Mercury, Dream lead way
Updated: September 11, 2009, 10:16 AM ETESPN.com
AND THE WINNER IS ...
After much deliberation and debate, here's a look at ESPN.com columnist Mechelle Voepel's WNBA regular-season awards (stats through Wednesday's games) and all-league first and second teams:
|Winner||Voepel says ...|
|Most Valuable Player: Diana Taurasi, Phoenix
A three-time NCAA champ, two-time Olympic gold medalist and part of the 2007 WNBA championship team, Taurasi has won just about everything. But not the WNBA's regular-season MVP award. This could be the year, as she leads the league in scoring and efficiency.
Key stats: 20.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 3.5 apg, 31.5 mpg, 47 percent from field, 41 percent from 3-point range
|Rookie of the Year: Angel McCoughtry, Atlanta
It was tough not to choose Phoenix's DeWanna Bonner, although she gets a vote for another season honor below. Ultimately, while their stats are very similar, McCoughtry's ability as an impact playmaker gives her a slight edge. This season, she's proven her pedigree as the No. 1 draft pick.
Key stats: 12.4 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 2.1 apg, 2.1 spg, 47 percent from field
|Coach of the Year: Marynell Meadors, Atlanta
As general manager, she made some big moves over the offseason, including luring Chamique Holdsclaw back to the WNBA. In the draft, she chose Angel McCoughtry and Shalee Lehning, who've both contributed. Atlanta has gone from 4-30 in its inaugural season last year to closing in on a playoff berth.
|Sixth Woman of the Year: DeWanna Bonner, Phoenix:
With Detroit's Plenette Pierson, the 2007 winner, out all season with an injury and 2008 winner Candice Wiggins becoming a starter for Minnesota this year, there wasn't going to be a repeat winner. (The award began in '07.) Bonner has made a huge impact coming off the bench for the Mercury. As mentioned, she's also a strong candidate for rookie of the year.
Key stats: 11.5 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 21.6 mpg, 47 percent from field
|Defensive Player of the Year: Tamika Catchings, Indiana:
Catchings won this award twice previously, and she's perennially considered one of the league's top defenders. One of her biggest challengers this year for the award is a fellow former Tennessee player: Minnesota's Nicky Anosike. Pat Summitt has to be smiling at that.
Key stats: 15.1 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 3.2 apg, 3.0 spg, 38 percent from field, 87 percent at free throw line
|Most Improved Player of the Year: Erika de Souza, Atlanta:
Honestly, this might be the hardest award to pick, because it very well also could go to the Dream's Sancho Lyttle. And Lytlle's Atlanta teammate, Iziane Castro Marques, deserves mention, too, as do Seattle's Tanisha Wright and Washington's Crystal Langhorne, a second-year player. But de Souza, who played just 12 games last year, became a full-time starter and All-Star this season.
Key stats: 11.9 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 27.7 mpg, 53 percent from field
VOEPEL'S ALL-LEAGUE FIRST AND SECOND TEAMS
|First Team||Second Team|
|Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury||Candace Parker, Los Angeles Sparks|
|Cappie Pondexter, Phoenix Mercury||Lisa Leslie, Los Angeles Sparks|
|Lauren Jackson, Seattle Storm||Nicky Anosike, Minnesota Lynx|
|Tamika Catchings, Indiana Fever||Katie Douglas, Indiana Fever|
|Becky Hammon, San Antonio Silver Stars||Deanna Nolan, Detroit Shock|