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WNBA Decade In Review: 2013

League Champion: Minnesota Lynx (Second title in franchise history)

Top Draft Pick: Brittney Griner (PHX, Baylor University)

 

Awards

  • Most Valuable Player: Candace Parker (LAS) 2nd MVP
  • Rookie of the Year: Elena Delle Donne (CHI)
  • Defensive Player of the Year: Sylvia Fowles (CHI) 2nd DPOY
  • Sixth Woman of the Year: Riquna Williams (TUL)
  • Most Improved Player: Shavonte Zellous (IND)
  • Coach of the Year: Mike Thibault (WAS) 3rd COY

 

Top Players

  • All-WNBA First Team: Sylvia Fowles (CHI), Maya Moore (MIN), Candace Parker (LAS), Diana Taurasi (PHX), Lindsay Whalen (MIN)
  • All-WNBA Second Team: Seimone Augustus (MIN), Tamika Catchings (IND), Tina Charles (CON), Elena Delle Donne (CHI), Angel McCoughtry (ATL)
  • All-Rookie Team: Alex Bentley (ATL), Kelsey Bone (NYL), Elena Delle Donne (CHI), Skylar Diggins-Smith (TUL), Brittney Griner (PHX)
  • All-Defense First Team: Tamika Catchings (IND), Sylvia Fowles (CHI), Armintie Price Herrington (ATL), Angel McCoughtry (ATL), Tanisha Wright (SEA)
  • All-Defense Second Team: Rebekkah Brunson (MIN), Erika de Souza (ATL), Briann January (IND), Glory Johnson (TUL), Jia Perkins (SAS), Danielle Robinson (SAS)

 

Stats Leaders

  • Points Per Game: Angel McCoughtry (ATL): 21.5
  • Rebounds Per Game: Sylvia Fowles (CHI): 11.5
  • Assists Per Game: Danielle Robinson (SAS): 6.7
  • Steals Per Game: Tamika Catchings (IND): 2.8
  • Blocks Per Game: Brittney Griner (PHX): 3.0

 

Regular Season

Just weeks before the highly anticipated 2013 WNBA Draft, the WNBA and ESPN announced an extension of their partnership for another six years, for WNBA games to be televised on ABC, ESPN and ESPN 2 through the 2022 season. On the same day, the WNBA unveiled a new identity, which included a more modern “Logowoman” — the player silhouette within the logo — that better embodies the athleticism and diversity of current WNBA players while leveraging the distinctive orange-and-oatmeal color scheme of the league’s iconic game ball.

The new identity was on full display during the 2013 WNBA Draft, which marked the first time in the WNBA’s 17 seasons that the league’s Draft was televised live in primetime. The excitement surrounding the “3 to See” – Brittney Griner of Baylor, Elena Delle Donne of Delaware and Skylar Diggins of Notre Dame – set the tone for one of the top draft classes in league history. Griner went No. 1 overall to Phoenix, followed by Delle Donne being selected by Chicago and Tulsa taking Diggins at No. 3.

The “3 to See” made their WNBA debuts during a Memorial Day doubleheader on ESPN2. Griner made quite the first impression as she threw down a pair of dunks in her first WNBA game, becoming the first player ever dunk multiple times in the same game.

The addition of Griner and the return of Diana Taurasi from injury helped the Mercury make a 12-win improvement from a franchise-worst 7-27 record in 2012 to a 19-15 mark in 2013 and the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference. With Delle Donne playing alongside Sylvia Fowles, the  Sky made a 10-game improvement with the addition of Delle Donne as Chicago finished atop the Eastern Conference at 24-10.

For the third straight season, the Minnesota Lynx (26-8) finished atop the Western Conference but had the Los Angeles Sparks (24-10) right on their heels. The Lynx, Sparks and Sky finished with the top three records in the league and the stars of those three teams finished in the top three in MVP voting in one of the closest votes in league history.

L.A.’s Candace Parker (234 points) edged out Minnesota’s Maya Moore (218) and Chicago’s Delle Donne (189) to earn her second league MVP honor. It was the closest the top two players have been in the voting since Sheryl Swoopes edged Lauren Jackson by just two points in 2005. Parker ranked fourth in blocks (1.84 per game), sixth in scoring (17.9), seventh in rebounding (8.7) and double-doubles (eight), and 12th in assists (career-high 3.8).

In July, Washington head coach Mike Thibault passed Van Chancellor to become the head coach with the most regular season wins in league history. Thibault passed the legendary Comets coach with the Mystics’ 62-59 win over Seattle on July 6 to give Thibault his 212th regular season win in the WNBA.

The coaching record was the only to fall in 2013 as second-year guard Riquna Williams of the Tulsa Shock set the WNBA single-game scoring record with 51 points in a road win over the San Antonio Stars on Sept. 8. Williams shot 17-28 from the field, 8-14 from beyond the arc and a perfect 9-9 from the line as she racked up 51 points to surpass the previous record of 47 that was held by Phoenix’s Diana Taurasi (2006) and Seattle’s Lauren Jackson (2007).

The 2013 season marked the end of two legendary careers as Katie Smith and Tina Thompson played in their final WNBA games. Smith, a 15-year WNBA veteran and seven-time All-Star, finished her career ranked first in 3-pointers made (906); second in total points (6,452) and minutes played (15,725); fourth in free throws made (1,535) and fifth in field goals made (2,053).

The only player that Smith trailed in scoring was Thompson, who was the only player to play in each of the WNBA’s first 17 season. The nine-time All-Star finished her career as the league’s all-time leader in points (7,488), field goals made (2,630) and minutes played (16,080); second in free throws made (1,480) and total rebounds (3,070).

Five years later, Thompson and Smith would be inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in the same enshrinement class in 2018.

 

All-Star

Before she won her second league MVP honor, Candace Parker was crowned MVP of the 2013 All-Star Game as she set a new All-Star Game scoring record with 23 points on 10-13 shooting to go with 11 rebounds in the West’s 102-98 victory. This was Parker’s All-Star debut in her sixth WNBA season. There was no All-Star Game in 2008 (Olympics), 2010 (World Championships) or 2012 (Olympics); she missed the first month of the 2009 season (childbirth) and was injured in 2011 after being selected as a starter.

Heading into the All-Star Game, Chicago’s Elena Delle Donne became the first rookie ever to lead all vote-getters for the event. However, she was unable to play due to a concussion; Tina Charles replaced Delle Donne on the East starting frontline.

 

Playoffs

  • West Semifinals: Minnesota Lynx def. Seattle Storm, 2-0
  • West Semifinals: Phoenix Mercury def. Los Angeles Sparks, 2-1
  • East Semifinals: Atlanta Dream def. Washington Mystics, 2-1
  • East Semifinals: Indiana Fever def. Chicago Sky, 2-0
  • West Finals: Minnesota Lynx def. Phoenix Mercury, 2-0
  • East Finals: Atlanta Dream def. Indiana Fever, 2-0
  • Finals: Minnesota Lynx def. Atlanta Dream, 3-0

 

After tasting defeat in the 2012 WNBA Finals, the Minnesota Lynx entered the 2013 WNBA Playoffs on a mission to reclaim the championship and their status as the standard bearers of the league.

From the opening tip of round one to the final buzzer of the Finals, the Lynx left no doubt. The Lynx won four of their seven games by double figures, including three by at least 23 points, as they posted an average margin of victory of 15.4 points.

They became the fifth team in WNBA history to sweep the playoffs and just the second to do so while needing seven wins to claim the championship, which began when the Finals expanded to a best-of-five in 2005.

 

The only teams to sweep the WNBA Playoffs:

1997: Houston, 2-0 (two single-elimination games)

2000: Houston, 6-0 (three rounds, all best-of-three)

2002: Los Angeles, 6-0 (three rounds, all best-of-three)

2010: Seattle, 7-0 (three rounds, best-of-five Finals)

2013: Minnesota, 7-0 (three rounds, best-of-five Finals)

 

Minnesota’s second title in three years was capped off with an 86-77 win over Atlanta in Game 3 of the Finals inside Gwinnett Center in suburban Atlanta. That is the same arena where Maya Moore won three straight state high school championships. Moore had 23 points in the title-clinching game and was named Finals MVP after averaging 21 points, five rebounds and three assists during the series.