Sophia Young is a leading contender for WNBA MVP honors in a crowded field. Other top candidates include:
• CANDACE PARKER, Los Angeles: Aside from leading all first-year players in points (18.5), blocks (2.3) and minutes (33.6), the Rookie of the Year shoo-in (right) also led the league in rebounds (9.5) and helped ignite a surge of interest in the W—of the record 46 sellouts this season, 10 of them involved L.A.
• SUE BIRD, Seattle: With Lauren Jackson out rehabbing an ankle injury, the Storm's playmaker poured on the offense after the Olympic break and carried Seattle into the playoffs. Her stats for the regular season: 14.1 ppg, 5.1 apg.
• LINDSAY WHALEN, Connecticut: The crafty player most responsible for the Sun's surprise runner-up finish in the East averaged 14.0 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5.4 assists.