the Storm get back Jackson and Tina Thompson next week, I believe they may be the hardest out in the Playoffs.
7. Sylvia Fowles, Chicago Sky (Last Week, 4)
My how the mighty have fallen. A lot of the fault for the Sky’s slip in the standings has not been on Fowles, as the team has been on a downward spiral since Epiphanny Prince went down. Syl has still been a force, averaging 17 points and a league-leading 12 rebounds per game. With Prince back on the floor though, look for the Sky to regain their footing sooner than later. Their first test will be tonight against the Atlanta Dream.
8. Kristi Tolliver, L.A. Sparks (Last Week, 8 )
The league’s best combo guard this season continues her hot play. The former Lady Terp is an X-factor for the Sparks, as she can knock-down shots on the perimeter and attack the rim at will. The most dangerous part of her game is her ability to find people in transition. She has great court vision and is a willing passer, which makes her a handful to guard on the break with a forward like Parker filling the lanes. Tolliver may be one of the most underrated players in the league due to the star power she plays with.
9. Becky Hammon, San Antonio Silver Stars (Last Week, 9)
The re-emergence of Becky Hammon has been great to watch this year. Hammon got off to a slow start, but has been sizzling hot as of late, dropping 20 or more in four of the past 10 games. Against Washington, Hammon was on fire, hitting 5-6 treys, sinking the last one from the White House. Look for Becky and the Silver Stars to attempt to push Minnesota from the top spot in the West.
10. Cappie Pondexter, New York Liberty (Last Week, NR)
The Chicago native has been on fire for the Liberty, pushing her way on to the list. It helps some that her steady play has helped result in victories for New York as they look to muscle their way into the fourth seed in the East. Cappie is a scoring machine, she has dropped 20 or more in seven of the past 10 contests, with a 33-point output against Indiana during that stretch. Cap may have been the biggest snub in regards to not making Team USA. Look for CP to use that as fuel to the fire in the second half of the season, as she shows the world she is one of the best in the league.