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15 U.S. Olympians Will Compete In The WNBA Playoffs. Who Will Win?

By Karen Price | Sept. 21, 2016, 2:15 p.m. (ET)

When the best U.S. women’s basketball players are together on one team, there’s no stopping them. Team USA has won the last six Olympic gold medals and 49 Olympic games in a row.

But beginning on Wednesday, the teammates will become opponents with a different title on the line.

Fifteen Olympians will be competing in the WNBA playoffs, which start one month and a day after Team USA defeated Spain for the Olympic gold medal in Rio de Janeiro. Some gold medalists will be seeking their first WNBA title while others are looking to add to or defend theirs. 

With the 20th WNBA regular season over, the No. 8 Phoenix Mercury will face the No. 5 Indiana Fever, while the No. 7 Seattle Storm will play No. 6 Atlanta Dream in single-elimination games. Waiting for the winners will be the No. 4 Chicago Sky and the No. 3 New York Liberty, as well as the No. 2 Los Angeles Sparks and top-seeded Minnesota Lynx, who are defending champions. Each team has at least one U.S. Olympian.

Here’s a look at the Olympic champions as they now try to end the WNBA season on top.

Seimone Augustus, F, Minnesota Lynx

The three-time gold medalist in 2008, 2012 and 2016 is now looking for her fourth WNBA title. She’s the third-leading scorer on the team, averaging 11.2 points per game and 2.9 rebounds per game. The 2011 playoffs MVP brings a wealth of experience to the defending champions.

Sue Bird, G, Seattle Storm

Bird has been to the last four Olympic Games and is now on the hunt for her third WNBA championship, having won with the Storm in 2004 and again in 2010. The veteran and team captain, who’s averaging 12.8 points per game, helped the Storm surge coming out of the Olympic break and jump from a tie for eighth seed to sole possession of the seventh.

Swin Cash, F, New York Liberty

Cash, who won gold in 2004 and again in 2012, has won three WNBA titles and twice been named playoffs MVP. The 15-year veteran is now on the verge of wrapping up her career but hopes to add one more title before she does. Cash has started 23 of 31 games this year for the Liberty, who finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference.

Tamika Catchings, F, Indiana Fever

Like Cash, Catchings is also one of the greatest women to ever play, and she’s also planning to hang up her sneakers at the conclusion of these playoffs. This is her 15th season in the WNBA. In addition to her four Olympic gold medals (2004, 2008, 2012, 2016), Catchings will leave as the all-time leading rebounder and second-leading scorer in WNBA history, and she hopes to go out as a two-time league champion as well. 

Tina Charles, C, New York Liberty

Charles has had an MVP-caliber season, and her performance is perhaps the biggest reason why the Liberty are the No. 3 seed. She and U.S. teammate Elena Delle Donne finished the regular season tied for the lead in scoring with 21.5 points per game, and Charles is alone out front in rebounds per game with 9.9. The 2012 MVP and two-time Olympic gold medalist (2012, 2016) is looking for her first WNBA championship.

Elena Delle Donne, G/F, Chicago Sky

Unfortunately for the Sky, Delle Donne injured her thumb at the end of the regular season, underwent surgery and is out indefinitely. She’s the reigning MVP and her team will miss her leadership and her 21.5-points per game average, tied with Charles for best in the league. Delle Donne made her Olympic debut in Rio.

Sylvia Fowles, C, Minnesota Lynx

The three-time Olympian (2008, 2012, 2016) was named playoffs MVP last year after averaging 15.6 points per game and 9.4 points per game during the finals. At 6-foot-6, her size helps make her a dominant force on the post and the glass, and she enters the playoffs second on the team in scoring with 13.9 points per game and is the leading rebounder at 8.5 per game.

Brittney Griner, C, Phoenix Mercury

A 2014 WNBA champion, Griner made her Olympic debut in Rio this year. Although she was on the list of team finalists in 2012, Griner was still playing at Baylor and elected not to go to the Games because of her school and family obligations. This year, Griner will try to lead the now-underdog Mercury to their second WNBA title in three years.

Angel McCoughtry, G/F, Atlanta Dream

McCoughtry enters the playoffs as the fourth-leading scorer in the WNBA, averaging 19.5 points per game. Last year, the Dream missed the playoffs for just the second time in franchise history, but the 2012 and ’16 Olympian is hoping this year for her first league championship to go along with her second gold medal.

Maya Moore, F, Minnesota Lynx

Moore has been one of driving forces behind each of the Lynx’s three championships in 2011, 2013 and 2015. She also hopes to help break the every-other-year pattern by winning the team’s fourth title the same year she earned her second gold medal at the Olympic Games (2012, 2016). She’s currently the fifth-leading scorer in the league, averaging 19.3 points per game.

Candace Parker, F/C, Los Angeles Sparks

Parker is one of the Sparks’ top weapons. Her 15.3 points per game is 10th in the league, her 4.9 assists per game is third and her rebounding is ninth at 7.4 points per game. Parker is a two-time Olympian, winning gold in 2008 and 2012, but she is still looking for her first WNBA title.

Cappie Pondexter, G, Chicago Sky

Pondexter is a two-time WNBA champion who was named the Finals MVP in 2007 and won a gold medal with Team USA in 2008. Last week, she passed Lisa Leslie to become the WNBA’s fifth all-time leading scorer, and she’s averaging 12.9 points per game in her first season with the Sky.

Breanna Stewart, F/C, Seattle Storm

To say Stewart is having an incredible rookie season is an understatement. She’s the team’s leading scorer and sixth in the league averaging 18.3 points per game, recently broke Lisa Leslie’s 2004 single-season defensive rebounding record with 277 and is heavily favored to win rookie of the year. Having won gold in her Olympic debut in Rio, she could soon add WNBA champion and end the year with a bang.

Diana Taurasi, G, Phoenix Mercury

Taurasi scored 17 points in Team USA’s win over Spain to claim her fourth gold medal (2004, 2008, 2012, 2016), and she now has a chance to win her fourth WNBA championship. She leads the team and is seventh in the league in scoring, averaging 17.8 points per game.

Lindsay Whalen, G, Minnesota Lynx

As one of four Olympians on the stacked Lynx roster, Whalen certainly stands a good chance of winning both Olympic gold and a WNBA title in the same year. The two-time Olympian (2012, 2016) has three titles already, all with the Lynx, and is 11th in the league in assists per game with 3.8 and averages 9.8 points per game.

Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.

Related Athletes

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Seimone Augustus

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Sue Bird

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Swin Cash

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Tamika Catchings

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Tina Charles

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Elena Delle Donne

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Sylvia Fowles

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Brittney Griner

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Angel McCoughtry

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Maya Moore

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Candace Parker

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Cappie Pondexter

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Breanna Stewart

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Diana Taurasi

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Lindsay Whalen