WNBA action is now in full-swing and with all the talent coming into the league mixed in with game-changing trades and injuries, it truly is a wide-open race this season over who will be crowned the league's Most Valuable Player.
It's still fairly early for there to be an emerging winner, but already a few players have stepped up to stand in front of the pack. Here are the top 10.
Although the Minnesota Lynx won't play their first game this season until June 1, Moore will hit the floor this weekend with an incredible amount of fire she's been brewing in the offseason. Spurned by the Lynx losing in the 2012 WNBA Finals, Moore headed to China in the offseason and went into video-game mode for the Shanxi Tigers AVERAGING 38.7 points, 12.6 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 3.6 steals per game. Two of those games she scored 55 and 60 points. Granted, international basketball is often difficult to compare to the gameplay of the WNBA, but those numbers are impressive in any league. But with no WNBA games yet to gauge her on, time will tell if she can stay in the number one spot this season.
She's the favorite to win the MVP award this season, according to GMs around the league. And rightfully so. She's in midst in her prime and probably hungrier than anyone in the league right now to win her first WNBA championship. She goes down a tiny peg to number two for a lackluster performance in the Sparks' opener going for 10 points and 5 rebounds. But in fairness, it was against the roster-beleagured Seattle Storm who got easily routed 102-69. So it would be unfair to discredit Parker's MVP prospects too much on such a low-stakes game.
She's always been a tenacious scorer willing to do anything to rack up a win. But now this season she's joining forces with like-minded coach Bill Laimbeer, whose by any-means-necessary style of coaching is backed up by three WNBA championships in his resume. Pondexter came out of the gate swinging under Laimbeer's guidance scoring 23 points in her first game this season - 16 of those in the games first 20 minutes.
The New York Liberty looked flat in the game losing to the Connecticut Sun 81-69, including four turnovers from Pondexter. But a lot of that might have to do with the fact that Pondexter missed a majority of the team's training camp because she was still playing basketball abroad. But give her some time to play catch-up and get adjusted to Laimbeer's coaching style and both her and the team's stock are likely to improve this season.
She couldn't have had a more impressive WNBA debut as the Chicago Sky clobbered the Phoenix Mercury 102-80. Delle Donne dominated on both ends of the floor finishing with 22 points, 4 blocks and 8 rebounds. Keep in mind she put up these numbers against a team widely seen as a favorite to win it all this year. Delle Donne joins an already stacked Chicago Sky roster and could be the extra lift the Sky need to make a legitimate championship run this season. But one game is extremely difficult to gauge how she'll play this season so for now she remains at this spot.
Griner was straight up electrifying in her WNBA debut dunking TWICE in the game. Mind you there have only been 3 in-game dunks ever in the history of the WNBA before her. It's an exciting glimpse of what fans can expect from Griner as she finished the game with a solid-stat line of 17 points, 8 rebounds, 4 blocks. But it's hard to ignore the fact the Mercury lost by 22 points in her debut thus preventing her from going any higher in the rankings for now.
Diana Taurasi has built a reputation for her ferocious gameplay on the court and her silky-smooth jumpshot, already putting her in the discussion for MVP this season by default. And after missing most of last season from a series of injuries, she returns to the star-studded Phoenix Mercury in top-notch shape. She put up a solid 18 points and 4 assists in her first game this season but she gets bumped down a few pegs on the rankings for racking up four turnovers in the game as well.
The reigning WNBA MVP is in the MVP discussion by default and gave valid reason for it putting up a double-double of 19 points and 13 rebounds in her first game this season. But it's hard to put her any higher than this ranking for now considering how much she struggled with shooting in the game. Charles shot 7-21 during the game including missing 10 of her 12 shots in the first half.
The reigning WNBA champion is always a perennial favorite to win the MVP award, having done so already in 2011. She's easily one of the league's top defenders and was impressive in her season debut leading the Indiana Fever to a 15-point win against the San Antonio Silver Stars. Catchings finished the game with 19 points and 4 blocks illustrating once again she's a force to be reckoned with on both ends of the floor. But in a crowded field of MVP contenders this season, she'll need to step it up a few notches in order to be higher in the conversation.
The reigning scoring champion plays best with her back against the wall and the stakes couldn't be higher for her to succeed considering she's endured four consecutive playoffs exits. In her season debut she put up 16 points to go with four rebounds and four assists. While that stat line is impressive enough as it is, McCoughtry's relentless drive to win is likely to fuel her MVP stock even higher this season. But in order for her to move higher in the rankings, this season she'll need to shed her reputation for clumsy turnovers and selfish gameplay.
She may have not been in the MVP conversation this before her season debut, but Latta has got our attention putting up 27 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists against the Tulsa Shock. Although it will take several more games to accurately gauge her viability to be an MVP contender, it's hard to not include her in the mix at the moment with a monster scoring game like the one she had.
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.