How do the WNBA’s finest gamers stack up statistically?
To attempt to reply that query, along with our top 25 player ranking on Tuesday as a part of the league’s 25th anniversary season, I am unveiling for the primary time a WNBA model of the championships added metric I introduced for the NBA (and ABA) five years ago.
As within the NBA, the idea is identical: quantify how a lot a participant’s statistical contributions improved their possibilities of profitable a title above the typical for all groups. Meaning one MVP-level season is price excess of a number of All-Star campaigns. It additionally naturally balances the tradeoff between peak contributions and longevity in the case of rating careers.
There are a few variations within the WNBA model. First, as a result of we’ve full field rating stats for the W’s whole historical past, I am utilizing my wins above alternative participant (WARP) metric relatively than Basketball-Reference.com’s win shares. Second, playoff championships added are primarily based on game-by-game efficiency (as measured by Sport Rating) relatively than complete postseason stats.
Championships added primarily based on regular-season WARP, playoff efficiency and awards (MVP, All-WNBA and All-Star honors) are then adjusted primarily based on league high quality for the season in query, which fluctuated wildly with growth and the combination of former ABL gamers within the league’s first 4 years earlier than steadily enhancing within the trendy 12-team period. These seasons are then summed as much as present a closing estimate of what number of championships a participant would have added to common groups’ complete.
Let’s check out the rankings.
1. Tamika Catchings (3.Three championships added)
ESPN panel rating: 2
The conclusion right here is identical as the one I reached last year, when Catchings was chosen for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Corridor of Fame: No one has had a greater WNBA profession. Catchings is No. 1 by a large margin in regular-season championships added, with almost a full another than another participant. And she or he is second in playoff championships added due to her postseason longevity and excellence.
The look again on the prime gamers in league historical past has supplied one other reminder of how a lot much less assist Catchings had with the Indiana Fever than different WNBA superstars did. She performed simply three video games with different members of ESPN’s top-25 ranking, all with Yolanda Griffith when Griffith was 39, and on the verge of retirement. Among the many W25 gamers, solely Becky Hammon (0) performed much less continuously with different top-25 gamers as teammates.
2. Candace Parker (3.Zero championships added)
ESPN panel rating: 9
Parker ranks second largely on the power of her playoff efficiency. Solely Cynthia Cooper averaged extra WARP per postseason sport, and Parker did it in additional than twice as many video games (48 to Cooper’s 19). In consequence, Parker is the chief in playoff championships added, regardless of profitable only one title with the Sparks.
3. Diana Taurasi (2.6 championships added)
ESPN panel rating: 1
Taurasi topped our rankings and is the favourite to win the WNBA’s GOAT vote because the league’s all-time main scorer and a 10-time All-WNBA First Staff choose. Her superior stats although haven’t been fairly as effusive. Taurasi is No. 1 in awards championships added and No. Four within the playoffs, however simply sixth in regular-season championships added.
Partly, the championships added methodology provides extra credit score to her comparatively sturdy teammates. Taurasi performed for prolonged stretches with 4 different gamers within the prime 25. Moreover, she does not rating fairly as effectively in WARP as gamers who have been elite at each ends of the court docket.
4. Maya Moore (2.2 championships added)
ESPN panel rating: 4
In simply eight WNBA seasons, Moore was second in playoff WARP and ranks third in postseason championships added. Successful 4 titles and reaching the Finals twice extra helped her pile up playoff worth in a rush. She’s additionally fifth in regular-season championships added.
5. Lisa Leslie (2.1 championships added)
ESPN panel rating: 5
Leslie was atop the rankings when she retired in 2009 as a three-time MVP and two-time Finals MVP earlier than being handed by gamers who shined as brightly throughout a extra aggressive period of league historical past. Nonetheless, she’s within the prime 10 in all three measures of championships added and second behind Taurasi within the awards class.
6. Lauren Jackson (2.Zero championships added)
ESPN panel rating: 7
Second to Catchings in regular-season championships added, Jackson drops a bit due to her comparatively weaker playoff efficiency (14th all time). Sadly, the Storm did not advance previous the primary spherical from 2005 via 2007 and she or he missed each the 2008 and 2009 postseasons as a result of accidents earlier than returning to win Finals MVP in 2010.
7. Sheryl Swoopes (1.Eight championships added)
ESPN panel rating: 6
The three-time MVP is third in regular-season championships added. Surprisingly, regardless of these accolades, Swoopes is comparatively low in awards championships added (ninth), largely as a result of she acquired a late begin piling them up. Swoopes was 27 by 1998, her first full WNBA season after giving beginning to son Jordan in 1997. She additionally does not get as a lot credit score as Cooper for the Houston Comets’ 4 title runs.
8. Cynthia Cooper (1.6 championships added)
ESPN panel rating: 3
It is exceptional that Cooper was capable of get this excessive on the listing in what was primarily a four-year profession. (After two years as a coach, Cooper returned in 2003 to play 4 video games at age 40 earlier than retiring for good.) Contemplate that including 1.6 championships in 4 years means that placing Cooper’s manufacturing on an in any other case common workforce would give them a few 50-50 shot of profitable a title. Cooper was so dominant in profitable two MVPs that she’s fourth in regular-season championships added in 124 profession video games.
9. Sylvia Fowles (1.5 championships added)
ESPN panel rating: 10
Fowles has put collectively one of the crucial balanced WNBA careers, rating within the prime 12 in all three measures of championships added as a regular-season MVP and two-time Finals MVP. And she or he is not carried out but, submitting one other excellent season at age 35 after being restricted to seven video games by accidents in 2020.
10. Breanna Stewart (1.5 championships added)
ESPN panel rating: 12
On the power of simply 5 WNBA seasons, Stewart has already cracked the highest 10 at age 27, with the possibility to maintain shifting up the listing. Her 2020 playoff run scored because the second-best in league historical past with the standard of play adjustment. Stewart averaged 25.7 factors, 7.Eight rebounds and 4.Zero assists on 62% true taking pictures because the Storm swept via the postseason 6-Zero to win a second title in her profession.
11. Elena Delle Donne (1.Four championships added)
ESPN panel rating: 11
Sadly, Delle Donne hasn’t been in a position so as to add to her complete since main the Washington Mystics to the 2019 title, as she opted out of final season as a result of COVID-19 issues and was restricted to 3 video games in 2021 following again surgical procedure. Nonetheless, even when Delle Donne by no means performs one other sport, she has already cemented herself as an all-time nice with two MVPs.
12. Yolanda Griffith (1.Four championships added)
ESPN panel rating: 13
Though Griffith received MVP in 1999, her first WNBA season after taking part in within the ABL, she lags within the awards class (19th) for an comprehensible cause: Leslie largely blocked her path to the All-WNBA First Staff. (Griffith solely made it in 1999 after which 2005.) Griffith ranks within the prime 10 in each regular-season and playoff championships added although, regardless of not debuting within the WNBA till age 29, illustrating her spectacular longevity.
13. Angel McCoughtry (1.Three championships added)
ESPN panel rating: 20
A powerful contributor in the course of the common season, McCoughtry has taken it to a different degree within the playoffs, rating seventh with 0.9 adjusted championships added. She was the driving power in Atlanta‘s three Finals appearances, together with averaging 26.7 PPG in 2010.
14. Sue Chicken (1.Three championships added)
ESPN panel rating: 8
Due to the way in which championships added works, Chicken does not get as a lot credit score for stringing collectively extra seasons of above-average play as another participant in WNBA historical past. Nonetheless, her longevity has helped her climb to seventh within the awards class, simply the very best amongst gamers who’ve by no means received an MVP.
15. Tina Charles (1.1 championships added)
ESPN panel rating: 18
With an MVP on prime of her eight All-WNBA appearances (5 on the primary workforce), Charles is without doubt one of the six gamers forward of fellow Christ the King alum Chicken within the awards class. Nevertheless, she does not rank fairly as effectively when it comes to statistical manufacturing, inserting 23rd in regular-season championships added and 26th within the playoffs.
16. Cappie Pondexter (1.1 championships added)
ESPN panel rating: 21
On regular-season worth alone, Pondexter could be simply outdoors the highest 25, however her excellent playoff runs in each 2007 (when she received Finals MVP) and 2010 (when she averaged 28.Four PPG on sturdy taking pictures percentages because the Liberty misplaced within the convention finals) raise her into the highest 10 in postseason championships added.
17. Brittney Griner (1.Zero championships added)
ESPN panel rating: 17
No participant has been extra constant throughout the board than Griner, who ranks 15th (common season), 16th (playoffs) and 16th (awards) within the three championships added parts. She might raise her awards rating by making this 12 months’s All-WNBA First Staff, which might be sufficient to leap each Pondexter and Charles.
18. Nneka Ogwumike (1.Zero championships added)
ESPN panel rating: 22
As a result of her 2016 MVP marketing campaign was Ogwumike’s solely All-WNBA First Staff look, she lags a bit within the awards class (28th). Her environment friendly play has her at a a lot stronger 12th place in regular-season championships added, along with her playoff play (19th) about the place she ranks total.
19. Becky Hammon (0.9 championships added)
ESPN panel rating: 23
One of many WNBA’s nice late bloomers, Hammon contributed 0.Eight of her 0.9 championships added after being dealt to the then-San Antonio Silver Stars at age 30. Hammon would make two All-WNBA First Groups in San Antonio, main the Stars to the 2008 Finals.
20. Tina Thompson (0.9 championships added)
ESPN panel rating: 15
The WNBA’s all-time main scorer earlier than being handed by Taurasi in 2017, Thompson was a worthwhile contributor from the league’s inception till her retirement in 2013 at age 38. She lags a bit right here in playoff worth (34th) as a result of her taking pictures percentages dipped from the common season.
21. DeWanna Bonner (0.Eight championships added)
ESPN panel rating: NR
Bonner has usually rated effectively by WARP due to her quantity 3-point taking pictures and powerful mixture of blocks and steals. So whereas she’s outdoors the highest 25 within the awards class (32nd, about the place she’s in all probability perceived by followers), she cracks the highest 20 in regular-season championships added.
22. Penny Taylor (0.Eight championships added)
ESPN panel rating: 25
There is a good symmetry between the careers of Bonner and Taylor, teammates in Phoenix for an prolonged time frame who’re favorites of superior stats. Taylor scores even worse when it comes to awards (35th) however jumps to 18th in playoff championships added, largely due to hyper-efficient title runs in each 2007 and 2009.
23. Lindsay Whalen (0.Eight championships added)
ESPN panel rating: 19
Throughout an period the place Chicken and Taurasi have been nonetheless of their prime, Whalen was an All-WNBA First Staff choose thrice from 2008 via 2014, with two further second workforce appearances powering her to 15th in awards championships added.
24. Sophia Younger-Malcolm (0.Eight championships added)
ESPN panel rating: NR
Younger-Malcolm performed 10 WNBA seasons earlier than retiring whereas nonetheless a productive starter at age 31. In consequence, she’s outdoors the highest 50 in regular-season championships added however vaults into the highest 25 on the power of her playoff contributions. Younger-Malcom improved her scoring common each season the San Antonio Stars made the playoffs whereas additionally upping her scoring effectivity.
25. Seimone Augustus (0.7 championships added)
ESPN panel rating: 14
Surprisingly, Augustus is simply outdoors the highest 25 within the awards class (26th) as a result of 5 of her six All-WNBA appearances have been on the second workforce, and eight All-Star appearances do not provide a lot when it comes to championships added. She’s nonetheless on the listing by advantage of her 0.5 playoff championships added serving to the Lynx to 4 titles.