WNBA

WNBA MVP Ladder: Jones has the Sun Blazing

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Two weeks have gone by in the WNBA, and the MVP race is heating up. Some fresh faces have shown up in the conversation, and a handful of tenured greats are making noise. Who are the top candidates for the award so far?

1. Jonquel Jones, F, Connecticut Sun

Season averages: 18.4 PPG, 10.8 REB, 3.2 AST, 1.6 STL

Team record: 5-1

The Connecticut Sun got off to a league-best 5-0 start, and a huge part of that is due to Jonquel Jones coming back with a vengeance. Jones is doing a little bit of everything for this Sun team. Whether it’s scoring, playmaking, or defending, she performs at a high level. She also is shooting the ball very efficiently with splits of 55.4% FG/ 50.0% 3P/ 75.0% FT. Even though she plays next to another very good player in DeWanna Bonner, Jonquel Jones still boasts the higher PIE (Player Impact Estimate) of the two by a fairly large 4 point margin. Jones is truly the driving engine behind the W’s best team, putting her at number one in our MVP power rankings. 

2. Sabrina Ionescu, G, New York Liberty

Season averages: 17.8 PPG, 6.8 REB, 7.8 AST

Team record: 5-1

Sabrina Ionescu is back after missing most of her rookie year due to injury. In 2021, she’s officially putting the league on notice. Ionescu has been on triple-double watch every single night while playing very inspired basketball. She’s managed to blend her shooting and gravity to get other players open looks even when she doesn’t have the ball in her hands. Opponents know they can’t leave her open, which opens up a lot of the offense for other players on the Liberty. Ionescu’s pick and roll play has also been incredible so far, especially for a second-year player with just nine career WNBA games under her belt. To put it simply, Ionescu is telling the whole league that she’s up next.

3. Breanna Stewart, F, Seattle Storm

Season averages: 24.0 PTS, 10.8 REB, 2.0 AST, 2.0 BLK

Team record: 4-1

Breanna Stewart spent her 2020 collecting every ring possible, including a championship ring, and even an engagement ring. So far this season, she’s back and looking to reclaim her spot as the best player in the league. Any time the Seattle Storm need a bucket, they always know exactly who to give the ball to. The only thing holding her back is a slow start from three- she’s shooting just 29.2% from beyond the arc to begin the season. If she can knock off the rust to get her jumper going, the rest of the WNBA should be scared. While the Storm are readjusting to their new roster, they should be able to count on Breanna no matter what.

4. A’ja Wilson, F, Las Vegas Aces

Season averages: 18.3 PPG, 7.8 REB, 3.3 AST, 2.0 BLK

Team record: 2-2

A’ja Wilson is truly the definition of the word ‘valuable’ when it comes to the MVP award. If she wasn’t in Las Vegas this year, who knows where the team would be. She makes a huge impact on both sides of the floor every single game, but her team record brings her down slightly here. However, the Aces’ record should improve as the season goes on, so she’ll almost certainly move up in the MVP power rankings given a bit more time. As the reigning MVP, A’ja has proven she’s among the best in the league- and there’s a strong case to be made that she could win it in back-to-back seasons. All in all, A’ja has had a solid individual start thus far.

5. Courtney Vandersloot, G, Chicago Sky

Season averages: 10.8 PPG, 8.5 AST, 4.3 REB

Team record: 2-2

Courtney Vandersloot is not only the engine and leader of the Chicago Sky, but she’s also arguably the best point guard in the league. She leads the WNBA in assists per game and truly makes everyone on the roster better when she’s on the floor. With Candace Parker’s recent injury, expect Vandersloot to up her scoring average as well. No matter what the Sky do for the next few weeks, it all starts with their star playmaker, meaning Courtney has a chance to really jump-start a case for MVP.

 

About Akhil Hollingsworth

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