October 22, 2016
Now that the WNBA season is officially over let’s relive what we think were the top 5 moments from this historic 20th anniversary season. Let us know what you think are the top 5 moments from the 2016 WNBA season.
5. Breanna Stewart. Stewart was the 2016 WNBA #1 Draft Pick and not only did she live up to the hype surrounding her arrival to the W but surpassed expectations. Taking home Rookie of the Year Honors, the 6-4 forward averaged 18.3 points (sixth in the WNBA), 9.3 rebounds (second) and 1.9 blocks (third). With a record of 16-18, Stewart led the Seattle Storm to their first playoff appearance since the 2013 season. Along the way, she scored in double figures 31 times and logged 12 double-doubles. Stewart scored at least 30 points twice, recording a career high 38 points in an 84-81 win against the Atlanta Dream on June 28. Stewart earned all four WNBA Rookie of the Month presented by Samsung awards and was named Western Conference Player of the Week once! In addition to her stellar rookie debut, she was named to the Olympic Women’s Senior National Team where they brought home the gold medal in dominating fashion during the Summer Games in Rio. I think it’s safe to say that Breanna Stewart will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come. With the likes of Jewel Loyd alongside her, the Seattle Storm will soon be back to the championship caliber team they once were.
4. WNBA Top 20@20 Presented By Verizon. The WNBA celebrated it’s historic 20th season anniversary during the 2016 season. The WNBA is the longest running women’s professional league in the United States. In celebration, the league announced the 20 greatest and most influential players in its history. The unveiling came on June 21st to honor the date of the league’s inaugural regular-season game played on June 21, 1997. The WNBA Top 20@20 presented by Verizon includes nine current players: Seimone Augustus, Sue Bird, Swin Cash, Tamika Catchings, Maya Moore, Candace Parker, Cappie Pondexter, Diana Taurasi and Lindsay Whalen. Eleven former players are also among the honorees: Cynthia Cooper, Yolanda Griffith, Becky Hammon, Lauren Jackson, Lisa Leslie, Deanna Nolan, Ticha Penicheiro, Katie Smith, Sheryl Swoopes, Tina Thompson and Teresa Weatherspoon.
3. Lynx and Sparks Start the Season 12-0 and 11-0. Before their first meeting of the season the LA Sparks and the Minnesota Lynx had already made history. The Lynx were entering the game with a record of 12-0 and the Sparks were 11-0, marking the first time that two unbeaten teams from the WNBA, NBA, NFL, MLB, or NHL have met with each team having at least 10 wins with no losses and no ties. This was history in the making; the first time that two teams have started out at least 8-0 in league history. The Lynx surpassed their own record set in 2012 with 11 straight wins and the Sparks raced past their 2001 and ’03 teams that started 9-0. It’s interesting to note that the 2001 Sparks who started the season 9-0 went on to win the championship that year.
2. San Antonio Stars Receive #1 Pick in Draft. Former WNBA champion and current general manager of the San Antonio Stars, will make her first major decision when she along with a new coaching staff (Dan Hughes retired after 16 seasons coaching in the WNBA), select first in the 2017 WNBA draft. A franchise that has struggled recently, winning only 14 games the past two season, a No.1 pick could definitely bolster their young core of Jefferson, McBride and Hamby. If recent number 1 picks (13′ Griner, 14′ C. Ogwumike, 15′ Loyd, 16′ Stewart) are any indication of what’s to come for the Stars they have a lot to look forward to!
1. Los Angeles Sparks 2016 WNBA Champions. With a new playoff format for the 2016 WNBA season, the top eight teams regardless of conference made the playoffs. The Los Angeles Sparks and the Minnesota Lynx both had amazing seasons, finishing in first and second place in the standings. The Lynx at 28-6 and the Sparks 26-8. After historic starts to the season for both franchises, the new system actually worked out to pit the best against the best in the finals. The Lynx were the 2015 World Champions and were looking to be the first team to win back to back championships since the Sparks did it in 2001 and 2002. Candace Parker, who was left off the Olympic Team earlier in the summer, was also left off the 2016 All-WNBA First and Second Teams had much to prove. Unable to win a championship in the first seven years of her career, she was determined to add a WNBA championship to her plethora of accolades. In what will go down as one of the most competitive finals series in the history of the WNBA, it came down to a 5th and final game. After a back and forth game throughout, the LA Sparks defeated the Minnesota Lynx on their home floor 77-76 and Candace Parker was named Finals MVP!