Tamika Catchings Passes Katie Smith As WNBA's Third All-Time Leading Scorer

When you picture Diana Taurasi on a basketball court, an image of her scoring a bucket – a three, a layup, a runner in the lane – immediately comes to mind. And it should. She’s a five-time scoring champion, with a career average over 20 points, and ranks second on the WNBA’s all-time scoring list, having passed Katie Smith earlier this season.

When you picture Tamika Catchings on a basketball court, the first image that pops in your head is most likely not of her scoring, but rather her making a great steal or block or diving on the floor for a loose ball. And it should. She’s a four-time defensive player of the year, the all-time leader in steals (946) and ranks 11th all-time in blocks despite standing just 6-foot-1.

But on Wednesday night, Catchings also passed Katie Smith on the all-time scoring list, moving into third place with 6,454 career points. She now trails only Taurasi and Tina Thompson among the leading scorers in league history.

ALL-TIME LEADING SCORERS, WNBA HISTORY
PlayerGamesPoints
1. Tina Thompson 496 7,488
2. Diana Taurasi 326 6,632
3. Tamika Catchings 387 6,454
4. Katie Smith 482 6,452
5. Lisa Leslie 363 6,263

Keep in mind that Catchings has never won a WNBA scoring title. In fact, she’s never averaged 20 points in a single season, something Taurasi has done five times. Catchings’ best scoring season came back in 2003 when she posted 19.7 points per game in her sophomore season in the W. She’s never scored more than 32 points in a single game. Meanwhile, Taurasi has 38 30-point games in her career and three 40-point games – both are the most in WNBA history.

Catchings reached this impressive scoring milestone by virtue of consistency and longevity. The 13-year veteran is averaging 15.8 points this season, just slightly below her career average of 16.7 points, which is the 13th-best scoring average ever.

So, while we look at Catchings’ most recent accomplishment and her place among the greatest scorers in the history of this league, perhaps the better exercise would be to examine the full scope of her talents and how it stacks up to the all-time greats in this game.

ALL-TIME RANKS, TAMIKA CATCHINGS
CategoryRank
Points 6,454 (3rd)
Rebounds 2,902 (4th)
Assists 1,348 (7th)
Steals 947 (1st)
Blocks 347* (11th)
Minutes 12,563 (7th)

*Most by player under 6-2

Take a look at the all-time leaders page for the five main statistical categories and you’ll see that Catchings is the only player to rank in the top 11 in all FIVE categories.

No other player ranks in the top 11 in FOUR categories.

We have to pull it back to THREE categories for Catchings gets some company from some all-time greats.

-- Tina Thompson: points (1), rebounds (2), blocks (9)
-- Lisa Leslie: points (5), rebounds (1), blocks (2)
-- Lauren Jackson: points (6), rebounds (7), blocks (3)
-- DeLisha Milton-Jones: points (8), rebounds (5), steals (5)
-- Tangela Smith: points (11), rebounds (10), blocks (4)
-- Taj McWilliams-Franklin: rebounds (3), steals (6), blocks (7)

When we look at the all-time leaders in field goals, 3-pointers and free throws made, we get a little more insight in how Catchings racked up all of these points throughout her career.

ALL-TIME RANKS, TAMIKA CATCHINGS
ShotRank
FTs Made 1,752 (1st)
FGs Made 2,077 (5th)
3FGs Made 548 (9th)

No player in WNBA history has made more free throws than the 1,752 by Catchings, who is an 83.7 percent shooter from the charity stripe.

While not the most prolific 3-point shooter, the long ball is part of Catchings’ offensive arsenal. She has made 546 3-pointers in her career, the ninth most all-time, and shot them at a 35.8 percent clip.

The one question that remains is where will Catchings rank when she decides to hang up her kicks and call it a career?

She missed the first 17 games of this season while recovering from a back injury, but has looked solid since her season debut on July 5. In her first 10 games, she’s averaged 15.8 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.7 steals and 0.9 blocks in 26.4 minutes per game.

Those are the type of all-around numbers we’re used to seeing from Tamika and to top things off, she’s shooting 46.7 percent from the field – her best mark since a career-best 48.4 percent back in 2010.

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