WNBA Player Rankings: LJ Is Still the One

SECAUCUS, N.J., August 29, 2007 -- You know that feeling you get in your stomach from the top of the roller coaster when you realize you are about to go from zero to 100 miles per hour in less than five seconds?

I had those same butterflies as I watched the Stormís Lauren Jackson get swept out of the playoffs at the hands of Diana Taurasi and the Mercury a couple of days ago.

Besides putting pen to pad for the WNBA Race to the MVP, Iím also the writer of its brother column, the NBA R2MVP.

A couple of months ago, my e-mail inbox was sent into overload by fans calling me every name but Maurice after my choice for MVP, Dirk Nowitzki, came up as small as a Hollywood movie star after liposuction in the postseason.

While Jackson put up solid numbers in her two games against Phoenix, I couldnít help but think about the fact that another winner of professional basketball's most prestigious award had failed to guide her team out of the first round.

Backlash time again, right? Not exactly.

Although Jackson and Nowitzki share the distinction of having to go home early from the big dance like a grounded high school student, the comparisons should end there.

Jacksonís Storm was a .500 club trying to go toe-to-toe with the best squad in the Western Conference, while Nowitzkiís team was on the wrong end of the biggest playoff upset in NBA history.

Jackson deserved to be named MVP because she put up one of the most dominating individual seasons ever. Nowitzki deserved to be MVP because he was the driving force behind a team that flirted with the leagueís all-time wins record and finished with the best record in the league.

Jackson has already shown she can come up clutch in the playoffs, guiding Seattle to the 2004 WNBA title. Nowitzki, on the other hand, is still searching for his first championship ring.

Now that Iíve had some 49 hours, 26 minutes and 13 seconds to think about it, Jackson and Nowitzki do have something else in common. They both finished in the No. 1 spot in the R2MVP for what they did during the regular season. Postseason performance has nothing do with the award.

Here are the final player rankings for the 2007 season.

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  • Race to the MVP - Overall Player Rankings

    1. Lauren Jackson, Seattle
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    23.8 9.7 1.3 1.0 2.0 .519 .883
  • Last Week's Rank - 1
    At this point in the season, everyone is well aware of what Jackson can do on the offensive end of the court. I guess she is pretty good on the defensive end, too. She just became the first international player to be named the Defensive Player of the Year.

  • 2. Diana Taurasi, Phoenix
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    18.6 4.1 4.2 1.4 1.0 .440 .835
  • Last Week's Rank - 2
    Taurasi sacrificed parts of her game this season for the better of the team and the result was the second best record in the WNBA and a trip to the playoffs for the first time in her career.

  • 3. Becky Hammon, San Antonio
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    18.8 2.8 5.0 0.8 0.2 .445 .931
  • Last Week's Rank - 3
    The fan favorite is sure to get more than her share of MVP votes -- and for good reason -- after turning the Silver Stars from afterthoughts to title contenders in just one season in San Antonio.

  • 4. Penny Taylor, Phoenix
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    17.8 6.2 2.9 1.5 0.7 .496 .884
  • Last Week's Rank - 6
    After setting career highs in almost every category for the best team in the Western Conference, it is hard to believe that Taylor only received one vote for the most improved player.

  • 5. Katie Douglas, Connecticut
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    17.0 4.7 3.7 1.9 0.3 .428 .779
  • Last Week's Rank - 5
    Douglas put up her normal outstanding offensive numbers, but she was just as good when the opposition had the ball, earning a spot on the All-Defensive Team.

  • 6. Deanna Nolan, Detroit
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    16.3 4.4 3.9 1.4 0.4 .460 .823
  • Last Week's Rank - 4
    A four-game losing streak to end the regular season hurt Nolan's positioning in the MVP race, but she deserves to be commended for her consistent play for the team with home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.

  • 7. Sophia Young, San Antonio
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    16.8 5.9 1.6 1.5 0.4 .478 .749
  • Last Week's Rank - 7
    So much for a sophomore slump. Young scored almost five points per game more in her second year as a pro, while improving her shooting percentage for the Silver Stars.

  • 8. Alana Beard, Washington
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    18.9 4.2 3.0 1.9 0.7 .416 .847
  • Last Week's Rank - 8
    Beard is the highest-ranked player on the list from a team that did not qualify for the postseason.

  • 9. Rebekkah Brunson, Sacramento
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    11.5 8.9 0.7 1.3 0.9 .473 .686
  • Last Week's Rank - 10
    Brunson, who finished second in the WNBA in rebounds, was one of the most improved players in the league this season.

  • 10. Lindsay Whalen, Connecticut
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    13.4 4.8 5.0 2.2 0.1 .469 .785
  • Last Week's Rank - 12
    Despite getting off to a slow start, Whalen handed out a league-best 169 helpers this season.
  • On the Outside Looking In (season averages - last week's rank)
    11. Candice Dupree (Chicago): 16.6 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 1.4 APG - (11)
    12. Tina Thompson (Houston): 18.8 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 2.8 APG - (13)
    13. Tamika Catchings (Indiana): 16.6 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 4.7 APG - (14)
    14. Cappie Pondexter (Phoenix): 17.2 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 4.0 APG - (Unranked)
    15. Asjha Jones (Connecticut): 15.3 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 2.5 APG - (9)

  • Dropped out: Katie Smith (Detroit).
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