It's award season for the WNBA, which means everyone will be telling you who should win and what the proper criteria for choosing the various awards are.
With a little effort, you can easily find dozens of people telling you who the MVP will be. We're going to come at it from the opposite angle, using voting history to determine who isn't MVP until we reach the only reasonable conclusion.
DeWanna Bonner is not the MVP
You probably knew this already, but lets get it out of the way immediately. MVPs don't shoot 36% from the floor. We've had 15 MVPs and every one has shot at least 42%, most of them much higher than that.
Sue Bird is not the MVP
Point guards don't win MVP. Never have. Heck, guards almost never win. Only Cynthia Cooper and Diana Taurasi have won the award from the backcourt, and neither was playing the one when they did.
Cappie Pondexter is not the MVP
This isn't baseball, the WNBA doesn't give MVP to players on losing teams. Lauren Jackson won it once while missing the playoffs, but her team still had a winning record. I admire Cappie. She had a great season. Carrying this woeful team as far as she has is miraculous. But it's not going to get her the trophy.
Angel McCoughtry is not the MVP
Players have won MVP in seasons where they were suspended. Players have won MVP in seasons where they missed games without explanation. Players have won MVP in seasons where they missed games due to injury. But no player has won MVP in a season where she missed more than three games for any reason.
Tamika Catchings is not the MVP
MVPs log heavy minutes. Catch averaged just 30.5 per game, lower than any player who has won the award. I know this is tough on older players like Catchings, but if Cynthia Cooper can play 35 minutes/game when she's 35 then today's players can play 31 MPG when they're 32.
Seimone Augustus is not the MVP
MVP voters like players to show a variety of skills. Every player who has won the award was in the top 10 in at least two of the Big Five stats (scoring, rebounding, assists, steals, blocks). Augustus only makes it for her offense.
Maya Moore is not the MVP
The flip side is that voters want someone who demonstrates exceptional skill at something. Every MVP has been in the top five in the league in at least one of the Big Five stats. Maya has a good all around game, but she isn't even in the top 10 in any of the Big Five.
Candace Parker is not the MVP
Speaking of offense, one thing every MVP did the season they won was lead their team in scoring. Parker, of course, is not the Sparks leading scorer. You can go on all you like about players making their teammates better, but when it counts voters don't look past the top line for each team.
Kristi Toliver is not the MVP
Players don't win MVP out of nowhere. Either they win when they first enter the league, backed with a lot of attention, like Candace Parker in 2008 or Yolanda Griffith in 1999, or they win after getting significant support for the award in previous years. Toliver has been in the league for four years and has never received a single MVP vote. Nobody has ever come from nowhere like that to take the award.
Tina Charles is not the MVP
MVP voting has historically shown a very strong West Coast bias. Only two Eastern conference players have won: Cynthia Cooper in 1997 and Tamika Catchings last year. Neither was on an East coast team. Cooper's team moved to the Western conference the next season. We've certainly never had back-to-back Eastern conference MVPs, and we're not going to start now.
So, who does that leave? We're looking for someone with a high FG%, who isn't a point guard, who plays for a winning team, who played at least 31 games, who played at least 31 minutes/game, who is in the top 10 in at least two of the Big Five stat categories and the top five of at least one, who led her team in scoring, who has received significant MVP support in the past, and who plays in the West.
There is only one player in the league who fits all those criteria. Therefore...
Sophia Young is the MVP