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Race to the MVP: Week Eight

Race to the MVP: Week Eight

Aman Ali,

With the All-Star game right around the corner, it's hard to believe the WNBA season is roughly halfway over. By now, each of these candidates have been tested against elite competition to better assess their chances of picking up the MVP hardware this season.

And in week eight, Candace Parker of the Los Angeles Sparks takes the lead for the second week in a row. After her dominating games as of late, many of you the fans have overwhelmingly backed her prospects for the MVP title this season.

"Parker is proving her doubters wrong. She is doing it all for the Sparks - scoring, rebounds and assists. A great teammate. Makes it look easy. Isn't that an MVP?"

-Jan in Kentucky

But that's not to say there aren't any other favorites for MVP, including Phoenix Mercury's Diana Taurasi.

"I believe that Diana Taurasi deserves the league MVP. She is not only a great player, but a great mentor. Brittney Griner progresses thanks to the merit of Diana. In my opinion she is a real leader."

- Nastya in Russia

While some of the league's superstars crowd the upper half of the rankings, many of you wrote in to give props to the league's premiere role players.

"The outstanding play of Toliver, Fowles and Whalen cannot be overstated. Whalen and Fowles are relentless near the basket and has anyone ever shot better than Toliver this season?"

- Mark in Florida

Here are this week's rankings.

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    Candace Parker dominating the floor is nothing new. Everyone knows she can score. But what makes her an MVP worthy candidate this season is how well she is making her teammates play. Parker's presence on the floor naturally draws the double-team creating opportunities for teammates like Kristi Toliver, a deadly-shooter shooting more than 40 percent from 3 point range. And what's great about Parker is she doesn't need to score to carry the game, she can give the keys to teammate Nneka Ogwumike and let her handle the buckets while Parker grabs the rebounds. And when Parker, Ogwumike and Toliver all get going, it's harder to find a trio to stop this season.

    Previous Ranking: 1 || 2013 Stats: Pts: 18.4 | Rbs: 9.4 | Blks: 2.3


    Diana Taurasi has been the driving force behind the Phoenix Mercury's turnaround this season. With Griner sidelined with injuries and Sam Prahalis now waived by the team, the team's offense runs through this prolific scorer. She's been the team's most reliable force night in and night out. This week she went up against fellow MVP candidate Candace Parker of the Los Angeles Sparks and put up a scoring show both nights, including Thursday's outing of 32 points and six assists. When the Mercury lose, it is hard to point blame at Taurasi because she has plays at an elite level each time she steps on the court.

    Previous Ranking: 3 || 2013 Stats: Pts: 22.2 | Rebs: 4.1 | Asts: 5.6



    The fans have spoken - Elena Delle Donne is the lead vote getter for this year's WNBA All-Star game. And rightfully so. Delle Donne illustrated her prowess Thursday against the New York Liberty in a game that should be nicknamed "The Elena Delle Donne Show." The rookie sensation scored 23 points in the game including 10 points in the first quarter helping the Sky win by 20 points and claim first place in the Eastern Conference. She truly is the team's difference maker that has helped carry them over the top. Considering how elite of a level she's been playing at as a rookie, it's almost scary to think about how much upside she has.

    Previous Ranking: 4 || 2013 Stats: Pts: 19.4 | Rebs: 5.7 | Asts: 2.0



    McCoughtry dominated the MVP rankings early on in the season for leading the Atlanta Dream to heights the franchise has never gone before. But it wasn't until recently the team started playing more formidible opponents - and then they started losing. From a pristine winning streak to now a three-game losing one. Nevertheless, McCoughtry has still been playing superb averaging 20 points and 5 assists in the past two games. There is no question in McCoughtry's game, but what she'll need to do more of to get back to the top of the rankings is make her teammates better. For the past few games, she's had a little bit of rust in doing that.

    Previous Ranking: 2 || 2013 Stats: Pts: 20.2 | Asts: 5.0 | Stls 3.5



    At first it feels weird to rank Lindsay Whalen above her superstar teammate Maya Moore. But it's hard to ignore what Whalen has done for the franchise lately. With Seimone Augustus out with injuries, Whalen has taken on a scoring load and often leads the game in it. Considering she's been arguably the league's best passer for years, adding her new scoring comfort into the mix makes her a force to be reckoned with. But Whalen's rise in the rankings is also an indictment of Maya Moore. Moore has played well all season long, but Whalen is surpassing her right now as the franchise's go-to player.

    Previous Ranking: 8 || 2013 Stats: Pts: 15.9 | Asts: 5.3 | Rbs: 4.1


    Sylvia Fowles continues to be the league's leading rebounder grabbing a solid eight boards to go alongside 14 points against the Connecticut Sun in her most recent outing. But Fowles has been sitting out the past few days with lagging injury issues and may not be in the rankings for longer if she doesn't get back to being healthy. But when she is healthy, she is a juggernaut.

    Previous Ranking: 5 || 2013 Stats: Pts: 14.5 | Rebs: 11.8 | Blks: 2.4


    Do not get it twisted - Maya Moore is a tremendously talented player. There isn't anyone out there who would dispute that she is one of the league's best. This season however she hasn't been able to demonstrate she is her franchise's go-to player - a critical MVP litmus test. Seimone Augustus was taking care of that role for a while and now that Augustus has been sidelined indefinitely, Lindsay Whalen has taken the baton instead. Until Moore changes that, and she is very well capable of doing so, it is difficult to give her MVP stock any more weight than this for now.

    Previous Ranking:6 || 2013 Stats: Pts: 17.2 | Rbs: 6.1 | Asts: 2.9



    Now the lowest ranked team in the Eastern Conference, it's been difficult to watch the Connecticut Sun's struggles this season with how good Charles has been playing. In her last outing, she put up a double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds against the San Antonio Silver Stars and is close to averaging that for her season as a whole. But despite the fact the league's reigning MVP is playing at that level again this season, it hasn't been enough to carry her team over their current hump.

    Previous Ranking: 9 || 2013 Stats: Pts: 19.5 | Rebs: 10.0 | Asts: 1.5


    She's arguably one of the league's best role players. When teammate Candace Parker draws a double team from opponents, Toliver has proven she is the team's most reliable alternative. She's shooting 40 percent from three-point range this season with a silky smooth jumper that is hard to stop. Although it's difficult for a role player to be an MVP candidate, Toliver deserves to be somewhere in the conversation on the merits of her shooting alone.

    Previous Ranking: 6 || 2013 Stats: Pts: 15.2 | Rebs: 2.1 | Asts: 3.4


    Cappie Pondexter has the potential to be much higher on this list. She's a prolific scorer and she's got an ankle-breaking crossover that often leaves opponents dazed and confused. But her difficulty in curbing her turnovers and poor efficiency as of late has severely hindered her MVP chances. During the Liberty's last loss to the Chicago Sky, Pondexter finished the game with 9 points on 2-11 shooting. That's in addition to the 7 turnovers she picked up too. Its understandable she is taking more shots and getting more touches on the ball because there aren't many reliable options on the roster she can turn to. But it's not winning games and its difficult to make the case for her MVP chances until she does.

    Previous Ranking: 10 || 2013 Stats: Pts: 17.3 | Rebs: 5.1 | Asts: 3.5

    11.) Ivory Latta, Washington Mystics
    12.) Riquna Williams, Tulsa Shock
    13.)Erika de Souza, Atlanta Dream
    14.) Danielle Robinson, San Antonio Silver Stars
    15.) Nneka Ogwumike, Los Angeles Sparks

    Note: All stats and records are as of games played on or before July 18, 2013.