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The Top 5 Players in the WNBA MVP Race

Las Vegas Aces’ A’ja Wilson (Scott Taetsch / Getty Images)

The WNBA season may not even be at its halfway point, but it’s never too early to start talking about MVP candidates. While anything can happen, these are the five players we’re keeping our eyes on as we head into the heart of the 2020 season. (All stats include games through Sunday, August 9th.)

 

1. A’JA WILSON – LAS VEGAS ACES
  • 1st in points per game (22.3)

  • 4th in rebounds per game (8.9)

A’ja Wilson has had a blistering start to her 2020 season. With Liz Cambage opting out of the season, the 2018 rookie of the year has stepped into the spotlight for the Las Vegas Aces and currently leads the league in points per game. At just 24 years old, the young star seems to add a new skill to her offensive tool kit with every game she plays, and after hitting the game-winner against the New York Liberty, she is very much the frontrunner at this point in the MVP race.

 

2. BREANNA STEWART – SEATTLE STORM
  • 5th in points per game (19.4)

  • 4th in blocks per game (1.6)

  • 4th in steals per game (2)

Watching Breanna Stewart dominate teams in the bubble, you’d have no idea she missed all last season with a ruptured Achilles. Not only is she averaging over 20 points a game, but she’s also knocked in 16 three pointers so far (at a 43% clip, 12th in the league). Add to that her 1.6 blocks per game and Stewart is proving to be a problem for opponents at every spot on the floor. The 2018 league MVP is used to being in the conversation, and so far she’s arguably been the most complete player in the wubble.

 

3. DEWANNA BONNER – CONNECTICUT SUN
  • 4th in points per game (19.7)

  • 2nd in steals per game (2.4)

Despite the Sun’s rough start to the season, DeWanna Bonner has been a bright spot. At various moments she has led the league in scoring all while continuing to make her presence felt on the defensive end. With the Sun sitting at 1-6, Bonner is likely on the outside of the MVP conversation looking in, but the 32 year old has proven she is still one of the league’s best. In the first four games of the season, Bonner scored an eye-popping 110 points.

 

4. COURTNEY VANDERSLOOT – CHICAGO SKY
  • 1st in assists per game (8.9)

The Chicago Sky floor general was just named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week after averaging 14 points, 9 assists and shooting 52% from the field during the second week of play. A nine-year vet, Vandersloot was All-WNBA First Team in 2019, and her 8.9 assists per game this season is far and away the top mark in the league. (Diana Taurasi is second, with 5.9 per game.) If Vandersloot can continue to keep the Sky in contention down the stretch, expect to see the underrated vet slip her way into some of end-of-the-year hardware talk.

 

5. CHENNEDY CARTER – ATLANTA DREAM
  • 5th in points per game (19.4)

  • 1st in most points in a game (35)

Carter is the real deal. The rookie has already established herself as an elite scorer, becoming the youngest player ever to drop 30+ in a game when she scored 35 against Seattle. With the Atlanta Dream near the bottom of the standings, Carter likely has a better shot at winning Rookie of the Year, but if she can continue to put up 30 point games (and if some of those games can also be wins), she’ll have a fighting chance of becoming just the second player after Candace Parker to win both Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season.

Cameron Brink likes Caitlin Clark for 2024 WNBA Rookie of the Year

Cameron Brink poses with Caitlin Clark at 2024 wnba draft in new york
Cameron Brink poses with fellow draftee — and possible WNBA ROY —Caitlin Clark. (Photo by Emily Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images)

Cameron Brink already has her rookie of the year pick for the upcoming WNBA season, and it’s Indiana-bound star Caitlin Clark

In the latest edition of Kelley on the Street, host Kelley O'Hara caught up with Brink in New York hours before the Stanford phenom went No. 2 overall to the Los Angeles Sparks at the 2024 WNBA Draft. When O’Hara asked who would win the WNBA's rookie of the year, she answered without pause.

"Caitlin Clark," she said, while a fan commented that she thought Brink would take home the award. Brink later added that the extra foul granted to WNBA players will be "good for me."

"I hope it’s me," Charisma Osborne, who was later drafted by the Phoenix Mercury, said when asked her ROY prediction. "But, I don’t know — we’ll see."

Watch more of Kelley on the Street:

Dash winger Maria Sanchez confirms trade request a day shy of NWSL deadline

María Sanchez of Houston Dash during a NWSL game
In December, Sanchez signed a new three-year contract with the club worth $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. (Photo by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images)

Maria Sanchez issued a statement on Thursday, confirming recent reports that she has requested a trade from the Houston Dash. 

In it, she revealed that the club has been aware of the request "since late March."

"This has all taken a toll and isn’t an easy thing to talk about, but I want to confirm that I’ve requested an immediate trade," she wrote. "My expectations and reasons have been clear. I trust that my current club’s management will honor my decision in a timely manner and proceed with accepting a trade."

"I’m eager to refocus and dive back into what I love most: playing football," she concluded.

Reports of Sanchez's trade request first surfaced on ESPN last week, and were later confirmed by multiple sources. 

In December of last year, Sanchez signed a three-year contract with the Dash valued at $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. It was the largest contract in NWSL history at the time — a figure that would be eclipsed by multiple contracts in the following months. 

Sanchez spent the offseason as a restricted free agent, meaning that Houston could match any other team's offer to retain her rights. Should the Dash trade Sanchez, her current contract terms would remain intact, limiting potential buyers to teams able to afford to take on an inking of that size.

The Dash has yet to address the trade, instead reiterating to ESPN that Sanchez is "under contract, a choice she made in free agency at the end of 2023." 

Both the NWSL trade window and transfer window close tonight, April 19th, at 12 a.m. ET. The window will stay closed through the next 11 regular season games, reopening on August 1st, 2024.

Seattle Storm debut state-of-the-art $64 million practice facility

Jewell Loyd #24 of the Seattle Storm during warms up during practice on July 11, 2020 at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida
Jewell Loyd, seen here practicing at Florida's IMG Academy, and her team are in for a major upgrade this season. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

The four-time league champion Seattle Storm unveiled their new practice facility on Thursday, with Storm co-owner Lisa Brummel dubbing Interbay's Seattle Storm Center for Basketball Performance the team’s "new home."

"It's just such a special space," Brummel told Fox 13 Seattle. "I think when the players get here, it's gonna be overwhelming."

The sprawling 50,000-square-foot, $64 million property is just the second designated practice facility to be designed and built expressly for a WNBA team, with the Storm further noting that 85% of all design and engineering team members involved in the project's construction were women and people of color. The finished product holds two professional indoor courts, two 3x3 outdoor courts, a state-of-the-art locker room, and players' lounge, plus designated areas for strength and conditioning, kitchen, dining, and nutrition, and recovery. 

"This facility reflects our commitment to providing our athletes an exceptional environment that supports their growth, health, and performance," said Storm co-owner Ginny Gilder in an official team release. "It’s built for women, by women, embodying our dedication to leading the way in professional women’s sports."

For their part, the team can't wait to make the faciilty their own.

"It's amazing," Storm guard Jewell Loyd told Fox 13. "Not having to drive everywhere around, knowing you have access anytime of the day to get into the gym, to workout." 

Head coach Noelle Quinn said she predicts the team is "never going to leave this building."

"Which is a good thing for me," she continued. "You talk about having an edge in performance. We want our athletes to not only perform on the court, but get whatever they need."

All of the Storm's staff and operations will now live under one roof, and the team also has plans to launch a youth basketball program operating out of the building.

Mystics relocate game to accommodate Caitlin Clark fans

Maya Caldwell, Erica Wheeler, and Lexie Hull of the Indiana Fever celebrate Caitlin Clark
Get ready — Caitlin Clark is coming to town. (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Caitlin Clark effect is quickly making its mark on the big leagues, as WNBA host teams around the country rush to upgrade their Fever games to larger arenas in order to accommodate surging ticket sales.

With Clark mere weeks away from her Indiana Fever debut, both the Las Vegas Aces and Washington Mystics have officially relocated their scheduled home games with head coach Christie Sides' squad. On Thursday, the Mystics became the latest to adjust their plans, moving their June 7th matchup from Entertainment & Sports Arena in Southwest DC to the more centrally located — and much larger — Capital One Arena "due to unprecedented demand."

The Mystics home court's capacity taps out at 4,200, while Capital One Arena — home to the Wizards, Capitals, and Georgetown Hoya's Men's Basketball — can fit nearly five times that crowd at some 20,000 spectators.

"The move to Capital One Arena will allow for additional fans in the stands as well as premium hospitality options, including Suites and the all-new all-inclusive courtside Hennessy Lofts," the team announced via Thursday's press release.

The Aces were one of the first teams to switch venues, aiming to take on the Indiana Fever in front of as many as 20,000 fans inside T-Mobile Arena on July 2nd. That’s a sizable a boost from their home venue, which holds just 12,000.

For those still planning to face the Fever in their home arenas, ticket prices have skyrocketed. Previously scheduled construction has already forced the LA Sparks to relocate their first five games — including their May 24th clash with the Fever — to Long Beach State's Walter Pyramid. The temporary venue is quite the downsize, holding just 4,000 in comparison to Crypto.com Arena's near-19,000. As of Friday, the get-in price for that game started around $400.

Despite fans launching a Change.org petition urging relocation, the Chicago Sky say they're unable to move their June 23rd Fever meeting from Wintrust Arena's 10,000-seat facility to the 23,500-seat United Center due to a concert. Tickets for that game start around $325 as of Friday.

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