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Article updated: 9/7/2013 1:18 AM

Sky's Twin Towers create a big problem

 

The Chicago Sky has two viable MVP candidates in r

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By Patricia Babcock McGraw

What to do, what to do, WHAT TO DO?

Voting for the WNBA's postseason awards is turning into a dilemma this year. Having covered the Chicago Sky from Day 1 and through the many downs and now the incredible ups of this franchise, I know this is a good problem to have.

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At issue: whether to pick Sylvia Fowles or Elena Delle Donne for the 2013 WNBA Most Valuable Player.

I know. A toughie, right?

Fans, maybe you can help me out. Opinions are all over the place. Both have the numbers to be considered, along with superstars Candace Parker (Los Angeles), Diana Taurasi (Phoenix), Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta) and Maya Moore (Minnesota).

So much more goes into being the MVP than numbers. Can the candidate not only change a game, but dominate it? What happens to her team when she is off the floor? Does her presence influence opponents? What level of consistency and reliability does she bring? And does her team sometimes win only because of her?

With the 6-foot-6 Fowles and the 6-foot-5 Delle Donne, Chicago's twin towers, the answer to many of those questions involves the other. By working together, they have turned each other into serious MVP candidates.

The Sky certainly had a woeful history of missing the playoffs before Delle Donne, the WNBA lock for rookie of the year, arrived. Now the Sky is playoff bound for the first time with the top seed in the East and a franchise-best 21-8 record. With four games following Friday's Indiana game, the Sky can earn the league's best record and homecourt advantage in the playoffs.

The unflappable Delle Donne, who hardly ever plays like a rookie, leads the Sky in scoring (18.3 ppg), leads the league in free throw percentage (91.6%) and ranks in the WNBA's top five in several statistical categories. While she is a major reason for the Sky's 180-degree turnaround, Delle Donne has the luxury of playing with an all-star and Olympian in Fowles.

Until Delle Donne came along, Fowles has never had that kind of quality beside her.

Fowles is down slightly in scoring (16.4 ppg), but she doesn't need to score as much with Delle Donne on the floor. And their combination has stressed defenses so much that other Sky players are getting better chances to score.

Fowles is still a beast on the boards, leading the WNBA with 11.5 rebounds per game. She also has notched 14 double-doubles, third-best in the league. She's incredibly efficient, leading the WNBA in field goal percentage (58.9) while being a scary presence on defense (2.33 blocks per game). This summer she became the first WNBA player to post two 20/20 games (points/ rebounds) in the same season.

When either Fowles or Delle Donne missed games to injury, the Sky has struggled at both ends of the court. When healthy, they have been unstoppable at times, and both have commanded frequent double and triple teams, creating serious consequences when defenses ignore the other player.

Fowles and Delle Donne certainly check all the boxes, don't they?

The sentimental choice is Fowles, who has remained positive and upbeat through years of frustration and abuse (teams would pound on her when she was the Sky's only option inside). It is easy to be a big fan of Big Syl.

Then again, you can say the same of Delle Donne. She has been unbelievably amazing, particularly for a rookie. And there's nothing to say the Rookie of the Year can't also be the WNBA's Most Valuable Player. That last happened in 2008 when Parker, a Naperville native, made her debut.

See what I mean? This is problematic.

What to do, what to do, WHAT TO DO?

I have about a week to figure it out.

• Follow Patricia's comments on Twitter @babcockmcgraw and contact her via email at pbabcock@dailyherald.com.

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