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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Earlier this week, Liz Cambage made sure the entire basketball world knew she was back in the WNBA and better than ever. After four years away from the league, Cambage is an All-Star once again and now owns the greatest scoring performance in WNBA history. The Australian center dropped a league-record 53 points in Dallas’ win over the Liberty on Tuesday.
Cambage was on her way to an MVP-caliber season even before the historic performance. Now, after helping the Wings win six of their last seven games, where does she rank in our Race to the MVP?
1. Breanna Stewart, Seattle Storm
Last Week: 1
Stats: 22.9 points, 54% FG, 8.2 rebounds, 1.6 blocks, 1.5 steals
Stewart ranks No. 1 for the fourth straight time after a pair of 30-point outings in Seattle victories this past week. She recorded 35 points and 10 boards against the Wings on Saturday, outscoring Cambage (23 points) for the third time in as many matchups this season. The only other player in Storm history with a 35-10 game is three-time MVP Lauren Jackson.
2. Liz Cambage, Dallas Wings
Last Week: 5
Stats: 21.4 points, 59% FG, 9.2 rebounds, 1.9 blocks
Cambage’s line against New York was absolutely absurd: 53 points, 17-of-22 shooting, 15-of-16 at the foul line, 10 rebounds, five blocks and zero turnovers. The 6-foot-8 center dominated in a variety of ways, with drives to the hoop, mid-range jumpers and a career-high four three-pointers. The Liberty were within striking distance until Cambage scored 20 points in the fourth quarter (also a WNBA record). She and the Wings are back in action Thursday against the Mystics on ESPN2 (8 PM ET).
3. Sylvia Fowles, Minnesota Lynx
Last Week: 2
Stats: 17.3 points, 60% FG, 12.0 rebounds
It had been a tough week for Fowles and the Lynx, but the reigning MVP responded in a big way on Wednesday. She made a bit of history herself, recording just the second game in WNBA history featuring at least 30 points, 15 rebounds and 80 percent shooting (Lisa Leslie, 2002). The Lynx have dropped to seventh place, but Fowles continues to have another stellar season.
4. Brittney Griner, Phoenix Mercury
Last Week: 3
Stats: 20.7 points, 55% FG, 7.3 rebounds, 2.9 blocks
Last week we mentioned it would be nice to see a breakout night from Griner, who had yet to score 30 points in a game this season. She answered the bell with a season-high 36 points and 12 rebounds on the road against Indiana. After Sylvia Fowles entered the all-time top five in blocks last week, it will be Griner’s turn to do so in the next few games. It will be a remarkable achievement for a player in just her sixth season.
5. Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury
Last Week: 4
Stats: 20.0 points, 45% FG, 41% 3FG, 4.8 assists
Officially named an All-Star on Tuesday, the 14-year veteran kept rolling with a productive pair of games in the past week. Taurasi drained five three-pointers and dished at least six assists against both the Sun and Fever. In the Connecticut matchup, Taurasi recorded her 30th career game with at least 25 points, five rebounds and five assists, the most such games in WNBA history.
6. Candace Parker, Los Angeles Sparks
Last Week: 7
Stats: 17.6 points, 50% FG, 7.0 rebounds, 4.6 assists
For the second time in three games, Parker put up a stat line that had never been done before in the WNBA. The former MVP finished with 34 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists and two blocks as the Sparks pulled away for a comfortable win in Las Vegas on Sunday. At 14-9, L.A. still has an outside chance to earn the top seed in the playoffs. If they can make a run at it, Parker will rise in the MVP race.
7. Elena Delle Donne, Washington Mystics
Last Week: 6
Stats: 20.6 points, 47% FG, 6.9 rebounds
Washington is one of three teams currently tied for fourth place at 13-9. Like Parker, Delle Donne’s team will likely need a run to one of the top seeds for her to have a chance at winning a second MVP award. In a week full of milestones around the league, Delle Donne became the fastest player (148 games) to reach 3,000 career points during Sunday’s contest against Atlanta. She and Parker were named captains for the July 28 All-Star Game in Minneapolis.
8. Skylar Diggins-Smith, Dallas Wings
Last Week: 10
Stats: 19.0 points, 43% FG, 6.5 assists, 1.6 steals
While she has taken a back seat to Cambage in games like Tuesday’s, Diggins-Smith is often the one finding her in open spots and has been essential to Dallas’ success. She dished at least seven assists in every game this past week, highlighted by a 22-point, 11-assist night in a victory in Los Angeles. Diggins-Smith recently became the first WNBA player to average at least 20 points and six assists on 55 percent shooting during a five-game win streak.
9. A’ja Wilson, Las Vegas Aces
Last Week: 8
Stats: 19.9 points, 44% FG, 8.7 rebounds, 1.8 blocks
Wilson has struggled with her shot in the last few games, but she’s contributing in other ways and helping the Aces reach new heights. She racked up 11 points, 15 boards, five assists and four blocks on Friday as Las Vegas secured its first win over the Lynx since 2010. Next up is a matchup with Griner and the Mercury on Thursday (10 PM ET, League Pass). The Aces are 0-2 against Phoenix this season, with Wilson struggling a bit in both contests.
10. Angel McCoughtry, Atlanta Dream
Last Week: Unranked
Stats: 17.0 points, 42% FG, 6.0 rebounds
The Dream have won five straight to climb to a tie for fourth place (13-9). Tiffany Hayes is another candidate for this recognition, but McCoughtry was named an All-Star and earns the nod here. After sitting out last season, McCoughtry has already helped the Dream to more victories than they had in all of 2017. The seven-time All-Defensive First Team selection is once again among the most effective defenders in the league.