Today we’re going to reveal the best WNBA players to never win a ring. Throughout its storied 24-year history, the league has seen some of the finest female ballers in the world. Many of the league’s most impactful players won individual accolades such as MVP and Rookie of the Year, while breaking assists records, and smashing scoring ceilings.
And while the majority of elite players went on to win a WNBA Championship – the highest team award – a few never quite earned the honor. The idea that you can have more than 10 individual awards and still not have achieved the elusive Finals win, is such a testament to how truly remarkable it is for folks like Maya Moore and Sue Bird to have won four Championships. We’re talking major perspective people!
Anyhow, from a five-time WNBA All-Star to a double double queen and an assist leader, find out who never got that Championship win in the W. Despite being incredible players and making a significant impact on the game, both on the court and off.
In reality, there are many great WNBA players who were or have yet to win a WNBA championship ring. So to figure out who’s in the elite echelon that’s fallen just a touch short, we considered a few attributes: each player’s overall statistics for shooting, assists, and rebounds; her unique skill set; how she impacted the WNBA overall both on the court and off; and how she was viewed by teammates, opponents, and head coaches. So let’s dive into the best WNBA players to never win a ring.
After being acquired by the Atlanta Dream as the #1 pick in the 2009 draft, Angel McCoughtry dazzled fans with her elite scoring ability and steady defense. She made such a mark on the league in her first year, she was awarded WNBA Rookie of the Year and a spot on the WNBA All-Rookie Team.
As she helped build the Dream for 10 seasons, she stacked up honors including: 5x WNBA All Star; 2x WNBA All First Team member; 5x WNBA All Second Team member; 7x WNBA All-Defensive First Team; 2x WNBA scoring champion; and 2x WNBA steals leader. Furthermore, in May 2018, Angel scored her 5,000th point, making her the 18th player in WNBA history to reach that milestone.
She also led the Dream to three WNBA Finals appearances, where they unfortunately fell to stronger opponents each time. Though Angel proved she could create her own offense, and come up big in clutch moments. In one of her most iconic performances from the 2010 playoffs, Angel McCoughtry scored a record 42 points in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Basically, she made the game easier for everyone around her.
This past season, she joined the Las Vegas Aces where she immediately made her presence known. “Oh Angel McCoughtry, she’s nice on the court,” Sugar Rodgers said. “She’s a beast.” The team made it to the Finals, even without Liz Cambage, where they fell to Sue Bird and the Seattle Storm.
In addition, Angel’s impact on the league extended beyond the court. In one of many statements the players made in the Wubble during the season, they wore Breonna Taylor’s name on their jerseys, which was McCoughtry’s idea.
Based on Angel McCoughtry’s outstanding career to date, it’s surprising she’s never earned a ring. This year with the Aces was her closest run. And luckily, she still has time to try again!
The Connecticut Sun drafted 2x NCAA champion Tina Charles from UConn in 2010. In just her first WNBA season, she set records for double doubles – both in scoring and in rebounding – and was named Rookie of the Year. Later as a member of the Connecticut Sun she locked in the WNBA MVP Award in 2012.
Shortly thereafter, she was traded to the New York Liberty, where Tina continued to shine, hitting her best career stride in 2016. That year she averaged 21.5 points per game and 9.9 rebounds. A few years later, she became the New York Liberty’s leading scorer on June 4th 2019.
Over her career she racked up a stunning array of awards: 7x WNBA All Star; 5x WNBA All First Team; 3x WNBA All Second Team; 3x WNBA Defensive Second Team; 4x WNBA rebounding champion; and she was the 2016 scoring champion. Most recently, Tina was traded to the Washington Mystics this past season but was medically excused from playing.
Tina Charles was part of several playoff teams with the Connecticut Sun and the New York Liberty, but wasn’t able to reach any WNBA Finals during her tenure. The highest she’s ever reached is the Eastern Finals. As oftentimes, her teams did not qualify for the playoffs. Maybe a ring is still in her future, but for now, it’s eluded her.
Courtney Vandersloot was drafted in 2011 by the Chicago Sky, and since then, they have never looked back. She was named to the WNBA Rookie Team in 2011. And quickly earned her spot as the starting point guard, eventually becoming the Sky’s most important and franchise player.
Today Courtney has earned the title of assists queen because of the way she elevates her teammates through elite passing. She holds the WNBA record for most assists in a season, highest assists per game in a season and highest career assists per game. Plus, she’s led the WNBA in assists five times. Check out the night during which she broke the assist record in a single season in 2019.
The following year, she broke the WNBA’s single-game assist record with 18 on August 31 against Indiana. The previous record of 16 was achieved twice by Ticha Penicheiro, in 1998 and 2002.
Furthermore the Sky were an offensive force when Courtney was on the floor this past year, with an offensive rating of 111.5 points, which led the league by far mid-way through the season. And the drop-off with her on the bench was dramatic: 84.6 points, which would be last in the league by a wide margin. Courtney is now a 2x WNBA All Star, a 2x WNBA All First Team, and a 2x WNBA All Second Team member.
But she is not a ring holder. She was part of several Sky teams that went to the playoffs, and led the 2014 Sky team to the WNBA Finals where they ultimately lost to the Phoenix Mercury. Luckily, she’s still got time to hunt down the Championship win.
Becky Hammon had an interesting path in the WNBA on her way to becoming an all-time great, over 14 seasons in the league. At just 5’6″, she came into the W undrafted, and joined the New York Liberty, where she played until 2006 while keeping a relatively low profile. After she was traded to the San Antonio Stars in 2007, her game took off.
As a member of the San Antonio Stars, Becky Hammon was a 2x WNBA All First Team, a WNBA assists leader in 2011, and was named to the Top 15 WNBA Players in 2011. Her ability to hit big time shots and drive through the lane, as well as be an effective playmaker made her one of a kind. Overall, she’s enjoyed one of the most decorated careers in league history, as a 6x WNBA All Star, a 2x WNBA All Second Team member, and a part of the WNBA’s Top 20 at 20 in 2016.
In New York and San Antonio, Becky Hammon was surrounded by great teammates, but ultimately she wasn’t able to secure a WNBA Championship. Though she did help the Stars to the Finals in 2008.
She retired from the WNBA in 2014 after 14 years of play, and is now the associate head coach of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs. Her jersey was retired by San Antonio in 2016.
Teresa Weatherspoon was one of the WNBA’s original players in 1997 and quickly made a name for herself. She was an excellent ball handler and great leader, quickly earning fan favorite status for the New York Liberty.
She was the first winner of the WNBA Defensive Player of the Year award and won the award again the following year. Though she is best known for “The Shot”. In the 1999 WNBA Finals, the New York Liberty were down 2 points with only a few seconds left in Game 2. Theresa secured an inbounds pass, and threw up a half court shot which went in. And the Liberty were able to force a Game 3. Check it out:
Over the course of her career, Teresa Weatherspoon was a 5x WNBA All Star, a 4x WNBA All Second Team, a 2x WNBA steals champion, and a WNBA assist champion. Plus, she was named to the Top 15 WNBA Players of All Time in 2011, and Top 20 at 20 players in 2016.
Teresa was part of four WNBA Finals teams, and three of those losses were to the Houston Comets who were a dynasty at that time. She was also a part of the WNBA Finals team that lost to the Los Angeles Sparks who were just starting to make noise in the WNBA.
She retired in 2004, before earning a ring. And was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame for the 2019 class. She is currently the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans assistant coach.
Allie Quigley was drafted 22nd overall in the 2008 WNBA Draft, and moved teams quite a bit in her early years of her career. It was not until 2013 that she finally was able to stick onto a roster with the Chicago Sky. From there, slowly but surely, she evolved into an All Star, as well as an integral player for the Chicago Sky.
Today Allie Quigley is known for her excellent three-point shooting, in addition to her strong mid-range and free-throw shooting percentages. She is a 2x WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year and a 3x WNBA All Star. Check out her All Star highlights.
Allie Quigley was part of the Sky team that went to the WNBA Finals, but ultimately were swept by the Phoenix Mercury. She still has time to lock down a ring though.
Vickie Johnson joined the WNBA after being drafted 12th in the inaugural WNBA Elite Draft in 1997. The Elite Draft was a draft composed of professional basketball players who had competed in other leagues – mainly overseas leagues.
Vickie started off as part of the New York Liberty where she became a 2x WNBA All Star. Before leaving to sign with the San Antonio Stars. No matter the team, she was known for being tough and being the glue player (in terms of helping with whatever the team needed). She got the job done. And as a result, she won the Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award in 2008.
Like Becky Hammon and Teresa Weatherspoon, Vickie Johnson was a part of four Liberty teams that went to the WNBA Finals but lost to the dynasty Comets and rising Sparks. Vickie, along with Becky was also part of the 2008 San Antonio WNBA Finals team that lost to the elite Detroit Shock. She retired in 2009.
Later, she was honored by the WNBA for being an original player in the WNBA’s 10 year anniversary. Check out her special moment below.
Vickie was an assistant coach for the Las Vegas Aces (the former team of the San Antonio Stars) before being recently hired for the Dallas Wings head coach job.
Dawn Staley was drafted into the WNBA as the 9th overall pick in the 2001 WNBA Draft by the Charlotte Sting. Where she played until 2005, before being traded to the Houston Comets in 2006.
Dawn was known for being an unselfish point guard and an effective leader. She was a 6x WNBA All Star and was named to the Top 15 WNBA Players in 2011. Plus, she was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012 and the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013. Her playing highlights over the years can be viewed here:
Dawn Staley was instrumental on the court, and helped carry the Charlotte Sting to the WNBA Finals in 2001 where they lost to the rising Los Angeles Sparks. But at the end of the 2006 WNBA season, Dawn Staley retired, with no ring.
Later, she became the head coach of Temple women’s basketball head coach. And then in 2008, she became the head coach of South Carolina’s women’s basketball team and created a thriving dynasty (albeit maybe not this year).
Jennifer Gillom was taken 12th overall by the Phoenix Mercury in the initial player allocation draft in 1997. She remained there for five seasons until 2003, when she switched to the Sparks for her last season before retiring. Later, she was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.
Jennifer Gillom was one of the Mercury’s original best players as a center/forward. She was named to the All WNBA second team in her first year. And the following year, she followed that up by being named to the All WNBA first team. She was also a WNBA All Star in her third season. Plus, she won the Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award in 2002. Check out her playing days as a Phoenix Mercury star:
Jennifer Gillom helped lead the Phoenix Mercury to the WNBA Finals in just her second season, where they fell to the dynasty Houston Comets. But she never got a ring.
She is now a head coach of an all female private Catholic high school girls basketball team. And previously held head coach and assistant coaching stints with the Minnesota Lynx, Washington Mystics, Sparks, and Sun.
Rebecca Lobo was taken 9th overall in the initial player allocation draft by the New York Liberty. She played there for four years, but her last two years were plagued with injury. She was traded to the Houston Comets in 2002, and the following year, she was traded to the Connecticut Sun, before retiring in 2003.
Although injuries were a huge setback for Rebecca Lobo’s WNBA career, she was named to the All WNBA Second Team in 1997, and then became a WNBA All Star in 1999. She was a strong center, and along with Teresa Weatherspoon, Vickie Johnson, and Becky Hammon formed a remarkable team. Rebecca Lobo’s career highlights can be viewed here:
Rebecca was part of the New York Liberty team that went to the WNBA Finals in 1997, but fell to the Houston Comets. Unfortunately she wasn’t able to contribute much afterwards to the rest of the Liberty’s WNBA Finals runs because of her injuries. So she never earned a ring.
Today she is one of the top ESPN women’s basketball and WNBA analysts and commentators. And she was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010. As well as the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2017.
Now you know some of the most talented currently active and retired WNBA players who surprisingly haven’t won a coveted Championship. Winning a Finals series is incredibly challenging, as it requires a total team effort, chemistry, and a little bit of luck. So despite individual herculean efforts, the cards just didn’t fall into place.
Regardless, all of these astounding women have achieved amazing feats both on and off the court. And while the ring has eluded these elite players for now, many still have an opportunity to get the win. So we’ll stay locked in to see what happens!
Written by Aneela Khan, a WNBA and women’s basketball blogger who’s been creating women’s college ball rankings for over three years.
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