WNBA: 7 WNBA Players Who Will Be in the Naismith Hall of Fame

Charles Bennett@chasbennettonbrSenior Analyst IMay 30, 2013

WNBA: 7 WNBA Players Who Will Be in the Naismith Hall of Fame

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    The WNBA is now in its 17th season, meaning a number of its players have established a body of work to merit consideration alongside their male counterparts.

    At present, Cynthia Cooper and Dawn Staley are the only woman with significant WNBA time in the Basketball Hall of Fame; 13 other female players and a dozen coaches are in on the strength of their college or international careers.  

    That will undoubtedly change in the next few years when WNBA legends start to be Hall of Fame-eligible. There may come a point where a WNBA player is inducted into the Hall of Fame almost every year.

    Here are seven WNBA players, five current and two retired, who will one day make it into the Naismith Hall of Fame.

    Player-efficiency rating and win shares statistics courtesy of Basketball-reference.com.

7. Sue Bird

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    HOF Eligible: Still Active

    Sue Bird is the only player who has started in seven WNBA All-Star Games (plus two more WNBA vs. Team USA exhibitions). She is second all-time in assists, finishing in the top three in assists in 10 of her first 11 seasons. She's also played on three gold-medal-winning squads and won two WNBA titles.

    Hall of Fame Probability: 70 percent

6. Diana Taurasi

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    HOF Eligible: Still Active

    Bird's successor at UConn has won five of the last seven WNBA scoring titles and has a higher points-per-game average than anybody in the history of the WNBA aside from (the already-inducted) Cooper. Taurasi is in the top 10 all-time in points, assists and PER.  

    Taurasi was the 2009 WNBA MVP and is one of four players with seven or more All-NBA selections. Aside from the WNBA, she has won a trio of gold medals. 

    Hall of Fame Probability: 75 percent

5. Tamika Catchings

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    HOF Eligible: Still Active

    Tamika Catchings may very well be the best defensive player in the history of the WNBA. She is the all-time leader in steals and win shares and the active leader in defensive rating and defensive win shares.

    Catchings was able to parlay her success into an MVP, five DPOY awards, seven All-WNBA First Team selections and, like the two aforementioned players, three gold medals.  

    Hall of Fame Probably: 75 percent 

4. Tina Thompson

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    HOF Eligible: Still Active

    Thompson is the only player in the history of the WNBA to make it to 7,000 career points. She is also in the top five in the WNBA in a number of other categories, including rebounds, win shares, games played and three-pointers made.  

    Though Thompson only was All-NBA First Team thrice (she was All-NBA Second Team five more times), she was a key member of the Houston Comets that won the WNBA's first four championships. 

    Hall of Fame Probably: 75 percent 

3. Lauren Jackson

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    HOF Eligible: Still Active

    The Aussie Jackson is one of three WNBA players who have been three-time MVPs, and one of four WNBA players with seven All-WNBA first team selections.  

    Jackson thrice led the WNBA in scoring, and led the league in PER in six different seasons.  Jackson is the active leader in blocks, offensive win shares and PER, and is in the top five in all-time in points, rebounds, blocks, PER and win shares.      

    HOF Probability: 90 percent

2. Sheryl Swoopes

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    HOF Eligible: 2017

    The first player assigned to the WNBA, Swoopes, along with teammate Cooper, was one of the WNBA's first superstars.  She played on the first four WNBA championship teams, won three MVPs and made the All-WNBA First Team five times.  

    Swoopes won two scoring crowns, and is fifth all-time in career win shares. She also won gold in 1996, 2000 and 2004.  

    Hall of Fame Probability: 100 percent

1. Lisa Leslie

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    In my opinion, Lisa Leslie is the greatest player in the history of the WNBA.

    She's one of three WNBA players with three MVPs and the only one of them with 12 All-WNBA First Team selections. She won multiple WNBA Finals MVPs, multiple All-Star Game MVPs and multiple DPOY awards.

    Leslie was the first WNBA player to 6,000 points and is now second all-time in that stat. She is the WNBA's career rebounds leader and is in the top seven all-time in points per game, blocks, PER, and win shares. 

    Aside from the WNBA, Leslie won four (yes, FOUR) Olympic gold medals, plus a Naismith Award while at USC.