Before we jump in, please enjoy a quick history lesson on the Wings. The franchise is actually 25 years old, just one season shorter than the WNBA. In 1998, the Shock were added to the W as the sister franchise of the Detroit Pistons. They were the first of the league’s expansion franchises to win a title, winning it in 2003, and again in 2006, 2007 and 2008. In 2010, after the team’s owner died and the 2008 Financial Collapse affected several WNBA franchises, Bill Cameron bought the Shock and moved the team to Tulsa. They moved again in 2016, becoming the Dallas Wings. We will look at the entire history of the franchise here, which makes this undertaking a bit more difficult.
The other fact that makes this tough is this: The Wings have had an abundance of great guards. They still do. Arike Ogunbowale is a two-time All-Star. Allisha Gray won an Olympic gold medal with the 3x3 team last year. But since they have each had less than five years of experience, they’re not making the list.
Much as the WNBA does with All-Star voting, this will be broken down into guards and forwards.
Raised in Flint, Mich., Nolan is a true Michigander who brought three championships to her home state. She played nine seasons in the WNBA, all for the Detroit Shock. In that time, she won three WNBA titles, the 2006 Finals MVP and was named to five All-Star teams.
While she now plays for the Mercury, Diggins-Smith’s first six seasons were in Tulsa/Dallas. She was a four-time All-Star there and won the 2014 Most Improved Player as her points per game reached 20.1. The teams weren’t great when Diggins-Smith was in Tulsa/Dallas, as they made the playoffs just three times and were twice knocked out in the first round. But Diggins-Smith’s play was something to appreciate even as the team struggled.
With the second overall pick in 2002, Detroit picked Cash, a UConn product. While in Detroit, she showed why she was worthy of that pick, scoring 12.9 points, grabbing 5.8 rebounds and dishing out 3.1 assists per game. Her overall understanding of the game is what made her stand out, and that’s why now she is the Vice President of Basketball Operations for the New Orleans Pelicans.
Like Diggins-Smith, Johnson’s time with the Shock/Wings wasn’t marked with championships. It was marked by reliable scoring and an incredible ability to always grab rebounds. She was among the league’s top ten rebounders three times and still ranks in the top 50 in career boards.
Ford made a mark on the Shock from her very first season, averaging a double-double and becoming the first player in WNBA history to win the Rookie of the Year award and a WNBA championship in the same season. She made four All-Star teams, won three titles and was the league’s rebounding champion twice.