WNBA Player Rankings: Week 7

NEW YORK, July 2 -- Her numbers speak to her success: a league-leading 24.9 points per game, top 10 numbers in assists per game, field goal percentage and three-point percentage and three Player of the Week Awards in the month of June alone.

But when it comes to speaking, Diana Taurasi usually likes to do it for herself.

"It's that place called 'the zone,' " the Mercury star says in her new Expect Great ad. "It might be in your mind, but you don't think when you're there. You react… and respond.

"When the pressure's on, so am I. Get me the ball. I live in the zone."

And who would be in position to argue? After Taurasi and the defending champs got off to an 0-4 start, they've rebounded in a major way, going 8-3 since then to reach the fourth playoff spot in the ultra-tight Western Conference.

Despite having to split shots (and potentially MVP votes) with fellow superstar and Olympic teammate Cappie Pondexter, Taurasi's play has stood out.

Whether it's her vital role in Phoenix's "Rover" defense (she's the "Rover"), her durability (while Pondexter sat out Tuesday's win over Atlanta, Taurasi had 28 points in 25 minutes) or simply being one of the most energetic, feisty and vocal players in the WNBA, it's hard not to pay attention to Taurasi.

Despite her individual successes, much of Phoenix's success has been attributed to a change in the offensive play-calling.

"I think he feels … that if he calls too many plays, we don't like to be aggressive," said Taurasi recently of rookie coach Corey Gaines. "So the last two days in practice he emphasized 'get the ball and score; just rebound, run, and score.' "

Line of the Week
Janel McCarville (Liberty)
June 26 3OT win over Fever
31 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals
"Corey has been doing an amazing job," Taurasi continued after Sunday's win in Connecticut. "He got a lot of flack at the beginning when we weren't rolling. He's made some key adjustments and I think that's why we're playing better."

But let's give credit where it's due. In her return to the state where she won three NCAA Championships at UConn, she had a game-high 25 points, five assists, four rebounds and a late technical foul when she got a little too physical with former Huskies teammate Barbara Turner.

"She is successful when the game is made easy for her," said Turner of the three-time WNBA All-Star. "She can get good looks, so if it looked like [we were] going at it, it was just because I was trying to make the game hard for her."

Many have tried so far in 2008. Most have failed.

Her former coach at UConn, Geno Auriemma, may have said it best when gauging his team's chances in the 2004 NCAA Tournament finale: "We have Diana, and you don't."

Not even Diana would argue with that.

Now here are the player rankings for the season through July 1.

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  • Race to the MVP - Overall Player Rankings

    1. Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    24.9 4.3 4.2 1.3 0.8 .486 .413 .865 +23.7
  • Last Week's Rank: 5
    The two-time reigning Western Conference Player of the Week, her (league-leading) scoring and rebounding numbers are down a smidge since last week, but her assists and FG and 3-point percentages are all up. The Mercury have won four in a row and six of their last seven, and Diana has been the catalyst. The consistency, the passion and the limitless ability combine to make her the MVP favorite.

  • 2. Candace Parker, Los Angeles Sparks
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    17.2 9.4 3.9 1.7 2.5 .473 .500 .698 +23.1
  • Last Week's Rank: 1
    Lost in the dunks and the media cloud surrounding Parker since joining the Sparks is been the fact that she's simply a phenomenal all-around basketball player. She ranks among the top 15 in the league in the following stats: points, rebounds (2nd), assists, 3-point percentage, steals, blocks, minutes and efficiency. She has seven double-doubles in her 15 pro games on a team of veterans that's 10-5 and in first place. Yikes.

  • 3. Lindsay Whalen, Connecticut Sun
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    14.2 6.0 5.7 1.2 0.1 .451 .353 .784 +18.6
  • Last Week's Rank: 4
    Her scoring numbers might not appear worthy of this high a ranking, but believe me, the leadership and pure, all-around value that Whalen provides to the 13-5 Sun make her more than deserving. If you haven't caught her no-look dish to Asjha Jones in the Top 10 Plays of the Week, I'd suggest checking it out now.

  • 4. Lisa Leslie, Los Angeles Sparks
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    15.9 9.5 2.0 1.6 3.2 .490 .111 .700 +20.9
  • Last Week's Rank: 2
    Not sure if you caught this, but Leslie fouled out of Tuesday afternoon's loss to the Liberty having played just 11 minutes. Sure, she had 12 points and five boards in that limited time, but New York staged a big fourth-quarter comeback to stun the Leslie-less Sparks. To be the MVP, you have to be on the court.

  • 5. Lauren Jackson, Seattle Storm
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    18.9 7.0 1.4 1.8 1.5 .434 .278 .947 +20.0
  • Last Week's Rank: 6
    No, the reigning MVP's numbers don't compare to last season's, nor is the Storm the best team in the West like some thought it would be, nor did her week's averages (11.5 ppg, 6 rpg) do much to help her out. But she's still the go-to player on a playoff team who is capable of going off any night and arguably the best individual talent in the world.

  • 6. Sophia Young, San Antonio Silver Stars
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    18.1 4.9 2.5 1.8 0.3 .510 .000 .753 +17.8
  • Last Week's Rank: 11
    Young's numbers compare fairly well with the two superstars immediately above her in this list, but the prowess of teammates Becky Hammon and Ann Wauters -- not to mention her workman-like approach -- results in the spotlight being cast on her much less than it is on other players of her caliber. Her 27-point performance Tuesday against the Shock was a career high and shows just how brightly this third-year star can shine.

  • 7. Seimone Augustus, Minnesota Lynx
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    18.6 4.2 3.3 1.1 0.5 .475 .320 .855 +17.5
  • Last Week's Rank: 3
    Augustus continues to slip after missing the first game of her professional career -- after 82 straight starts -- due to a sprained right toe. She returned Tuesday as the Lynx lost their seventh in their last nine games, and though Augustus clearly isn't responsible for the team's recent slip, her MVP likelihood has taken a nosedive.

  • 8. Cappie Pondexter, Phoenix Mercury
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    23.6 4.5 4.1 1.3 0.2 .417 .324 .806 +18.3
  • Last Week's Rank: 8
    The league's second-leading scorer -- behind teammate Diana Taurasi -- took Tuesday night's game against Atlanta off to rest. You could hardly blame the 2007 Finals MVP for needing it after arriving in Phoenix from Turkey just hours before the Mercury's season opener. Once she gets a mini-break, the WNBA's original "CP" will be back leading the USA to Beijing and her team into the postseason.

  • 9. Katie Douglas, Indiana Fever
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    16.7 4.7 3.1 1.8 0.3 .363 .344 .778 +12.5
  • Last Week's Rank: 7
    Now that Tamika Catchings has returned to the lineup and Ebony Hoffman has taken on a much more significant role than in years past, this one-time MVP-race leader has slid in these rankings. She's still an absolutely vital player who's capable of taking over at either end of the court and she'll be depended upon as the Fever vie for the playoffs.

  • 10. Deanna Nolan, Detroit Shock
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    14.7 3.8 5.4 1.3 0.4 .412 .339 .867 +15.0
  • Last Week's Rank: 10
    Like the other players on this list, Nolan has had her ups and downs (including Saturday's 4-point performance in Detroit's loss in Chicago), but she's still the Shock's most dangerous and most dynamic player. And she'll no doubt be leading the way again as Detroit fights for the top spot in the East.

  • On the Outside Looking In (season averages - last week's rank)
    11. Asjha Jones (Connecticut): 16.4 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 1.9 apg (12)
    12. Tina Thompson (Houston): 17.2 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 2.4 apg (9)
    13. Candice Dupree (Chicago): 16.9 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 1.9 apg, 1.6 bpg (15)
    14. Alana Beard (Washington): 19.5 ppg, 3.9 apg, 3.5 rpg (14)
    15. Shameka Christon (New York): 15.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.6 apg (NR)

  • Dropped out: Katie Smith (Detroit)
  • More »

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