Babcock McGraw: Parker, Catchings among 20 best players in WNBA's 20-year history

 
 
Updated 6/18/2016 7:04 PM
hello
  • Former Naperville Central star Candace Parker is averaging 17.7 points and a stunning 9 rebounds over her nine-year career with the Los Angeles Sparks.

    Former Naperville Central star Candace Parker is averaging 17.7 points and a stunning 9 rebounds over her nine-year career with the Los Angeles Sparks. Associated Press

  • Former Stevenson High School star Tamika Catchings is widely considered the best defensive player in WNBA history.

    Former Stevenson High School star Tamika Catchings is widely considered the best defensive player in WNBA history. Associated Press

  • Chicago Sky forward Elena Delle Donne, right, has been a superstar from the moment she put on a WNBA uniform.

    Chicago Sky forward Elena Delle Donne, right, has been a superstar from the moment she put on a WNBA uniform. Associated Press

  • Former Chicago Sky star Sylvia Fowles, left, won her first WNBA championship last season with the Minnesota Lynx.

    Former Chicago Sky star Sylvia Fowles, left, won her first WNBA championship last season with the Minnesota Lynx. Associated Press

  • One of the most entertaining players in league history, Phoenix Mercury star Diana Taurasi has won three WNBA titles.

    One of the most entertaining players in league history, Phoenix Mercury star Diana Taurasi has won three WNBA titles. Associated Press

This is the WNBA's 20th season.

Here's where the haters might say: "Wait, there's still a WNBA?" or "What's the WNBA?"

But thanks to the continued support of the NBA and a loyal and growing fan base, the WNBA is alive and kicking and moving full-steam ahead into its third decade.

As part of its 20th anniversary celebration, the WNBA will soon be unveiling its Top 20@20 list, the best 20 players in the history of the league.

A total of 60 players have been nominated, including current Chicago Sky players Elena Delle Donne, Cappie Pondexter and Erika de Souza.

The final team of 20 will be announced during the 9 a.m. hour Tuesday on ESPN's "SportsCenter: Face-to-Face with Hannah Storm." The date, June 21, was chosen to honor the date of the league's inaugural regular-season game in 1997.

Here is my personal 20@20 list, in alphabetical order:

Sue Bird: One of the best point guards in WNBA history, the Seattle Storm star has averaged 5.4 assists over 15 WNBA seasons.

Tamika Catchings: Widely considered the best defensive player in WNBA history, she is playing in her 16th and final season for the Indiana Fever. The former Stevenson High School star has won the league's defensive player of the year award five times.

Cynthia Cooper: At age 34, she signed with the Houston Comets and led the franchise to the first four WNBA titles (1997, 1998, 1999, 2000). She led the league in scoring for three consecutive seasons (1997, 1998, 1999).

Elena Delle Donne: The Chicago Sky forward has been a superstar from the moment she put on a WNBA uniform. She is averaging 19.9 points and 6.4 rebounds per game over her four seasons. She ranks as one of the best free throw shooters in league history.

Katie Douglas: In 14 seasons, she was a five-time all-star known for tough defense. She averaged double-figures in 13 seasons, most of which were with the Indiana Fever.

Sylvia Fowles: The former Chicago Sky star won her first WNBA championship last season with the Minnesota Lynx. One of the best post players in league history, she is averaging 15.7 points and 9.7 rebounds per game over her nine seasons.

Becky Hammon: Undrafted, she retired as a six-time all-star and two-time first-team WNBA selection. In 16 years, she averaged double-figures in 11 seasons and at least 5 assists in five seasons.

Lauren Jackson: A two-time WNBA champion with the Seattle Storm, she ranks among the top WNBA players in games, minutes, field goals and 3-point field goals.

Lisa Leslie: She won two WNBA titles with the Los Angeles Sparks and retired ranking as the league's all-time leading scorer and rebounder and second in blocked shots.

Maya Moore: The versatile Minnesota Lynx forward has won three WNBA titles in five seasons. She's averaging 18.6 points and 6.3 rebounds over her career.

Candace Parker: The former Naperville Central star is averaging 17.7 points and a stunning 9 rebounds over her nine-year career with the Los Angeles Sparks. She was the first WNBA player to earn league MVP and Rookie of the Year honors in same season (2008).

Ticha Penicheiro: The former Chicago Sky guard retired in 2012 as the WNBA's all-time leader in assists after 15 seasons, most of which were with the Sacramento Monarchs. She averaged as many as 8 assists in one season and holds the WNBA single-game record for most steals with 10.

Cappie Pondexter: The Chicago native and current Chicago Sky star is a two-time WNBA champion (Phoenix Mercury) and seven-time all-star over 11 seasons. She is averaging 18 points a game over her career.

Katie Smith: A two-time champion (Detroit Shock) and a two-time first-team WNBA selection, Smith retired as the all-time leading scorer in professional women's basketball with more than 7,000 points.

Dawn Staley: A six-time all-star in eight seasons, most of which were with the Charlotte Sting, she averaged more than 5 assists in seven seasons.

Sheryl Swoopes: She led the Houston Comets to the first four WNBA titles. A three-time WNBA MVP, she was the first player to be signed by WNBA.

Diana Taurasi: One of the most entertaining players in league history, the Phoenix Mercury star has won three WNBA titles. She is averaging 20.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists over 12 seasons.

Tina Thompson: She was the first draft pick in WNBA history and led the Houston Comets to the first four league titles. A nine-time all-star, she retired as the league's all-time leading scorer.

Teresa Weatherspoon: Known for her tough defense (a multiple defensive player of the year winner) as well as her overall toughness, she was one of the original WNBA players in 1997. Up until 2003, she was the only player in league history to start all of her games.

Lindsay Whalen: One of the best point guards in league history, the Minnesota Lynx star is averaging 5.1 assists over 13 seasons.

• Follow Patricia on Twitter at @babcockmcgraw.

Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.