Race to the MVP: Week Four

Race to the MVP: Week Four

Aman Ali, WNBA.com

After slow starts out of the gate this season, many of the league's superstars have bounced back in the MVP rankings with night-after-night clutch performances. Diana Taurasi and Maya Moore have broken through their star-studded rosters and returned to being their squads' respective go-to players.

Rookie Elena Delle Donne is all the talk of the league with a dazzling start to the season but many of you think hype around her potential MVP prospects is overblown.

"Della Donne is very good for a rookie she can shoot the ball pretty good, but other than that she's pretty average. At 6 ft.5 in. she doesn't rebound and she's not a impressive passer also at this point in her career she is a defensive liability. I am baffled that she is being talked about as an MVP candidate. She not as good as Angel McCoughtry, Candace Parker, Diane Taurasi it seems to me she is being over sold at this time in her career to even consider her play as MVP worthy or the fix is in."

-Anthony from Ohio

Meanwhile sophomore Glory Johnson is slowly blooming into a full-blown superstar for the Tulsa Shock putting up stats night after night that are too tough to ignore. Here are how the rest of the top-notch players rank up.

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    Maya Moore put up her best game of the season this week with a monster double-double against the Phoenix Mercury of 26 points and 16 rebounds to go with five assists, two steals and one block. What makes her particularly MVP worthy is compared to other teams, Moore faces more difficulty breaking through with scoring, rebounding and passing numbers, whith so many teammates who can dominate in these categories (ie. Seimone Augustus scoring, Lindsay Whalen assists and Rebekkah Brunson rebounding). Couple that with the fact that her team collectively is dominating at 5-1 in the Western Conference and it's hard to find someone playing at such an elite level right now.

    Previous Ranking: 5 || 2013 Stats: Pts: 20.8 | Rebs: 7.2 | Blocks: 3.5 | FG%: 46


    The defending scoring champion always knows how to get buckets, making her a perennial candidate for MVP honors. But why she's emerged in the elite level of candidates has a lot to do with how she has matured in making her teammates better. She's not only leading the Atlanta Dream to the league's best 6-1 record, she's helped facilitate productivity for players like Erika de Souza who has been playing some of the best basketball of her career.

    Previous Ranking: 3 || 2013 Stats: Pts: 19.4 | Rebs: 6.4 | Steals: 3.6 | Asts: 5.0



    Elena Delle Donne had her statistically strongest game of the season in Sunday's Sky loss to McCoughtry and the Dream, scoring 25 points and five assists, in addition to going a perfect 11-11 from the free throw line. Her ability to make it to the free-throw line has come up big for her this season as she is shooting an absurd 94 percent from the charity stripe (she's only missed twice this season). Just thinking about how good she's been this early in her professional career makes you wonder how explosive she'll be down the road.

    Previous Ranking: 2 || 2013 Stats: Pts: 20.3 | Rebs: 4.8 | Asts: 1.8



    Her stock has taken a slide this week, but it has less to do with her playing as it does with other players having bigger weeks. What makes Candace Parker such a worthy MVP candidate is her ability to impact the game even in games she's playing at half-throttle. She may have only had 13 points in her last outing, but she didn't need to do more as her Los Angeles Sparks clobbered the San Antonio Silver Stars 84-48 over the weekend. Considering she only played 23 minutes in the game, her 13 points and six assists are impressive, and in many cases more productive than many players in the league playing.

    Previous Ranking: 1 || 2013 Stats: Pts: 16.4 | Rebs: 9.8 | Asts: 3.4 | FG%: 52



    Diana Taurasi may have had a slow start for the season, but she's put that behind her and exploded in her past few string of games. And in true MVP fashion, she's made it explicitly clear to the world that the Phoenix Mercury is her team. She's averaging 30.3 points and 6.3 assists in her last three games as she tries to help restore the Phoenix Mercury's championship potential this season. The Mercury have had issues with spacing on the floor getting everyone to contribute productively to the team but expect Taurasi's stock to remain high if the team can resolve their issues and win more games.

    Previous Ranking: 9 || 2013 Stats: Pts: 23.7 | Assts: 4.4 | Rebs: 3.6


    Cappie Pondexter continues to shine leading her team to back-to-back wins against the formidable Atlanta Dream and Connecticut Sun. She's clearly demonstrated she is clutch winning thrilling OT winners for her team this season, but she takes a few bumps down in the rankings for her poor shot efficiency. Against the Atlanta Dream, she may have had 17 points but she had to jack up 19 shots to get them. And against the Connecticut Sun, her 20 points that game came from 8-22 shooting. While there is no dispute she is one of the league's best guards, it is difficult to place her in that elite category of MVP unless she works on her shot selection.

    Previous Ranking: 6 || 2013 Stats: Pts: 16.0 | Rebs: 5.0 | Assts: 3.5


    Tina Charles came out of the gate roaring this seasons racking up as many as 30 points and 10 rebounds against the defending champs Indiana Fever on June 12. But she followed up the game with a 7 points and 4 rebounds one against the New York Liberty two days later. She may have slightly improved the next game against the Seattle Storm with 15 points, but she put up 18 shots to get those points. To make matters worse, her team lost against the Storm's beleaguered roster. It goes without saying that the league's reigning MVP is a talented player, but in order to go for back-to-back honors she'll need to demonstrate some consistency in her game.

    Previous Ranking:7 || 2013 Stats: Pts: 18.6 | Rebs: 10.0 | Asts: 2.1



    Ivory Latta led the whirlwind Washington Mystics to a three-game winning streak against some of the league's elite squads including the Indiana Fever, Minnesota Lynx and Connecticut Sun. That was until her team came up short against the Seattle Storm this week where 38-year-old Tina Thompson put up 30 points (including 5 three pointers). While it goes without saying that this is one of Latta's best seasons to date, she will have to up her defensive game to be a true MVP candidate.

    Previous Ranking: 8 || 2013 Stats: Pts: 18.0 | Rebs: 3.3 | Asts: 4.2 | Stls: 1.2



    Sylvia Fowles has emerged this season as the league's top rebounder averaging 14 boards a game. But her inconsistency in knocking down easy baskets is what has been hurting her prospects the past few games. With Epiphanny Prince out for the next few weeks, Fowles needs to help teammate Elena Delle Donne with the team's scoring load and needs to emerge as a viable option when Delle Donne gets the double team. But considering she's put up at least 10 rebounds in every single game this season, she deserves recognition.

    Previous Ranking: 7 || 2013 Stats: Pts: 12.5 | Rebs: 14.0 | Blks: 1.8


    World, meet Glory Johnson. The WNBA sophomore seems like she has come out of nowhere this season putting up monster game after game including a 32 point and 15 rebound outing against the star-studded Phoenix Mercury. While some of the team's other stars have struggled this season, Johnson has gone under the radar and carried the team on her back including today's win against the Chicago Sky. But it's hard to push Johnson's MVP prospects any further than this considering the Tulsa Shock are 2-7. Nevertheless, the 2nd-year player has tremendous potential.

    Previous Ranking: N/A || 2013 Stats: Pts: 18.8 | Rebs: 10.8 | Asts: 1.4

    11) Kristi Toliver, Los Angeles Sparks
    12) Crystal Langhorne, Washington Mystics
    13) Seimone Augustus, Minnesota Lynx
    14) Tamika Catchings, Indiana Fever
    15) Shavonte Zellous, Indiana Fever

    Note: All stats and records are as of games played on or before June 20, 2013.