The WNBA’s historic 20th season could fittingly conclude with a rewriting of the record books come September. Here are six players and three teams who will be chasing history during the final stretch of the regular season:
Regardless of how the coming weeks play out, Catch will go down as one of the WNBA’s all-time greats. But before her retirement, she has a chance to climb three lists.
The first is unlikely: Catchings sits 213 points behind Tina Thompson for first on the career scoring list and needs to average 21.4 points over the Fever’s final 10 games to claim the No. 1 spot. She’s averaging 13.7 points per game this season.
The second will be a fight to the finish: Catchings needs to average 4.8 rebounds over that stretch to surpass Lisa Leslie as the league’s all-time leading rebounder. She’s averaging 4.5 rebounds per game this season.
If Tamika appears in all 10 games, she will finish sixth all-time in games played at 457, passing Becky Hammon and Ticha Penicheiro.
Another chase that will go down to the wire: Averaging 2.9 three-pointers per game this season, Taurasi needs 29 three-pointers in 10 Mercury games to shoot past Katie Smith as the league’s all-time leader in career threes.
No. 3 on the all-time scoring list, Diana would need to catch fire with 33.3 points per game to pass Tina Thompson for No. 1. But either way, she will close in on two milestones during the stretch run.
Remarkably, Taurasi has played 125 fewer games than Smith, 90 fewer than Catchings and 139 fewer than Thompson. Earlier this season she became by far the fastest player to 7,000 career points.
L.A. Sparks & Minnesota Lynx
Both L.A. (11-0) and Minnesota (13-0) started the season better than any WNBA team ever had. The Sparks eventually matched the 1998 Houston Comets at 20-1. If they can reel off similar streaks upon their return from the Olympic break, both teams have the best-ever regular season within reach.
Those same Comets hold the best winning percentage in history at .900; the Sparks would need to win their remaining 10 games to top that. The Sparks could also go 9-1 and finish with the most wins ever in a single season, besting the 2014 Mercury (29-5).* If the Lynx finish 9-0 or 8-1, they could also beat or tie the Mercury’s record.
Also of note: L.A. and Minnesota have a combined .857 winning percentage (42-7). The highest combined winning percentage for the top two teams in a WNBA season is .859 (55-9) by the 2000 Sparks (28-4) and Comets (27-5). This year’s Sparks and Lynx would need to post a combined 17-2 record down the stretch to set a new mark.
*Note: WNBA teams began playing the current 34-game schedule in 2003.
Earlier this season, Cappie became the seventh player to reach the 6,000-career point mark; she quickly passed Lauren Jackson’s 6,007 career points to move to No. 6.
Now at 6,161, the Sky guard can nab the fifth spot from legendary Spark Lisa Leslie by averaging 10.3 points over her final 10 games — which appears likely given her 11.4 scoring average.
Pondexter could also move to No. 8 on the career assists list, sitting 12 behind Temeka Johnson’s 1,382.
When all’s set and done, Stewie may have authored the best rookie season in WNBA history. WNBA.com’s Brian Martin put her numbers in perspective during Stewart’s run at Olympic gold with the U.S. Women’s National Team: The only other rookies to average at least 15 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 1 block are Tamika Catchings (2002) and Candace Parker (2008).
Both players, of course, went on to win the Rookie of the Year Award — a certainty in Stewart’s future. Her season line at the break: 19.2 points (5th), 9.3 rebounds (2nd), 3.5 assists (15th), 2.1 blocks (3rd) and 1.3 steals (18th). No WNBA player has ever posted those all-around numbers, and no rookie has ever averaged at least 19 points and nine rebounds.
Ogwumike’s 71-percent shooting would shatter the current record of 66.8% by Tamika Raymond in 2003. Raymond, however, took just 5.7 shots per game that season. Ogwumike, arguably the league’s leading MVP candidate on the league’s leading team, is averaging 10.5 attempts per game. (Candice Dupree’s 66.4% in 2010 is the highest FG% for a player who attempted at least 10 shots per game.)
In other words, no WNBA player has ever displayed this combination of volume and efficiency as a scorer. Nneka’s remarkable season included a record streak of 23 consecutive made field goals without a miss.
A double-double machine averaging 21.4 points and 9.6 rebounds, Charles is aiming to become just the third player ever to lead the league in both scoring and rebounding. Only Chamique Holdsclaw (2002) and Lauren Jackson (2007) have accomplished that.
A year ago, the Fever set a record by reaching the playoffs for the 11th consecutive season. Indiana appears on track to extend that streak to 12. The fifth-seeded Fever sit three games ahead of the Storm and Mystics, who are fighting for the eighth and final playoff spot, and just 0.5 games behind the current No. 4 seed, Atlanta.