by Christian Mordi / @mordi_thecomeup
I sat there shocked at the news that popped across my screen. When the ticker read that MVP candidate Angel McCoughtry was suspended indefinitely, doubt was immediately cast over the Atlanta Dream franchise.
Who will pick up Atlanta’s scoring load? Will they change their style of play? Will the Dream be able to maintain their Playoff spot without their star player?
Thankfully, we wont have to go without AMac, as she cleared things up with Atlanta and is back on the floor. Two more Playoff teams stamped their ticket to the postseason in Connecticut and Indiana. With the end of the season rapidly approaching, it will be interesting to see which players fade and which rise to the occasion when it matters most.
1. Candace Parker, L.A. Sparks (Last Week, 1)
Parker does it all on the court, and at an elite level. CP3 can fill it up and quick. Sure, she’s around her career average in points, but she has been dominant on the boards, flirting with close to a double-double average on the season. The Illinois native has picked up her play on the defensive side of the floor as well, averaging close to 2 steals and 3 blocks per night. It amazes me how she can deliver such gaudy defensive numbers while only giving 2 fouls per night, which is a testament to her athleticism.
2. Tina Charles, Connecticut Sun (Last Week, 3)
Tina is peaking at the right time for the Sun. The NY native has delivered some of her best games against some of the better teams in the league the past week. She dominated against Sylvia Fowles with a 24-point, 14-rebound effort against the Sky and followed that up with a 20 and 10 night against the Silver Stars. Let’s hope Charles can take this momentum into the postseason for her team.
3. Angel McCoughtry, Atlanta Dream (Last Week, 2)
AMac may have missed time, but her game is still razor sharp. In her first game back from suspension, Angel poured 24 points on the Sun, in just 19 minutes of play. Angel is leading the league in scoring and the team lives and dies by her sword, so Atlanta fans will continue to pray she stays hot the rest of the way.
4. Kristi Tolliver, L.A. Sparks (Last Week, 4)
Tolliver stays high in the rankings with her sizzling hot play. The former Lady Terp was the hottest player in the WNBA in the past month, with 19 points or more in the past 10 games. Tolliver combines her smooth jumper with razor-sharp ball handling and X-ray court vision, pushing 5 assists per game. It won’t be long before Kristi is top three in the MVP race.
5. Tamika Catchings, Indiana Fever (Last Week, 5)
The former Lady Vol has carried her success in the Olympics back home to the Fever. Catchings is hot right now, as she has pushed herself into the top five in scoring. Tamika is filling it up across the board as well, averaging close to 8 rebounds. The Fever are one of the hardest teams to beat not only due to their tough defense, but the clutch offensive play of TC.
6. Cappie Pondexter, New York Liberty (Last Week, 9)
The top feels so much better than the bottom, so much better. At one point in the season the Liberty looked doomed, they couldn’t buy a bucket and the defense-first mentality wasn’t working. Kudos to the Liberty for sticking with it this year, as this team has pulled themselves back into the playoff race, currently holding down the 4-seed. A large part of the re-emergence of the team has been due to their leader, Cappie Pondexter. The combo guard has been unstoppable as of late, attacking the rim with reckless abandon each possession. Cappie is starting to play a little point during some parts of the game, freeing up Leilani Mitchell, so look for her assists to go up as well.
7. Sue Bird, Seattle Storm (Last Week, 6)
There have been many ups and downs and players rotating in and out for the Storm, but there has only been one steady force: Sue Bird. Bird can kill you by picking your defense apart or lighting you up from downtown. The Storm will have all chips riding on their point to lead them to the promised land this year.
8. Sophia Young, San Antonio Silver Stars (Last Week, 8 )
The former Lady Bear has started to heat again and the timing couldn’t be better for the Silver Stars. The small forward went on a tear last game with 32 points and 8 rebounds against the Mercury, showcasing her crafty ball handling and smooth mid-range game.
9. Sylvia Fowles, Chicago Sky (Last Week, 7)
The Sky are falling in the standings and for the first time, this has an affect on Fowles’ ranking in the MVP race. Reason being, Fowles has been unreliable of late, losing grip on the rebounding title in the process. Let’s hope her 14-point, 9-rebound game against the Sparks is a step in the right direction.
10. DeWanna Bonner, Phoenix Mercury (Last Week, NR)
Last week, SLAMonline ran a Q+A with the rising star, and here again I will shoot praises for Bonner’s game. The clever wing has filled in nicely for Diana Taurasi and currently sits as the second leading scorer in the WNBA. Bonner isn’t just an offensive-minded player though—she loves to mix it up, getting dirty in the paint and fighting for boards. Last game, Bonner scored 24 points, but also contributed 9 rebounds. Look for Bonner to make a push for All-WNBA this year.