WNBA Continuity

Continuity in the WNBA is not incredibly common. Rosters shuffle at least a couple players at least every few years, and it’s rare you see a player stay on a team’s roster for their entire career. In fact, of the players in the top 25 in games played all-time, only three played every game for the same team:

  • Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever, drafted in 2001, played 2002 – 2016)
  • Sue Bird (Seattle Storm, 2002 – present)
  • Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury, 2004 – present)

Special consideration can be given to players who only changed teams (presumably) because of their first team folding. Even in that case, we add just two players:

  • Tammy Sutton-Brown (Charlotte Sting, 2001 – 2006; Indiana Fever, 2007 – 2012)
  • Rebekkah Brunson (Sacramento Monarchs, 2004 – 2009; Minnesota Lynx, 2010 – present)

This topic came up because June 14 was the five year anniversary of the Indiana Fever’s White House visit to celebrate their 2012 WNBA Championship, and no one on the team (coaches included) is still part of the team today. That led to the question: which teams have the most current continuity? This could be measured in a lot of ways, but to start with, I answer the following question: what was the last year each team’s roster was completely different than it is today? The list above will help us answer this question. Note that I am ignoring gaps where a player sat out for rest or injury and may not have technically been on the roster if they were continuously a mainstay of the team.

Atlanta Dream: The Dream’s inaugural season was 2008, and that’s the last time no one on the current roster was part of the team. Angel McCoughtry was drafted by Atlanta in 2009 and has been part of the team since.

Chicago Sky: The 2010 roster features no one from the current roster. Courtney Vandersloot was drafted by the Sky in 2011, and she remains on the roster to this day.

Connecticut Sun: Connecticut is a very young team in the league, and their continuity reflects that. Chiney Ogwumike was drafted in 2014 and has been associated with the team continuously. She has missed significant time due to injury, so you could consider 2015 the first year of the current continuity, when Jasmine Thomas, Alyssa Thomas, Alex Bentley, and Shekinna Stricklen were added to the roster. Regardless, in 2013 the roster was completely different from today.

Dallas Wings: This team has seen multiple players on the roster leave and come back, so technically you have to go back to 2010 in Tulsa to see a completely different roster. In 2011, Liz Cambage was drafted by Tulsa, and she is back on the roster this year after a long hiatus from the league as a whole. Karima Christmas-Kelly was also drafted to Tulsa that year, but she left to play in Indiana from 2012 to 2014. Other than that, you can point to Glory Johnson, drafted by Tulsa in 2012, who has been a part of the team since.

Indiana Fever: Tamika Catchings was a constant on this team for 16 years, but they have a very fresh roster at this point. You have to go back to Shenise Johnson, brought in from San Antonio in 2015, which means just five seasons ago the roster was completely different.

Las Vegas Aces: The Aces are also a young team, like Connecticut, and they similarly have a major tie to the 2014 WNBA Draft. Kayla McBride was drafetd by the team while in San Antonio, and she is still a fixture on the roster. Otherwise, the 2013 Silver Stars roster was completely different from today.

Los Angeles Sparks: Candace Parker is the face of the Sparks as she has been part of the team since being drafted by L.A. in 2008. No one on the 2007 roster is still a member of the team.

Minnesota Lynx: The Lynx have one of the longest-tenured cores in the league, so it’s no surprise you have to go back to 2005 to find no connection to the current roster. Seimone Augustus was drafted by the Lynx in 2006 and has been part of the roster ever since.

New York Liberty: The Liberty roster is fraught with veterans, but it has been built almost entirely through free agency and trades. As recently as 2013 the New York team was entirely different from today’s. Tina Charles was traded to New York in 2014 and remains the face of the team.

Phoenix Mercury: Diana Taurasi has played all of her WNBA games for Phoenix since she was drafted in 2004. The 2003 roster was entirely different from today’s team.

Seattle Storm: Similarly, Sue Bird has been a major part of the Seattle Storm since being drafted by them in 2002. You have to go back to 2001 to find a completely different roster.

Washington Mystics: While her time has been inconsistent due to pregnancy and injury during her career, Tayler Hill has been with the Washington Mystics since the 2013 WNBA Draft. You have to go back to 2012 to find a different Mystics roster.

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