Top 10 WNBA Players Of All Time
Ever since its inaugural season in 1997, the WNBA has showcased some of the greatest women’s basketball players of all time. Ranking the 10 greatest players in WNBA history.
Who is the best WNBA player of all time? No matter which league or sport fans discuss, one question always comes up: Who is the best player of all time? It’s often hard to select just one player, since so many greats have come and gone. Not only that, but the game itself changes over time and the definition of greatness can expand with each generation. I have narrowed my list of all-time WNBA superstars down to 10 players, and my No. 1 choice was a no-brainer. So, without further ado, you’ll find the greatest WNBA player of all time at the end of the list below.
Ranking the Top 10 Greatest WNBA Players of all time
10. Sue Bird Position: Guard
Years Active: 2002 to 2022
Team: Seattle Storm
Career Per-Game WNBA Averages: 11.1 points, 2.5 rebounds, 5.6 assists
Awards: WNBA Championship (2004, 2010, 2018, 2020), Olympic Gold Medal (2004, 2008, 2012, 2016, 2020), NCAA Championship (2000, 2002)
When you think of point guards, you think of Sue Bird. Bird has started and played in more games (580) than any other player in WNBA history. She won four championships with the Seattle Storm and was a key contributor to each of those teams. While Bird was known for being her team’s floor general., she also had a phenomenal 3-point shot. Her 1,001 career 3-pointers currently rank No. 2 on the league’s all-time list.
9. Sheryl Swoopes
Years Active: 1997 to 2011
Teams: Houston Comets, Seattle Storm, Tulsa Shock
Career Per-Game WNBA Averages: 15 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists
Awards: WNBA Championship (1997, 1998, 1999, 2000), WNBA MVP (2000, 2002, 2005), WNBA Defensive Player of the Year (2000, 2002, 2003), Olympic Gold Medal (1996, 2000, 2004)
When you think of the greatest of all time or, as the kids say, “The GOAT,” you could argue the case for Sheryl Swoopes. She was the first player to record a triple-double in a WNBA game and the first to win an NCAA championship, WNBA championship, and Olympic gold medal. Swoopes also became the only player in either the NBA or WNBA to win three MVP awards along with three Defensive Player of the Year awards. Swoopes was also the first woman to have her own signature shoe.
8. Sylvia Fowles
Years Active: 2008 to 2022
Teams: Chicago Sky, Minnesota Lynx
Career Per-Game WNBA Averages: 15.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, 1.1 assists
Awards: WNBA Championship (2015, 2017), WNBA Finals MVP (2015, 2017), Olympic Gold Medal (2008, 2012, 2016, 2020)
Sylvia Fowles is certainly one of the best bigs in WNBA history. She is the all-time leader in double-doubles and ranks in the top five for win shares. Fowles’ remarkable consistency and longevity were such that she was still in the MVP discussion during her 14th season. This sustained excellence is what really stands out when looking back on her career. Fowles was truly a double-double machine and a force in the paint.
7. Tamika Catchings
Years Active: 2002 to 2016
Team: Indiana Fever
Career Per-Game WNBA Averages: 16.1 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists
Awards: WNBA Championship (2012), WNBA Finals MVP (2012), WNBA MVP (2011), WNBA Rookie of the Year (2002), Olympic Gold Medal (2004, 2008, 2012, 2016), NCAA Championship (1998)
When looking back at Tamika Catchings’ career, the first thing one recalls is how hard she played. That might sound cliché, since all players give it their all, but no one played as hard as Catchings. In her final WNBA game -- with 30 seconds or so remaining – her coach tried to sub out Catchings so that she could receive one last standing ovation. Catching waved off her coach, refusing to come out. She remains the only player to finish a WNBA season ranked in the top 10 in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks – a feat she achieved twice.
6. Lauren Jackson
Years Active: 2001 to 2012
Team: Seattle Storm
Career Per-Game WNBA Averages: 18,9 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists
Awards: WNBA Championship (2004, 2010), WNBA MVP (2003, 2007, 2010), WNBA Scoring Champion (2003, 2004, 2007), WNBA Finals MVP (2010), WNBA Defensive Player of the Year (2007)
When Australians think of women’s basketball, they think of Lauren Jackson. She is without a doubt the best Australian women’s basketball player of all time, and her career achievements are sure to remain unmatched for decades. Her WNBA career was cut short due to injuries, but when Jackson was healthy, she was one of the best in the league -- winning two championships, three MVPs, and a Defensive Player of the Year award during a seven-year stretch from 2003 to 2010. Her win-share total remains second all-time, and she still ranks third in all-time player efficiency. Perhaps the most impressive accomplishment of Jackson’s career came in 2022 when, at age 40, she returned to the game, made the Australian national team’s roster, and competed in the 2022 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup, where Australia finished third. In her team’s bronze-medal game victory over Canada, Jackson scored 30 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
5. Maya Moore
Years Active: 2011 to 2018
Team: Minnesota Lynx
Career Per-Game WNBA Averages: 18.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.3 assists
Awards: WNBA championship (2011, 2013, 2015, 2017), WNBA MVP (2014), WNBA Finals MVP (2013), WNBA Rookie of the Year (2011), WNBA Scoring Champion (2014), Olympic Gold Medal (2012, 2016), NCAA Championship (2009, 2010)
Maya Moore might have easily been remembered as the greatest women’s basketball player of all time, but some things are bigger than basketball. Despite having several great years ahead of her, Moore sacrificed her basketball career to help others and change lives when she retired to focus on criminal-justice reform while advocating to help wrongfully-convicted Jonathan Irons, her future husband, gain his release from prison. In eight WNBA seasons, Moore won four championships and an MVP award. She was also the face of the league for several years. Had Moore played just a few more seasons, she would likely have the No. 1 ranking on this list.
4. Breanna Stewart
Years Active: 2016 to Present
Teams: Seattle Storm, New York Liberty
Career Per-Game WNBA Averages: 23.4 points, 10.4 rebounds, 3.7 assists
Awards: WNBA Championship (2018, 2020), WNBA Finals MVP (2018, 2020), WNBA MVP (2018), WNBA Rookie of the Year (2016), WNBA Scoring Champion (2022), Olympic Gold Medal (2016, 2020), NCAA Championship (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016)
While many players ranked above and below Breanna Stewart on this list have already retired and are out of the game, Stewart, a two-time WNBA champion, is still building her case to be named the women’s basketball GOAT. Her four NCAA championships at the University of Connecticut set a table of expectations for her WNBA playing career, and she has lived up to the hype. Now competing in her seventh WNBA season, Stewart is without a doubt one of the league’s toughest players to defend as she continues to build her basketball resume.
3. Elena Delle Donne
Years Active: 2013 to Present
Teams: Chicago Sky, Washington Mystics
Career Per-Game WNBA Averages: 19.8 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists
Awards: WNBA Championship (2019), WNBA MVP (2015, 2019), WNBA Rookie of the Year (2013), WNBA Scoring Champion (2015), Olympic Gold Medal (2016)
Here is another current player who makes our top 10 list, which just goes to show how much the women’s game continues to grow. When discussing the top players in WNBA history, Elena Delle Donne certainly comes into the conversation, because she’s arguably the best player in the league right now. Her shot creation and ability to score inside or outside from mid-range to 3-point range make her one of the hardest players to defend. In fact, Delle Donne is the only player in WNBA history to be in the 50-40-90 club because she managed to shoot 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from the 3-point line, and 90 percent from the free-throw-line over the course of a full season. While Delle Donne is an elite scorer, she’s also no slouch on the defensive end. She’ll lock opponents down or send them packing with their shots ending up in the bleachers.
2. Lisa Leslie
Years Active: 1997 to 2009
Team: Los Angeles Sparks
Career Per-Game WNBA Averages: 17.3 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists
Awards: WNBA Championship (2001, 2002), WNBA Finals MVP (2001, 2002), WNBA MVP (2001, 2004, 2006), WNBA Defensive Player of the Year (2004, 2008), FIBA World Championship MVP (2002), Olympic Gold Medal (1996, 2000, 2004, 2008)
When thinking about greatness in the WNBA, it’s hard not to think of Lisa Leslie. The first woman to ever dunk in a game, she was pound-for-pound the best big in WNBA history. Leslie fits the mold for the GOAT because she was a force at both ends of the court -- a go-to-scorer on offense and an elite shot-blocker on defense. If it weren’t for Diana Taurasi, Leslie would be listed here as the greatest WNBA player of all time.
1. Diana Taurasi
Years Active: 2004 to Present
Team: Phoenix Mercury
Career Per-Game WNBA Averages: 19.1 points, 4.3 assists, 3.9 rebounds
Awards: WNBA Championship (2007, 2009, 2014), WNBA Finals MVP (2009, 2014), WNBA MVP (2009), WNBA Rookie of the Year (2004), WNBA Scoring Champion (2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011), WNBA Assists Leader (2014), Olympic Gold Medal (2004, 2008, 2012, 2016, 2020), NCAA Championship (2002, 2003, 2004)
The fact that she was nicknamed the “White Mamba” by the Mamba (Kobe Bryant) himself, just goes how great Diana Taurasi is. At age 41, she is in her 16th season with the same WNBA team and still producing at a high level. The fact that her 15.3 points-per-game average ranks second on her team is just more evidence of her talent. Taurasi hasn’t won the most championships (although there is still time for that), nor has she won the most MVP awards, but when you think about the greatest women’s basketball player of all time, you think of Diana Taurasi. Her offensive game is the best we have ever seen, and she has the highest offensive win-share total in league history. With a game on the line, give me Taurasi to take the last shot every time for the win
Parameters of Rankings
It wasn't easy to create this list, since women’s basketball history is filled with generational talents. Fortunately, I was able to narrow it down to 10 players, but those who didn’t make this cut remain in the back of my mind as candidates to one day crack the top 10 on a future, a revised version of this list.
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