The WNBA season has already taken many twists and turns and it is only halfway over.
The story of the season appeared it was going to be the Minnesota Lynx, who started out 10-0 before finally losing a game to the Seattle Storm. Then the Lynx won three more in a row and it appeared it was just a hiccup that they suffered in Seattle. Then the Lynx lost three straight and now at 13-4, the team that appeared well on its way to the record for most wins in a season appears vulnerable.
There has been the play of the Los Angeles Sparks, which has been inconsistent at times, but a great improvement from where they were a year ago. This year the question isn’t if the Sparks will make the playoffs, but how high they can finish in their conference.
The Lynx and the Sparks both have to look out for the San Antonio Silver Stars, who after a 4-5 start have won nine straight leading into the Olympic break and just a game and a half out of first place in the West.
The West teams can’t sleep on the Storm either. Though Seattle is a game under .500 at 9-10, it will welcome back Lauren Jackson, who has been training with the Australian national team for the first half of the season, as well as Tina Thompson and Ann Wauters, who have both missed time with injury recently when the season resumes in mid-August.
And though the West seems to be the tougher of the two conferences, Connecticut has been impressive in the first half of the season, beginning 14-4.
With all those teams being so competitive, the race for the league’s MVP is a tight one. Here are my top-five picks after the first half of the season.
1. Tina Charles | Connecticut Sun – I had a vote in the MVP race last season and I cast my vote for Charles. I explained my decision by saying not only are her statistics outstanding, but I believe that she has the most impact on her team. Without Charles I don’t believe the Sun would even be a playoff team. I’m sticking with that this season, her numbers are just as impressive and she has helped the Sun to the top seed in the East.
2. Candace Parker | Los Angeles Sparks – Parker has proven in 2012 how good the Sparks can be when she is healthy. Though Los Angeles has been inconsistent at time, Parker really hasn’t. Her averages of 19 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game are nothing short of dominant.
3. Tamika Catchings | Indiana Fever – Catchings won the MVP award in 2011 as she led the Fever to the best record in the East. The Fever are 10-7 in the East at this year’s Olympic break, probably short of where they wanted to be, but Catchings has been herself all season, averaging 18.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists and two steals per game.
4. Sophia Young | San Antonio Silver Stars – Young is the best player on a team that has won nine straight. If the Silver Stars continue their run after the break Young could move up this list very fast. Young averages 16.9 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 2.5 steals per game and teamed with point guard Becky Hammon along with the team’s other young talent, the Silver Stars are poised for a deep playoff run.
5. Angel McCoughtry | Atlanta Dream – McCoughtry could be higher on the list if she hadn’t missed some time due to injury and the Dream had a bit better record, but you can’t deny her numbers. McCoughtry averages 22.6 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 3.2 steals per game.
Other considered: Sylvia Fowles and Epiphanny Prince from Chicago. I would have had Prince as the league’s MVP the way she was scoring and the way the Sky were winning early on in the season. But an injury has sidelined her for nearly half the season. Fowles has done a nice job in Prince’s absence, but the Sky have trouble maintaining early momentum without Prince’s scoring.