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Why Charles gets my vote for WNBA's MVP

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When I began covering the Seattle Storm, my goal was to improve the depth and quality of The Herald's WNBA coverage. I took on the challenge with great passion and intensity. It's up to you to decide whether or not I succeeded.
Recently, I was one of two media members from the Seattle market selected to vote for the league's postseason awards. I felt it was my responsibility to tackle that task with the same intensity.
A total of 41 members of the media -- two voting members from each of the 12 WNBA markets along with 17 national voters -- decide who takes home MVP, Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year and several other honors.
I felt it was my duty to do diligent research and make sure I cast my vote for, at least in my mind, the most deserving candidates. After several weeks of studying games and statistics, I submitted my votes to the league Monday.
The MVP award was the most difficult decision. My first inclination was to vote for Seimone Augustus of the Minnesota Lynx. I was impressed the two times I saw her play in Seattle and she was, in my opinion, the best player on the best team. The Lynx finished the regular season with a WNBA-leading 27-7 record.
But when I looked at her season statistics, I wasn't floored. And the more I watched Minnesota, the more I realized there were four players on that team who could, on any given night, be the best or most important player on the floor.
So I moved on from Augustus.
At this point, I felt it necessary to define what the MVP should be. The answer I came up with was that it had to be a player from a good team, but a team that would not be nearly as good without her. That led me to my answer.
I cast my MVP ballot for Tina Charles of the Connecticut Sun. Charles was a double-double machine this season, finishing fifth in the league in scoring and at 17.6 point per game and leading the league in rebounding with 11 per contest. Most important, I thought that if the Sun were forced to play an entire season without Charles, they wouldn't be tied for the best record in the Eastern Conference. They would be on the outside of the playoffs looking in -- way outside.
I also voted Charles to the All-WNBA first team, along with Augustus, Indiana's Tamika Catchings, who wound up being my second choice for MVP. Minnesota's Lindsay Whalen and Seattle's Sue Bird. I voted Bird fourth and Whalen fifth in the MVP voting. Bird because she held the Storm together in the absence of last year's league MVP, Lauren Jackson, and Whalen because she was the on-floor leader of the league's most-dominant team.
Atlanta's Angel McCoughtry, Minnesota's Rebekkah Brunson, Chicago's Sylvia Fowles, Phoenix's Diana Taurasi and San Antonio's Becky Hammon were my second-team picks.
The Coach of the Year selection was relatively easy -- Cheryl Reeve of Minnesota. Reeve led a team that missed the playoffs a year ago and turned it into a 27-win team, one victory shy of the WNBA-record held by the 2010 Storm and the 2000 and 2001 Los Angeles Sparks.
An even easier selection was the Rookie of the Year award. This was a two-woman race between Minnesota's Maya Moore and San Antonio's Danielle Adams -- until, that is, Adams went down for four weeks with a foot injury. That sealed the award for Moore.
Defensive Player of the Year was a choice between Fowles and Catchings. Last year, Catchings captured nearly three-quarters of the votes, winning the award over Fowles. In my mind, this year belongs to Fowles. Teams rarely challenged the 6-foot-6 Fowles in the paint, and when they did, all they accomplished was contributing to her league-best two blocks per game.
My choice for Sixth Woman of the Year came down to Essence Carson of the New York Liberty and DeWanna Bonner of the Phoenix Mercury. Bonner has won the award the past two seasons. This year, I chose Carson. Her 11.3 points per game were more than Bonner's and I felt she had a greater impact on the success of the Liberty than Bonner did on the Mercury.
The final two player awards went to a couple of locals. I voted center Ashley Robinson as the league's Most Improved Player and Bird as the winner of the Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award.
Storm coach Brian Agler predicted on the opening night of the season that Robinson would win the most-improved award and she gave him no reason to back down from that forecast. Her numbers might not be that impressive, but anyone who watched the Storm last season knows Robinson made huge strides. There was not a player in the league who's improvement startled me as much as Robinson's.
Bird was my selection for the sportmanship award simply because of the way she conducts herself. On the court she's a competitor who respects her opponents. Off the court she is even more impressive. In more than a year covering the Storm, I've never heard her say anything negative about an opponent.
Bird was an easy selection.
Story tags » Seattle Storm

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