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Why Sylvia Fowles should be in the WNBA MVP conversation

(Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

Sylvia Fowles is used to flying under the radar.

On Tuesday, the Minnesota Lynx center became just the fourth player in WNBA history to record at least 25 points and 20 rebounds in a game. Her 29-point, 20-rebound, four-steal and three-assist effort in Minnesota’s win over the Seattle Storm also was the first 20-20-3-3 game in league history. Fowles is now 12th on the all-time WNBA scoring list, tied with two-time WNBA MVP Candace Parker.

And yet, in most conversations this year about who will win league MVP, Fowles hasn’t been front and center. When asked about the lack of recognition after the game Tuesday, she said she’s used to it.

“”It used to [bother me], when I was younger,” Fowles told reporters. “At this rate, it don’t. I don’t get the recognition I’m supposed to, but it doesn’t stop me from doing the things I do.

“I’m at a place where I’m content with who I am and what I do.”

Lynx coach/GM Cheryl Reeve echoed the sentiment that Fowles remains under-appreciated.

“The league has grossly undeserved Sylvia’s career,” Reeve said. “I’m sure ESPN wanted to love up on all the stars the Storm has … you guys are watching greatness. One of the best players ever, certainly at the center spot. There is nobody close in terms of what she does for her team.”

In the first half alone Tuesday, Fowles recorded 19 points and 13 rebounds, the seventh single-half double-double of her career. The only player with more double-doubles in a half in WNBA history is Tina Charles.

Fowles also owns the WNBA record for overall double-doubles, having surpassed Lisa Leslie and Charles back in 2019.

The seven-time All-Star is not only producing offensively this season, she’s also holding it down on the other end. Fowles is currently ranked third in blocks per game (1.8), second in steals (1.9), third in rebounds (10.0) and second in overall defensive rating and defensive win shares.

Fowles is averaging a double-double of 16.6 points and 10 rebounds per game through 24 games, putting her in good company across the league. The only other players averaging double-doubles are Breanna Stewart (20.7 PPG, 10.1 RPG) and Jonquel Jones (19.9 PPG, 11.1 RPG), who were the top MVP vote-getters in our WNBA midseason poll. Fowles is also ranked first in field goal percentage, shooting an astounding 62.5 percent from the floor per game.

The two-time WNBA champion and Finals MVP asserts her dominance every time she steps on the court, belying her age. Fowles is already a candidate for the Basketball Hall of Fame whenever she decides to retire, but first, she at least deserves to be in the conversation for 2021 WNBA MVP.