Editor’s Note: In 2019, Nothing But Nylon created Prestige Rankings, a system designed to display the very best and very worst teams any basketball league has had to offer over history. Using points based upon various accomplishments or failures, we have ranked every WNBA team in multiple ways to show you who has truly run the show since 1997. We’re up to #6 Indiana Fever, but take a look at all of the criteria and defunct teams to get a good idea of how things work.
Years Active: 2000-Present
Prestige Score: 71.3
Prestige Rank: 9/23
Active Rank: 6/12
It took Indiana a little while to get going, largely struggling in its first five seasons after joining the league, a standard for professional expansion teams. From 2000-04, four of those years ended in negative points, and the Fever found themselves with only 14 points through their first half a decade.
But they took off from there. The Fever started what would become a 12-year streak of playoff appearances in 2005, the longest in WNBA history, that helped give the team positive points every season from then through 2016. During that run, Indiana reached three WNBA Finals and won one championship, with those seasons combining for 836 points. In total, Indiana tallied 1,358 points from 2005-16, more than it collected in its entire existence when including the otherwise largely negative seasons.
Since the postseason streak ended in 2017, Indiana has fallen off the face of the earth, bookending its success with periods of futility. But the Fever racked up plenty of points in that decade-plus, headlined by the championship and Finals showings, that they’re in the top half of the league with a relatively comfortable cushion on the teams directly beneath them. The 2012 title goes a long way.
Indiana Fever Totals
WNBA Championships: 1 |100 points|
WNBA Finals Appearances: 3 |180 points|
Series Wins: 12 |36 points|
Playoffs Wins: 35 |525 points|
Playoffs Byes: 0 |0 points)|
Playoffs Appearances: 13 |167 points|
Regular Season Top Record: 0 |0 points|
Above .500 Regular Season: 8 |32 points|
All-WNBA Player on Roster: 14 |42 points|
MVP on Roster: 0 |0 points|
Coach of the Year: 0 |0 points|
Regular Season Worst Record: 2 |-20 points|
Below .500 Regular Season: 8 |-32 points|
Total points: |1,354|
Best Year: 2012
A 4-0 start was nearly erased with three-straight losses, but the Fever recovered in time to avoid a below-.500 record at any point in the season. In August, the team went on a tear, winning seven of eight games bleeding into the start of September, defeating opponents by an average of more than 13 points. That run helped land Indiana second in the East at 22-12 and a return to the playoffs for the eighth year in a row.
The Fever dropped their first playoff game, 75-66, to the No. 3 seeded Atlanta Dream as the Dream kept Indiana’s offense in check and Atlanta’s Lindsey Harding led all scorers with 23. But with their backs against the wall, the Fever responded with a 103-88 whopping in Atlanta in Game 2, six Indiana players scoring in double figures and Tamika Catchings and Briann January posting 25 and 24 points, respectively. Indiana took the decisive Game 3, 75-64, with Erlana Larkins tallied 16 points and 20 rebounds in her team’s 46-25 domination on the glass.
In the Eastern Conference Finals, Indiana faced the Connecticut Sun, the conference’s top seed that held a 3-1 record against the Fever in the regular season. That trend continued in Game 1, but again, Indiana lost the battle but won the war, overcoming another 1-0 deficit to win the series. It couldn’t have been done without 24 vital points from Katie Douglas in Game 2, but even more incredibly, the team completed the job without her. In the first quarter of Game 3, Douglas left the game with an ankle injury and did not return. Still, her Fever wouldn’t waver, winning 87-71 to advance to their second-ever WNBA Finals.
The Minnesota Lynx, the reigning champions and top team from the regular season, awaited Indiana in the Finals. Douglas remained sidelined with her injury, and Indiana had to try to win its first WNBA championships without their second-leading scorer from the regular season.
Indiana took a 1-0 lead with a 76-70 win in Game 1, Larkins again putting up an insane double-double on 16 points and 15 boards and Catchings scoring 20 of her own. Minnesota had a slim 58-56 lead going into the fourth quarter, but a mini-run in the middle of the final period helped pull the Fever away.
In Game 2, the Lynx squared the series with an 83-71 victory, opening the game up in the fourth quarter.
Game 3 couldn’t have gone much better for the Fever. With the series coming to Indiana, the home team stomped the Lynx so bad through the first three quarters, that a fourth quarter that went Minnesota’s way 21-6 was only enough to keep the final deficit within 20. Four Fever players scored in double digits, Larkins had another double-double, and Shavonte Zellous put up 30 on her own in Indiana’s 76-59 triumph to take a 2-1 series lead.
The Fever only needed one more win for the title, and with 25 points and eight assists from Catchings, plus another rebounding clinic via Larkins, they got it done, 87-76, to win the series, 3-1, and the 2012 WNBA Championship.
Catchings was the team’s leading scorer with 17.4 points per contest, followed by Douglas (16.5), January (10.3) and Zellous (7.5). She led the squad in rebounds (7.6 per game) as well and was second in assists with 3.1 per night, behind only January and her 3.9 dimes per outing. Catchings was also named to the All-WNBA First Team. It was Lin Dunn’s fifth season as Indiana’s head coach and her first and only title.
Worst Year: 2018
Two times in Indiana’s history, the team has finished last in the league with no positives to show: 2001 and 2018. But in 2001, the Fever were still a young franchise and tied with three other teams for the WNBA’s worst. In 2018, the team held sole possession of the basement position with a putrid 6-28 mark, setting it apart from the rest as the worst season in franchise history.
After a 9-25 year in 2017, the Fever kicked off the 2018 campaign with 10-straight losses. Then, it wasn’t until July 3 that Indiana would add its second victory of the season, dropping six in a row immediately after ending the opening skid. Two more five-game negative streaks and six weeks later, the team managed to outdo its 2017 self by three games. To illustrate the situation further, Indiana ranked 12th in the league in points per game (76.4) and 11th in opponent points per game (85.7).
Candice Dupree was the team’s top scorer with 14.2 points per night, with Kelsey Mitchell (12.7), Natalie Achonwa (10.3) and Cappie Pondexter (10.2) following. Achonwa grabbed 6.9 rebounds per game, with Dupree not far behind at 6.4, and Erica Wheeler was the leading distributor, posting 4.1 assists per contest. It was Pokey Chatman’s second season in charge and worst record-wise in her eight years as a WNBA head coach.
Winningest Coach: Lin Dunn
After another Eastern Conference Finals loss, the Fever did not pick up head coach Brian WInters’s option, ending his four-year tenure in Indianapolis. Indiana hired Lin Dunn as its fourth head coach, elevating her from the assistant position she held from 2004-07.
Dunn spent 2008-14 leading the Fever, compiling a 158-121 overall record (23-18 in the postseason), reaching the first two WNBA Finals in franchise history in 2009 and 2012, winning the whole thing in 2012 for the team’s first and only title. Her Indiana teams made the playoffs in all seven of her seasons and advanced to at least the Eastern Conference Finals five times.
She retired from coaching at the conclusion of the 2014 season, ending her more than 40-year career on the sideline, and was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame the same year. Dunn got back into coaching in 2016, accepting an assistant position with the women’s program at the University of Kentucky.
No. 12 – Las Vegas Aces
No. 11 – Dallas Wings
No. 10 – Chicago Sky
No. 9 – Washington Mystics
No. 8 – Connecticut Sun
No. 7 – New York Liberty
No. 6 – Indiana Fever
No. 5 – May 20
No. 4 – May 21
No. 3 – May 22
No. 2 – May 23
No. 1 – May 24