The WNBA thrived in the 2010s because of the everyday, enduring efforts of talented, engaging women’s basketball players. On their own steam, with neither sufficient marketing nor adequate financial investment, the players proved that women’s professional basketball is here to stay. As the decade winds to a close, we reflect on the players who made the biggest impact both on and off the court.
Here are the 10 best WNBA players of the 2010s:
4. Elena Delle Donne (Washington Mystics, Chicago Sky)
Honors, achievements and numbers of note in the 2010s: 2019 WNBA champion, 2x MVP (2015, 2019), 5x All-WNBA Team, 6x All-Star, 6x top 5 in points per game, 7x top 3 in PER, 2013 Rookie of the Year
Even though she just won a WNBA title — along with a second MVP award — Washington Mystics wing Elena Delle Donne’s career can be described as unlucky.
In her seven-year career, she has never suited up for every game in a season. During her sophomore season, she was limited to only 16 games, beset by her battle with Lyme disease. Although she rebounded in 2015 to earn her first MVP award, her struggle with Lyme disease, as well as recurrent back troubles, have persisted, seemingly interrupting her career at the most inopportune times. As is well-known, three herniated disks jeopardized her availability for the 2019 WNBA Finals, an injury scare that followed the bone bruise she suffered during DC’s 2018 playoff run.
It thus is incredibly impressive that — despite too frequent injuries and illnesses — Delle Donne has done so much in her seven WNBA seasons. She not only is one of the best players of the past decade, but she also already has established herself as an all-timer. EDD is an enviably efficient scorer who consistently gets to her spots and lofts her nearly unguardable shot. The 50-40-90 mark that she achieved this past season epitomizes her precise offensive game. She also has begun to round out her game, improving on the defensive end of the floor and dedicating herself to the boards. Unsurprisingly, she is first among active players (and number two in history) in player efficiency rating (PER), with a career mark of 28.65.
Yet, for all her individual excellence, Delle Donne has been defined by her instinct for inclusivity. Whether on the court or off, she uses her platform to highlight the experiences of others. Most notably, she has shared the story of her sister Lizzie, by whom she was inspired to work with Nike to create a shoe that meets the needs of differently-abled individuals.