There are just about three weeks left in the 2021 WNBA season and the playoff race is heating up - as is the MVP race.
It's been a while since we checked in on the MVP ladder so there may be some movement and maybe even some new faces checking in for the first time this season.
Let's take a look at how the ladder shakes out with just a handful of games to go.
5) Sylvia Fowles, Minnesota Lynx
Fowles is hooping lately. If she continues balling like this, it could take Minnesota from a playoff team to a championship contender.
At the time of this writing, there are only two players in the league averaging a double-double with points and rebounds: Fowles and Jonquel Jones (more on Jones in a minute). She's almost ungradable inside, averaging 12.3 of her 16.6 points per game in the paint.
On the other end of the court, she continues to show her importance, blocking and altering shots at a high clip. According to Basketball-Reference, only DeWanna Bonner has more defensive win shares than Fowles.
The Lynx have one road game against Las Vegas and two games against what should be a full-strength Washington Mystics team in their remaining eight games. Fowles and the Lynx could end up feasting on weaker competition which could help them climb in the standings and also help Fowles climb the MVP ladder.
4) Skylar Diggins-Smith, Phoenix Mercury
There's an argument for Brittany Griner to be here instead of Diggins-Smith, but we can't ignore the consistency that Diggins-Smith has provided the Mercury all season long.
If you're still on the fence about it, go watch the Mercury's last three games.
We can talk about the numbers and the big scoring outputs Diggins-Smith has had this year, but her impact on the court is where I'll point your attention to. According to WNBA Stats, Phoenix is scoring at a rate of 105.2 points per 100 possessions with Diggins-Smith on the court - the best on the team. When she sits, that number drops to 84.6 points per 100.
Her impact is being felt defensively too. With Diggins-Smith on the court, the Mercury are giving up 97.7 points per 100 possessions. When she sits, that number jumps to 104.9.
Diggins-Smith has been the glue that's kept the Mercury humming along while Diana Taurasi was out of the lineup. Even though DT is healthy again, Diggins-Smith hasn't taken one step back.
3) Breanna Stewart, Seattle Storm
We knew that we would keep Stewart on this list in pen all season long. She's one of the world's best players and is on a team that should make the WNBA Finals.
The last couple of games haven't exactly looked great for the Storm and Stewart herself hasn't been playing at her all-world level. She has a couple of weeks to correct that before we get going in the postseason.
2) A'ja Wilson, Las Vegas Aces
Last year's MVP is showing us why she's one of the world's best players on a nightly basis. Her scoring is down from last year by design as Liz Cambage is back in the fold, but her assists numbers are what I'll point you to again.
Wilson is averaging a career-high 3.2 assists per game with an assist rate of 16.5 percent according to Basketball-Reference, which is also a career-high.
Whatever you ask Wilson to do, she's going to do and do it well. The Aces have unfinished business after losing in the Finals last year. With their team back and healthy, they may bring a title back to the strip.
1) Jonquel Jones, Connecticut Sun
If you had to vote for the 2021 WNBA MVP right now, I don't know how you wouldn't vote for Jones.
She's been the best player on the best team and having an otherworldly season. Jones is averaging career-highs in points per game (19.8), assists per game (2.8) and steals (1.3) per contest. She's shooting an efficient 52.1 percent from the field and 37.8 percent from three. At the time of this writing, she has a PER of 28.5 and leads the league in win shares at 5.0 according to Basketball-Reference.
When she's on the court, the Sun are outscoring teams by 17.2 points per 100 possessions. When she sits, they are being outscored by 3.7 points per 100.
She's having a remarkable season and deserves the MVP award should the season end today.
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