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WNBA Decade In Review: 2010

League Champion: Seattle Storm (second title in franchise history)

Top Draft Pick: Tina Charles (CON, Connecticut)

Awards

  • Most Valuable Player: Lauren Jackson (SEA), 3rd MVP
  • Rookie of the Year: Tina Charles (CON)
  • Defensive Player of the Year: Tamika Catchings (IND), 4th DPOY
  • Sixth Woman of the Year: DeWanna Bonner (PHX), 2nd Sixth
  • Most Improved Player: Leilani Mitchell (NYL), 1st MIP
  • Coach of the Year: Brian Agler, Seattle Storm

Top Players

  • All-WNBA First Team: Tamika Catchings (IND), Sylvia Fowles (CHI), Lauren Jackson (SEA), Cappie Pondexter (NYL), Diana Taurasi (PHX)
  • All-WNBA Second Team: Sue Bird (SEA), Tina Charles (CON), Katie Douglas (IND), Crystal Langhorne (WAS), Angel McCoughtry (ATL)
  • All-Rookie Team: Tina Charles (CON), Kalana Greene (NYL), Kelsey Griffin (CON), Epiphanny Prince (CHI), Monica Wright (MIN)
  • All-Defense First Team: Tamika Catchings (IND), Sylvia Fowles (CHI), Angel McCoughtry (ATL), Cappie Pondexter (NYL), Tanisha Wright (SEA)
  • All-Defense Second Team: Tully Bevilaqua (IND), Rebekkah Brunson (MIN), Katie Douglas (IND), Lindsey Harding (WAS), Lauren Jackson (SEA), Sancho Lyttle (ATL)

Stats Leaders

Regular Season

The first season of the decade saw the WNBA at 12 teams with the dissolution of the Sacramento Monarchs – one of the league’s initial eight teams and the 2005 champions. A dispersal draft was held on Dec. 14, 2009, to send the Monarchs players to their new teams.

One of those teams was now located in Oklahoma as the Shock relocated from Detroit to Tulsa for the 2010 season. The team spent six seasons in Tulsa before moving to Dallas and rebranding as the Wings.

2010 started with a blockbuster trade as the Minnesota Lynx – winners of the 2010 WNBA Draft Lottery – traded the No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft to the Connecticut Sun to bring hometown hero Lindsay Whalen to the Lynx. The Sun would use the No. 1 pick in the 2010 WNBA Draft to select Tina Charles from UConn. Charles had an outstanding rookie season as she set the WNBA record for double-doubles and total rebounds in a single season en route to winning Rookie of the Year honors.

As one young big was making a historic debut, a veteran big was putting the finishing touches on a brilliant career. Seattle’s Lauren Jackson won her third Most Valuable Player award in 2010 as she led the Storm to a franchise-best 28-6 record and their second WNBA championship, where she also was named Finals MVP.

This was the last full WNBA season for Jackson as her career was cut short due to injuries; she appeared in a combined 22 games in 2011 and 2012 before announcing her retirement.

On Aug. 8, Tina Thompson of the Los Angeles Sparks passed another Sparks legend, Lisa Leslie, as the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer with 6,263 career points. Thompson would finish her career with 7,488 points and held the top spot on the all-time scoring list until Diana Taurasi eventually passed her on June 18, 2017.

All-Star

There was no official All-Star Game in 2010. In its place was an exhibition game between the USA Basketball Women’s National Team and a collection of WNBA All-Stars in preparation for the upcoming World Championships, which the USA would go on to win.

Team USA defeated the WNBA All-Stars, 99-72, on Saturday, July 10 before taking on Australia in a second exhibition the following day. During halftime of the Stars at the Sun, Katie Douglas won the Three-Point Contest and Renee Montgomery won the Skills Challenge.

Playoffs

  • West Semifinals: Phoenix Mercury def. San Antonio Silver Stars, 2-0
  • West Semifinals: Seattle Storm def. Los Angeles Sparks, 2-0
  • East Semifinals: Atlanta Dream def. Washington Mystics, 2-0
  • East Semifinals: New York Liberty def. Indiana Fever, 2-1
  • West Finals: Seattle Storm def. Phoenix Mercury, 2-0
  • East Finals: Atlanta Dream def. New York Liberty, 2-0
  • WNBA Finals: Seattle Storm def. Atlanta Dream, 3-0

The 2010 WNBA Playoffs may not have been drama-filled – only one of the seven series did not end in a sweep – but there were still plenty of outstanding performances to behold.

In Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Atlanta’s Angel McCoughtry and New York’s Cappie Pondexter put on a spectacular scoring duel. McCoughtry scored a WNBA playoff record 42 points to lead the Dream to a 105-93 win over the Liberty to advance to the WNBA Finals. Pondexter did everything she could to keep New York alive and force a Game 3, as she finished with 36 points. The combined 78 points between McCoughtry and Pondexter set a WNBA record for most total points by two players in the same post-season game. Both records still stand at the end of the decade!

While the Dream advanced to the WNBA Finals for the first time in just the franchise’s third year of existence, the Storm made it back to the Finals for the first time in six seasons after capturing their first title in 2004. Seattle had been the best team in the WNBA all season long and their dominance continued in the Finals as they swept Atlanta in three games to go a perfect 7-0 in the postseason en route to capturing their second WNBA championship.

Lauren Jackson paired her regular season MVP award with the Finals MVP award after averaging 22.3 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 1.3 blocks in the series.

Before the first calendar year of the 2010s came to an end, another change was on the horizon as Donna Orender stepped down as WNBA President after six seasons at the helm of the league. She was succeeded by Laurel Richie, who was hired in April 2011.