Angel McCoughtry and the Atlanta Dream were brought back down to earth this week thanks to a tough loss to the Minnesota Lynx. Many of you weighed in on her MVP prospects saying she hasn't had the fierce competition that would expose any potential vulnerabilities until now.
"Angel is still too one dimensional and as she showed in the game vs. the Lynx, she often does not hustle on defense. Diana Taurasi and Candace Parker are not only better players but also better teammates."
- John from Illinois
Meanwhile, Candace Parker continues to put up juggernaut numbers for the Los Angeles Sparks, strengthening her chances for the MVP title this season.
"I strongly believe that Candace parker deserves the league MVP this year because she takes her game to the next level."
- Gigi from Florida
But this week's MVP rankings have less to do with the usual names thrown around this season - Candace Parker, Maya Moore and Elena Delle Donne - but their impressive teammates like Kristi Tolliver, Lindsay Whalen and Sylvia Fowles. Here are this week's rankings.
For the past seven games, Candace Parker has put up at least 17 points and seven rebounds every time she's hit the floor. This week the Los Angeles Sparks picked up their first road win of the season when Parker exploded for her season high of 30 points during a dominating win at the Tulsa Shock. Parker sat out the rest of the game early in the fourth quarter, and had she not been rested in the closing stages of the blowout, she could have very well put up more than 40 points. And this is coming off Parker's 18 point game against the San Antonio Silver Stars last week where she put up 14 of those points in the third quarter.
Angel McCoughtry and the Atlanta Dream's 7-game winning streak came to an end this week with a 22-point loss to the Minnesota Lynx. McCoughtry struggled in the game, scoring 16 points on 5-19 shooting. But one game isn't enough to discredit the meteoric run the Dream have made this season with McCoughtry at the helm. She is not only one of the leading scorers and passers in the league this season, but she's leading the league in steals with 3.5 a game.
With injuries creeping up on the Phoenix Mercury roster again this season, Diana Taurasi has carried the scoring load on her shoulders, leading the league with a commanding 21.4 points per game. But it's that very load she's taking on that appears to be hinting at some fatigue. The Mercury got blown out 91-59 by the Minnesota Lynx over the weekend, when Taurasi finished with four points on just 2-6 shooting. In true Taurasi form, she bounced back a few days later with a solid 20 points and five assists against the San Antonio Silver Stars, but it wasn't enough to pick up a win in the 80-88 loss. Taurasi played solid but visibly exhausted throughout the game and she may not be able to continue at an MVP level this season without more support from her teammates.
Of all the members of the explosive rookie class to usher in this season, Elena Delle Donne has made the most seamless transition into the WNBA. At 18.8 points and 5.8 rebounds per game she often plays with so much polish that it's easy to forget she's been a professional athlete for less than three months. In one of her more recent outings against the New York Liberty, Delle Donne scored 20 points on 7-12 shooting. While the odds are always against a rookie to win MVP honors in the same season, at this point in the season it is hard to see any veterans, let alone rookies, in the league playing better.
Sylvia Fowles might very well be the best traditional center in the league. In her last outing, Fowles had a monster game with 26 points and 18 rebounds that included 12-17 shooting from field goal range. While her MVP prospects suffer a bit because she often lacks consistency with these elite numbers, her individual performances when she explodes are ones that aren't worth missing.
With Seimone Augustus sidelined for the time being with an injury, the natural assumption would be that Maya Moore would have more opportunities to carry the team on her shoulders in MVP fashion. So far that hasn't happened enough this season. Moore has been solid this season, but continues to be outshined by her teammates. In the past few games she's been outscored by Lindsay Whalen - who has built her reputation as a passer and not a scorer - and Monica Wright - a solid bench player filling in the big void Seimone Augustus leaves behind. In order for Moore to move back into the upper tier of the MVP rankings, she needs to be the Lynx's go-to player she is more than capable of being.
Kristi Toliver has returned to being one of the league's most deadly shooters and is one of Candace Parker's most viable go-to options when she draws a double-team on the court. And she does it in such efficient fashion. During the team's romp of the Tulsa Shock this week, Toliver scored 25 points in 30 minutes shooting 3-4 from three point range and 10-14 on field goals. If she can stay hot like this throughout the season, expect her stock to rise.
Lindsay Whalen is already one of the best passers in the game today and is stepping out of her dish-first mentality and showing everyone her scoring game. With Seimone Augustus out, she's becoming one of the top bucket drainers on the team averaging 21.5 points and 3.5 rebounds in her last two outings.
Reigning MVP Tina Charles badly deserves to be higher in these rankings. With a double-double average of 18.6 points and 10.4 rebounds a game, she's continues to be one of the most dominant centers in the game. But considering the Connecticut Sun are 3-8 and at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, her numbers aren't translating into team wins. A lot of this may not be her fault - but it's difficult to make a case for someone being an MVP without throwing more of the "W" letters into the conversation.
#10. CAPPIE PONDEXTER, SAN ANTONIO SILVER STARS (3-7)
Cappie Pondexter is another player with stealler individual numbers - highlighted by her recent 34-point outing against the Los Angeles Sparks, but her high turnover stats are hurting her. The New York Liberty have lost five out of their last seven games, and in those matchups Pondexter is averaging 2.7 fumbles - including one game where she had as many as seven. While her turnovers have a lot to do with how big of a role she plays in carrying the New York Liberty on her back, cutting back on them will only increase the likelihood of bringing more wins to the team.
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.