Usually by this point of the WNBA season, a leading candidate for the Most Valuable Player award has emerged, and then she spends the rest of the season firming up her credentials.
Last year it was Minnesota's Sylvia Fowles. The year before, it was Nneka Ogwumike of Los Angeles. And in 2015, it was Chicago's Elena Delle Donne.
But with so much parity and balance at the top of the standings -- six teams began play Sunday with win percentages of .600 or better -- it's still anybody's award to win. About a half-dozen players seemingly have an edge on the field, but the advantage is slight, and there's enough season left for others to enter the picture.
Two of the MVP front-runners to this point of the season should be in uniform Thursday when the Sparks take on the surging Lynx in Minneapolis (ESPN2, 8 p.m. ET).
6. Candace Parker, Los Angeles
Parker missed the Sparks' first three games with a back injury and practiced only once before returning for the team's home opener. Since then, she has been close to her old self, averaging 16.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists. Her scoring average is the highest it has been since 2015, and her shooting percentage -- currently 51.2 -- is hovering around the best of her career.
A compelling argument can be made for her teammate Nneka Ogwumike to be included on this list as well. But for the moment, Parker gets the edge as she hunts for her third MVP award, a milestone reached only by Sheryl Swoopes, Lisa Leslie and Lauren Jackson.
5. Liz Cambage, Dallas
The 6-foot-8 Australian center has returned to the league after a five-year absence and has been a force inside for the Wings, averaging 19.7 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.0 blocks. That puts her among the league leaders in all three categories.
Wings president and CEO Greg Bibb made signing Cambage a priority more than two years ago, and so far, it has paid off. Cambage, who left Sunday's game against Minnesota at halftime with an eye injury, gives Dallas an inside threat to complement Skyler Diggins-Smith. The duo combines for roughly 40 points per game.
4. Diana Taurasi, Phoenix
The super-fit 36-year-old has been outstanding for the resurgent Mercury, averaging 20.1 points and 5.1 assists while shooting 38.7 percent from beyond the arc. The WNBA's career scoring leader, Taurasi made her first seven 3-pointers last week against New York to set a WNBA single-game record.
She's scoring at a higher clip than in any season since 2013, and her trademark energy and leadership have keyed Phoenix's league-best 13-5 mark.
3. Chiney Ogwumike, Connecticut
The Sun were a trendy pick to contend for the WNBA title, and Ogwumike's return from a torn left Achilles tendon contributed greatly to that optimism.
Connecticut started 7-1 and has struggled since, but Ogwumike has been terrific throughout. The 2014 rookie of the year is averaging 15.2 points and 8.0 rebounds while shooting a league-best 61.5 percent from the field.
If Ogwumike can pull this off, she and sister Nneka will be the first pair of sibling MVPs in WNBA history.
2. Breanna Stewart, Seattle
In just her third season, Stewart leads the league in scoring (21.9 PPG), and every team's defense must account for her. Before Sunday's game, Stewart was averaging almost three points better than last season. She has sharpened her shooting inside the arc and is making 62.4 percent on 2-point field goals, up from last season's 51.6 percent.
Stewart's improvement isn't the only reason for Seattle's 12-5 start. Guards Sue Bird and Jewell Loyd and forward Natasha Howard have done their share in veteran coach Dan Hughes' first season with the Storm. But Stewart has been the catalyst. And she has been close to unstoppable.
1. Maya Moore, Minnesota
Moore might not be the most valuable player on her own team. Moore and center Sylvia Fowles both excelled during Minnesota's seven-game win streak. Fowles is the reigning regular-season and WNBA Finals MVP who leads the league in rebounding. But for now, we lean toward Moore, the 2014 MVP, since the win streak coincided with her run of seven consecutive 20-point games.
Moore struggled on both ends of the floor in the 3-6 start that had Lynx fans fearing the team's seven-year dominance had run its course. Then Moore found her legs -- and her shooting touch. In the win streak, she is averaging 24.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.57 steals per game. That included her first 30-point game in two years.
On Sunday in Dallas, with Minnesota trailing by two points late in the game, Moore scored the final six points to deliver a 76-72 victory. That's what MVPs do.