SECAUCUS, N.J., June 28, 2011 -- Things are going to take on a whole new look over the next few weeks. With the recent news of Lauren Jackson missing up to three weeks with a hip injury and the equally disappointing news of Candace Parker missing up to six weeks with a knee injury, you already have two former MVPs dropping out of the race. If anything Jackson may find a way back into the mix when she returns, presumably healthier than she was to start the season. Parker on the other hand is likely out of the running altogether. In any case, both find themselves on the outside looking for the next few weeks or so.
But if there's one thing Storm and Sparks fans can take from the recent injuries it's this: So long as your teams crack the postseason - and LA did it last year without Parker in the lineup - there's still no telling what a healthy LJ and CP3 are capable of doing. Especially if they return in better shape than the start of the season. Scary stuff.
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: 2
Sylvia Fowles heads into Tuesday night's action as the league's leading scorer with 22.4 points per game. She's also well on her way to hosting another block party this season with a league-best 2.12 bpg. Add in her 56 percent shooting from the field (fifth overall) and her team's .500 record and things are looking pretty good for Big Syl.
Last ranking: 5
Diana Taurasi has simply been on fire. She dropped 31 to open up the season, topped that with 32 two weeks later against the Fever and has scored over 20 points in the last two games. It's no wonder the Mercury is riding a four game win streak. Even when she's struggling, like last Tuesday's 2-for-13 outing against the Silver Stars, the team is still finding ways to win. And then she's quick to bounce back too. Like when she hit three of three attempts from outside the arc three nights later.
Last ranking: 3
Four straight double-doubles for Tina Charles is nothing to take lightly. Her 19.4 points per game has her ranked third overall and there's a good chance we may see her cross the 20 ppg plateau over the next two games against a Jackson-less Storm squad and a Parker-less Sparks team.
Last ranking: 1
Rebekkah Brunson's experience a slight drop in production over the last two games and it reflects in this week's rankings. Perhaps the one downside to Brunson's point total is her limited touches. Over the last three games she has shot the ball a combined 20 times, making nine of those attempts for a three-game total of 20 points.
Last ranking: 4
There are many areas you can highlight in Tamika Catchings' game. Outside of her tenacious defense and high-speed drives to the net, keep an eye on her rebounding. Seriously. WatchTuesday's game against the Mercury (or the archive of the game if you're reading this after the fact). If she puts up a shot outside the paint, watch how quick she is to follow it up. She literally flies in from out of nowhere to snag rebounds.
Last ranking: 6
If you take one look at Cappie's game-by-game stats you'll notice one thing: she's found her rhythm. Over the first four games Cappie looked as if she was struggling a bit from the field, getting her points at the line and finding her teammates in lieu of taking her own shot. Now? Her 20-plus points over the last four is as good a reason as any to keep her in the field for MVP considerations.
Last ranking: N/A
How valuable is Becky Hammon to the Silver Stars? How about this: In Friday night's game against Los Angeles, she hit a three toward the end of regulation to tie the game at 78. Then she she scored six of San Antonio's 12 overtime points to steal the win. Top that off with her league-best 7.14 assists per game and there's no reason why she doesn't make the list this week.
Last ranking: 8
Katie Douglas dipped a bit in the rankings last week but that was a result of her injured back than anything else. In her first game back, she dropped only nine points on 4-of-10 shooting in a win over Connecticut. She bounced back the following night against Minnesota for 22 points on 9-of-14 and hauled in eight boards too. We'll keep her here at No. 8 for now and base and movement in next week's rankings on the upcoming week of play.
Last ranking: 9
Sunday's win against Minnesota was the first game this season where Sue Bird didn't register double-figures in the scoring department. With Lauren Jackson out of the lineup for the next three weeks or so, I think it's safe to assume that will change going forward. But Bird doesn't have to do it by herself, as also indicated by the eight assists she tallied. If Little and Willingham want to continue working it inside then Bird will find them all day long.
Last ranking: N/A
Candice Dupree is averaging a double-double for a team that loves to score in transition. Rebounding is a big factor in running the fast break and so far it's working to the Mercury's advantage. She opened up the season with four dub-dubs in five games and has since gone the last two without one, but if the team keeps winning there is little issue with this.
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.