It may be early in the season, but it's already time to check in on the WNBA MVP Ladder.
Our MVP Ladder will be a collaborative effort between NBA Canada's Carlan Gay and NBA Argentina's Agustin Aboy. We may not always agree on the final ranking of the ladder, but we'll spend time going back-and-forth about the order in which the top five in MVP voting would land, should the season end today.
Our MVP Ladder will run every two weeks from now until the end of the season.
As always, if you agree, disagree or have any comments or questions, you can always find us on Twitter @TheCarlanGay and @AboyAgustin.
Now on to the rankings...
5. Tina Charles, Washington Mystics
What Tina Charles is doing through the first couple of weeks of the season is incredible. Charles is averaging a career-high 26.7 points - which leads the league - while shooting 46.8 percent from the field. Charles' 29.9 PER is second only behind Jonquel Jones, according to Basketball Reference.
With Charles on the floor this season, the Mystics are scoring at a rate of 104.1 points per 100 possessions. With her off the floor, that number falls to 71.8 points per 100, according to WNBA Stats. That's the difference between being a top five offence this season and the worst offence in league history. The expansion Seattle Storm finished with an offensive rating of 83.1 in 2000, the worst in league history to this date.
Charles' importance to a 2-4 team can't be overstated. In fact, she's third in win shares this year, according to Basketball-Reference. With Elena Delle Donne still out, Charles has been sensational. If Washington can find more wins, Charles' MVP case will increase.
4. Sabrina Ionescu, New York Liberty
There's no rule that says you can't have multiple players from the same team on the MVP Ladder. At some point, we're going to have to have the conversation about whose been more valuable to the Liberty this season, Ionescu or Betnijah Laney, who has been terrific this year. But right now, I have Ionescu firmly at four.
Ionescu is averaging 16.1 points, 7.1 assists (second in the league) and 6.6 rebounds per game. At the time of this writing, no one has made more total threes than Ionescu and she's knocking them down at a 45.5 percent clip.
And when the game is on the line, we've seen Ionescu come alive this season. Ionescu's 20 total clutch points scored is tied with Atlanta's Courtney Williams for the league lead. She's shooting 50.0 percent from the field, 50.0 percent from 3 and hasn't missed a free throw yet in those clutch minutes. New York is 3-1 in clutch games this season. They were 1-7 in clutch games last year.
Ionescu has lived up to all the expectations so far this year, and the important part is the Liberty are winning.
3. Breanna Stewart, Seattle Storm
It's very likely Stewie won't fall out of the top MVP Ladder this season. Seattle is good again and she'll have the numbers to keep her in the MVP conversation.
Averaging a career-high 22.5 points, 10.3 rebounds and 1.8 blocks while shooting 44.9 percent from the field is Exhibit A on exactly why Stewart will live on the MVP Ladder all season. Despite her poor shooting from 3-point range to start the season (32.4 percent), she's been her usual impressive self on offence.
Defensively she's been just as good. Her 12 total blocks are tied for third in the league. In her 217 minutes on the floor this season, Seattle has a defensive rating of 97.6. In the 33 minutes she's been off the floor, Seattle's defensive rating is 110.3. That's the difference between having a top-five defence and the worst defence in the league.
Every time Breanna Stewart steps on the floor, she's reminding folks why many say she's the best in the world today.
2. A'ja Wilson, Las Vegas Aces
Last season, Wilson had to carry a heavy load with all of the injuries and opt-outs the Aces had. This year, with the squad relatively back intact, her usage percentage is way down from a year ago, from 28.2 to 23.7, according to Basketball-Reference.
Even with the drop in usage, Wilson's play has stayed at an elite level. Wilson's PER of 25.0 is tied for the best of her career and her true shooting percentage of 59.1 percent is the best of her career.
Her playmaking continues to improve, averaging a career-high 3.0 dimes per contest. Wilson already has a total of 18 assists in just six games. She finished with 45 in 22 games all of last year.
It might take a lot to get the reigning MVP out of voter's minds.
1. Jonquel Jones, Connecticut Sun
If the season ended today, Jonquel Jones would be the MVP and it's not even close.
Jones is averaging a double-double of 20.0 points and 11.3 rebounds. She's dishing out 3.4 assists, which is a career-high for the two-time All-Star. Her inside-outside game has rendered her nearly unguardable, shooting 54.6 from the field and 47.2 percent from 3-point range. According to Basketball-Reference, Jones leads the league in PER, total win shares, offensive win shares and defensive win shares. Jones also leads Connecticut with the team's best net rating at 16.2.
The Sun have a 6-2 record, they've been awesome to start the year, and with all due respect to DeWanna Bonner, Jones has been their best player.
And to further that to all due respect to the entire league, Jonquel Jones has been the WNBA's best player thus far.
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