Before we look at the MVP race, here are the best players in the WNBA based on the formula to add points, rebounds, steals and blocks per game, plus help per game, 1.5. Team success and intangible things also matter, but the numbers were the starting point for this list.
1) Jonquel Jones
Average in 2021: 20.3 points, 11 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.1 blocks
Jones missed the 2020 season as a health measure, so the last time we saw her before this season was during her incredible final of 2019. She averaged 19.2 points and 11 rebounds over the five-game series, who lost her Connecticut Sun to the Washington Mystics. We knew Jones had all the tools to be a WNBA superstar, and they were in full view. She enters the 2021 season as an MVP candidate and at number 6 in Swish Appeal‘s Top 30 player list. She was spectacular this season, leading the way in first place (21-6), so she is considered the forerunner of the MVP. In her most recent outing, Tuesday, she scored 31 points and 14 rebounds in a win over the Mystics.
2) Breanna Stewart
Average in 2021: 20.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.1 steals, 1.8 blocks
Stewart certainly helped her case with 33 points on Thursday night, but can the best player in the world finish second in the MVP vote for the second consecutive year? She won the award for the first time in 2018, but missed out on a torn Achilles in 2019 and then A’ja Wilson won the award in 2020. But greatness is not only measured by MVP awards, as a sustained success near the top is often the best indication of it. Diana Taurasi is widely regarded as the BOOK and has only one MVP award. And that may not be in the cards for Stewart this year. She was phenomenal and has two games of 35 plus points to her credit, but her Seattle Storm has stumbled and lost five of eight since the Commissaris Cup championship fight to fall three games behind the sun.
3) Brittney Griner
Average in 2021: 20.6 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 0.4 steals, 2 blocks
Griner is still chasing her first MVP award, but she, like Stewart, has consistently been close to the top of the league. It was refreshing to see Griner play so well this year after missing part of last season to focus on her mental health. She was second in the league with the score to Stewart’s amazing performance Thursday night and is looking to break her career height in rebounds per game by 1.5. Phoenix’s seven-game streak put them at 16-10 — good enough for Griner to be in the MVP consideration. And Griner was such a big part of the success with her incredible consistency. Some may argue that she is not so valuable because she has no. 7-player on this list in Skylar Diggins-Smith playing with her, while A’ja Wilson, whose Aces 3.5 games are better, has no one else in the top 12. But I think Griner was too good to put her behind Wilson, who may not have a single co-star like Diggins-Smith, but has a loaded roster that supports her.
4) A’ja Wilson
Average in 2021: 18.6 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 0.7 steals, 1.4 blocks
The reigning MVP scored double figures in every game, except for a game on August 24, where she shot 1-out-15 from the field. That performance hurt her MVP chances, but she returned last Thursday with 21 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists, earning her more than 20/10/5 games in her first four years than any player ever. Wilson handled the pressure to be the favorites and was the best player in a team full of stars. Before the season, it was thought that she had no chance of winning the MVP award while playing with Liz Cambage. Wilson leads the WNBA in free kicks and shoots 87.1 percent from the line. The level of reliability makes her so valuable.
A’ja Wilson scored her seventh career game last night with 20 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists. Per Elias, she passes Tamika Catchings for most such matches in the first four seasons of a player.
This season, Wilson is tied with Griner, Stewie and Jonquel for most doubles (13). pic.twitter.com/gYiMDWU93C
– ESPN Women’s Hoops (@ESPN_WomenHoop) 27 August 2021
5) Tina Charles
Average in 2021: 25.4 points, 9.7 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 0.9 blocks
Charles who is on the 10-16 Mystics is hurting her MVP chances, but if she puts her numbers for a team near the top, she would be the frontrunner. As her chances of winning MVP are now almost gone, her chances of setting a new WNBA average record become very important. She is currently 0.1 ahead of the record set by Diana Taurasi in 2006, and has been out with a fierce strain the past four games. If Charles plays in all six remaining Mystics games, she will be up to 27 games on the season. Taurasi played in 34 games in 2006, but it would still be an incredible achievement for Charles. Sylvia Fowles was eligible for No. 5 on this list, but when it comes to her and Charles, I could not compete against a player who set the record or almost set it, although Fowles achieved much more team success.
6) Sylvia Fowles
Average in 2021: 16.6 points, 10.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.8 steals, 1.8 blocks
Fowles scored a few sample performances, including 29 points and 20 rebounds on Aug. 24. She was also neck and neck all season long with Napheesa Collier being the best player on the Lynx, so you can not say that she carried a team out of her own hands. Fowles was completely off at 17 on my Top 30 list to start the season, so she definitely kept me informed.
7) Diggins-Smith Blames
Average in 2021: 19.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.7 blocks
Diggins-Smith scored double figures in every game she played at least two minutes this season. She was, just like Griner, so consistent and deserves a lot of credit for the success of the Mercury. She has been particularly hot lately with four consecutive 20-point games, five assists and a 61.9 percent effort from distance over her last five. She has become exactly what Phoenix needs her to be in the desert in year two and is the best point guard in the WNBA this year.
8) Courtney Vandersloot
Average in 2021: 11.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, 9 assists, 1.9 steals, 0.4 blocks
Vandersloot is possibly the least-spoken MVP candidate on this list. She was definitely in the conversation with the award last year when she averaged 13.6 points and 10 assists per game. Her spread was as phenomenal as ever, though it did not get the same attention because it is hard to surpass what she has in the wobble. However, she has a double-double of 10 points assistance, already one more than last year. Vandersloot is not a legitimate claimant to the award, and no one else among her on this list. However, she deserves to achieve the eighth position for the large help volume.
9) Jewell Loyd
Average in 2021: 17.6 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.2 blocks
Loyd gets the lead on some players with slightly better figures than she does because of all the coupling moments she’s experienced this season. Breanna Stewart could not have asked for a better Robin. Watch out for Loyd in playtime.
10) DeWanna Bonner
Average in 2021: 15.8 points, 6.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.9 blocks
Bonner was an excellent second-best player for the Sun. Instead of punishing her for playing with Jonquel Jones, let’s celebrate her contributions to the best team in the league, as she helped them recover from the absence of Alyssa Thomas and was a great leader.
11) Napheesa necklace
Average in 2021: 16 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.3 blocks
Collier’s recovery numbers took the biggest decline in 2020, with an average of nine boards per game in the wobble. The numbers are not there for her to win MVP this year, but she is a bright young star who will return to this race again in the coming years.
12) Candace Parker
Average in 2021: 13.5 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 0.7 steals, 1.2 blocks
I throw Parker here after her performance Thursday night, but she stays behind in the games played.