Now that the 2019 WNBA draft is complete, let’s revisit the 2004 draft 15 years later. That draft has held up remarkably well in the decade and a half since, and several of the top 10 picks have left indelible marks on league history.
In the video below, ESPN’s Pam Ward said prior to the 2004 draft, “In the eight-year history of the WNBA, this draft is considered to be the best ever.” That may still be true today, 15 years later. Players from that one draft became the WNBA all-time scoring leader, the most prolific rebounder and the #3 ranked player in assists.
All-Access with Diana Taurasi and Alana Beard at the 2004 Draft — WNBA.com — Official Site of the…
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The top four picks (Diana Taurasi, Alana Beard, Nicole Powell and Lindsay Whalen) all played in the 2004 NCAA Women’s Tournament and led their teams to the Elite Eight. Two players, Taurasi and Whalen, appeared in the Final Four.
Those first four picks continued their winning ways in the W, winning a total of nine titles to date while being named All-Stars 20 times.
With Whalen competing in her final season last year, four of the top ten 2004 draftees were still active in the league 15 seasons after the draft.
Five Notable 1st Round Picks
Pick 1 Diana Taurasi
Team played for: Phoenix Mercury
Taurasi was Rookie of the Year in 2004, MVP in 2009, and an All-Star nine times. She an offensive force and ranks number 1 in WNBA history in these categories: Points, FGs made/attempted, 3 pt FGs made/attempted, free throws made/attempted, offensive win shares.
The former UConn Huskie has been remarkably consistent throughout her career as well. She has been in the top ten for 13 seasons in points, FGs made, 3 pt FGs made and attempted while leading her team to 9 playoff appearances, 3 championships and 2 Finals MVP awards.
Taurasi was named to the 2016 WNBA Top20@20 team for her accomplishments.
Pick 2 Alana Beard
Teams played for: Washington Mystics, Los Angeles Sparks
Beard has made her mark as a defensive stopper throughout her career. She has been named to the All-Defensive Team 9 times and, even more impressively, Defensive Player of the Year in 2017 and 2018 when she was 35 and 36 years old. Beard ranks third all-time in steals.
Pick 3 Nicole Powell
Teams played for: Charlotte Sting, Sacramento Monarchs, New York Liberty, Tulsa Shock, Seattle Storm
Powell played for five different teams and made seven playoff appearances including a championship in 2005 with the Sacramento Monarchs in her 11-year career. She was named Most Improved Player in 2005. Powell ranks in the top ten all time in 3 pt FGs made (9) and attempted (8). Powell just completed her second season as head women’s basketball coach at Grand Canyon University after three seasons as an assistant at Oregon.
Pick 4 Lindsay Whalen
Teams played for: Connecticut Sun, Minnesota Lynx
Whalen retired after the 2018 season ending a career that included winning four WNBA championships in nine seasons with the Minnesota Lynx. The team recently announced her #13 jersey will be the first Lynx jersey retired.
Whalen just completed her first season as women’s basketball head coach at her alma mater, University of Minnesota. Not surprisingly, her Golden Gopher jersey is also retired and hangs from the rafters in Williams Arena. She ranks in the top ten all-time in the WNBA for the following categories:
Games played (5), minutes played (6), win shares (6), assists (3), assist pct (10), free throws made (8) and attempted (7).
Whalen was also named to the 2016 WNBA Top20@20 team.
Pick 10 Rebekkah Brunson
Teams played for: Sacramento Monarchs, Minnesota Lynx
Brunson was the tenth pick of the draft out of Georgetown. She is the only WNBA player with five championships. The Machine, as she is called in Lynx player introductions, is the all time leader in offensive and total rebounds and fourth in total rebound percent in addition to being named All-Defensive team seven times including both 2017 and 2018 at age 35 and 36.
It would not be surprising if a few years down the road, multiple players from this amazing draft are enshrined in the Women’s or Naismith basketball hall of fame for their contributions.