Race to the MVP: Week 2

SECAUCUS, N.J., June 17, 2009 -- After making its debut last Friday, the Race to the MVP column moves to its regular date and time here on Wednesday.

That gave us five days worth of games to evaluate and see what changes needed to be made to the list. Most of the players that made the cut last week are safe and back on the list again this week, but there has been some shuffling among them. Also there are a couple of players left out of the rankings last week that needed to be included this time around.

The player making the biggest move this week is Chicago's Jia Perkins. The runner up for the Most Improved Player award last season, Perkins still tends to be overshadowed by the Sky's talented post players -- Candice Dupree (the current Eastern Conference Player of the Week) and emerging star in Sylvia Fowles -- when it comes to recognition. But there is no debate that Perkins has been instrumental to Chicago's early success this season.

Take last night's game against the Connecticut Sun as an example. It was Fowles who hit the go-ahead jumper with under a minute left to cap off the Sky rally from an eight-point deficit in the final six minutes, but it was the stellar play of Perkins that put Chicago in position to steal the game. Perkins scored 11 of her game-high 25 points in the fourth quarter to help put the Sky in position for the 78-75 win to extend their winning streak to the three games and continue the best start in franchise history at 3-1.

Through four games, Perkins is averaging 19.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.8 steals, which has her ranked among the league leaders in each category.

Another player making her debut in the top 15 is Sacramento's Nicole Powell. While her team has not seen much success so far this season, Powell has shined over the past week, averaging 22.0, points and 7.7 rebonds in three games. If the Monarchs are going to climb out of the Western Conference cellar, look for Powell to lead the way.

Now here are the player rankings for the season through June 16.

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  • Race to the MVP - Overall Player Rankings

    1. Seimone Augustus, Minnesota Lynx
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    23.4 4.8 1.6 2.2 0.6 .570 .667 .905 + 22.80
  • Last week's ranking: 1
    Last week's leader opened the door for another player to knock her off the perch with a subpar performance (15 pts, 3 reb, 3 ast) in a loss to the Storm on Friday, but Augustus responded with another outstanding game on Tuesday with 30 points on 12-of-18 shooting in Minnesota's win in Sacramento.

  • 2. Lauren Jackson, Seattle Storm
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    22.6 6.8 0.6 0.6 1.6 .563 .545 .875 + 24.40
  • Last week's ranking: 3
    Jackson has been the most consistent player in the league this season, averaging 22.6 points per game and scoring at least 21 points in each of the Storm's five games this season. Unfortunately her team has not been as consistent as the Storm have opened the season with a 3-2 mark, dropping two of their last three games.

  • 3. Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    22.0 3.5 3.5 1.0 1.5 .484 .355 .938 + 21.00
  • Last week's ranking: 5
    Taurasi moves ahead of teammate Cappie Pondexter after posting a game-high 31 points, including eight during overtime, in Phoenix's record-breaking 115-104 win over Sacramento on Saturday. That win moved the Mercury to 3-1 on the year, just below Minnesota in the West.

  • 4. Alana Beard, Washington Mystics
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    16.3 3.7 2.0 2.7 0.0 .441 .286 .895 + 16.00
  • Last week's ranking: 4
    If Beard's stats look familiar, it is because they have not changed since our last rankings since the Mystics have not played a game over the last five days. If the Mystics hope to remain unbeaten, they may have to call on Beard even more as second-leading scorer Marissa Coleman is out 4-6 weeks.

  • 5. Jia Perkins, Chicago Sky
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    19.8 5.8 3.8 1.8 0.2 .500 .615 .789 + 21.00
  • Last week's ranking: 14
    As discussed above, Perkins has been the catalyst for the Sky as they are off to their best start in franchise history at 3-1. She leads the teams in points, assists, and steals and ranks second in rebounding. Fowles and Dupree may get the headlines, Perkins just gets it done.

  • 6. Cappie Pondexter, Phoenix Mercury
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    20.3 4.0 4.8 0.8 0.0 .491 .143 .867 + 20.25
  • Last week's ranking: 2
    Taurasi's play on Saturday helped her leapfrog her teammate in the rankings, but Pondexter is still playing at a high level. If her 3-point shooting comes around (career average .336 percent) watch for Cappie to jump Taurasi and others on this list.

  • 7. Katie Douglas, Indiana Fever
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    17.3 2.0 3.0 2.0 0.2 .460 .381 .882 + 15.00
  • Last week's ranking: 8
    In the Fever's only game since last rankings, Douglas was back on the court sporting the black eye she earned against Seattle, and did not show any ill-effects. While she only scored 11 points, she helped in other ways (4 reb, 5 ast, 3 stl, 1 blk ) as Indiana won its second straight game to get back to .500 on the season.

  • 8. Lindsay Whalen, Connecticut Sun
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    14.3 6.5 4.8 2.5 0.0 .400 .222 .813 + 18.25
  • Last week's ranking: 7
    Whalen drops down the list as her Connecticut Sun continue to slide down the standings. Connecticut lost both of their games since our last rankings (albeit by a combined eight points). In a loss to Atlanta, Whalen was solid with 16 pts, 7 reb, 5 ast and 2 stl, but followed that up with a foul-plagued game on Tuesday against the Sky (6 pts, 1 reb, 8 ast, 5 stl, 5 fouls).

  • 9. Sophia Young, San Antonio Silver Stars
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    20.0 7.5 0.5 0.5 0.0 .375 .333 .652 + 11.50
  • Last week's ranking: 6
    After a brilliant season opener (25 pts, 10 reb), Young had an off-shooting night from the field (4-14), but still scored 15 points and grabbed five boards to help San Antonio pick up its first win of the season. San Antonio will need Young playing at an MVP level this week as they will be without Becky Hammon for the next two games.

  • 10. Deanna Nolan, Detroit Shock
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    17.7 3.7 3.0 1.0 0.3 .468 .222 .778 + 14.00
  • Last week's ranking: 10
    Nolan is in a similar situation as Beard as the Shock have not played a game since our last rankings. However, they did suffer a loss with head coach and general manager Bill Laimbeer announced his resignation this week. With Rick Mahorn set to make his debut this week, he will need Nolan to perform at a high level to get his coaching career started right.
  • On the Outside Looking In (season averages)
    11. Charde Houston (Minnesota): 17.2 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 3.4 APG, 1.6 SPG
    12. Sylvia Fowles (Chicago): 15.5 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 1.0 BPG, 0.8 SPG
    13. Nicole Powell (Sacramento): 17.6 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1.8 SPG
    14. Becky Hammon (San Antonio): 18.0 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 6.0 APG
    15. Sancho Lyttle (Atlanta): 13.5 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.5 SPG, 1.2 BPG
  • Dropped out: Chamique Holdsclaw, Nicky Anosike
  • More »

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