Taurasi captures second scoring honor
NEW YORK -- The Mercury's Diana Taurasi, the Sparks' Candace Parker and the Sun's Lindsay Whalen were named the WNBA's Peak Performers for 2008, the league announced Wednesday.
The Peak Performer awards are given annually to the league's leading scorer and rebounder, as well as the player who leads the WNBA in assists during the regular season. Taurasi, Parker and Whalen each will receive a Tiffany trophy for their accomplishments.
Taurasi earned her second Peak Performer award after averaging 24.1 points per game (she averaged a league-best 25.3 ppg in 2006). The fifth-year pro was named Player of the Week four times in 2008, the most of any player in the league. She outpaced teammate Cappie Pondexter (21.2 ppg) and Lynx guard Seimone Augustus (19.1 ppg) to lead all scorers.
With 9.5 rebounds per game, Parker beat out teammate Lisa Leslie (8.9 rpg) and Sky center Candice Dupree (7.9 rpg) to earn the rebounding award as a rookie.
In the closest race of the three categories, Whalen averaged 5.4 assists to edge Monarchs guard -- and all-time WNBA assists leader -- Ticha Penicheiro (5.2 apg), Storm guard Sue Bird (5.1 apg) and Comets guard Shannon Johnson (5.1 apg).
Taurasi turned in the second-best performance in WNBA history for both single-season scoring average and total points, ranking behind the records she set in 2006 (25.3 ppg and 860 total points). She scored 30 or more points 10 times this season, including a season-high 37 at Seattle on June 11, and tallied more than 20 points in 26 of 34 games. On July 8 against Houston, she became the fastest player to reach the 3,000-point plateau in league history, besting 2007 Peak Performer and WNBA MVP Lauren Jackson's previous record by 11 games. Taurasi already ranks in the top 20 for all-time total points in a WNBA career (3,398) and in the top three for all-time scoring average (20.3 ppg).
Parker tallied 10 or more rebounds on 17 occasions this season, including three of her first four games as a professional. Parker also tied her career high of 16 rebounds three times in 2008, originally set on May 29 at Indiana. In that game, she tallied five or more in five statistical categories (16 points, 16 rebounds, six blocks, five assists and five steals) to accomplish the league's first "5x5." Parker also led the league in double-doubles with 17.
Whalen, who set Connecticut's all-time franchise assist record in 2008, has 808 career assists, including 166 this season. She set her season high for assists at nine in the team's 78-68 win over Houston on July 1. She finished the year with 19 games in which she totaled five or more assists. She also became just the second player in league history to average 10 or more points, five or more rebounds and five or more assists for a season (Nikki Teasley, 2003, 11.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 5.4 apg). Whalen averaged 14.0 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.