Race to the MVP: Week 1

SECAUCUS, N.J., May 19, 2010 -- It’s always hard to organize an accurate list of players in the race for the MVP title after just one week of play. Even in this particular case we're talking one game, two max. Rather than a definitive list of candidates, we may be faced with the dilemma of a few players who had an exceptionally good week perhaps outdoing others who may have just been off to a slow start. Or, on the flipside of that equation, you may also have a player worthy of MVP considerations who just had an off game or week. Take for example reigning MVP Diana Taurasi. Her first game against the Sparks didn't produce MVP caliber numbers but is it fair to dismiss her from MVP considerations because of one bad game to start off the season? I mean, we're talking about the reigning MVP here. If anyone is qualified for a spot in the top 10 after only a game or two, it's definitely her.

With that said, instead of trying to solidify the season’s top candidates this time around, we’ll lay down a healthy foundation of probable candidates and add or subtract from there over the ensuing weeks.

Sound like a plan?

Good.

I'd also like to point out that there is an open line of communication should you agree, disagree or wish to submit your own educated opinion on the Race to the MVP rankings.

On that note, let’s get into ranking our top MVP candidates.

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  • Race to the MVP - Overall Player Rankings

    1. Monique Currie, Washington Mytics (2-0)
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    24.0 6.0 1.0 2.0 1.5 .600 .500 1.000 + 26.00
  • Last ranking: N/A
    The Washington Mystics are off to a 2-0 start to the season and that’s due in part to Currie’s strong play. Her 27 points against the Lynx was the weekend’s best performance by any player, followed up shortly after with a 21 point outing against the Fever to put her at first overall in league scoring with still plenty of season left to play. There was a buzz surrounding the Mystics heading into 2010 that focused on how the team would fair after losing Alana Beard for the season. Currie's start is an indication of how the team plans to successfully manage the roster in Beard's absence, as she has already shattered career averages in just the first two games of the season.

  • 2. Cappie Pondexter, New York Liberty (1-0)
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    22.0 5.0 8.0 1.0 0.0 .643 .000 .667 + 26.00
  • Last ranking: N/A
    It was just about as good a debut as one could expect from Cappie on Sunday. She picked up 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting, tagged on 8 assists and, perhaps most importantly, a win for the Liberty to kick off a season of high hopes in New York.

  • 3. Lauren Jackson, Seattle Storm (1-0)
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    23.0 10 1.0 2.0 3.0 .375 .143 .909 + 23.00
  • Last ranking: N/A
    The two-time MVP and 2007 Defensive Player of the Year appears to be back to her old form. Not only did she contribute 23 points in Seattle's 81-67 home-opener win over the Los Angeles Sparks, but she also held Candace Parker to only 10 points by the end of the night. It's a promising start for Jackson, who missed the last few games of the season last year with a back injury.

  • 4. Tina Charles, Connecticut Sun (1-0)
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    17.0 10.0 0.0 2.0 1.0 .500 .000 .750 + 21.00
  • Last ranking: N/A
    She left college a winner and started her WNBA season a winner. Perhaps in one of the most anticipated debuts of the season, Tina Charles recorded her first career double-double in her first game with a 17 point, 10 rebound day. Now figure she did that in only 26 minutes of playing time and it elicits immediate rookie-of-the-year buzz for the league’s No. 1 overall pick. Now, about those next 77 games…

  • 5. Erika de Souza, Atlanta Dream (2-0)
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    12.5 13.0 0.0 0.5 1.5 .480 0.000 .500 + 15.50
  • Last ranking: N/A
    Hard to say what stands out best for de Souza at this point; her 12.5 points per game, or the 13 rebounds? Whichever one you go with, the end result still leads to one conclusion – it’s all working out for Atlanta, and de Souza is a factor. Angel McCoughtry has the points but her shooting percentage is off a bit early on. Once that straightens out, and it most likely will sooner rather than later, a consistently dominant de Souza and an accurate McCoughtry can lead to big things for the Dream.

  • 6. Candace Parker, Los Angeles Sparks (0-2)
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    17.0 11.5 2.0 1.0 1.0 .469 .000 .571 + 18.50
  • Last ranking: N/A
    It’s likely a comfortable feeling the Los Angeles Sparks have when it comes to Candace Parker. It’s almost safe to assume she’ll go out there and record a double-double on a nightly basis, as she did in her first two games. However, Parker can’t do it all by herself. While she may have had a great first weekend, her team’s 0-2 start reflects on the single player who may be playing under the greatest level of expectancy out of any other in the league this season.

  • 7. Crystal Langhorne, Washington Mystics (2-0)
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    17.5 8.5 1.0 1.5 0.0 .519 0.000 .778 + 18.00
  • Last ranking: N/A
    The other half of the Mystics’ success, outside of the aforementioned Monique Currie. Langhorne nearly closed out with a double-double in each game this past weekend, finishing with 19-8 and 16-9, respectively. As the recipient of the 2009 Most Improved Player Award, Coach Plank believed 2010 would be the year that Washington turned to Langhorne to produce night in and night out. So far so good for the Mystics.

  • 8. Taj McWilliams-Franklin , New York Liberty (1-0)
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    20.0 4.0 0.0 2.0 1.0 .750 .667 1.000 + 24.00
  • Last ranking: N/A
    The New York Liberty brought in a player like McWilliams-Franklin during the offseason for a lot of reasons: Veteran leadership, help on the boards and, of course, a little offensive depth. In only one game McWilliams-Franklin chipped in 20 points, 4 rebounds and went a solid 6-for-6 from the stripe, all while keeping the team composed in a closer-than-it-should-have-been 85-82 win over the Sky. Plus, you have to consider her two three-pointers in just one game, one short of her 3-of-15 shooting from behind the arc in 2009. Let’s see how close she comes to her 1999 total of 20 made three pointers on 45 attempts.

  • 9. Charde Houston, Minnesota Lynx (1-1)
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    20.0 5.5 1.5 2.5 0.5 .533 .375 1.000 + 21.00
  • Last ranking: N/A
    The weight on Houston’s shoulders right now is a bit heavier than it would have been if Candice Wiggins and Seimone Augustus started the season healthy. However, she’s taken to the responsibility with two admirable outings that will need to remain the focus of her game as the Lynx wait patiently for injuries to absolve.

  • 10. Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury (1-0)
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    14 5 3 0 2 .182 ..000 .909 + 13.00
  • Last ranking: N/A
    It’s only one poor game for the reigning MVP, and the first game of the season at that. Fact is, Phoenix fans know what Taurasi is capable of. Actually, the entire league knows. A lot may be contributing to her poor first outing in which she shot a porous 2-of-11 from the field and went 0-for-5 from behind the arc. An injured hand may be the main culprit. There's little doubt as to whether or not the three-time scoring champ is prepared to go out there on a nightly basis to defend the Mercury's title. I don't suspect we'll see a lot of games like this in her future, but at least look on the bright side: She shot 10-for-11 from the line.

  • On the Outside Looking In (season averages)
    11. Sylvia Fowles (Chicago) 19.5 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 1.0 APG, 0.5 SPG, +20.50 EFF
    12. Candice Dupree (Phoenix) 17.0 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 0.0 APG, 1.0 BPG, +14.00 EFF
    13. Tamika Catchings (Indiana) 15.0 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 3.0 APG, 2.5 SPG, +12.00 EFF
    14. Shameka Christon (Chicago) 10.5 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 2.0 APG, 0.5 SPG, +9.00 EFF
    15. Penny Taylor (Phoenix) 16.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 1.0 APG, 3.0 SPG, +15.00 EFF
  • Dropped out: N/A
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