Race to the MVP: Week 8

SECAUCUS, N.J., July 26, 2011 -- When it comes to something as scientific as MVP prognostications, you’ve got to remember that some evidence is just inadmissible.

Exhibit A: THIS.

While we know we should probably reward Angel McCoughtry (at No. 11 this week, but primed to rise) for reminding us of what we couldn’t even do with a case of Red Bull and trampoline, this week’s MVP Race reflects only action that took place during league games.

If you’re interested, click here for much more from that time the best active -- and Top 15 all-time -- WNBA players got together in San Antonio.

But without a whole lot to work with last week – most players played, at most, two games before the break – there wasn’t a whole lot of movement this time around. However, pay special attention to a rumbling near the bottom of the Top 10, as we get the feeling you’ll be hearing more from Ms. Augustus over the next few months.

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  • Race to the MVP - Overall Player Rankings

    1. Sylvia Fowles, Chicago Sky (8-9)
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    20.6 9.3 0.5 1.6 2.5 .573 0.000 .776 +23.71
  • Last ranking: 1
    Fowles scored six and pulled in six boards in 16 quality All-Star minutes, but stays at No. 1 because of two 20-point games before the break, where she scored a combined 45 points and shot 18-for-27 from the field in a loss to the Fever and a win against the Shock last week. She was, however, limited to one rebound against the Fever – an event that may not happen again until Fowles is playing a pickup game in 40 years or until the debt ceiling’s raised, whichever comes first.

  • 2. Tina Charles, Connecticut Sun (9-5)
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    18.3 10.1 0.9 0.7 1.4 .507 0.000 .766 +20.86
  • Last ranking: 2
    In her lone game before shipping off to San Antonio last week, Charles made it count – and took another step toward regaining her No. 1 position in the Race to the MVP. With 24 points and seven rebounds in a crucial win over the Liberty, she was the dominant force in a game that sent the Sun (briefly) into sole possession of first place in the East. But it was her fourth quarter – with eight points, as the Liberty nearly clawed all the way back from an 18-point deficit – that showed just why Tina may end this season with some hardware.

  • 3. Rebekkah Brunson, Minnesota Lynx (10-4)
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    13.4 10.8 1.2 0.8 0.5 .585 .000 .674 +19.93
  • Last ranking: 4
    Must. Resist. Mentioning. All-Star Stuff. Alright, alright, so it doesn’t matter that All-Star starter Brunson (who filled in for the injured Candice Parker) scored 20 points and almost notched a double-double (she had nine boards) in 24 minutes – 24! we’ve had microwaved dinners that took longer – in the All-Star Game, but it is indicative of one thing: Rebekkah Brunson belongs in the elite. With two strong games (both wins) in the days leading up to the All-Star break, she has given the first-place Minnesota Lynx an all-around presence as strong as any in the WNBA.

  • 4. Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury (10-5)
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    19.6 3.1 4.0 0.9 0.7 .431 .352 .896 +16.67
  • Last ranking: 3
    Taurasi did score 24 points in the Mercury’s loss to the Lynx on July 20, but it came on 5-of-15 shooting. However, she did go 12-of-14 from the line, which shows you just what an intelligent (and important) scorer DT has become for Phoenix. Shots aren’t falling? No problem. Just drive the lane and get a couple free ones. As the Mercury look to make good on an inspired first half, Taurasi will be the centerpiece.

  • 5. Tamika Catchings, Indiana Fever (11-6)
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    14.6 7.9 3.9 2.2 0.6 .428 .261 .915 +20.12
  • Last ranking: 5
    The Fever had sputtered a little bit heading into the break, losing three in a row before meeting with Chicago on July 22. To turn things around, they had to “attack,” in Catching’s words. And, playing off the pace set by their veteran, they did just that. Jessica Davenport led the way with 20 points, but Catching’s 13 points, seven rebounds and three assists obscured one more number: 1. One, as in, the number of turnovers Catchings had, in 30 minutes. That was the 13th time this season that she’s had two or fewer turnovers. She won’t always burn the nets down – she doesn’t have to – but when Catchings is on the floor, as always, her team’s in good hands.

  • 6. Cappie Pondexter, New York Liberty (9-7)
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    17.3 3.9 4.9 1.6 0.1 .429 .375 .881 +16.25
  • Last ranking: 6
    Pondexter is as she’s always been: a reliable scorer and a sparkplug with the ball in her hands. And after a slight lull in scoring (21 points between two games on July 13-15), she’s regained her touch, with 34 over her last two. Meanwhile, she’s still getting her teammates involved (6 assists against the Sun, to go with 16 points), attacking the boards and giving the Liberty a chance to run with – and possibly be – the best of the East.

  • 7. Becky Hammon, San Antonio Silver Stars (9-5)
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    15.8 2.6 6.2 1.3 0.4 .422 0.395 .860 +15.21
  • Last ranking: 8
    On the same day that her counterpoint Sue Bird struggled, Hammon wavered a bit, too – although to a lesser degree. Hammon scored 11 points, but the WNBA’s leader in assists chipped in only two dimes, while turning the ball over five times. She did, however, hit 3-of-6 3-pointers, showing just how dangerous she can be from everywhere on the court.

  • 8. Penny Taylor, Phoenix Mercury (10-5)
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    16.3 5.3 5.7 1.6 0.5 .549 .451 .857 +22.07
  • Last ranking: 9
    If Taylor keeps playing like this, expect her to be a fixture on this list. After spreading her efforts around in a July 15 win over the Mystics (8 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 steals), she got back to doing what she’s best at in the Mercury’s loss to the Lynx on July 20: namely, scoring. Shooting a scorching 8-for-10 from the floor (and 3-for-5 from behind the arc), Taylor dropped in 23 points, to go along with five assists and four rebounds.

  • 9. Seimone Augustus, Minnesota Lynx (10-4)
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    15.9 4.1 2.0 1.1 0.4 .487 .429 .857 +14.86
  • Last ranking: 12
    The Minnesota Lynx have the best winning percentage (.714) in the WNBA. And so much of that is thanks to the work of Seimone Augustus. The reigning Conference Player of the Week dropped in 25 points and pulled down six rebounds in the Lynx’ win over the Mercury last week, proving to be the standout player in a shootout full of stars. Finally healthy after a series of injuries, expect Augustus to make a charge up this list as the Lynx defend their spot atop theirs.

  • 10. Sue Bird, Seattle Storm (8-7)
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT% EFF
    15.3 2.8 5.2 1.5 0.1 .461 .413 .808 +15.60
  • Last ranking: 7
    A Bird in the paint is worth two on the perimeter? Something like that. In the same week that saw her named one of the WNBA’s All-Time Top 15 Players, Bird came out and took four shots against San Antonio on July 22. She made one of them. Finishing the game with four points, Bird did add seven assists, but credit for pulling the Storm out of a rare three-game losing streak belonged to her teammates. What’s so perplexing about that game is that Bird had scored 26 points just three days prior in a loss to Chicago. Who knows: Maybe Bird saw that racking up buckets wasn’t the key to her team’s success and just deferred to other scorers, but Seattle will be looking for a more balanced player from here on out.

  • On the Outside Looking In (season averages)
    11. Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta) 17.3 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 2.0 APG, 2.5 SPG, +12.71 EFF
    12. Swin Cash (Seattle) 15.9 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 2.4 APG, 1.1 SPG, +15.80 EFF
    13. Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota) 13.9 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 5.9 APG, 1.3 SPG, +16.43 EFF
    14. Candice Dupree (Phoenix) 14.5 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 2.1 APG, 0.9 BPG, +19.40 EFF
    15. Katie Douglas (Indiana) 14.5 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 2.9 APG, 1.4 SPG, +14.88 EFF
  • Dropped out: Sophia Young
  • More »

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