Good Afternoon, it is August 28th, and this is Welcome to the Wubble: August Edition.
First and foremost the WNBA has been one of the leading voices in demanding social justice from the opening moment of silence for Breonna Taylor, absence for the anthem and recently their boycott of games in protest and memory of Jacob Blake and regardless of my perspective on these issues, the solidarity and unity of action from all these athletes is commendable and, at the moment, unseen in any other league.
Switching perspectives to the action on the court with our MVP race update as of August 28th. The leading 4 frontrunners for the MVP award are, in no particular order and in my opinion, Breanna Stewart (SEA), A’ja Wilson (LV), Candace Parker (LAS) and Courtney Vandersloot (CHI).
Starting off with Breanna Stewart who currently is the league leader in win shares with 3.2. Stewie is playing her first season back from a torn achilles which she suffered in a EuroLeague game causing her to miss the entirety of the 2019 WNBA season. However, she has returned to similar form that she had during her 2018 MVP season when she dominated the league en route to a League Championship. Additionally, she leads the league in efficiency, is top 5 in points and top 10 in rebounds, blocks and steals. If I had to vote on a player to give the MVP to at this point: My vote goes to Breanna Stewart.
However, the award isn’t given out in August and there are a group of 3 athletes who are having seasons worthy of knocking Stewie off the top and taking the MVP award back home to their respective trophy cases. A’ja Wilson is free and on the loose again out in Las Vegas. Earning more of a volume share due to Liz Cambage’s medical exemption from the Wubble, Wilson’s numbers have expectedly jumped back up to SuperStar status. Sitting in 3rd in scoring and inside the top 5 for both blocks and rebounds, Wilson is unanimous all star (if there was a game) and a big threat to the dominant Seattle Storm this season.
Staying in the western conference is the Wonder Woman herself Candace Parker. Parker is one of only 2 players in the WNBA to be averaging 10+ points and 9+ rebounds a game. Parker has a 26% Point rate for the Sparks meaning she’s scoring 26% of their points per game she has played in. Her MVP candidacy so far has ridden not on the flashy point scoring or stat-stuffing but rather in her stingy defense. Parker leads the league (among players playing in 7+ games) in defensive rebounding percentage with a whopping 30.4%, 3% higher than the next highest qualifying player. Parker is denying buckets and removing second chance opportunities to propel the sparks to a 10-3 record, good for 3rd in the entire league. If Parker can somehow take her already excellent offensive game to another level while keeping these defensive numbers she can put up a compelling case for MVP.
Finally from the east we find guard Courtney Vandersloot or as I like to call her “The Point Goddess.” If you want a pure offensive beast, the 2020 Vandersloot Campaign is one to watch for her. She leads the league in all of the following categories: total assists, assists per game, assist percentage, offensive win shares, offensive rating. Her numbers in those categories? OUTSTANDING. She has 131 assists (50 gap to second place), 8.7 assists per game (3.2 gap), 41.5% assist percentage (7.5% gap), OWS of 2.3 (.7 gap to Stewart and second), and an offensive rating of 126.8. Oh and did I mention she’s also averaging 13.5 points and an AST/TO ratio of 4? She does that too. Just to top it off she’s .005 away from being in the 50/40/90 club and the 50/50/90 club. The offense is there for Vandersloot and if she continues to produce at this level (which she has for the past 4 years) she can be the MVP easily.
The Heat Index
HOT: The Seattle Storm (11-3) The Storm recently had their 9 game win streak ended by the Indiana Fever with some controversy coming from that game. The run was a historic one setting records in margin of victory over 4, 5 and 6 games. The top tier of the WNBA is currently a lonely one with the Storm sitting alone at the top. But, all it takes is a couple of ill timed mistakes to find yourself on the couch at the end of the year.
HOT: The Las Vegas Aces (10-3) Out in Las Vegas lies a real threat to the dominance this season of the Storm. A scheduled clash between the two was postponed due to the boycott so we will have to wait before we witness round 2 for these teams. (Aces won 82-74 in the First Meeting). Let’s talk about scoring. The Aces lead the league in PPG with the Storm and Sparks in 3rd and 4th respectively and are led by A’ja Wilson and Angel McCoughtry. It’s easy to see why this team is so dangerous as they have 4 games scoring over 95 points and can shoot the lights out at a 48% rate. Two of the Aces 3 losses have been by a combined total of 4 points to the Chicago Sky so when it comes to luck it appears these Aces may not have it, but if that luck can flip, Watch out.
HOT: The Chicago Sky (10-5) Offensive Firepower galore. 5 players in double figures for scoring and the #2 scoring offense in the league. They lead the league in FG% with 49.5%, a figure that is crazy high for any team. The Sky have both a ton of close wins and close losses (<5 points) but at the same time were on a 4 game win streak before the New York Liberty handed them a 2 point loss. The team can squeak out a win when needed and can get hot fast, both very dangerous things.
COLD: The New York Liberty (2-12) Oh the sweet Liberty. If you thought Sabrina Ionescu was a difference maker in college, look again at the Liberty. Losing the #1 overall pick to injury in game 2 is bad enough but to only make matters worse, the team has 7 rookies and lost Asia Durr for the opening due to a positive COVID test. Any player as good as Ionescu will leave a gap but Layeshia Clarendon, Kia Nurse and Amanda Zahui B are doing their best to fill it on the court. Clarendon is averaging 12 points and 6 rebounds which is remarkable on a team only scoring 74 points a game. Zahui B is also playing an above average season averaging a solid 10.7 points and 8.2 rebounds. Expectations for the Liberty were low and the loss of Ionescu didn’t help.
COLD: The Atlanta Dream (3-11) The Dream are an interesting situation. In the beginning of the year they were either winning or losing by 10+ points. That is a scary inconsistency. Good news for the Dream is the rookie phenom Chennedy Carter is back from injury and has adjusted to the WNBA pace leading the team in scoring with 17 points a game. Things aren’t great for the Dream right now but the Dream are becoming less of a nightmare.
- 12-3 Seattle Storm
- 11-3 Las Vegas Aces
- 10-3 Los Angeles Sparks
- 9-4 Minnesota Lynx
- 10-5 Chicago Sky
- 7-7 Phoenix Mercury
- 6-8 Connecticut Sun
- 5-9 Indiana Fever
- 5-10 Dallas Wings
- 4-9 Washington Mystics
- 3-11 Atlanta Dream
- 2-12 New York Liberty