Race to MVP (Week 8): Fowles On The Rise

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.

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Minnesota’s Sylvia Fowles ran away with the MVP award in 2017, showcasing one of the best seasons by a center in league history. While the Lynx have already lost more games than they did all of last season, Fowles is right in the mix for the MVP once again with 14 games to go. It was Maya Moore who led the Lynx on their recent seven-game win streak, but Fowles has been their most dominant force for the second straight season.

With Fowles on the rise, here are the Week 8 rankings in the Race to the MVP.

1. Breanna Stewart, Seattle Storm
Last Week: 1
Stats: 22.0 points, 54% FG, 8.0 rebounds, 1.6 blocks, 1.5 steals

The Storm had a five-game win streak heading into Tuesday’s contest against the Los Angeles Sparks, with Stewart posting a 20-10 line almost every night. But she had a game to forget on Tuesday, shooting 6-of-17 from the floor and missing a point-blank attempt that would have sent the game to double overtime. Despite the loss, Seattle is 2-1 against L.A. this season. Stewart’s overall body of work for the first-place Storm keeps her atop this list.

2. Sylvia Fowles, Minnesota Lynx
Last Week: 4
Stats: 17.4 points, 61% FG, 11.8 rebounds, 1.5 steals

Fowles was in MVP form as Minnesota picked up its first win of the year over the Sparks, posting 27 points (10-11 FG), nine boards, two blocks and a career-high seven assists. After a disappointing night against her former team in Chicago, Fowles did it all again in the win over Indiana on Wednesday (20 points on 8-10 FG, 10 rebounds and seven assists). A three-time Defensive Player of the Year, Fowles is just one block from entering the WNBA’s all-time top five in rejections.

3. Brittney Griner, Phoenix Mercury
Last Week: 2
Stats: 20.0 points, 54% FG, 7.2 rebounds, 3.0 blocks

Griner continues to put up solid numbers for Phoenix, but she hasn’t been quite as dominant as last season. She has still yet to score 30 points in a game this year after notching a league-best six 30-point outings in 2017 (despite missing nearly a quarter of the season). Having lost two straight, Griner and the Mercury will look to bounce back Friday in Connecticut.

4. Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury
Last Week: 3
Stats: 19.6 points, 44% FG, 4.7 assists

It’s telling that Taurasi left Tuesday’s game in the first quarter due to illness, and the Mercury went on to suffer their worst loss of the season. Phoenix had won its first two matchups with Dallas this year. Let’s hope it is a minor illness and Taurasi can continue her stellar season. The Mercury could use her as they close out a four-game road trip this week.

5. Liz Cambage, Dallas Wings
Last Week: 6
Stats: 20.1 points, 57% FG, 9.6 rebounds, 1.8 blocks

The Wings (11-8) have now won four straight and five of their last six, with the only loss being a defeat to Minnesota in which Cambage exited due to injury. In the past week, Cambage scored in double figures every game, highlighted by a 19-point, 12-rebound performance on the road against New York. She will have a difficult test Thursday against the Sparks (3:30 PM ET, League Pass) as Dallas looks to keep its win streak alive.

6. Elena Delle Donne, Washington Mystics
Last Week: 5
Stats: 20.2 points, 47% FG, 6.8 rebounds

Delle Donne was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week for the third time in the last four weeks. On Sunday in Seattle, she missed a free throw for the first time in almost a month, but the former MVP finished with 29 points, seven boards and four assists. Despite two straight losses, Delle Donne and the Mystics are tied for fourth in the standings at 12-8.

7. Candace Parker, Los Angeles Sparks
Last Week: 7
Stats: 16.4 points, 49% FG, 6.8 rebounds, 4.4 assists

The Sparks visited Seattle on Tuesday having lost five of their last six, desperately in search of a win against the best team in the league. Parker delivered with a stat line that had never been seen in the WNBA before: 21 points, 10 assists, nine rebounds, four steals and two blocks. She was one rebound shy of becoming the first WNBA player with multiple triple-doubles.

8. A’ja Wilson, Las Vegas Aces
Last Week: 9
Stats: 20.6 points, 45% FG, 8.5 rebounds, 1.7 blocks

After winning Rookie of the Month honors, Wilson followed it up by earning the first WNBA Player of the Week award of her career. She posted 24 points and a career-high seven blocks against Chicago, then exploded for 34 points with 14 boards two days later against the Sun. She’s near the top of the league in points, rebounds and blocks, and her Aces are inching closer and closer to a possible playoff spot.

9. Maya Moore, Minnesota Lynx
Last Week: 8
Stats: 19.0 points, 42% FG, 5.4 rebounds, 1.5 steals

After back-to-back Player of the Week honors and a ridiculous streak of 20-plus points, Moore came back down to earth a bit. The former MVP finished with just eight points on 2-of-13 shooting against reigning Defensive Player of the Year Alana Beard and company despite the Lynx earning their first win of the year versus L.A. (1-2). After the loss to Chicago, Moore helped Minnesota get back on track with 19 points against Indiana.

10. Skylar Diggins-Smith, Dallas Wings
Last Week: Unranked
Stats: 19.3 points, 42% FG, 6.2 assists

Diggins-Smith has been the catalyst during Dallas’ win streak and their climb to the top half of the standings. She had perhaps her best game of the year this past week against New York, recording 32 points (9-13 FG), seven rebounds, five assists and zero turnovers in a dominant victory. Diggins-Smith is having yet another All-Star caliber year, and she combines with Cambage to form one of the best duos in the game.