WNBA Prestige Rankings | 1997-2019 | Criteria + Defunct Teams

WNBA Prestige Rankings | 1997-2019 | Criteria + Defunct Teams

In 1997, the Houston Comets made history, becoming the first WNBA champions ever. It wasn’t until 2001 that another team managed to supplant their supremacy as the Comets thoroughly dominated the league through its first four seasons.

The team dissolved in 2008, leaving behind a lengthy legacy that any league historian would remember. There have been other great teams since, like the Minnesota Lynx, which won four championships between 2011 and 2017, or the Los Angeles Sparks, who won back-to-back in 2001 and 2002 and picked up their third crown in 2016.

It begs the question: through 22 WNBA seasons, what team has been the best? How do teams that were once on top that no longer exist, like the Comets or Detroit Shock, compared to those still standing? Where do the relative newcomers who have made an impact since their arrival, like the Atlanta Dream and Connecticut Sun, fit in with the pack?

Nothing But Nylon has created a system designed to display the very best and very worst teams the WNBA has had to offer. 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.

Over the next 12 days before the 2019 WNBA season tips off, we will release in-depth explanations for each of the 12 current teams in the league, revealing from 12th to first who reigns supreme until our final unveiling of where all 23 teams, past and present, compare against one another. Then, looks into some of the best teams that are no more and further breakdowns of the information, such as rankings by decade and the raw scores, will be released, giving you as many angles into the league’s history as possible.

The point system was devised through careful consideration from Greg Winston, Mark Donahue and Justin Meyer, who worked to develop the most fair and reasonable structure possible. The criteria for the NBN WNBA Prestige Rankings are as followed:

*Note – Teams are awarded points for each milestone they achieve in a given season. For example, a team that wins the WNBA Finals would get points for the championship, for reaching the WNBA Finals, for qualifying for the playoffs and any other metric accomplished that year.

Prestige Positives

WNBA Championship |100|
WNBA Finals Appearance – 60|
Series/Round Wins |30|
Playoffs Wins |15|
Playoff Byes |15|
Playoff Appearance |12-20| Determined on the year, using the equation: 8 x (# of teams in league/# of teams in the postseason)
Regular Season Top Record |10|
Above .500 Regular Season |4|
All-WNBA Player on Roster |3|
MVP on Roster |5|
Coach of the Year |5|

Prestige Negatives

Regular Season Worst Record |-10|
Below .500 Regular Season |-4|

Weighted Rankings

After the points for all of a team’s seasons are compiled, that number is divided by the number of seasons said team (has) spent in the WNBA.

WNBA Prestige Rankings | 1997-2019 | Criteria + Defunct Teams

While the Comets didn’t finish first-overall in points, what the team was able to accomplish over their 12 seasons has yet to be matched at any rate by the rest of the league. Over time, the totals of prestigious teams like the Sparks and Lynx will grow, but it will take the building of another dynasty to hit Houston’s 128 average.

We’re launching the beginning of the rankings today. Stick around to learn who is really the ruler of the WNBA.

This is the first of several prestige rankings NBN will release over the coming months. Following the WNBA, you can expect similar content for the NBA, Division I men’s and women’s college basketball, international ball and more.


Justin Meyer

Justin Meyer

I was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, and have loved basketball for as long as I can remember. Unfortunately, I have always been too short and Jewish to play at a high level, so I instead settled for watching and reporting from the sideline. I graduated with a journalism degree from the University of Maryland in 2017, co-founding The Left Bench and spending time at The Columbus Dispatch, USA Today and San Antonio Express-News.

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