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Down low in the paint: WNBA’s 5 best centers of all time

A’ja Wilson just earned the first Player of the Week award of her professional career. But all season long she has forced basketball enthusiasts to take another look at the best big women the league has ever seen. Soon enough, she’ll bump someone from this list.

Superstar Lisa Leslie mid-dunk with the LA Sparks

A’ja Wilson, rookie standout for the Las Vegas Aces, hasn’t missed a beat in a near seamless transition from college to the pros. Halfway through the 2018 season, Wilson is averaging over 20 points and almost 9 boards per game. On the heels of the number one draft pick being named the Player of the Month for WNBA games played in June, it’s time to review the careers of some of the best big women the league has ever seen.

Top 5 paint players the league has ever seen

1. Yolanda Griffith (retired) — In the 1999 draft, Griffith was the second pick overall, selected by the Sacramento Monarchs. The 6-foot-3 center was the league MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in 1999, an eight-time WNBA All-Star, and a WNBA Champion in 2005. Griffith was a member of the USA Basketball Women’s National Team and won Olympic gold in 2000 and 2004. Griffith retired in 2009 with the Indiana Fever and is still regarded as one of the top rebounders and centers that the WNBA has ever seen.

2. Lisa Leslie (retired) — Leslie played her entire illustrious career with the Los Angeles Sparks. Leslie was a three-time WNBA MVP, two-time WNBA Finals MVP, two-time Defensive Player of the Year and two-time WNBA Champion. Leslie also has four Olympic gold medals. The left-handed Californian was also the first woman in the WNBA to dunk. Leslie is not only one of the most decorated and talented players to compete in the WNBA, she is one of best to ever play the game.

3. Lauren Jackson (retired) — Jackson, an Australian import, was the first pick overall in the 2001 draft. Selected by the Storm, she played her entire WNBA career in Seattle. Jackson was a seven-time WNBA All-Star, three-time WNBA Champion and the WNBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2007. Jackson represented Australia in the Olympic games and won silver medals in 2000, 2004 and 2008, and bronze in 2012.

4. Sylvia Fowles (active) – Fowles was the second pick overall in the 2008 draft by the Chicago Sky. She spent her first seven seasons with the Sky before being traded to the Minnesota Lynx in 2015, missing the first half of the season. Thus far in her career, Fowles is a twp-time WNBA Champion, four-time WNBA All-Star, two-time WNBA blocking leader and a three-time Defensive Player of the Year. She was awarded the WNBA MVP in 2017. Fowles has represented the US in the Olympics, winning gold in 2008, 2012 and 2016. Fowles has given no sign that her 10-year career in the WNBA is anywhere near coming to an end.

5. Candace Parker (active) – Parker was the first overall pick in the 2008 draft by the Los Angeles Sparks. Touting an incredible college career at the University of Tennessee, Parker was able to make a seamless transition in the pros and was named the WNBA 2008 Rookie of the Year. After giving birth to her daughter in 2009, and injuries that plagued her 2010 and 2011 seasons, Parker came back better than before in 2012 and was named the WNBA MVP in 2013. Parker is also a WNBA Champion, four-time WNBA All-Star and two-time WNBA rebound leader and peak performer. Parker also has two Olympic gold medals from the 2008 and 2012 games. In 2018, Parker is averaging over 16 points and 6 rebounds and playing like she and her Los Angeles Sparks team want to make another run at the championship.