What’s the status of Candace Parker’s GOAT argument — Kara Lawson talks Duke basketball — Must-click women’s basketball links
The IX: Basketball Wednesday with Howard Megdal, October 20, 2021
In the aftermath of Sunday’s Game 4 victory by the Chicago Sky, it was hard for me not to think about Candace Parker‘s triumph in ways that extended beyond the day, or even the season.
Parker is in rare company, someone with a plausible case for greatest of all time. (We need an acronym for that, someone get on that.) So let’s take a moment and see how her resume looks at this point.
I have long believed that Tamika Catchings has the strongest possible case for GOAT — if you go by things like win shares, well, she’s 28 percent higher than anyone in the history of the league. Moreover, she compiled that total at both ends, second among offensive win shares behind Diana Taurasi, and first on the defensive end.
If there is a weakness in her argument, it is that she won just one title, one MVP, one Finals MVP. It was a career of sustained excellence, but other players received more accolades and had more perceived peaks
Then there are the peak folks — Cynthia Cooper and Maya Moore — both of whom have shorter tenures in the WNBA, but more hardware, with four titles apiece. There’s Taurasi, whose claim to GOAT-ness come largely on the offensive end, but has put together a career of scoring and winning that is going to be hard for anyone to approach.
What’s interesting about Parker’s case is how it presents as essentially a hybrid of those first two approaches. Parker has longevity — the 2008 Rookie of the Year and MVP just won a title in 2021. She’s got more titles than Catchings now, though fewer than Moore or Cooper or Taurasi. She’s at 58.72 win shares, 11th in league history, and 27.11 of them came at the defensive end.
If Parker simply repeats her production from 2020 and 2021 over the next two years — a reasonable goal, given that she showed no signs of slowing down this past season, and 2020 was a truncated campaign — she’ll pass Lisa Leslie on the defensive win shares list. Sylvia Fowles, the other player just ahead of her, is still active, of course.
But that combination of longevity, peak and hardware simply has to put Parker in the discussion of the best players in the history of this league.
I also want to say, for the record, that I think it is reasonable to emphasize different parts of the resume, come up with differing answers, without anyone being wrong, or part of the problem, or holding back women’s basketball. I’d even argue having differing views on this, and discussing them, can be fun.
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