WNBA Player Rankings: Week 8

NEW YORK, July 11 -- In writing this weekly Race to the MVP column, I constantly ask myself what makes a player "valuable"… or even more troubling, what makes someone "most valuable."

Is it the player with the league's best stats (and its best personality)? Top scorer Diana Taurasi might capture both of those titles.

Is it the best player on the best team? Sophia Young and Deanna Nolan should at least be major parts of the conversation.

Is it a player whose all-around talent and skills revolutionize not only opposing teams' defensive schemes, but the entire league as a whole? Let's hear it for CP3, Sparks fans!

Or maybe it's her legendary teammate whose return to the league immediately shifted the balance of power in the Western Conference. Lisa Leslie, come on down!

Is it the only superstar on a somewhat successful team? Because (1) there's nothing teenie about Tina Thompson's influence in Houston and (2) there's nothing subtle about Seimone Augustus' season so far.

Or maybe it's the world's most talented all-around player, the brightest supernova on a team full of stars. I submit Lauren Jackson as Exhibit A.

Or the most exciting to watch. There's no female player in the world with the flair or late-game intensity of Cappie Pondexter.

If the season ended today, which player would you vote for as the WNBA's Most Valuable Player?
If the season ended today, which player would you vote for as the WNBA's Most Valuable Player?
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Or the best floor leader. That has to put Lindsay Whalen and Becky Hammon in the mix, doesn't it?

Or the most inspirational. Olympian Tamika Catchings may not on the list this week, but something tells me she'll be mentioned again in this space before season's end.

Maybe it's even the biggest difference-maker in terms of team success. I don't know if she deserves to be the league MVP, but the Atlanta Dream are 2-0 in the Alison Bales Era. I'm just sayin'…

Presumably, the answer lies somewhere in the middle of all of the above criteria. Skills, stats, influence, team success, reputation and maybe even likability all play roles.

And just like each official voter has her own criteria, so does each fan. So let me know what you think is most important in making a player the most valuable player out there.

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  • Now here are my player rankings for the season through July 10.

    Lauren Jackson, Seattle Storm
    • PPG
    • RPG
    • APG
    • SPG
    • BPG
    • FG%
    • 3P%
    • FT%
    • EFF
    • 20.6
    • 7.1
    • 1.3
    • 1.5
    • 1.4
    • .457
    • .293
    • .940
    • +21.1
    • Last Week’s Rank - 5
    She's got the stats, the MVP pedigree, the international flavor and her team is riding the crest of a five-game winning streak. Yes, she has lots of talent around her -- Bird, Swoopes, Cash, Yo -- but she's by far the most consistent producer in Seattle since Boeing left town.
    Candace Parker, Los Angeles Sparks
    • PPG
    • RPG
    • APG
    • SPG
    • BPG
    • FG%
    • 3P%
    • FT%
    • EFF
    • 18.7
    • 9.7
    • 4.1
    • 1.6
    • 2.5
    • .502
    • .412
    • .721
    • +24.9
    • Last Week’s Rank - 2
    Yes, Candace looked a bit tired Thursday night in the Sparks' loss in Sacramento, but her stats are staggering, her influence on games is impressive and she's created a lot of interest in the league this season. She'll split MVP votes with teammate Lisa Leslie, but the league's current rebounding leader deserves to be near the top.
    Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury
    • PPG
    • RPG
    • APG
    • SPG
    • BPG
    • FG%
    • 3P%
    • FT%
    • EFF
    • 23.8
    • 4.2
    • 4.0
    • 1.2
    • 1.0
    • .456
    • .389
    • .861
    • +22.0
    • Last Week’s Rank - 1
    Diana quieted down a bit after two straight Player the Week awards, but she's still the main reason for the Mercury rebounding from their early season struggles. She and Cappie could split the Arizona portion of the MVP vote, but if she leads the league in scoring and Phoenix returns to the postseason, she has to be a serious candidate.
    Lindsay Whalen, Connecticut Sun
    • PPG
    • RPG
    • APG
    • SPG
    • BPG
    • FG%
    • 3P%
    • FT%
    • EFF
    • 14.7
    • 5.9
    • 5.7
    • 1.3
    • 0.1
    • .480
    • .357
    • .796
    • +19.4
    • Last Week’s Rank - 3
    On the surface, Whalen's stats might not impress you as much as others', but Whalen is among the league's top point guards and has led the (largely new) assortment of players in Connecticut to a 13-7 record, second best in the East. She has teamed up well with forward Asjha Jones down low, but Whalen's presence is more visible, particularly on offense and in transition.
    Lisa Leslie, Los Angeles Sparks
    • PPG
    • RPG
    • APG
    • SPG
    • BPG
    • FG%
    • 3P%
    • FT%
    • EFF
    • 16.3
    • 9.2
    • 2.2
    • 1.5
    • 3.0
    • .488
    • .091
    • .713
    • +20.8
    • Last Week’s Rank - 4
    Leslie hasn't been quite as consistent as her rookie teammate, but her contribution has been substantial. Not only is she second behind Candace in rebounding, but she's first in blocks and also leads the league with 10 double-doubles. She's also bringing her veteran wisdom to L.A. and serving as a role model for Parker both on and off the court.
    Sophia Young, San Antonio Silverstars
    • PPG
    • RPG
    • APG
    • SPG
    • BPG
    • FG%
    • 3P%
    • FT%
    • EFF
    • 18.2
    • 5.4
    • 2.6
    • 1.7
    • 0.4
    • .492
    • .000
    • .754
    • +17.9
    • Last Week’s Rank - 6
    Working in her favor: She's the leading scorer and has been the most consistent player all season long for the team with the league's best record. Working against her: She plays on a team with one of the league's most visible and beloved players in Becky Hammon and new Silver Star Ann Wauters is putting up big numbers, taking away from Young's stats and spotlight.
    Tina Thompson, Houston Comets
    • PPG
    • RPG
    • APG
    • SPG
    • BPG
    • FG%
    • 3P%
    • FT%
    • EFF
    • 17.9
    • 7.4
    • 2.4
    • 0.9
    • 0.6
    • .413
    • .468
    • .833
    • +15.9
    • Last Week’s Rank - 12
    At 33 years of age, Tina is playing as well as she ever has. She's been the driving force behind the Comets' resurgence of late, winning six of their last nine to creep to within a half-game of a playoff spot. Another thing to consider is that despite her Hall of Fame career, she's never won the WNBA MVP award.
    Seimone Augustus, Minnesota Lynx
    • PPG
    • RPG
    • APG
    • SPG
    • BPG
    • FG%
    • 3P%
    • FT%
    • EFF
    • 18.8
    • 4.0
    • 3.2
    • 1.2
    • 0.4
    • .488
    • .344
    • .871
    • +17.7
    • Last Week’s Rank - 7
    Minnesota's recent struggles don't help Seimone's chances of winning, but her output has remained consistent. In just her third year, she's the league's all-time leading per-game scorer at 21.5. She's getting more help from her teammates than in years past, particularly from rookie Candice Wiggins, but she's still the leader of this young, up-and-coming group.
    Cappie Pondexter, Phoenix Mercury
    • PPG
    • RPG
    • APG
    • SPG
    • BPG
    • FG%
    • 3P%
    • FT%
    • EFF
    • 22.8
    • 4.2
    • 4.3
    • 1.1
    • 0.2
    • .417
    • .316
    • .814
    • +17.6
    • Last Week’s Rank - 8
    She'll get plenty of MVP competition from her partner in crime, Diana, but Cappie's numbers are too impressive to ignore. Based on this ranking, she's not even the most valuable player on her team, but she's capable of carrying the Mercury offense when Dee is off.
    Deanna Nolan, Detroit Shock
    • PPG
    • RPG
    • APG
    • SPG
    • BPG
    • FG%
    • 3P%
    • FT%
    • EFF
    • 14.8
    • 3.8
    • 5.5
    • 1.3
    • 0.5
    • .421
    • .333
    • .872
    • +15.6
    • Last Week’s Rank - 10
    Much like Whalen above, Nolan is the most valuable player on one of the league's top teams. Her stats are solid, if not spectacular, she's won a Finals MVP award and she's arguably the league's most naturally gifted athlete.

    On the Outside Looking In (season averages - last week's rank)
    11. Becky Hammon (San Antonio): 16.3 ppg, 4.9 apg, 2.7 rpg, .954 ft% (NA)
    12. Shameka Christon (New York): 17.2 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.6 apg (15)
    13. Asjha Jones (Connecticut): 16.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.0 apg (11)
    14. Katie Douglas (Indiana): 16.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.2 apg (9)
    15. Ann Wauters (San Antonio): 15.2 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 1.3 bpg (NA)

  • Dropped out: Candice Dupree (Chicago), Alana Beard (Washington).
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