The WNBA has announced its Top 15 WNBA Players of All Time during today's 2011 WNBA All-Star game, including all eight of the players we considered "locks" based on James Bowman's Hall of Fame probability calculator.
After that top 8 players that we had as locks, the next four were also on our list. However, as you can tell, the bottom three on the following list weren't on our original statistical list and might be the ones subject to the most debate.
|Name||WNBA Teams||WNBA Hall of Fame Probability|
|Lisa Leslie||Los Angeles Sparks (1997-2006, 2008-2009)||100%|
|Lauren Jackson||Seattle Storm (2001-Current)||100%|
|Cynthia Cooper||Houston Comets (1997-2000, 2003)||100%|
Tulsa Shock (Current)
|Tamika Catchings||Indiana Fever (2002-Current)||100%|
|Diana Taurasi||Phoenix Mercury (2004-Current)||100%|
|Tina Thompson||Los Angeles Sparks (2009-Current)
Houston Comets (1997-2008)
|Yolanda Griffith|| Indiana Fever (2009)
Seattle Storm (2008)
Sacramento Monarchs (1999-2007)
|Cappie Pondexter||New York Liberty (2010-Current)
Phoenix Mercury (2006-2009)
|Sue Bird|| Seattle Storm (2002-Current)
|Becky Hammon||San Antonio Silver Stars (07-Current)
New York Liberty (1999-2006)
|Katie Smith||Seattle Storm (Current)
Minnesota Lynx (1999-2005)
Detroit Shock (2005-2009)
Washington Mystics (2010)
|Teresa Weatherspoon||Los Angeles Sparks (2004)
New York Liberty (1997-2003)
|Dawn Staley||Houston Comets (2006-2006)
Charlotte Sting (1999-2005)
|Ticha Penicheiro||Los Angeles Sparks (2010-Current)
Sacramento Monarchs (1998-2009)
List of Top 15 WNBA Players in order of the HOF Probability calculator ratings.
It's no coincidence that all three of those not on our list were point guards, the toughest position to evaluate statistically.
In a way, the list confirms the value of the point guard in the WNBA - although there are other players who have definitely put up better stats, it's a league that's far more predicated on ball movement and that begins with the point guard spot.
"I don't know where to begin. To be voted as one of the Top 15 Players of All Time leaves me speechless. I have an overwhelming feeling of joy and appreciation," said Weatherspoon in a WNBA release. "It tells me my hard work didn't go unnoticed, and to be voted in by the fans makes it even more special to me. The fans are the people I played before each and every night. All I can say is thank you!"
So with ball handlers dominating the list moreso than anything else, a brief look at those three that didn't make oiur original statistical list.
Teresa Weatherspoon, PG
Career stats: 5.0 ppg, 5.3 apg, 3.1 rpg
Key accolades: Two defensive player of the year awards (1997, 1998), four All-WNBA Second Team selections (1997-2000), third all-time career assists per game (5.3).
There's really no point in talking about stats with Weatherspoon - her presence on the court was probably impossible to quantify, as described so well in Queenie's New York Liberty Ring of Honor retrospective about Weatherspoon.
But if you're looking for that one concrete argument for Weatherspoon's inclusion on the list, it's undoubtedly her desperation heave in Game 2 of the 1999 WNBA Finals. It remains among the most iconic moments in WNBA history and probably among the most recognizable WNBA moments among mainstream sports fans. Weatherspoon was one of three players to get promoted from honorable mention on the 2006 WNBA All-Decade Team to the Top 15 now, along with Penicheiro.
Ticha Penicheiro, PG
Career stats: 6.3 ppg, 6.0 apg, 3.4 rpg
Key accolades: Three All-WNBA selections (1999-2001); 2008 WNBA All-Defensive Team; #1 in career assists (2398), assists per game (6.0), and assist percentage (35.0%); 7th in career steals per game (1.8).
I've described my admiration for Penicheiro's game so many times, that I won't belabor the point here. But I'll summarize how I perceive her legacy by saying this: Penicheiro might be the best passer the WNBA has ever seen, not just in making passes but in manipulating the defense to get them to shift in ways that turn passes into assists without the threat of a jumper. It's really quite remarkable to witness her at work. If you don't buy "best passer" technically, then it's hard to deny that there are few more efficient passers statistically, particularly given her longevity in the league. That's punctuated by her being by far the most efficient distributor last year with the Sparks when some people assumed she was washed up, especially after an early-season injury.
But off the court, Luis Cristovao did an outstanding job describing Ticha Penicheiro's impact on Portugal and in terms of her impact on the worldwide growth of women's basketball, that's worth
As the individual who's done that one thing - and something vital to any basketball team - the best in the history of this league, it's very difficult to leave Penicheiro off this list.
Dawn Staley, PG
Career stats: 8.5 ppg, 5.1 apg, 2.0 rpg
Key accolades: Top five all time in career assists (1337), assists per game (5.1), and assist percentage (31.2%); 2006 All-Decade Team
As every other member of the 2006 All-Decade team made the list, perhaps Staley was a lock despite what the fancy "Hall of Fame probability" stats say. Staley was one of the best ball handlers the league has seen, has the WNBA Community Leadership Award named after her, and is quite easily among the most recognizable figures in women's basketball.
Of course, people can and will quibble with this list and there will certainly be discussion about snubs or players who might be considered a "stretch" to make this list.
But for now, we just appreciate the accomplishments of those that have made it.
Note: All statistics and statistical rankings are as of 2010, the numbers which probably figured into player nominations and the majority of voting decisions.