WNBA Player Rankings: Week 3

"I just looked in the mirror
And things ain't looking so good
I'm looking California
And feeling Minnesota"
-- Soundgarden, 'Outshined'

SECAUCUS, N.J., June 5 -- The implication is that California is shiny, beautiful and new. While Minnesota is… well… less shiny, less beautiful and less new. Don't even get me started on the accents.

Sure, it's always nice to look "California." Even in WNBA circles, the Los Angeles Sparks are 4-1 and have several shiny, new additions to their lineup in Candace Parker, Lisa Leslie and DeLisha Milton-Jones (see below).

And with coach Don Zierden leading the Lynx to a 10-24 mark last season in his first year at the helm and point guard Lindsey Harding suffering a preseason stress fracture on her knee, well… "things ain't looking so good."

But with the Lynx' 5-0 start to 2008, feeling Minnesota has never felt so good.

There has been a ton of hype surrounding Minnesota's remarkable draft back in April. The one where they got Stanford star Candice Wiggins with the third pick overall, Tennessee post Nicky Anosike in the second round and UConn's Charde Houston in the third.

And the hype is well deserved. Wiggins is averaging 14.8 points a game off the bench and posted 22 in Tuesday's win over Atlanta. Anosike has been thrust into the starting lineup and is putting up equally impressive numbers (12.4 ppg, 6.2 rpg). And once considered a longshot to even make the Lynx roster, Houston has hit double-digits in scoring in three of Minnesota's five games.

But in this column, we're focused on selecting the Most Valuable Player. And the player in the league right now who is the most valuable to her team is third-year wing Seimone Augustus.

Yes, she was the first pick in the 2006 WNBA Draft out of LSU. Yes, she's been an All-Star in each of her two professional seasons so far and is the all-time per-game scoring leader in WNBA history. And yes, she was one of the nine WNBA players already named to the 2008 U.S. Olympic team.

But there's something different about Augustus this season.

Whether it's her willingness to mark up the opposing team's best player or the big-sister role she's playing for the team's younger stars, it's clear that she's grown in her two-plus seasons as a pro.

It has already led her to great things in the WNBA. It has already led her team to an unbeaten start this year. And it might just lead to an MVP award.

Feeling Minnesota doesn't seem to be so bad after all.

Now here are the player rankings for the season through May 28.

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  • Race to the MVP - Overall Player Rankings

    1. Seimone Augustus, Minnesota Lynx
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    19.8 5.0 2.6 1.4 1.0 .514 .909
  • Last Week's Rank: 8
    She may not have the scoring numbers of some other stars, but she's an Olympian for the first time and the best player on the only remaining unbeaten team in the WNBA. Yes, she has more talent around her than in previous seasons, but between her contributions at both ends of the court and her new leadership role, she deserves serious consideration for this honor.

  • 2. Katie Douglas, Indiana Fever
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    21.4 5.4 3.4 1.6 0.4 .438 .833
  • Last Week's Rank: 1
    Another super-solid week for the offseason's most significant transaction was highlighted by 25 points in the Fever's OT win over the Sparks. A 2-8 shooting game and only nine points against the rival Shock on Saturday are mildly troubling, but she'll bounce back this weekend against the Comets.

  • 3. Candace Parker, Los Angeles Sparks
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    17.8 10.6 5.2 1.6 3.0 .467 .593
  • Last Week's Rank: 3
    CP3 had perhaps the worst game of her professional career in her hometown of Chicago on Tuesday, fouling out before the Sparks finally won in overtime, but she still had 12 points, seven rebounds and three blocks. Her numbers are amazing for a seasoned veteran, much less a rookie, and she's both outscoring and outshooting legendary teammate Lisa Leslie. She's in this race for the long haul.

  • 4. Lindsay Whalen, Connecticut Sun
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    15.5 5.0 6.7 0.8 0.0 .490 .837
  • Last Week's Rank: 6
    Whalen remains the floor general and on-court leader for the surprising 5-1 Sun. Her scoring numbers are well above her career average, but she does so much more than score. She's especially valuable this season with her success in keeping all of the new faces on Mike Thibault's bench involved.

  • 5. Cappie Pondexter, Phoenix Mercury
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    26.0 3.4 4.0 0.8 0.2 .448 .758
  • Last Week's Rank: 4
    This WNBA.com blogger is still leading the league in scoring, and put up 23 points, four assists and three boards as the Mercury notched their first win of the regular season Tuesday over the Mystics. Though her team is clearly missing the talents of Penny Taylor, Cappie's numbers have balooned as a result.

  • 6. Lisa Leslie, Los Angeles Sparks
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    17.0 9.6 1.6 2.4 4.0 .449 .750
  • Last Week's Rank: 5
    Despite turning 36 next month, Leslie is looking as spry as ever. She continues to put up solid numbers on the scoresheet and on the boards and remains one of the league's most impenetrable post defenders.

  • 7. Lauren Jackson, Seattle Storm
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    19.4 6.4 1.3 1.5 1.4 .427 .939
  • Last Week's Rank: 9
    After a relatively slow start, the 2007 MVP is regaining her touch of last season, posting 27 points in Wednesday's loss in Detroit. And despite the talent around her, she's still the player the Storm and coach Brian Agler go to when they need a hoop. She's in as good physical shape as she ever has been and her inside-outside skills are still without peer.

  • 8. Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    22.6 4.2 3.4 2.0 0.8 .426 .774
  • Last Week's Rank: 12
    Shooter. Penetrator off the dribble. Defender. Champion. Scholar. Olympian. Soon-to-be blogger. Diana can do it all. And after lighting up the Mystics for 29 in Phoenix's first win of 2008, things are looking brighter in the Valley of the Sun.

  • 9. Alana Beard, Washington Mystics
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    20.6 2.4 4.2 1.2 1.0 .479 .733
  • Last Week's Rank: 7
    As one of the league's lower profile teams, the Mystics don't get the attention of L.A., Detroit or Phoenix. But every time I watch Alana Beard play, I'm amazed by how dominant she can be at both ends of the court. She lit up the Mercury for 33 points and seven assists on Tuesday and is a perennial All-WNBA Defensive Teamer.

  • 10. Sophia Young, San Antonio Silver Stars
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    19.8 5.2 1.8 2.0 0.4 .538 .763
  • Last Week's Rank: 2
    Young's numbers came back down to earth this past week as the Silver Stars lost in Seattle and Houston. Young also "tweaked her knee" in the loss to the Comets, so keep an eye on her status in the coming days.
  • On the Outside Looking In (season averages - last week's rank)
    11. Tina Thompson (Houston): 16.3 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 2.0 APG (14)
    12. Plenette Pierson (Detroit): 14.3 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 2.1 APG (15)
    13. DeLisha Milton-Jones (Los Angeles): 14.4 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 2.2 APG (NR)
    14. Deanna Nolan (Detroit): 13.1 PPG, 6.0 APG, 2.9 RPG (11)
    15. Taj McWilliams-Franklin (Washington): 14.0 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 1.5 SPG (13)

  • Dropped out: Swin Cash (Seattle)
  • More »

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