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The List: The 50 Best WNBA Players of All-Time (From 1997-2022)

As you may know, the WNBA celebrated their 25th anniversary in the 2022 season. And in honor of their 25th year, they announced the league’s 25 best players of all-time. Building off their 2016 list of the W’s best 20 players leading up to their W25 list.

The WNBA’s list of the greatest players in the history of the women’s professional basketball league includes GOATs like Diana Taurasi, Tamika Catchings, Lisa Leslie, Cynthia Cooper, Sue Bird, Lauren Jackson, Maya Moore, Sheryl Swoopes and Candace Parker. Here’s the WNBA’s list sorted by the players’ first name alphabetically.

The W25 (WNBA)
Player Titles MVPs Finals MVP All-Star All-W
Angel McCoughtry 0 0 0 5 6
Becky Hammon 0 0 0 6 4
Breanna Stewart 2 1 2 3 3
Brittany Griner 1 0 0 7 5
Candace Parker 1 2 1 6 9
Cappie Pondexter 2 0 2 7 4
Cynthia Cooper 4 2 4 3 4
Diana Taurasi 3 1 2 10 14
Elena Delle-Donne 2 1 0 6 5
Katie Smith 2 0 1 7 2
Lauren Jackson 3 2 1 7 8
Lindsey Whalen 4 0 0 5 5
Lisa Leslie 2 3 2 8 12
Maya Moore 4 1 1 6 7
Nneka Ogwumike 1 1 0 6 4
Seimone Augustus 4 1 0 8 6
Sheryl Swoopes 4 3 0 6 7
Sue Bird 4 0 0 12 8
Swin Cash 3 0 0 4 2
Sylvia Fowles 2 1 2 7 6
Tamika Catchings 1 1 1 10 12
Ticha Penichiero 1 0 0 4 3
Tina Charles 0 1 0 8 5
Tina Thompson 4 0 0 9 8
Yolanda Griffith 1 1 1 8 5

ESPN jumped in on the fun (as they do) and wrote up their own list but ranking each of their 25 chosen players — leaving Cash and Penichiero off their list — to include Penny Taylor and Rebekkah Brunson. ESPN obviously put some work into their ranking and we certainly think that Taylor and Brunson deserve to be in the top 50 players of all-time. Considering their resumes, let’s use the W25 list and ESPN’s additions as a start of our Top 50 List.

ESPN Edits the W25
Player Titles MVPs Finals MVP All-Star All-W
Penny Taylor 3 0 0 3 2
Rebekkah Brunson 5 0 0 5 0

Just so you know, Taylor was an efficient offensive player whose contributions to the teams she played on helped her to three WNBA titles. Brunson owns the most WNBA championships in the history of the W, ranks third all-time in rebounds and is a seven-time all-defensive selection. She wasn’t an offensive powerhouse or at any point the first or even the second best player on her team, but you still can’t argue Brunson’s placement too loudly.

That brings us to 27 players – a little over half where we need to be.

Let’s Bring in the W25 Snubs

After these type of lists, they hatch several articles that took the W’s and ESPNs list to task for snubbing players that they believe should have been included. Most of those articles agreed on those snubs, including our own opinion, that there were a handful of players that deserved to be in the conversation for the W25. That shortlist included seven snubs.

The Seven W25 Snubs
Player Titles MVPs Finals MVP All-Star All-W
A’ja Wilson 0 1 0 3 2
Candice Dupree 1 0 0 7 0
Courtney Vandersloot 1 0 0 3 5
Deanna Nolan 3 0 1 4 5
DeLisha Milton-Jones 2 0 0 3 0
DeWanna Bonner 2 0 0 4 2
Taj McWilliams-Franklin 2 0 0 6 2

There’s a lot of work that was done to come up with these snubs. Candice Dupree never quite jumped to superstar level but her consistency and longevity in the league has her sitting solidly as the league’s fourth all-time leading scorer.

DeWanna Bonner is a two-time WNBA champion and a 4x WNBA all-star is climbing up the WNBA scoring list.

Retired, two-time WNBA champ DeLisha Milton-Jones finished her career with two championships, ranks 17th in scoring all-time with 5571 points, a three-time all-star and was always counted on to bring defensive energy.

Taj McWilliams-Franklin was one of my favorite players and was mentioned in ESPN’s snubs article. Taj just did work; earned six WNBA all-star nods. A’ja Wlson is one of two MVPs not to make the W25 and Wilson doesn’t look to be stopping anytime soon, so she’s got to be somewhere in the top 50 despite her career being on the early side.

Courtney Vandersloot is a WNBA champion, had two of the league’s dozen or so triple doubles, and has led the league in assists for five straight seasons and six total. She’s a strong lock for the WNBA’s top 50.

With the addition of Wilson, Dupree, DeLisha, Bonner, Taj, Vandersloot and Deanna Nolan to our list of 27 players makes a total of 34 players for our ultimate goal of a top fifty.

According to my quick math, that means we have 16 spots remaining with approximately 50 candidates.

WNBA All-Stars, Defensive Selections, Longevity

So with 34 spots taken, how should we be breaking down which players deserve the next 16 spots? Based on the above selections’ accomplishments we can establish specific individual thresholds, team success and combinations there-of.

This should be fun. Using our knowledge of the W, access to advanced stats from Across the Timeline, cross referencing Basketball Reference, leveraging www.customwritings.com, as well as WNBA.com, we came up with the following factors to help us figure out the remaining spots.

Teresa Weatherspoon never won a championship, but T-Spoon’s affect was more on the defensive end; leading the league in steals twice, was the unquestioned leader of the early New York Liberty teams and most-importantly for this list; was named to the league’s 15th Anniversary Team and WNBA 20th Anniversary Team.

Seeing that Dawn Staley was apart of the league’s 10th Anniversary  Team and the 15th Anniversary Team – she’s an easy pick. Though Staley wasn’t included in the 20th anniversary team or the W25, her five all-star appearances and those inclusions early on makes her an easy pick for the top 50 WNBA players of all-time.

If we’re talking about All-WNBA appearances, Skylar Diggins-Smith has the most selections left among players that haven’t been chosen. Let’s put an end to that. Skylar is still going strong, along with her five WNBA all-star appearances makes her an easy pick at this point.

Right behind Diggins-Smith is Katie Douglas. She’s an WNBA champion, a 4x All-WNBA selection and and 5x all-star. A multiple all-defensive team selection. Again another easy call. Now that we’ve typed all this out, Douglas probably should have been mentioned way earlier.

From Basketball Reference’s list of the WNBA’s Career Leaders for Points, the only player not to make our list yet is Tangela Smith. Not only is Tangela one of the league’s top scorers and rebounders of all-time, but she contributed to two WNBA Title runs with the Sacramento Monarchs and the Phoenix Mercury.

As far as WNBA All-Star Appearances are concerned, of all the players that have already earned their place on our prospective list, the only players that have six or more WNBA all-star appearances not on the list are Nykesha Sales (7) and Chamique Holdsclaw (6). By that measure, those two should also be on the list.

Add Ten More
Player Titles MVPs Finals MVP All-Star All-W
Alana Beard 1 0 0 4 1
Chamique Holdsclaw 0 0 0 6 3
Dawn Staley 0 0 0 5 3
Jonquel Jones 0 1 0 5 3
Katie Douglas 1 0 0 5 4
Margo Dydek 0 0 0 2 0
Nykesha Sales 0 0 0 7 1
Skylar Diggins-Smith 0 0 0 5 5
Tangela Smith 2 0 0 1 0
Teresa Weatherspoon 2 0 0 5 4

The late Margo Dydek didn’t make an overwhelming amount of all-star games (2) nor was she named to an All-WNBA Team in her career, but the 7-2 Polish center’s impact in terms of defensive intimidation can’t be denied; having led the WNBA in blocks eight times and is the WNBA’s all-time leader in that category. We’re not sure where Dydek actually lands on the list if we were to rank the players but she certainly deserves to be in the top fifty.

Outside of A’ja Wilson, the 28-year old Jonquel Jones is the other WNBA MVP not to make the W25. Jones is a three-time All-WNBA selection, a three-time all-star, led the league in rebounds three times, once in blocks and is a two-time all-defensive team. She’s just hitting her peak years, so the sports odds have Jones as an all-time great when all is said and done. In other words, Jonquel is a lock.

Alana Beard makes this list not because of her WNBA title, her four all-star appearances or one all-WNBA selections, but her being a two-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year, the 9x All-Defensive Team selections, and her being third all-time in steals. Beard is certainly one of the league’s greatest on the defensive end, and she makes this list with ease in our opinion.

Full List: Top 50 WNBA Players in WNBA History

Okay so if you’re counting you know we’ve listed 44 of the best (and THE BEST) WNBA players in the entire 25 years of the league. We know we promised you a list of the fifty top players at the start of this article and we thought we’d get closer, but the next six players won’t be easy so take a look at the current list and scroll down to see how we plan on filling out the remaining six players.

The Top 50 WNBA Players of All-Time
Player Titles MVPs Finals MVP All-Star All-W
A’ja Wilson 0 1 0 3 2
Alana Beard 1 0 0 4 1
Angel McCoughtry 0 0 0 5 6
Becky Hammon 0 0 0 6 4
Breanna Stewart 2 1 2 3 3
Brittany Griner 1 0 0 7 5
Candace Parker 1 2 1 6 9
Candice Dupree 1 0 0 7 0
Cappie Pondexter 2 0 2 7 4
Chamique Holdsclaw 0 0 0 6 3
Courtney Vandersloot 1 0 0 3 5
Cynthia Cooper 4 2 4 3 4
Dawn Staley 0 0 0 5 3
Deanna Nolan 3 0 1 4 5
DeLisha Milton-Jones 2 0 0 3 0
DeWanna Bonner 2 0 0 4 2
Diana Taurasi 3 1 2 10 14
Elena Delle-Donne 2 1 0 6 5
Jonquel Jones 0 1 0 5 3
Katie Douglas 1 0 0 5 4
Katie Smith 2 0 1 7 2
Lauren Jackson 3 2 1 7 8
Lindsey Whalen 4 0 0 5 5
Lisa Leslie 2 3 2 8 12
Margo Dydek 0 0 0 2 0
Maya Moore 4 1 1 6 7
Nneka Ogwumike 1 1 0 6 4
Nykesha Sales 0 0 0 7 1
Penny Taylor 3 0 0 3 2
Rebekkah Brunson 5 0 0 5 0
Seimone Augustus 4 1 0 8 6
Sheryl Swoopes 4 3 0 6 7
Skylar Diggins-Smith 0 0 0 5 5
Sue Bird 4 0 0 12 8
Swin Cash 3 0 0 4 2
Sylvia Fowles 2 1 2 7 6
Taj McWilliams-Franklin 2 0 0 6 2
Tamika Catchings 1 1 1 10 12
Tangela Smith 2 0 0 1 0
Teresa Weatherspoon 2 0 0 5 4
Ticha Penichiero 1 0 0 4 3
Tina Charles 0 1 0 8 5
Tina Thompson 4 0 0 9 8
Yolanda Griffith 1 1 1 8 5

Based on the data, impact and accomplishments, the first forty plus WNBA players were pretty straightforward, but the remaining six spots will be a bloody fight. So we’ll have to consider players like Sophia Young-Malcolm who scored 4300 points in her career, earned three All-WNBA and three all-star appearances. Paired with Becky Hammon, she was a three time all-star, averaged between 12 and 19 points for her entire nine-year WNBA career.

What about Shannon Johnson or Chelsea Gray? Nikki Teasley or Nikki McCray? Strong frontcourt players like Sancho Lyttle, Cheryl Ford and Natalie Williams? Here’s a list of the remaining candidates.

Top 50 WNBA Candidates
Player Player Player
Allie Quigley Janeth Arcain   Nikki McCray
Andrea Stinson Jewell Lloyd Nikki Teasley
Arike Ogunbowale Kayla McBride Rebecca Lobo
Betty Lennox Kelsey Mitchell Ruth Riley
Brandi Reed Kelsey Plum Ruthie Bolton
Chelsea Gray Kristi Tolliver Sancho Lyttle
Cheryl Ford Liz Cambage Sabrina Ionescu
Courtney Paris Merlaika Jones Shannon Johnson
Danielle Robinson Michelle Snow Sophia Young-Malcolm
Debbie Black Mwadi Mabika Tamecka Dixon
Érika de Souza   Natalie Williams Tari Phillips
Eva Nemcova Jennifer Gillom Vickie Johnson

What about active players like Liz Cambage or Arike Ogunbowale or Jewell Lloyd?  As of this post, we’re deciding between Chelsea Gray, Cheryl Ford, Jennifer Gillom, Jewell Lloyd, Liz Cambage, Sancho Lyttle, Shannon Johnson, and Sophia Young-Malcolm

No but really, we’re really asking and open to feedback. We need your help. Let us know who you think should be on the list, who we left off, who we shouldn’t have included, and any other opinions (and why) you have in the comments below.

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