Race to the MVP is WNBA.coms weekly feature where we evaluate whos getting closer to that coveted crown. Starting this week, post All-Star Break, the list has been narrowed to five spots to reflect the amount of play left in the season.
Maya Moore holds on to the top spot this week heading into the second leg of the season with only a month left to go.
Last week, Maya Moore only played one game before the break, but she made it count with her third 30+ point game in the past four games. While the Lynx were struggling a little on the road, they've regained their momentum winning the last four games in a row which places them two games behind Phoenix at 17-6. While Maya certainly isn't slowing down and, really, neither are the Lynx, the one thing that could threaten their chances at another title this season is the Phoenix Mercury. But do they feel threatened?
"We're definitely a team that respects Phoenix," Moore said during a break in the All-Star action. "We definitely struggled against them earlier by not having the defensive presence that we need to to stop a really good offensive team. We're gonna definitely see them again and being in the Western conference is gonna be a great contest especially when we get together. That's what the WNBA's all about."
LAST WEEK: #3
Although the Dream lost this week in an exciting tilt with the Liberty, Angel McCoughtry sitll had 20 points and nine assists and still led the Dream on a 5-0 run before that. The Dream are sitting comfortably atop the Eastern Conference.
The Dream's success is possibly due to a hunger for the championship that has eluded them in their last three finals appearances or just the drive of a natural born competitor.
"We definitely do want that Championship, but we also have to get better each day of the season and that's what we're working on," McCoughtry said. "I know we're number one in the East, but that's not really our focus. Our focus is getting better and getting to the Big Dance. That's all we talk about."
And getting better every day is what Angel seems to be doing, immensely benefiting the Atlanta Dream.
LAST WEEK: #2
This week Diana Taurasi helped lead Phoenix to two solid wins over Washington and Connecticut with 32 points in two games. Those two wins were the latest in a 12-game Phoenix winning streak. According to Taurasi, Phoenix's season so far can be attributed to the incredible synergy of the team and the very "well-prepared" coach Sandy Brondello.
"As you get older you learn how to prepare better," Taurasi said. "You're more secure in your game, you know the things that need to be done to win a game. And that only comes with experience, with playing a lot, with being in this league a long time and I think all of those things have helped me and us feel pretty confident in what we have to do."
Candace Parker is still putting up strong numbers for the Lost Angeles Sparks, but unfortunately the numbers aren't translating to Ws. The Sparks are now 10-12 and in the bottom half of the Western pack despite another banner season from the reigning MVP. This week she had 34 and 18 points leading the Sparks to a win over Indiana, but a close loss to Washington.
Why aren't the numbers converting though? "Obviously there are a lot of close games that we've had and things like that," Parker ventured. "But at the same time, you know, we've got to fix it. We can't expect it to fix itself."
Brittney Griner had 16 and 21 points this week to help defeat Connecticut and Washington as part of Phoenix's 12-game winning streak. (Not to mention, a particularly acrobatic All-Star weekend.) But what stands out the most about Brittney Griner is her immense improvement from her rookie season. She is now putting up consistent numbers, working very well with her Mercury teammates and moving better than you'd ever expect a 6-foot-8 inch center to move.
"It's really just confidence and getting stronger, honestly, from last season and I put on a little weight," Griner said of her improvement. "I got back from China and got in the weight room."