With less than two weeks remaining in the WNBA's 2021 regular season, it's time for the fifth and final MVP ladder. Have a look at the five players that have separated themselves from the pack based on their individual performance and contribution to their team.
The Connecticut Sun look set to finish with the league's top seed, with a 22-6 record and a two-game lead over the Las Vegas Aces, owners of a 20-8 record. The Minnesota Lynx, Seattle Storm and Phoenix Mercury, with 18-9, 20-10 and 17-10 records, respectively, are struggling to advance directly to the Semifinals of the playoffs. The Chicago Sky, with a record of 15-14, are the last of the teams qualified to the playoffs so far.
The quartet of Dallas Wings (12-16), New York Liberty (11-18), Washington Mystics (10-17) and Los Angeles Sparks (10-18) are fighting it out for the final two playoff spots with the Atlanta Dream (7-20) and Indiana Fever (6-20) all but eliminated from contention.
That said, here's a look at the Top 5 players of the MVP Ladder, three of whom were part of the recently announced 'W25'.
5. Sylvia Fowles, Minnesota Lynx
Team record: 18-9
2021 averages: 16.4 points (63.3 FG%), 10.1 rebounds, 1.8 steals, 1.5 assists and 1.8 blocks in 30.7 minutes.
Minnesota has continued to grow as the season has progressed and it's largely a product of Fowles' dominance inside. A prominent candidate for this season's Defensive Player of the Year Award and equally impactful on offence in the paint, Fowles makes a place in this top five for the first time.
Her recent performances in wins over Seattle (29 points, 20 rebounds, four steals and three blocks) and Los Angeles (15 points and 17 rebounds) speak for themselves. The Lynx have won 12 of the last 14 games that she has played in.
4. A'ja Wilson, Las Vegas Aces
Team record: 20-8
2021 averages: 18.6 points (44.2 FG%), 9.4 rebounds, 0.8 steals, 1.4 blocks and 3.1 assists in 32.4 minutes.
The Connecticut Sun seemed to find a way to stop A'ja Wilson as they held the reigning league MVP to just four points on 1-of-15 shooting from the field in what was one of the worst games of her career. However, Wilson found a way to bounce back, nearly recording a triple-double in the next game with 21 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists against the Fever.
She ranks among the top 10 in points and rebounds but her dismal performance against the Aces' rivals finds her a spot lower and not as the favourite to win back-to-back MVP titles.
3. Brittney Griner, Phoenix Mercury
Team record: 17-10
2021 averages: 20.7 points (57.4 FG%), 9.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2 blocks in 33.1 minutes.
The Mercury continue to win, amassing 10 straight wins - all since the Olympic break. They've been led by Griner, who is perhaps enjoying the best season of her career.
She's tied for the league lead in win shares with Jonquel Jones (5.5), is in the top 10 in both points and rebounds, and is averaging phenomenal numbers during the team's current win streak with 21.1 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4 assists and 1.8 blocks in the seven games she has played.
MORE: WNBA announce 'The W25' | Full list of female assistant coach in NBA's 2021-22 season
2. Breanna Stewart, Seattle Storm
Team record: 20-10
2021 averages: 20.7 points (43.7 FG%), 9.9 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.8 blocks in 33.9 minutes.
Speaking of inconsistency, the 2021 Seattle Storm fit right in but not Stewart. Seattle's forward has scored 18 or more in six of the last seven games and has been consistently picking up at least six rebounds a game. Over the past week, she has had a couple of great recent performances finishing with 20 points, 12 rebounds and 5 blocks against Washington and 33 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists against the Liberty.
Without Stewart, Seattle has not been very competitive this season.
1. Jonquel Jones, Connecticut Sun
Team record: 20-10
2021 averages: 20.3 points (53.1 FG%), 11.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.1 blocks in 33.9 minutes.
The Sun are one of three teams in the league on a sizeable winning streak. Their 10 straight wins, dating back to Jul. 9, is the longest active streak and the second-longest in franchise history - they won 12 straight in 2006.
The team's spectacular defence, led by head coach Curt Miller, is a huge part of the success but Jones can't be overlooked. The Bahamas native may go on to become the second international player ever, after Australian Lauren Jackson did it three times (2003, 2007, 2010), to win the WNBA's regular-season MVP award, especially with performances like she had against the Mystics when she finished with 31 points, 14 rebounds and 3 blocks while shooting 70.6 percent from the field.
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