SECAUCUS, N.J., June 21, 2011 -- We have a few notable changes to this week's Race to the MVP that are worth mentioning. Tina Charles joins the list for the first time this season after posting two straight double-doubles and registering a career-high 31 points on Sunday. She was well on her way to joining the "Outside Looking In" portion of the list anyway, but that sort of play, combined with Connecticut's recent string of success, launches her straight into the Top 10. The same can be said of Minnesota's Seimone Augustus.
Cappie Pondexter takes a slight dip this time around, as does Katie Douglas. But perhaps the most notable demotion from the Top 10 comes on behalf of last year's reigning MVP Lauren Jackson. Jackson landed at third overall to start the season, slipped to ninth overall the following week and now finds herself on the outside looking in. Perhaps Jackson, similar to the Storm, is struggling a bit at the beginning of the season. I can't see her falling too far out of the running over just the first few weeks, but then again "maybe" doesn't guarantee anything. Once LJ and the Storm turn things around - provided they do turn things around - a return to the Top 10 is not out of the question.
*Please note that all rankings were decided upon prior to Tuesday's games.
Odds are you may find a number of these players on the court for the All-Star Game on July 23 in San Antonio. If you want to make sure they are, do your part by voting online, using your mobile phone by texting the player's last name to 6-9-6-2-2 or by visiting m.wnba.com on any wireless carrier. All balloting will conclude at midnight ET on July 10.
Last ranking: 1
With six double-doubles in six straight games, there's no denying that Rebekkah Brunson is off to an incredible start. That total ties a league record for most double-doubles to start a season, making Friday's game against Seattle a must-watch in my book. If the MVP award was given out today, Brunson would win it. Hands down.
Last ranking: 2
Four straight games with 20 points or more has allowed Sylvia Fowles to make a strong push to the top of the Race to the MVP rankings. If Chicago can keep picking up some wins then I don't anticipate Big Syl taking a significant drop anytime soon. Those wins will come if Syl continues to stay hot.
Last ranking: N/A
Connecticut's winning and Tina Charles is thriving. Not only has the second-year center pick up two straight double-doubles, but her 31 points against the Sky on Thursday marks a new career high. And she did it against one of the bigger post teams in the league. If there's a lesson learned here it's that Tina takes losing personal.
Last ranking: 5
Tamika Catchings couldn't really get her offense going in last Tuesday's game against Tulsa and Friday's game against the Storm. The Fever escaped her shooting woes with a win over Tulsa before falling to the Storm in what was just a poor team performance overall. Indy hit its stride Sunday against the Mercury but couldn't get it done in regulation before losing in overtime. Catchings hauled in a combined 29 rebounds over both of those games, including a 17-point, 15-board performance against Phoenix for her first double-double of the season. Plenty more to come.
Last ranking: 4
Shots just aren't falling for Cappie right now, especially from downtown. Despite her struggles from the field though she is still finding ways to get her points. In Friday's loss to the Sky, Cappie shot 4-for-16 from the field (and 0-for-5 from 3-point land) but managed to finish with 20 points after knocking down 12 of 14 free-throw attempts.
Last ranking: 7
Candace Parker played a season-low 26 minutes and was limited to only eight touches in Sunday's win over Seattle. Not that it mattered much though as she still hit five of those shots to close out with 10 points and seven boards. Interestingly enough, Parker failed to reach the charity stripe for the first time this season in the win.
Last ranking: 3
In last week's rankings I said, "When Katie’s on, she’s on." That still holds true this time around, although Douglas' chances were limited a bit over the last two games. She shot the ball only seven times on Friday against the Storm and finished the game with 11 points. An injured back caused her to miss all but eight minutes of Sunday's game against Phoenix, so I find it hard to hold her low total of three points on 1-of-5 shooting against her. Let's see how she bounces back on Tuesday.
Last ranking: 6
With Lauren Jackson struggling down the middle it looks as if all eyes will be on Sue Bird to fill the void. So far she's scored in double-figures in every game and is shooting the ball with Bird-like accuracy. Her assists have taken a bit of a dip since her 13-point, 10-assist game to open up the season, but that will increase a bit more once LJ gets back into the groove.
Last ranking: N/A
Consistency is the name of the game for Seimone Augustus and the major factor in her jump into the Top 10 in this week's rankings. It's already been said countless times that the Minnesota Lynx have a number of weapons to consider on any given night. But the consistency of Augustus will continue to make the difference in a Minny win or a Minny loss. With 17, 25 and 19 points of the last three games, it's safe to say Augustus is heating up.
Last week, Lauren Hill of Mount St. Joseph University courageously took the floor for her first college game, refusing to let an inoperable brain tumor keep her from achieving her dream – and WNBA stars Elena Delle Donne and Tamika Catchings were on hand to lend their support.