With the All-Star break over, the WNBA season is back into full swing as the competition starts shaping up with playoffs right around the corner.
While some of the league's current crop of MVP candidates have somewhat cooled since the break, Lindsay Whalen's stock continues to rise as she's leading the Minnesota Lynx on an impressive 10-game winning streak.
But many of you the fans have weighed in to say that other players in the league deserve consideration too.
"How is it possible to include Cappie Pondexter and Tina Charles and no inclusion of Tamika Catchings? She has great numbers and a better record than the other two people's teams. She's doing all this with many of her important role players injured this season like Katie Douglas."
- William in Puerto Rico
Candace Parker may be sidelined with a minor injury for a moment, but her run the first half of the season in addition to her dazzling All-Star game performance keeps her in the number one spot for now.
"Candace Parker is not only an amazing player, she is a great role model for youngsters. When the West All-Stars were in trouble, it was Candace who took her play to a higher level. If the WNBA wants a role model for an MVP this year, Parker is the one."
She hasn't played in a game since the All-Star break because she's been dealing with a wrist injury that is day-to-day. But her performance at the All-Star game, among the league's elite players, is still something to marvel at. She scored 23 points, an All-Star Game record, and grabbed 11 rebounds. While its true that in exhibition games players don't necessarily play the hardest defense, it's hard to ignore the fact that Parker is one of the league's best right now. She is not only one of the league's most dominant scorers and rebounders, but she's one of the most efficient players who also makes her teammates better.
When Diana Taurasi is on, she is lights out. Against the Atlanta Dream this week, she exploded for 28 points while dishing out four assists. But it took her 19 field goal and 11 free throw attempts to score that many baskets - in other words she scored 28 points on 30 shots in the game. And that poor efficiency doesn't even account for the fact that she had seven turnovers in the game. It's great to marvel at the fact that she is playing at a superstar level (league's leading scorer) while most of her surrounding cast being riddled with injuries. But if she honed in on her efficiency, she would clearly be at the top of this list.
It's been a delight to watch how much Angel McCoughtry has matured this season into a dominant force on both ends of the floor. In the very same game against the Phoenix Mercury, she went into video game mode - scoring 33 points to go with four steals and eight assists. But she was also a little too trigger happy, scoring those 33 points on 30 field goal and 12 free throw attempts. Like Taurasi, she too is getting more touches on the ball because her roster is struggling with injuries, but she'll need to hone in on her efficiency before she gets bumped up higher on this list.
It's been exciting this season to see Lindsay Whalen get the spotlight she deserves going from an under-the-radar passer to a force every time she brings the ball up the court. She's been the main driving force behind Minnesota's meteoric 10-game winning streak, leading the team in scoring night after night or putting up other impressive stat lines like her double double of 11 points and 10 assists she racked up this week against the San Antonio Silver Stars or the game-high 22 points she put up in a blowout win against the Seattle Storm a few nights before. At this point, one of the only reasons she is even this low on the list is that it took her a few weeks before she got started on this impressive run. But expect her to move up higher in the rankings if she keeps playing at this level.
She's missed a couple games of late because of a nasty concussion she suffered right before the All-Star break. But it's hard to ignore how dominant this rookie has been since the moment she's stepped on the court. It's no surprise she was the league's leading vote getter in the WNBA All-Star game because she's consistently proven that she's one of the league's most efficient shooters and most reliable players during crunch time. She was a little sluggish in her first game back from injury this week, but expect her to get back into the swing of things once she gets some more game action back under her belt.
Sylvia Fowles has easily been one of the league's most dominant centers this season week after week. Against the Indiana Fever, she logged a double-double of 14 points and 17 rebounds and a few nights before she went into beast mode, scoring 32 points on 10-for-14 field goal shooting and grabbing 15 boards. Wow. If she just perfected playing this way consistently, she would be much higher on this list.
Maya Moore might often get overshadowed by the performances of her superstar teammates, but she was definitely the breakout one this week against the San Antonio Silver Stars. She finished the game with a juggernaut stat line of 26 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and three steals. In her previous two games, she had back-to-back outings of 16 points. But, as its been repeatedly said again and again in these weekly MVP columns, Maya Moore has one of the toughest challenges to be an MVP contender this season because she's got some of the league's best scorers (Seimone Augustus), rebounders (Rebekkah Brunson) and passers (Lindsay Whalen) on her team to share the spotlight.
As the league's reigning MVP, Tina Charles badly deserves to be higher on this list considering she's perhaps playing even better than she did last season. In the past three games, she's racked up at least 22 points and 12 rebounds and she just surpassed the career 1,300-rebound milestone - the fastest player in WNBA history to do it (119 games). But despite how well she is playing, it doesn't change the fact that the Connecticut Sun are suffering through a 6-13 start to the season. It's hard to make the case for a player to be an MVP when her numbers aren't enough for the team to win more games.
The reigning WNBA champion has one of the most injury-laden rosters in the league right now yet has helped the team stay competitive this season by staying above .500. In the team's blowout against the Chicago Sky, Catchings tore through the stats sheet with 17 points, 10 rebounds, five steals and four blocks. At 34 years old, she continues to be one of the most tenacious players in the league.
Since the All-Star break, Cappie Pondexter has done a solid job honing in on her Achilles' heel - turnovers - and helping her team win some games. In the team's last outing against the Washington Mystics, Pondexter came up big in crunch time and put up 21 points and eight assists to help her team come from behind and win 93-88. She has the keys to the team, so if she can keep her turnovers down, the New York Liberty will go as far as she can take them this season.
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.