Diana Taurasi ranked greatest player in WNBA history by ESPN panel

Sep 25, 2021, 3:04 PM
Diana Taurasi #3 of the Phoenix Mercury dribbles during the first half of a game against the New Yo...
Diana Taurasi #3 of the Phoenix Mercury dribbles during the first half of a game against the New York Liberty at Feld Entertainment Center on August 02, 2020 in Palmetto, Florida.(Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
(Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi was voted by an ESPN panel as the greatest player in WNBA history.

Nine people participated in ESPN’s ranking of the top 25 players in WNBA history to mark the 25th anniversary of the league.

Taurasi has been with Phoenix since the team drafted her with the first pick in the 2004 draft. She played on all three of Phoenix’s WNBA championship-winning teams with titles in 2007, 2009 and 2014. She won the WNBA Finals MVP award in 2009 and 2014 and was also the league’s Most Valuable Player in 2009.

Taurasi is the all-time WNBA scoring leader with 9,174 career points at the end of the 2020-21 regular season. She has won five scoring titles, with the most recent one coming in 2011.

ESPN writer Katie Barnes said Taurasi’s career longevity and offensive brilliance separates her from the rest of the WNBA’s all-time best.

Taurasi hasn’t won the most championships, and she hasn’t won the most MVPs. But it is her consistent offensive greatness and her longevity that set her apart from her peers. Others have been “better” over specific stretches or had stronger concentrations of dominance, but what makes Taurasi special is that she has been one of the top performers for a long time. Her first All-WNBA honor was in 2004, her rookie season. Her most recent came 16 years later in 2020. Taurasi has the highest offensive win share total, by orders of magnitude. She tops the list with 60.49; in second is Sue Bird, with 42.06.

Taurasi made her mark outside of the WNBA as well, with five Olympic gold medals and three world championship gold medals playing for Team USA.

She is not the only current Mercury player to receive recognition among the WNBA’s all-time best. Center Brittney Griner was ranked 17th by the ESPN panel.

Phoenix selected Griner with the first pick of the 2013 WNBA Draft.

She was the league’s 2014 and 2015 Defensive Player of the Year and a six-time member of the league’s all-defensive team, with first team honors coming in 2014, 2015 and 2018.

Griner is one of the best rim protectors in league history, as she’s led the league in blocks in eight seasons. She is currently third on the league’s all-time blocks list.

In addition to her defensive prowess, Griner’s dunking ability has put the league on notice. She is the WNBA’s all-time dunks leader (17 regular season dunks) and one of only three players in league history with multiple dunks.

Two former Mercury players earned a place on ESPN’s list as well.

Cappie Pondexter, who played for the Mercury from 2006 to 2009, earned the 21st spot on the list. She won the 2007 WNBA Finals MVP award. She is currently fifth on the all-time WNBA scoring list and seventh on the all-time assists list.

Penny Taylor, who played for the Mercury from 2004 to 2016, earned the 25th and final position in ESPN’s ranking. Taylor earned one All-WNBA First Team appearance in 2007 and was named to the All-WNBA Second Team in 2011. Taylor is also Taurasi’s wife.

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