September 16, 2023 

Locked on Women’s Basketball: How Candace Parker changed basketball

'The embodiment of a complete basketball player'

Our WNBA Retrospect series continues at Locked on Women’s Basketball! The series reviews game film, stats, news articles and more to determine who has been the best prospect in WNBA history. Last week, Em Adler, Hunter Cruse and Lincoln Shafer discussed Seimone Augustus, the No. 1 pick in 2006. This week, they discuss the No. 1 overall pick in 2008, Tennessee’s Candace Parker.

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Parker won two national championships in three healthy seasons at Tennessee. In her final season, the 6’4 forward averaged 21.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.4 blocks and 2.3 steals per game and won several national player of the year awards. Here’s Em on what stood out from watching film on Parker as a Lady Vol:

“She moves and plays and scores like someone who is maybe 5’11 or 6′ and has the best sort of ranginess and lateral athleticism that you will ever see out of a guard or a wing. … Everyone calls her a point guard in a big’s body. It’s kind of ridiculous just to watch what that looks like. Because she’s not just someone … [who has] the guard skills at that height but you’re giving up the ability to create out of the post. No, she’s doing all of it.”

Lincoln expanded on those skills and how they helped Parker dominate in college:

“[Parker’s] handle is the first thing that really stood out to me. It’s so advanced for someone who’s a big. … Commentators love to say that this player can play one through five, but she really is. She’s bringing the ball up the court. She’s running the offense. She’s one of the most impressive college midrange, mid-post scorers I’ve seen. She can play defense. She’s just the embodiment of a complete basketball player. My first note was just wow.”

Parker was drafted by the Los Angeles Sparks and played 13 seasons there, winning WNBA MVP and Rookie of the Year in 2008. She won another MVP award in 2013 and a WNBA championship in 2016. Parker then spent the 2021 and 2022 seasons with the Chicago Sky and won another title in 2021 before joining the Las Vegas Aces for the 2023 season. In 410 career games, Parker has averaged 16.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.5 blocks.

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