1. Kristi Toliver - Los Angeles Sparks
Let's just say the Los Angeles Sparks are excited to have Kristi Toliver back from Europe. Toliver had an exceptional week as she averaged 24.7 points per game for the Sparks, highlighted by her franchise record 43 points (breaking Lisa Leslie's record of 41) on July 3rd, in a win over Tulsa.
She scored 15 points vs. San Antonio on July 2nd and 16 vs. Phoenix on July 5th. In a span of four days, Toliver poured in 74 points and led the Sparks to their first two wins of the season. She also tallied nine assists vs. Tulsa and eight assists vs. Phoenix.
In her 43-point outburst vs. Phoenix, she shot 15-24 from the field and made seven threes. To score 43 points on only 24 shots is the definition of efficiency. Toliver had quite the week for the Sparks, and it looks like Los Angeles has finally found its footing with the return of Toliver and Nneka Ogwumike.
2. Brittney Griner - Phoenix Mercury
Another player who is returning from an absence and making her presence known is Brittney Griner. Griner led the Mercury to three wins this past week, while averaging 18.3 points per game, 8.7 rebounds per game and 5.0 blocks per game over the three-game span.
She poured in 23 points vs. San Antonio on June 30th and followed that up with a 13-point, eight rebounds, seven-block performance vs. Tulsa on July 2nd. She capped the week off by helping the Mercury beat a replenished Sparks team 94-91 in overtime, as she scored 19 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked four shots.
The aspect of Griner's game that's so impressive is the impact she can have even without taking that many shots. She only took six shots vs. Tulsa, but still had a significant effect on both sides of the floor.
3. Maya Moore - Minnesota Lynx
Even though the Lynx only played one game this past week, I felt the need to put Maya Moore on this list, because she finally looked like the MVP again in Minnesota's win over Seattle on July 3rd. Moore's field goal percentage so far this season (.407) is the lowest of her WNBA career and is one of the main reasons her offensive production has decreased in comparison to her 2014 MVP season.
However, this week, Moore shot 71% from the field (10-14) and 50% from behind the arc (2-4). She poured in 23 points vs. Seattle while also grabbing 11 rebounds, her second double-double of the season. Moore should be right back in the 2015 MVP conversation if she can continue increase her shooting percentage and score efficiently.
4. Nneka Ogwumike - Los Angeles Sparks
Nneka Ogwumike joins teammate Kristi Toliver on the list for this week. I tend to stay away from putting two players from the same team on this list, but Ogwumike impressed me too much this week to not add her. In her first three games back from injury, Ogwumike struggled to find her rhythm as she still scored in double figures but her shooting percentage was abysmal.
However, over the Sparks three games in four days this past week, Ogwumike averaged 24.0 ppg while shooting 52% from the floor. Ogwumike scored 27 points vs. San Antonio, and 19 vs. Tulsa as she and Toliver combined for 62 of the Sparks' 98 points.
She then exploded for 26 points and 19 rebounds vs. Phoenix on July 5th. If Ogwumike can stay healthy, the Sparks are one of the most dangerous teams in the Western Conference even with their current 2-8 record.
5. Tamika Catchings - Indiana Fever
Tamika Catchings seems to be finally back in her usual form, after sitting out the first few games of the season due to injury and missing a game due to suspension. Indiana, who came into the week with a 3-6 record, picked up two key wins against Eastern Conference foes behind two impressive all-around performances by Catchings.
On June 30th vs. Connecticut, Catchings poured in 26 points and grabbed 10 rebounds while shooting 9-10 from the field, 4-4 from the three-point line and 4-4 from the free throw line. She then filled the stat sheet with 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists in the Fever's blowout win over Washington on July 2nd.
With Catchings playing like the former MVP that she is, the Fever are right back in the mix in the always tight Eastern Conference.