NEW YORK, August 7 -- Some players get all the MVP love.
Certain WNBA stars (they cannot be named or else we risk making them ineligible
to compete in Beijing... seriously!) are pretty much locks to be in the MVP
running year in and year out.
But those players have other things to think about right now. They're off in
China vying for large gold medallions. And while they're overseas representing
their respective countries...
...How about a little love for the teammates they've left behind? How about
some appreciation for the underappreciated? It's about time!
And when you remove the Olympic layer of players, there's another batch of
serious MVP contenders who are fully capable of creeping into the regular top
10. And while the top couple of players on this week's list will look somewhat
familiar, it feels good to show off the next tier of WNBA stars.
Now here are my non-Olympic player rankings for the 2008 season through the
start of the Olympic break.
Young has made the transition from solid rookie to on-the-verge sophomore to WNBA
superstar in her third season. She's a force down low and has been the league-leading
Silver Stars' most reliable contributor this season.
Tweety can light up the scoreboard every now and then, but her season numbers
might not dazzle you. But watch her play and you'll be able to tell how valuable
she is to the Shock. Her intensity, skill and athleticism at both ends is
Like Young above, in less than three seasons, Dupree has made the progression
into a legit star in this league. She's terrifically gifted with the ball
down low and she's bigger and stronger than she might appear at first glance.
Without her, the Sky would be a lot worse than 8-17.
Though she may not be quite as vital to Connecticut's success as Whalen, Jones
is putting up career highs in scoring and rebounding per game and has held
the Sun's frontcourt together this season without Nykesha Sales and Margo
Douglas has slowed down after a red-hot start, but she's still capable of putting
up big scoring numbers from the outside and is arguably the league's best
perimeter defender. She needs to have a big finish to her regular season for
the recently struggling Fever to stay in playoff position.
Christon, too, has cooled down of late, but she's more responsible than anyone
in New York for the Liberty being in second place in the East after a 6-1
run prior to the Olympic break. If both she and No. 14 below keep contributing,
the Libs could be a tough matchup in the postseason.
Sure, she was the third pick in the draft, but few expected this kind of production
out of Wiggins in her rookie season. Despite usually coming off the bench
for Don Zierden's squad, she's putting up big scoring numbers and is a major
reason for Minnesota still having a shot at the postseason.
Taj's numbers might not blow you away, but this 37-year-old force in the paint
comes to play every day and is one of the most consistent and positive players
in the league. Alana Beard is the star in Washington, but Taj is the leader.
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.