The WNBA season is entering its final stretch and the rest of the league may be playing catchup to Chicago’s Elena Delle Donne in the race for this season’s MVP award. While Delle Donne has established herself as the frontrunner, players like Maya Moore, Tina Charles and Brittney Griner aren’t ready to concede just yet.
Elena Delle Donne – Chicago Sky
What else can be said about Delle Donne? She battled injury and fatigue last season and still was able to lead the Sky to the WNBA Finals. This season she’s fully healthy and having the best season of her WNBA career. Delle Donne currently leads the WNBA in scoring by a wide margin at 24.3 points per game. Add in 8.9 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game and it’s easy to see how big of a factor she is at both ends of the floor. What separates her from other players however is her efficiency. She’s shooting 48 percent from the field this season and while her three-point percentage has fallen off to 28 percent, she’s made up for it by converting 95 percent of her free throw attempts on 7.5 attempts per game.
Maya Moore – Minnesota Lynx
While Delle Donne remains the heavy favorite, Maya Moore has at least been able to close the gap in recent weeks and once again has the Lynx at the top of the WNBA standings. Moore has once again put up outstanding numbers, averaging 20.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and 3.5 assists while shooting 42 percent from the field and 37 percent from downtown. She does a bit of everything for the Lynx and would be the overwhelming MVP favorite if not for the outstanding season put up by Delle Donne.
Tina Charles – New York Liberty
It’s easy for a player like Tina Charles to be underappreciated. However, with the Liberty at the top of the Eastern Conference standings, it’s time that Charles garner a bit of recognition for her excellent season to date. Charles is currently fourth in the league in scoring at 17.9 points per game and is second in rebounding at 9.3 per game. She’s the focal point of Bill Laimbeer’s half-court offense and is averaging a career best 2.5 assists as well. She isn’t quite on the level of Delle Donne or Moore, but she’s having a great season for one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.
Nneka Ogwumike – L.A. Sparks
Nneka Ogwumike has put together a nice season for a Sparks team that’s been surging since the return of Candace Parker to the lineup. Parker may eventually find her way onto this list, but for now Ogwumike has put together a solid season to keep the Sparks afloat and in the playoff picture. She’s averaging 16 points and 7.9 rebounds on 49 percent shooting.
Brittney Griner – Phoenix Mercury
The Mercury went 3-4 to start the season without Brittney Griner and have gone 11-4 since. Griner has been a big reason why, averaging a career-best 16.3 points and 8.9 rebounds. She leads the league in blocks at 4.6 per game, which is more than two blocks more per game than any other player in the league. In short, no player impacts the game defensively the way Griner does, and that makes her a perennial MVP candidate.
Best of the Rest
It seems strange to see a list like this and not see Angel McCoughtry’s name near the top. This season has been a struggle so far for the Atlanta Dream, who finally snapped a six-game losing streak with a win in Tulsa on Sunday. McCoughtry played a big part in that win with 23 points, nine rebounds and four assists, but Atlanta currently sits at 8-14 with its playoff streak in jeopardy. DeWanna Bonner hasn’t shot the ball particularly well this season, but she’s made some big shots and helped lessen the sting of playing without Diana Taurasi for the Mercury this season.