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My All-WNBA Teams

Well the season is almost complete and now it's time to hand out those post season awards before the playoffs. I'll start with All-WNBA teams because I haven't done those before...and they will get me a step closer to figuring out my MVP candidates.

When I look back at the past All-WNBA teams I don't see any positional requirements so this is truly my top 10 players from the season, plus an honorable mention third team.

I'm going to use statistics to justify, but not determine, my choices. I'd be interested in seeing other people's picks and their justifications as well. The three statistics I looked at were Model Estimated Value, plus/minus, and efficiency rating. Rather than going strictly by the rankings, I just used these to sort out who deserved to make the cut.

** The plus/minus numbers used here are from games through September 7th.

All-WNBA Second Team

Deanna Nolan

There should be no doubt that Nolan deserves All-WNBA recognition. Even though I'm not a big fan of the Shock, I really enjoy watching Nolan play. She's one of those players that goes about the game in an almost business-like fashion just doing what she has to do to help her team win, whether that be scoring or distributing the ball.

She didn't put up particularly gaudy statistics this season -- statistically, Jia Perkins had a better season. But she was right within range of the top players in every category. One thing does stand out however -- she shot 46% from the field. That's phenomenal for a guard who takes as many contested jump shots as Nolan does.

The reason I put Nolan on my team is that I don't think you can disregard the intangibles she brings to the Shock in terms of leadership and consistency. It comes down to this question -- if it comes down to one shot at the end of the game, who am I going to trust with the ball? Nolan can create her own shot off the dribble from anywhere on the court, make smart decisions with the ball, and make the right pass if she can't get off a shot.

Janel McCarville

As I've written before, it's hard not to like McCarville's game. She's tough inside, she's smart, and she's shown the ability to face up her defender and take her to the basket. She ranked 9th in MEV and 9th in efficiency rating which pretty much sealed the deal for me. She's also consistently been one of the best defensive post players statistically.

What I like best about her though is her passing ability. Having a post player that can make good decisions with the ball and be a central element of the offense is a huge asset. She's first among centers in assists per 40 minutes which means she is doing a relatively good job of finding others from the post. And again, you can't disregard the intangibles -- the fire and passion she brings to the court has been invaluable on a number of occasions. She's just a great player.

Sue Bird

For all the talk about her late season rise, she's consistently been at the top of the plus/minus rankings all season. And with Lauren Jackson out after the Olympic break she just picked it up a notch. Through last week, her plus/minus rating was +20.7.

Bird is a combo guard in the true sense of the word who can easily shift between scoring and distributing depending on what her team needs. It's been impressive to see how well she made the switch from a pure distributor to a scorer in Lauren Jackson's absence.

She could easily be the most dominant player in the league with her skill set, but instead chooses to pick her spots and make her teammates better. Perhaps Jackson's injury was just a nice little reminder of just how good she is.

Ashja Jones

The best way to describe Jones: dominant post player. She has an array of post moves and seems to score almost any way she chooses to. She had the 7th highest plus/minus rating and the 9th highest efficiency rating.

I didn't really take notice of Jones till the second half of the season, possibly because I was always so focused on Lindsay Whalen. But while Whalen has been described as the engine that makes the team go by Mike Thibault, it's quite clear to me that they would not be where they are without Jones.

Lisa Leslie

Leslie is in my mind the Defensive Player of the Year. She anchors LA's defense which has been one of the best in the league all year and when she leaves the game there's a noticeable difference. But she's also been huge offensively combining with Candace Parker to create a deadly high-low post game.

Statistically, she was 8th in MEV ratings and 4th in efficiency rating. It's hard to keep her off the first team, but there are so many great players there, that Leslie fell to second

All-WNBA First Team

Lindsay Whalen

If it weren't for Sue Bird's second half performance, Whalen would be by far the best point guard in the WNBA this season. She does everything -- she can score, distribute, rebound, and plays the angles so well that she's hard to stop. Like Bird, she tends to spend a lot of time trying to set up teammates which makes her appear passive, but as a point guard, that's a valuable asset.

In terms of the numbers, she's 4th in MEV and 5th in efficiency, making her the most productive point guard in the league. In my opinion, she could be putting up better numbers but in Connecticut's system individual performance seems to be subordinated to team performance so she often just comes down the court and gets her team into the offense rather than trying to immediately make a play. Like Bird though, it's not a bad thing -- she just has the ability to shift from a distributor to scorer whenever she needs to do so.

Seimone Augustus

She's a scorer who seems to be able to get to wherever she wants on the court. Any shooting guard who can score 19 points per game on 47% shooting is impressive. And like Nolan, those are mostly contested jump shots.

But what's most impressive is that for a player who is such a volume scorer, she can also defend and make her teammates better. Her plus/minus rating of +18.4 is second only to Sue Bird. She also ranks 10th in efficiency rating and 12th in MEV. She's quickly becoming one of the best all-around players in the league.

Sophia Young

Easily one of my top MVP candidates, she's a player who gets the job done quietly, but does so as one of the most efficient and productive players in the league. She ranks high in MEV, plus/minus, and efficiency rating. She's an athletic inside-out post threat who can also defend well, although she's occasionally giving up a few inches to her opponent. It's difficult not to like what Young has done this season really.

Diana Taurasi

Love her game. I have already written about why I think she's arguably the best player in the league here.

Candace Parker

Duh.