Everybody loves to celebrate a statistical milestone being reached. The bigger the number, the better. Who wasn't jazzed last August when Tina Thompson became just the third player in WNBA history to pulls down 3000 career rebounds?
Of course there are a lot of players in the league and tons of milestones of various sizes. Who should be we be keeping an eye on so we'll know when to cheer and shout and run naked in the street? I'm here to help. I'm going to give you lists of the most likely players to reach statistical milestones this season.
Let's start with points. The way a player gets on the list is simple. Add the number of points she scored in the best of her last three seasons to her current career total. If it surpasses or comes within 100 of the next 1000 point mark, she's on the list. By way of example: Jasmine Thomas has scored 784 career points. The highest point total of her last three seasons in 288. 784 + 288 = 1072, so she's on the list! A rookie, therefore, would need to score 450 points to be included. Only one rookie scored that many points last season. The list:
"Why is Tina Thompson on this list?" I hear you asking. I know she's retired, but my policy has always been to keep players on the list until they actually sit out a season. Too many players "retire" only to change their mind when training camps start. Class is the player's draft class. Undrafted players go with the class for the season in which they debuted. That's why Nakia Sanford counts as 2003 instead of 2000 Drafted players go with their draft class even if they didn't appear until later. Alysha Clark, for example, would be part of the class of 2010 even though she didn't make a roster until 2012. I track draft classes for their milestone crossers. Here's the current totals of milestone scorers for each class:
I said above that undrafted players go with the class for the season of their debut. The exception is 1997, the league's first season. The undrafted players from that season are counted as "originals" in the chart. The 1997 Elite Draft players are counted along with the players from the regular 1997 draft.
What about rebounds? Will anyone be joining The Warrior Princess in the 3000 board club this year?
Why am I tracking 3307 rebounds as a milestone? That is, of course, Lisa Leslie's career record for rebounds. If Tina Thompson elected to return for another season, she would have a fair chance of reaching that mark.
Yes, the class of 1999 continues to be ridiculously far ahead of everyone else. I do not expect any class to challenge it any time soon.
How about assists?
I would be tracking Ticha Penicheiro's career total of 2747 here if anyone was close. I'd guess the odds of any current player breaking that record are no better than about 45%. If Bird can stay healthy enough to be the second to 2000, that would be impressive enough for now.
When tracking steals and blocks I set the milestones by 500s. To get on the list a player would need to exceed or come within 50 of the next mark. The steals list is interesting:
The Tamikaze is already the career steals leader by almost 200 over the next player (Penicheiro) and by more than 300 over the next current player (Delisha Milton). She's going to put the record out of anyone's reach. Future generations of WNBA fans will struggle to understand how she got so far ahead of everyone else even as they worship her in reverential awe.
As for blocks, no one is on the watch list. I'll give you the class list for sake of completeness, however.
Since nobody is on the list for 500, it's hardly surprising no one is on for Margo Dydek's record of 877 either. Lauren Jackson is the only current player who has more than 500 blocks.
That's who you need to keep an eye on. If you're so inclined, you can come over to Rebkell where I give the milestones shout outs as they happen.