SECAUCUS, N.J., June 9, 2010 -- Candace Parker takes a huge jump in this week's rankings from the No. 5 spot all the way up to the second slot. The Sparks may still be struggling to find some more wins, but you can't deny a player of her caliber with a strong resume of league-leading stats a spot in the Top 3. As you read on through the rankings at just how dominating her performance has been up to this point, I'm confident you'll agree with the promotion.
Chicago's Sylvia Fowles is also on the rise through the Race to the MVP rankings. Last week she jumped from 13 to seven. This week she goes from seven all the way up to four. Her strong contributions, which included a 32-point game this past weekend, stood as a strong consideration for her jump in the standings.
Erika de Souza took a significant drop in the rankings this week after being held scoreless on June 4th against the Sky and to only two points against the Storm on June 1st. The 23-11 double-double against the Mystics definitely keeps her alive in the Race to the MVP standings, but she'll need a strong effort this week if she hopes to move up in the rankings once again.
Lauren Jackson retains the No. 1 position for the third week in a row, and rightfully so. Not only is the Storm off on a tear through the West, but Jackson's individual performance is nothing to shy away from.
Last ranking: 1
Just a few weeks into the season and already Lauren Jackson's accolades are racking up. Out of three possible weeks, LJ has already been selected as the Western Conference's Player of the Week twice, with the most recent one setting a new WNBA record for most Player of the Week honors, surpassing Lisa Leslie's previous record of 15. In the first Player of the Month selection, she was honored as the Best of the West for May. And, to top it all off, the Seattle Storm is playing some outstanding basketball, posting a league-best 8-1 record. In 2007 Jackson received five separate Player of the Week nominations, on her way to her second MVP trophy. With plenty of time remaining on the calendar, it doesn't seem far-fetched to think she can duplicate that effort in 2010, perhaps even with the same outcome.
Last ranking: 5
Candace Parker is without question the leader of the Los Angeles Sparks and she handles the pressures of such responsibility with the ease of a true MVP candidate. Parker remains dominant in many aspects of the game, as she currently ranks first in the league in points per game (22.6), rebounds per game (10.9), minutes per game (35.9), field goals made (70), defensive rebounds (72), defensive rebounds per game (9), double-doubles (7) and efficiency ranking (25.75). Consider this: Up until Tuesday night's 92-91 win over the Mercury, in two previous meetings between the two, L.A. fell by one point in each. That's the obvious differential between L.A.'s current place in the standings at 2-6 and the hypothetical "what if" scenario of 4-4, had they landed on the right side of those one-point games. Parker is doing her part and doing it well. Now is the time for the rest of the Sparks to jump on board.
Last ranking: 2
Perhaps it's no surprise that Angel McCoughtry's two-straight rough outings in which she shot a combined 10-for-34 resulted in two-straight losses for Atlanta. But just when you started thinking that maybe she was human after all, she turns around and drops 23 points (including a perfect 7-for-7 from the free-throw line) against the Mystics in overtime on Saturday to put the Dream right back on track. There's a reason why McCoughtry was selected as Player of the Week for the first two weeks of the season, and it's not just because she was posting up solid individual numbers. Her team is winning, and its winning thanks in part to her individual success. She's easily the driving force behind this red-hot Atlanta team.
Last ranking: 7
The win streak may have been halted at four games, but it's going to take a tireless effort from teams to keep Sylvia Fowles down. In Tuesday night's game against the Liberty, Fowles was drawing double and, at times, even triple coverage whenever she touched the ball. Especially when she was in the paint. The end result? Eleven points and six rebounds for the Eastern Conference's Player of the Week. No doubt a far cry from her 32-point, 12-rebound game against Tulsa on Saturday, but I have a nagging suspicion that the more double teams Fowles draws the better she is going to get.
Last ranking: 4
The Liberty avoided a three-game skid Tuesday night with a commanding 85-70 win over the Chicago Sky. To say Cappie Pondexter was only a part of that win would be a drastic understatement. Cappie shot an incredible 14-for-18 from the field for a season-high 31 points. The Cappie Crossover was in full effect, as was the fade-away jumper that simply appeared to be undefended in the Chicago zone. Not only did the win prevent a Libs losing streak, but it also snapped Chicago's four-game tear through the Eastern standings. That could certainly motivate a team, and it'll be interesting to see how the Liberty respond Friday when they return home to host the Dream.
Last ranking: 3
Diana Taurasi snagged a season-high seven rebounds to go along with her 21 points Tuesday night in the Mercury's 92-91 loss to the Sparks. While this may seem a bit on the lower end of the spectrum for Taurasi, who in two consecutive games scored 35 and 30 points during the last week of May, it's just further evidence to the fact that she will do whatever it takes to help her team. One area in which Taurasi is not struggling one bit is at the line. When she's not perfect (7-for-7 on June 4, 4-for-4 on June 8), she's missed no more than a single free throw in any game, including a 12-for-13 night against the Dream. But that doesn't hide the fact that the Mercury is struggling, winning only one of its last five.
Last ranking: 11
In the games where Crystal Langhorne isn't doing her damage in points, she's taking care of business on the boards. Take for example May 21 against the Liberty when she scored only 10 points but rounded out the double-double with 11 rebounds. Or even a similar performance on May 28 against the Sparks where she scored 13 but also added 10 boards. Sure, she had a monster 17-16 game against the Sun on May 30, and just recently accumulated a season-high 23 points (and eight rebounds) against the Dream this past weekend. Not every game can be a high-scoring affair for Langhorne, but her well-rounded play makes her a double-edged sword for the Mystics and a key player they will look to rely on for the remainder of the season.
Last ranking: 8
The early-season favorite for Rookie of the Year honors had one heck of a week since the last installment of Race to the MVP. Two consecutive double-doubles keep Tina Charles in the running, as she posted up 13 points and a new career-high 15 boards Friday against the Liberty. She followed up on Sunday with 19 points and 11 rebounds in the Sun's 81-68 win over the Silver Stars. Not surprisingly, Connecticut walked away winners in both of those games and improved to 5-2 on the season.
Last ranking: 10
Tamika Catchings tallied 27 points on 7-of-9 shooting Sunday evening as the Fever pounded the Lynx 89-51. What's more, she was a perfect 10-for-10 from the line and finished just one point short of her season-high 28, a total she reached back on May 22 against the Sky. For a defense-first team like the Fever, currently ranked first in the league for points allowed (68.13), Catchings' two-way play is a perfect fit. Let's not forget she was the 2009 Defensive Player of the Year (hard to forget when I remind you every week, huh?).
Last ranking: 6
Monique Currie drops a few spots in this week's rankings, but that doesn't necessarily mean she's out of the Race to the MVP entirely. Saturday's 10-point, two-rebound game against Atlanta may not have been Monique's best game of the year, but it wasn't exactly horrible either. Her 17.1 ppg, 1.88 spg and .455 three-point percentage remain the best on the team. With just one game to go by since the last Race to the MVP rankings, a slight move down the list (but not completely off) seems just about right.