WNBA Player Rankings: Back From Beijing

NEW YORK, August 28 -- The WNBA is back, baby! And the Race to the MVP is tighter than ever.

While literally all of the MVP candidates who also happened to be members of Olympic teams excelled in Beijing, the current leader is someone who spent the month of August right here in the States.

Few expected the Connecticut Sun to be leading the Eastern Conference at this point, especially having traded Katie Douglas to Indiana and with veterans Nykesha Sales and Margo Dydek being out of the picture.

But with fifth-year point guard Lindsay Whalen leading the way, the Sun are out in front... albeit by just a half game over the Liberty and Shock.

So how does the Minnesota native feel about being considered for the league's top individual award?

"It's a great honor. And it's a thrill to even be mentioned among those top players."

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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But Whalen is also quick to defer much of the praise to her teammates.

"It's a credit to the way we started the season (in Connecticut) and the way that everyone's stepped up. Knowing that we have six rookies and a lot of new players, we knew it was gonna be hard, but it's a testament to the way we started. We had one rough stretch, but we've turned it around now.

"It's been pretty cool."

Of course, Whalen is just one of the players being bandied about as possible MVPs. And thanks to T-Mobile, you, the fans get your chance to play a part in the MVP voting as well:

For the first time ever, fans will be asked to help decide the 2008 WNBA MVP by casting their votes on WNBA.com/mvpvote. WNBA MVP Voting presented by T-Mobile begins today, August 28, and will continue through September 15. The recipient of the 2008 WNBA Most Valuable Player Award presented by T-Mobile will be announced during the WNBA Playoffs.

So take advantage of this unique opportunity and make your voice heard.

Now here are my player rankings for the season through August 27.

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  • Lindsay Whalen, Connecticut Sun
    • PPG
    • RPG
    • APG
    • SPG
    • BPG
    • FG%
    • 3P%
    • FT%
    • EFF
    • 15.6
    • 5.8
    • 5.4
    • 1.5
    • 0.0
    • .483
    • .361
    • .806
    • +19.8
    • Previous Rank - 2
    A surefire All-Star starter for years to come, Whalen has become one of the top point guards in the league and is the player most responsible for Connecticut's stellar record to this point. If they finish first in the East, she has to be among the top three MVP candidates.
    Candace Parker, Los Angeles Sparks
    • PPG
    • RPG
    • APG
    • SPG
    • BPG
    • FG%
    • 3P%
    • FT%
    • EFF
    • 18.9
    • 9.4
    • 3.7
    • 1.4
    • 2.2
    • .515
    • .400
    • .708
    • +24.0
    • Previous Rank - 1
    There were times in Beijing where she looked like the rookie she is, but she's been a hugely important part of L.A.'s resurgence this season. And she'll have to continue lighting it up for the Sparks to be in the West's tight playoff picture.
    Sophia Young, San Antonio Silver Stars
    • PPG
    • RPG
    • APG
    • SPG
    • BPG
    • FG%
    • 3P%
    • FT%
    • EFF
    • 18.4
    • 5.7
    • 2.6
    • 1.6
    • 0.5
    • .500
    • .000
    • .793
    • +18.9
    • Previous Rank - 4
    After a remarkable start to the season, it's frightening to consider what she is capable of after a month's worth of rest. The inside-outside trio of Becky Hammon, Ann Wauters and Sophia Young is among the league's finest and will be tough to oust come playoff time.
    Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury
    • PPG
    • RPG
    • APG
    • SPG
    • BPG
    • FG%
    • 3P%
    • FT%
    • EFF
    • 23.5
    • 4.5
    • 3.8
    • 1.2
    • 1.1
    • .444
    • .355
    • .862
    • +21.4
    • Previous Rank - 5
    In Beijing, Taurasi showed that she's capable of playing her role on a team full of stars. Against Russia, she showed that she's capable of leading that team. There isn't the same kind of star power in Phoenix, but Diana may have to take control again to get the Mercury back into the playoffs.
    Seimone Augustus, Minnesota Lynx
    • PPG
    • RPG
    • APG
    • SPG
    • BPG
    • FG%
    • 3P%
    • FT%
    • EFF
    • 19.5
    • 4.0
    • 3.0
    • 1.0
    • 0.5
    • .478
    • .372
    • .884
    • +17.7
    • Previous Rank - 7
    Augustus flies under the MVP radar because of her quiet demeanor and the fact that she plays in Minnesota. But she's a truly talented scorer who has stepped up her leadership and versatility this season. If the super-young Lynx make the postseason, she's a serious candidate for this award.
    Lauren Jackson, Seattle Storm
    • PPG
    • RPG
    • APG
    • SPG
    • BPG
    • FG%
    • 3P%
    • FT%
    • EFF
    • 20.2
    • 7.0
    • 1.2
    • 1.5
    • 1.6
    • .452
    • .295
    • .934
    • +20.7
    • Previous Rank - 3
    Despite a tremendous run to a silver medal in China, Lauren's candidacy for a repeat MVP award will be hurt -- probably irrevocably -- by her impending ankle surgery. She's scheduled to miss 4-6 weeks and could return late in the playoffs if the Storm are still alive.
    Tina Thompson, Houston Comets
    • PPG
    • RPG
    • APG
    • SPG
    • BPG
    • FG%
    • 3P%
    • FT%
    • EFF
    • 17.3
    • 7.1
    • 2.3
    • 0.9
    • 0.5
    • .403
    • .455
    • .846
    • +15.1
    • Previous Rank - 6
    Like Augustus, Thompson is an understated superstar who's doing everything her team needs her to do this season. And in a similar fashion, if the Comets -- picked in the preseason to finish last in the West -- reach the playoffs, this may be this Hall of Famer's most impressive accomplishment.
    Lisa Leslie, Los Angeles Sparks
    • PPG
    • RPG
    • APG
    • SPG
    • BPG
    • FG%
    • 3P%
    • FT%
    • EFF
    • 15.4
    • 9.1
    • 2.0
    • 1.5
    • 3.1
    • .462
    • .154
    • .717
    • +19.4
    • Previous Rank - 9
    Though her WNBA stats dipped a bit heading into the Olympic break, Leslie showed the world that she's still basketball's pre-eminent center, both offensively and defensively. She, too, will need to stay hot in the coming weeks to put the Sparks into solid playoff position.
    Cappie Pondexter, Phoenix Mercury
    • PPG
    • RPG
    • APG
    • SPG
    • BPG
    • FG%
    • 3P%
    • FT%
    • EFF
    • 22.8
    • 4.1
    • 4.4
    • 1.0
    • 0.2
    • .418
    • .343
    • .836
    • +17.7
    • Previous Rank - 8
    Though she didn't get much court time in Beijing, Pondexter showed the world what she's capable of, averaging 6.4 points in just 11.6 minutes per game. Still the second leading scorer in the WNBA, she'll have to light it up to give the Mercury a shot at a repeat title.
    Becky Hammon, San Antonio Silver Stars
    • PPG
    • RPG
    • APG
    • SPG
    • BPG
    • FG%
    • 3P%
    • FT%
    • EFF
    • 17.2
    • 2.9
    • 4.7
    • 1.2
    • 0.3
    • .369
    • .342
    • .936
    • +14.2
    • Previous Rank - 10
    Much like this WNBA season, Hammon started off slowly, then heated up to help Russia to a bronze medal in Beijing. And there's little doubt that her San Antonio teammates will welcome her back with open arms. Who else is going to lead them into the playoffs?

    On the Outside Looking In (season averages - previous rank)
    11. Deanna Nolan (Detroit): 14.9 ppg, 5.2 apg, 3.6 rpg (NR)
    12. Sue Bird (Seattle): 13.2 ppg, 5.8 apg, 2.8 rpg (12)
    13. Candice Dupree (Chicago): 16.7 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 1.6 bpg (14)
    14. Asjha Jones (Connecticut): 16.4 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 2.2 apg (15)
    15. Katie Douglas (Indiana): 16.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 3.0 apg (13)
    More

    Video

    Charles' Double-Double

    Tina Charles goes off for a monster double-double with 31 points and 16 rebounds to lead the Liberty over the Sparks.

    Liberty vs. Sparks

    Tina Charles records 31 points and 16 rebounds, adds 16 points as the Liberty defeat the Sparks.

    Robinson's Game-winner

    All Star Point Guard Danielle Robinson stepped up for the Stars and put in the go ahead layup to win the game!

    Sun vs. Mystics

    Ivory Latta scores 23 points and dishes out six assists to lift the Mystics past the Sun.

    Odyssey Sims Career-High

    Odyssey Sims goes for a career-high 39 points in the Shocks game versus the Stars.