From Opening Day, the three-time WNBA MVP has been eclipsed in many minds by
her equally talented rookie teammate. I've jumped on the Candace Parker bandwagon,
myself. (And, frankly, I don't see myself jumping off for the next 12-15 years.)
But it's time to recognize the WNBA's all-time leading scorer and rebounder.
This member of the All-Decade team. This three-time Olympic gold medalist. This
first (and only) player ever to dunk in a WNBA game.
This former Inglewood, Calif., prep player who once scored 101 points in the
first half of a high school game.
Holy cow, it's easy to forget that Leslie is only 12 months removed from having
beautiful little Lauren Jolie Lockwood. She didn't start playing seriously until
the fall when she rejoined the USA Basketball squad.
Last Week's Rank: 6
Despite regularly getting overshadowed by a much-heralded rookie
(see No. 4 below), Leslie is the most steady, reliable player on
the league's best team. She's scoring regularly in double figures
and leads the league in rebounds per game, blocks per game, double-doubles
Last Week's Rank: 2
Whalen may be playing the most valuable role in the WNBA right now,
quarterback for Mike Thibault's newest assembly of mish-mashed
players. But she's coming to play every night and she's the leader
on and off the court for the Eastern Conference's top team.
Last Week's Rank: 1
Augustus and the Lynx have taken a bit of a dip of late, with the
team losing four of its last five and... OK, Augustus hasn't really
taken much of a dip. Her scoring is down from her career average,
but the potential return of Lindsey Harding should only help Minnesota's
Last Week's Rank: 3
Let's take nothing away from this superstar rookie. She is arguably
among the top players in the league and a member of the U.S. Olympic
team. And despite being a vital cog in the Sparks' title-targeting
wagon train, her numbers have decreased a smidge over the last few
Last Week's Rank: 8
Another week, another increase in scoring for the reigning MVP.
The Storm have lost three straight, but the newly named captain
of the Australian Olympic team has been tearing it up at both ends.
Despite all of the preseason press surrounding the Storm, she's
the one player who has consistently lived up to the hype.
Last Week's Rank: 4
Like Parker, Douglas' numbers have dipped a bit of late, but this
rumored U.S. Olympic team possibility has continued to perform for
the 6-4 Fever. Her shooting has been off all season long and the
return of Tamika Catchings to the lineup could hurt her offensive
numbers even further, but her defense -- she is arguably the league's
finest perimeter defender -- means she'll remain a valuable commodity.
Last Week's Rank: 5
The holder of the league's all-time single-season per-game scoring
mark with 25.3 (in 2006) has had two 30-point games this season
and two with 29. But last week, she put up just nine against the
Shock. Despite the Mercury's struggles so far in 2008, Dee has been
big in the games they've won, which lends credence to her value.
Last Week's Rank: 7
If the Mercury can build off of Wednesday's win over Connecticut,
both she and Taurasi could climb in the rankings. But this WNBA.com
blogger is still the league's leading scorer, is deadly from
the outside and off the dribble and is perhaps the WNBA's most dangerous
player with the ball in her hands late in games.
Last Week's Rank: 9
After tweaking her knee a week ago, Young has come back... and so
have the Silver Stars, winning four straight to rise to second place
in the West behind L.A. Becky Hammon had her best game of the season
against Atlanta and Ann Wauters showing the form that brought her
greatness in Europe, but Young has been Dan Hughes' most consistent
player. It's another All-Star caliber season for the third-year
Last Week's Rank: NR
The Shock are 8-3 and one of the better teams in the league, so
there needs to be some Motor City representation on this list, right?
Katie Smith is the most obvious pick. Her shooting percentage is
less than stellar, but the 34-year-old is leading the team in both
minutes and scoring.
the Outside Looking In (season averages - last week's rank)
Last week, Lauren Hill of Mount St. Joseph University courageously took the floor for her first college game, refusing to let an inoperable brain tumor keep her from achieving her dream – and WNBA stars Elena Delle Donne and Tamika Catchings were on hand to lend their support.