WNBA Player Rankings: Week 1

SECAUCUS, N.J., May 22, 2007 -- After writing Race to the MVP for NBA.com from November until May, yours truly thought he was going to get the summer off to recharge the creative battery.

My boss, on the other hand, had a different plan. He thought it would be a good idea for me to write a WNBA version of Race to the MVP. And you know what? I agree.

So every Tuesday, be sure to check WNBA.com to see if your favorite player was able to crack my top 15 ranking. I plan on reading every WNBA-related article on the Web and in print and watching as many WNBA games as possible so that I can accurately predict who the leading MVP candidates in the league are.

Still, I know what you are thinking.

Line of the Week
Erin Thorn (Liberty)
May 20 win vs. Sky
28 points, 4 assists, 5 rebounds, 8-16 FG, 7-10 3 FG

"Maurice, don't you realize that the WNBA just tipped off its 11th season this past weekend?"

"Don't you realize that it is way too early to be talking about the most prestigious award in the sport when some candidates (Washington's Alana Beard and Los Angeles' Chamique Holdsclaw) haven't even stepped on the court yet?"

"Do you understand that MVP contenders like Detroit's Cheryl Ford and Sacramento's Yolanda Griffith had less-than-stellar starts to the season?"

Yeah, I know. And I don't care, because every game counts. That's right, when you're trying to figure out who the MVP is, you have to take into account what the player did from Game 1 to Game 34.

And one more thing: remember, these are not the official league rankings. This list is based on my opinion and a constantly-changing, top-secret scientific formula. Some times you will agree with me and some times you won't. But since this is my column, guess what? I get the last word.

Here are the first rankings of the season.

  • Send your feedback
  • Race to the MVP - Overall Player Rankings (last season's stats)

    1. Tamika Catchings, Indiana
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    16.3 7.5 3.7 2.9 1.1 .407 .809
    The two-time Defensive Player of the Year is also the top offensive threat for the Fever. Last season she led Indiana in points, rebounds, assists and steals for the fifth consecutive season. She is a four-time All-Star and a five-time All-WNBA selection. Throw in the fact that Indiana is one of the top teams in the league and it is easy to see why this jack-of-all-trades player opens the season in the top spot.

    2. Diana Taurasi, Phoenix
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    25.3 3.6 4.1 1.2 0.8 .452 .781
    Taurasi is the most dominant scorer in the game. Last season she put on an offensive display unlike anything the WNBA has ever seen, leading the league in scoring and setting a new record for points in a season (860). She set the league record for points in a game when she dropped in 47 against the Comets in August.

    3. Lauren Jackson, Seattle
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    19.5 7.7 1.6 0.8 1.7 .535 .900
    With Sparks superstar Lisa Leslie sidelined because of pregnancy, LJ is the best frontcourt player in the league. She scores points in bunches, owns the glass and is an intimidator on defense. The 2003 MVP is a matchup nightmare because at 6-5 she is capable of knocking down the 3-pointer (she led the league in 3-point field-goal percentage in 2004).

    4. Tina Thompson, Houston
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    18.7 5.6 2.2 1.0 0.6 .457 .804
    After all these years, Thompson is still a force to be reckoned with. The third leading scorer in WNBA history is still capable of matching buckets with anyone. She will team with Sheryl Swoopes to try to help the Comets return to their glory days of the late 1990s when they were a championship dynasty, winning four titles.

    5. Alana Beard, Washington
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    19.2 4.7 3.1 1.8 0.8 .495 .758
    Red flags went up everywhere in Washington when Beard, the franchise player, missed the season opener last weekend because of a shoulder injury. Last season was the best of her three-year career as she posted highs in points, rebounds and assists.

    6. Katie Douglas, Connecticut
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    16.4 3.8 2.5 1.9 0.1 .443 .839
    Douglas is starting to pile up the accolades. She was named to the All-Defensive First Team in 2005 and chosen as the All-Star Game MVP last year. She finished third in the league MVP voting last season after setting franchise records for made threes with 73 and a scoring average (16.4 per game).

    7. Cheryl Ford, Detroit
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    13.8 11.3 1.4 1.2 0.8 .498 .648
    When it comes to rebounding, nobody does it better. The inside muscle for the defending champions became the WNBA’s all-time single-season rebounder last season. Other highlights from her best year include averaging a career high in points, leading the league in boards and achieving personal bests in field goal percentage and free throws made and attempted.

    8. Taj McWilliams-Franklin, Sparks
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    12.8 9.6 2.5 1.1 1.0 .499 .736
    The veteran is being counted on to fill the void left by Leslie. Los Angeles acquired her via trade from Connecticut in February. The five-time All-Star was second in the league in rebounds last season, setting franchise records for total rebounds with 306, defensive rebounds with 202 and double-doubles with 12.

    9. Seimone Augustus, Minnesota
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    21.9 3.8 1.5 0.6 0.5 .457 .897
    The guard took the league by storm on the way to earning Rookie of the Year honors. She became just the 10th player to average over 20 points per game en route to posting the second highest single season point total (744) in WNBA history. The highlight of her season was becoming just the third player to post six 30-point scoring games. The only reason she is so low in the R2MVP rankings is because of the overall struggles of her team.

    10. Sheryl Swoopes, Houston
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    15.6 5.9 3.7 2.1 0.3 .413 .764
    No MVP column could be complete without mentioning Swoopes, a three-time winner of the award. There is not enough space in this box to list all of her accomplishments, which include being a three-time Olympic gold-medal winner and a four-time WNBA champion. Despite being 36-years old, she does not appear to be slowing down.

    On the Outside Looking In (2006 season averages)
    11. Deanna Nolan (DET): 13.8 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 3.7 APG
    12. Cappie Pondexter (PHX): 19.5 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 3.1 APG
    13. Lindsay Whalen (CON): 9.0 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 4.6 APG
    14. Chamique Holdsclaw (LAS): 15.0 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 2.2 APG
    15. Sue Bird (SEA): 11.4 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 4.8 APG
    More »

    Video

    Hammon Makes Coaching Debut

    Becky Hammon makes history as the first woman to be a full time NBA coach.

    USA Basketball Women’s National Team: Capturing the Gold

    An all access look at the team’s journey through the 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women culminating in their gold medal win

    Nneka Ogwumike and Breanna Stewart: Off Day in Istanbul

    During a break in their busy game schedule, Nneka Ogwumike and Breanna Stewart took a tour through Istanbul’s world famous spice market

    Through The Lens: USA Women's National Team Takes Gold!

    Look at all of the highlights from the U.S. Women's National Team's gold medal winning performance versus Spain in the 2014 FIBA World Championship.

    Taylor+Leads+Australia+over+Turkey

    Penny Taylor scored 13 points to lead Australia over Turkey in the third place game at the 2014 FIBA World Championship.