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Best No. 3 pick in WNBA history: Tamika Catchings

Tamika Catchings, a 10x All-Star and the 2011 WNBA MVP, is the best player to be taken in third spot but there is a crop of current players challenging for the top spot.

Catchings during a game
Tamika Catchings is one of the top players in WNBA history.

We’re getting closer to the end of this series, and today’s installment is yet another WNBA legend.

Tamika Catchings was the No. 3 pick in 2001 by the Indiana Fever but was ruled out for the 2001 season due to an ACL injury that occurred in her senior season at Tennessee. Catchings’ 2002 rookie season was an outstanding success, winning the Rookie of the Year award and was named to her first of 10 All-Star teams. Catchings won the Most Valuable Player in 2011 and the 2012 WNBA Finals MVP award en route to her only championship in 2012.

Additionally, Catchings was named to the WNBA All-Defensive First Team 10 times and retired as the all-time leader in steals with 1074 steals. Her prowess on the court left her in the top ten of many statistical categories in WNBA history, including third in points (7380) and her 16.1 career scoring average is the highest among those drafted No. 3 overall.

Now the Vice President of Basketball Operations and General Manager for the Fever, Catchings legacy and influence continue. She will be inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame with the rest of the 2020 class in 2021.

Contemporary challengers

Washington Wizards v Portland Trail Blazers
Kristi Toliver has had an illustrious career and looks to continue it with her return to the Los Angeles Sparks.
Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images

Kristi Toliver was drafted by the Chicago Sky in 2009 and was traded after her rookie season to the Los Angeles Sparks, where she spent seven seasons before returning in 2020. She was named to the All Star team, All-WNBA Second Team, was awarded the Most Improved Player award during her first stint in Los Angeles. Toliver signed with the Washington Mystics in 2017, where she was named to the All-Star team in 2018 and 2019 and won her second WNBA championship in 2019. Toliver is one of the most accomplished three-point shooters in WNBA history, ranked eighth in career makes and career attempts.

Chicago Sky v Las Vegas Aces - Game One
Courtney Vandersloot is one of the best point guards in the WNBA history.
Photo by Jeff Bottari/NBAE via Getty Images

Courtney Vandersloot was drafted in 2011 by the Chicago Sky, where she has spent her entire WNBA career. Vandersloot was named to the All-Rookie team after starting 26 of her 34 appearances and averaging 6.5 points and 3.7 assists. She has been named to the All-Star team twice, has been elected to an All-WNBA team three times, and led the league in assists four times. Vandersloot ranks sixth all-time in assists and has the highest assist per game average in WNBA history at 6.1 assists per game.

Dallas Wings v Phoenix Mercury - Game One
Skylar Diggins-Smith is among the best to be drafted No. 3 overall.
Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

Skylar Diggins-Smith was drafted by the Tulsa Shock in 2015 and has spent her career with the franchise, now known as the Dallas Wings. In her rookie season, she was named to the All-Rookie team after averaging 8.5 points per contest. Her second season saw a jump to 20.1 points per game and Diggins-Smith was named the Most Improved Player and earned her first of four bids to the All-Star Game. Her career scoring average is 15.9 points and good for 17th in WNBA history. After sitting out the 2019 season on maternity leave, Diggins-Smith was traded to the Phoenix Mercury. Her continued success will cement her as one of the greats in league history.