WNBA Player Rankings: Week 1

SECAUCUS, N.J., May 22, 2008 -- Everyone knew Candace Parker would eventually be a star in the WNBA. I, for one, thought it would take more than three minutes to happen.

I was wrong.

Less than 180 seconds into the Los Angeles Sparks' opening day triumph over the defending champion Mercury in Phoenix, Parker had already notched her first assist (a dish to Lisa Leslie), grabbed her first rebound and converted her first professional and-one.

I was sitting at home watching the game on ABC like all of you fans out there. And it took literally three minutes... and I was sold.

Candace Parker may be the best player in the WNBA. Now.

"Tell me about it!" said Sparks coach Michael Cooper after his squad's win on Saturday. "That's how good she is. She's proven that and now everyone in the world of professional basketball, men's and women's, knows this young lady can play."

"When you have a 6'5" player who can do a lot," said Diana Taurasi, "that makes it really difficult on the other team."

Diana: Queen of understatement.

Line of the Week
Candace Parker (Sparks)
May 17 win vs. Mercury
34 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists
No, Parker probably won't average 34, 12 and 8 throughout her rookie season. (Though -- interesting stat alert -- one game into her pro career, she does temporarily own the all-time WNBA records in scoring, rebounding and assists per game.) There are games in which she'll likely take a backseat to Leslie. It's entirely possible that she'll be affected by injury, like she was by her infamous separated shoulder during this spring's Final Four.

But against the Mercury, even with legendary teammate Leslie on the court, she certainly seemed like L.A.'s most dangerous player. Of course, one game does not a season make. But if Parker remains the Sparks' No. 1 option and the team runs away with the best record in the West, a case can certainly be made for Parker not only as the Rookie of the Year, but as the WNBA's Most Valuable Player.

Now here are the player rankings for the season through May 21.

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  • Race to the MVP - Overall Player Rankings

    1. Candace Parker, Los Angeles Sparks
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    34.0 12.0 8.0 2.0 1.0 .632 .500
  • Through one game, Parker not only leads the league in scoring, rebounding and assists per game, but she holds the WNBA records in all three categories... all-time. Just what will she have to do in Game 2 to get noticed?

  • 2. Katie Douglas, Indiana Fever
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    25.0 6.0 3.0 2.0 0.0 .556 1.000
  • Aside from Parker going to L.A. in the draft, Douglas' trade from Connecticut to Indiana will likely go down as this winter's biggest move. Douglas is a defensive stopper who can score when she's called upon. With Tamika Catchings' return date still in question, she'll be the difference maker for the Fever.

  • 3. Sophia Young, San Antonio Silver Stars
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    23.5 5.5 0.5 2.5 0.0 .559 .900
  • This third-year forward has been simply studly for the Silver Stars through two games. She'll continue to benefit not only from playing with Becky Hammon and Ruth Riley, but from the addition of Ann Wauters down low.

  • 4. Cappie Pondexter, Phoenix Mercury
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    27.5 3.5 5.5 0.5 0.0 .413 .800
  • This WNBA.com blogger has the heart to take control in crunch time and the game to lead the league in scoring. And without Penny Taylor in the lineup for the Merc this season, the MVP of the 2007 Finals may do just that.

  • 5. Tamika Whitmore, Connecticut Sun
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    19.5 6.0 1.5 0.5 0.0 .412 .857
  • This rough-and-tumble post player has been lighting up the scoreboard since her trade to the Sun. On a solid, young team without a ton of offensive firepower, Miko has played the veteran scorer's role to a T.

  • 6. Sue Bird, Seattle Storm
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    15.0 3.0 6.0 1.5 0.5 .429 1.000
  • Though she's better known as a point guard and the provider to reigning MVP Lauren Jackson, Bird has been the Storm's most consistent and reliable player in their two early wins.

  • 7. Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    22.0 3.5 4.0 2.0 0.5 .405 .833
  • Like her teammate Pondexter, Taurasi's numbers will be gaudier without Penny Taylor in the lineup. And once she gets used to her new teammates in Phoenix, and the Mercury start to win some games, Diana will be moving up in the ranks.

  • 8. Lisa Leslie, Los Angeles Sparks
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    17.0 12.0 2.0 4.0 4.0 .412 1.000
  • It didn't look like Leslie had taken a full year off, but it will take some time to get back to full speed and comfort. She'll have to share touches with Parker, which could hurt her case for MVP. But that's a trade she'll be willing to make because the Sparks are going to win a lot of games in 2008.

  • 9. Plenette Pierson , Detroit Shock
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    17.3 3.7 1.7 1.0 1.0 .590 .857
  • Yes, she's surrounded by dynamic players like Cheryl Ford, Deanna Nolan and Katie Smith below, but coming off the bench and putting up numbers like this means your role is more than simply coming off the bench.

  • 10. Lauren Jackson, Seattle Storm
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    15.5 4.5 0.5 2.0 1.5 .375 1.000
  • Despite her very solid numbers and Seattle's 2-0 record, Jackson has been off since arriving Stateside from Russia, where she, Taurasi, Bird and Tina Thompson won the EuroLeague and Russian titles. Imagine her stats when she catches fire.
  • On the Outside Looking In (season averages - last week's rank)
    11. Lindsay Whalen (Connecticut): 13.5 PPG, 8.0 APG, 4.0 RPG (NA)
    12. Asjha Jones (Connecticut): 17.0 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 2.0 APG (NA)
    13. Rebekkah Brunson (Sacramento): 12.5 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 1.5 BPG (NA)
    14. Katie Smith (Detroit): 14.3 PPG, 4.3 APG, 1.3 RPG (NA)
    15. Charde Houston (Minnesota): 21.0 PPG, 1.0 RPG, 1.0 APG (NA)
    More »

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