Race to the MVP: Week 4

SECAUCUS, N.J., July 1, 2009 -- During a conference call following the annoucement that Seimone Augustus would miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL in her left knee, Candice Wiggins was asked how her role would change with Augustus out of the lineup. Here was her response:

"Everyone痴 role changes, but I think mine especially, I understand that," she said. "The start of the season has really been about our team doing well and Seimone especially having a remarkable season; we kind of just found ourselves watching Seimone because that痴 how great she was doing. It's not going to happen anymore.

"It痴 a change and I知 ready to take on that role. Being a leader is something that comes natural for me, but at the same time I know how much I need my teammates; as much as Seimone needed all of us to support her, I知 going to need people to support me as well.

"I知 just done with talking about it and really just want to go out there and we have a huge test for our team and a huge test for me personally. But I知 confident that we値l do great and that I値l do great as well."

Wiggins was right on the money with her assessment. As a team, the Lynx have gone 3-1 without Augustus to improve their record to 7-3 on the season to put them in sole possession of first place in the Western Conference. For Wiggins, after averaging 11.5 points in the six games with Augustus, she has increased her production to 20.5 points a game in the four games that Augustus has missed.

Wiggins was recognized for her efforts as she was named WNBA Western Conference Player of the Week on Monday. She also garners recognition here as she enters the top 10 in our Race to the MVP.

Now here are the player rankings for the season through June 30.

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  • Race to the MVP - Overall Player Rankings

    1. Lauren Jackson, Seattle Storm
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    22.8 6.7 0.4 1.1 1.8 .579 .564 .827 + 24.44
  • Last week's ranking: 1
    We can't fault Jackson too much for having one bad game this season after eight stellar performances. After opening the season with eight straight 20-point games (tying Sheryl Swoopes for the second longest streak in WNBA history), Jackson was held to season lows of nine points and four rebounds in Seattle's 27-point loss to the Sparks. We assume this game is an abberation, which keeps LJ at the top of our rankings.

  • 2. Alana Beard, Washington Mystics
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    19.3 4.1 2.0 3.1 0.5 .474 .387 .829 + 17.62
  • Last week's ranking: 2
    With the Mystics in danger of dropping their third straight game on Tuesday night, Beard came through with the game-winning 16-foot jumper with 1.9 seconds left to give Washington an important road win over San Antonio. With Marissa Coleman still sidelined with an ankle injury, Beard will have to be at the top of her game if the Mystics are to continue their winning ways.

  • 3. Katie Douglas, Indiana Fever
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    18.1 3.3 2.5 1.6 0.4 .458 .388 .824 + 16.12
  • Last week's ranking: 4
    Douglas' performance on Friday in New York showed her value to the Fever in both good times and bad. With Douglas ice cold in the first half (0-9 FG, 0 pts) the Fever trailed by as many as 16 points. However, Douglas caught fire after the break, hitting 11-of-18 attempts in the second half and overtime to rally the Fever to an 82-81 win. Riding a six-game win streak, the Fever currently hold the top spot in the East thanks largely to the play of Douglas.

  • 4. Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    21.1 5.2 3.0 1.4 1.7 .462 .432 .918 + 21.40
  • Last week's ranking: 3
    Taurasi is in a similar situation as Jackson in that her last game was her worst of the season (8 pts, 2-15 FG, 0-5 3FG) in the Mercury's 29-point loss to the Lynx. Prior to that game, Taurasi had posted at least 20 points in five of Phoenix's previous six games. Coincidentally, Taurasi and Jackson face off on Wednesday night in Phoenix as both attempt to get back on the right track.

  • 5. Candice Wiggins, Minnesota Lynx
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    15.1 2.9 2.8 1.7 0.3 .395 .395 .955 + 12.90
  • Last week's ranking: NR
    The season stats above do not tell the story of how well Wiggins has played since Seimone Augustus was lost for the season with a torn ACL. In the four games without Augustus, Wiggins averaged 20.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 3.3 steals and led the Lynx to a 3-1 record to put them in sole possession of first place in the West at 7-3.

  • 6. Becky Hammon, San Antonio Silver Stars
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    19.8 3.4 5.2 1.8 0.4 .397 .278 .964 + 17.20
  • Last week's ranking: 5
    Hammon continues to impress upon her return from Russia as the Silver Stars have gone 2-1 since her hiatus. Hammon posted a superb line against the Monarchs on Friday with 26 points, five rebounds, six assists and five steals in San Antonio's 62-52 win.

  • 7. Jia Perkins, Chicago Sky
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    17.3 4.4 4.6 2.6 0.2 .471 .462 .750 + 18.78
  • Last week's ranking: 7
    Clutch play is important when looking for a MVP candidate and Jia Perkins continues to get it done late in games for the Sky. After hitting a game-winner in overtime last week in Atlanta, she hit a 3-pointer in the final minute to ice the game against the Mystics on Saturday (she also had eight steals) and on Tuesday she scored eight points in the final 90 seconds to lead the Sky to a 74-72 win over Sacramento.

  • 8. Cappie Pondexter, Phoenix Mercury
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    20.4 4.8 4.6 1.2 0.2 .461 .273 .848 + 19.30
  • Last week's ranking: 8
    Pondexter just missed out on her fifth straight 20-point game on Saturday as she posted 19 points in the Mercury loss. On a positive note, Pondexter looks to be finding her shot from beyond the arc as she has hit five of her last nine three-point attempts. Combining the long-range game with her ability to drive to the hoop will make her even more dangerous.

  • 9. Asjha Jones, Connecticut Sun
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    16.3 6.6 2.0 1.0 0.7 .423 .333 .783 + 14.14
  • Last week's ranking: NR
    Asjha Jones debuts in our rankings thanks to her stellar play in the Sun's current three-game winning streak. Jones averaged 20 points and nine rebounds over the past three games including her first double-double of the season with 24 points and 12 rebounds in Saturday's win over Atlanta. Will Jones and Sun be able to maintain this level of play as they head out on a three-game road trip?

  • 10. Tamika Catchings, Indiana Fever
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    14.6 6.5 3.6 3.1 0.8 .330 .286 .870 + 17.88
  • Last week's ranking: NR
    Few players fill the box score like Tamika Catchings. While her shooting percentage (.330) is lower than we are used to seeing, the current Eastern Conference Player of the Week continues to do all of the little things to help the Fever win six straight games and counting. Catchings currently ranks among the league leaders in steals (2nd), assists (9th), rebounds (11th) and points (14th).

  • On the Outside Looking In (season averages)
    11. Lindsay Whalen (Connecticut): 12.1 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 4.7 APG, 1.9 SPG, +15.29 EFF
    12. Sophia Young (San Antonio): 17.6 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.7 SPG, +13.86 EFF
    13. Nicky Anosike (Minnesota): 13.0 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 2.6 APG, 3.5 SPG, +18.60 EFF
    14. Sylvia Fowles (Chicago): 12.7 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 0.3 APG, 1.8 BPG, +15.78 EFF
    15. Sue Bird (Seattle): 11.4 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 6.6 APG, 1.2 SPG, +12.56 EFF
  • Dropped out: Sancho Lyttle, Shameka Christon, Deanna Nolan, Tina Thompson
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