Note: All stats through games played on Wednesday, Sept. 16
There is no real race for the 2021 scoring title as Tina Charles (24.3 points per game) has a commanding lead on the rest of the field – Brittney Griner (20.8 ppg) and Breanna Stewart (20.3 ppg) are the only other players averaging at least 20 points this season.
As we discussed earlier this year, Charles has been in striking distance of Diana Taurasi’s record for the highest single-season scoring average in league history – 25.3 ppg set in 2006.
Charles’ hopes of eclipsing Taurasi’s record suffered a major blow over a four-game stretch from Aug. 19 to Sept. 7 as Charles averaged just 13.25 points, including scoring a season-low four points in a loss to Seattle.
Charles would need to amass 76 points in Washington’s final two games to break Taurasi’s record; that’s an average of 38 points per game. Keep in mind that Charles’ career-high in scoring is 36 points (from 2017) and her season-high is 34 points (hit three times).
Charles, however, does have a strong chance to finish with the second-highest single-season scoring average in league history – which is still quite an accomplishment for the 11-year vet. To finish in second Charles would need to score at least 45 points over her final two games combined (22.5 ppg). Considering Charles has scored fewer than 25 points only 10 times in 25 games played this season, her chances are very high.
And with the Mystics still trying to lock up the final spot in the playoff field, Charles should see plenty of minutes and opportunities to score.
Team Win Streak
On Saturday, the Connecticut Sun defeated the Phoenix Mercury, 76-67, in a battle of the two hottest teams in the league. The Sun entered the game riding an 11-game win streak and the Mercury had won 10 in a row. With the win, the Sun extended their streak to 12 wins in a row – which not only matched the team record set in 2006 – but locked up the No. 1 overall seed in the 2020 WNBA Playoffs.
Connecticut has not lost a game since July 3 and has won 17 of its last 18 games dating back to June 22. They are the definition of peaking at the right time with the playoffs tipping off next week. Oh, and by the way, Alyssa Thomas was back in the lineup on Wednesday after she’s missed the entire season due to a torn Achilles.
With the Sun’s win over the Liberty Wednesday night, they extended their streak to 13 wins in a row, making franchise history. If the Sun close out the regular season with a win over Atlanta (8-22) on Sunday, they would take a 14-game win streak into the postseason – which would be the longest win streak to end a season in league history (topping the 2017 New York Liberty that won 10 in a row to end the season), as well as the fourth-longest win streak of any kind in league history.
- 18: Los Angeles Sparks (06/26/2001 through 08/11/2001)
- 16: Phoenix Mercury (06/15/2014 through 07/29/2014)
- 15: Houston Comets (06/27/1998 through 07/30/1998)
- 13: Minnesota Lynx (05/14/2016 through 06/21/2016)
- 13: Seattle Storm (06/18/2010 through 07/30/2010)
- 13: Minnesota Lynx (09/04/2011 through 06/15/2012, spanning two seasons)
No team has won 14 consecutive games in a single season and not gone on to win the WNBA title in the same year – the Sparks won in 2001, the Mercury in 2014, the Comets in 1998.
Blocks Per Game
Entering the final two games of the season, Brittney Griner (2.0 bpg) holds a slight edge over Sylvia Fowles (1.9 bpg) for the league lead in blocks per game. If Griner maintains that edge when the regular season closes on Sunday, she will have led the league in blocks for the eighth time in her nine WNBA seasons, tying Margo Dydek for the most seasons leading the league in blocks.
Since Griner entered the league in 2013, she has been a blocks machine for the Phoenix Mercury. She already ranks third all-time in career blocks (714), trailing only Dydek (877) and Lisa Leslie (822) and has played fewer games (252) than any player in the top 15 on the all-time list. Griner, Dydek, and Leslie are the only three players in WNBA history to average more than two blocks per game, led by Griner’s 2.8 bpg.
Field Goal Percentage
Sylvia Fowles already holds the WNBA’s all-time mark for career-best field goal percentage (59.6%) and is set to extend her record for most seasons leading the league in shooting to eight as she is connecting on 63.5% of her shots – a mark that is 5.7 percentage points better than any other player in the league this season.
Fowles’ 63.5% shooting is the eighth-highest mark for a single season in WNBA history – but it is only the third-best mark of Fowles’ career.
Similar to how we marvel at players like Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi continuing to play at an elite level late into their careers, the fact that Fowles continues to be so dominant and efficient in her 14th season must be acknowledged. Fowles (16.1 ppg, 10.0 rpg) and Jonquel Jones (19.5 ppg, 11.3 rpg) are the only two players averaging a double-double for the season.
Similar to how Brittney Griner has dominated in blocks, Courtney Vandersloot has dominated in assists and Sylvia Fowles has dominated in field goal percentage, when it comes to 3-pointers made, Diana Taurasi is the player that everyone is chasing.
Not only does Taurasi own the all-time record for 3-pointers made (1,205), she has the six highest single-season marks in 3-pointers made in league history, including the only two seasons with over 100 triples made: 121 in 2006 and 106 in 2018.
The benchmark for elite 3-point shooting over the course of a season is 80 3-pointers made. It is a mark that only eight players have ever reached: Taurasi (8x), Katie Smith (2x), Sugar Rodgers, Kristi Toliver, Ivory Latta, Katie Douglas, Becky Hammon, and Allie Quigley.
That list could climb to 10 by the end of the weekend as Arike Ogunbowale (76) and Sami Whitcomb (74) are both within striking distance but would need to slightly outperform their averages to do so.
Whitcomb leads the WNBA in 3-pointers made per game (2.6), but needs six triples over New York’s final game to reach 80 for the season. She does have five games this season with at least five 3-pointers made, including a season-best seven treys in a game against Atlanta on June 26.
Ogunbowale isn’t far behind as she averages 2.5 3-pointers made per game (third in WNBA). However, the Wings are one of two teams (along with the Storm) that has only one game remaining on the regular-season schedule. So, she would need four triples to reach 80 for the season; she has six games this season with four 3-pointers made or more, with two coming in her past four games.
Whenever a player posts a ridiculous stat line, it’s fun to go find that last time a player had a similar performance. When was the last time a player had 30 points, 12 rebounds, two 3-pointers, two blocks and two steals? The answer is Jonquel Jones on Aug. 31 in a win over Washington (31 points, 14 rebounds, 2 3-pointers, 2 steals, 3 blocks). It’s actually a statline that has only been reached four times in league history.
It’s also interesting to do that same exercise with full season stats. And when it comes to Jonquel Jones in 2021, there are only a handful of players in the history of the league that have come close to what she is doing this season.
Let’s start with the basics; here are Jones’ averages entering Sunday night: points (19.5), rebounds (11.3), assists (2.8), steals (1.4) and blocks (1.2). And here is the full list of players to have ever posted those averages over the course of a season:
Jonquel Jones (2021).
That’s it. That’s the entire list.
It’s only when we drop the thresholds a bit that we get a few more players added to the list. Here are the players besides Jones that have reached 18 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block over the course of a full season: Breanna Stewart, Nneka Ogwumike, Candace Parker (3x), and Lisa Leslie (4x).
That’s pretty good company for Jones to join, considering those four players have seven MVP trophies between them.