Note: WNBA.com’s Race to the MVP, released every Wednesday during the season, is the opinion of this writer and does not reflect the views of the WNBA or its clubs.
For most players, 10-for-11 would represent a career shooting effort. For Nneka Ogwumike, Wednesday’s output wasn’t even the best shooting effort of the last two weeks.
The forward’s game against the Sky, which helped improve the Sparks to 19-1 this season, marked the fourth time this season she’s attempted at least 10 shots and missed two or fewer. That includes these gems:
- June 11: 32 points, 12/12 FG @ Dallas
- June 14: 27 points, 12/14 FG vs. Chicago
- June 30: 38 points, 13/14 FG vs. Atlanta
- July 13: 20 points, 10/11 FG @ Chicago
It’s added up to 71.2 percent shooting on the season, which would shatter the current WNBA single-season record of 66.8 set by Tamika Raymond in 2003. Combine her offensive stardom with her equally valuable defense, and it continues to add up to the No. 1 spot in the Race to the MVP.
1. Nneka Ogwumike, Los Angeles Sparks
Last Week: 1
Stats: 19.1 points, 71% FG, 8.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.5 blocks, 1.1 steals
Nneka has simply been too big, too strong, too fast and too savvy for virtually any team in the league to handle this season. Bringing max effort every night can be hard for a team that’s only lost once; Ogwumike’s relentless motor on both ends of the floor keeps the fire going.
2. Tina Charles, New York Liberty
Last Week: 2
Stats: 22.2 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.1 steals
Only an otherworldly season from Ogwumike and the Sparks stands between Charles and her second MVP trophy. The do-it-all forward’s brilliance has — remarkably — carried the Liberty within striking distance of the Lynx for the No. 2 overall seed.
3. Maya Moore, Minnesota Lynx
Last Week: 3
Stats: 20.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.5 steals
Moore followed her 33-point showcase against the Sky with a season-high 40 in an overtime loss to Connecticut — her third career 40-point game.
4. Candace Parker, Los Angeles Sparks
Last Week: 4
Stats: 16.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.5 steals, 1.2 blocks
Back-to-back nine-assist games have vaulted Parker to third in the league in assists per game. With the Sparks clicking, the league’s most versatile big can focus on providing her team whatever it needs on a given night.
5. Angel McCoughtry, Atlanta Dream
Last Week: 6
Stats: 19.4 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.5 steals
A 24-point loss in New York killed the buzz of a three-game Dream winning streak and an MVP-level stretch from McCoughtry. First she dropped a near triple-double against the Wings in which she went 13-of-14 from the foul line. Then she sunk 4-of-5 from three in a 26-point outing in Connecticut.
6. Breanna Stewart, Seattle Storm
Last Week: 9
Stats: 19.5 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.9 blocks, 1.3 steals
What is there left to say about Stewart? Lines like Sunday’s against the Fever — 32 points, 11/15 FG, 4/5 3FG, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 block — have become Stewie’s norm.
7. Elena Delle Donne, Chicago Sky
Last Week: 5
Stats: 20.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, 41% 3FG
While the Sky as a team can’t seem to find their rhythm, EDD has found hers. She’s been on-point from three-point range, approaching her career high of 43.8% from deep, and is one of just three players averaging at least one three and one block per game.
8. Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury
Last Week: 7
Stats: 19.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 2.9 3PM/G
Every time the Mercury seem to get rolling, they encounter another stumbling block. Taurasi has remained steady offensively, however, shooting 12-of-29 (41%) from deep over their last four games.
9. Emma Meesseman, Washington Mystics
Last Week: 8
Stats: 15.1 points, 54% FG, 5.7 rebounds
Meesseman found her groove against the league’s best team, putting up 24 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists in Los Angeles. But the hot-and-cold Mystics have lost three straight.
10. Sylvia Fowles, Minnesota Lynx
Last Week: 10
Stats: 13.4 points, 57% FG, 8.1 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 1.6 blocks
Fowles overwhelmed the Wings during a 37-point rout on Saturday, posting 14 point, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks in just 21 minutes. The Lynx have hardly needed her scoring to win four of their last five.