Diana Taurasi pushed the boundaries of three-point shooting in 2006. Those boundaries remain untouched heading into the 2019 season.
Before the 2006 WNBA season, no player had made more than 90 threes in a single season. Katie Smith came close in 2000, hitting 88 triples in the league’s fourth year, and then again in 2001 when she made 85 threes. But, outside of Smith, nobody had even cracked 80.
But then 2006 rolled around and Diana Taurasi began her scorched earth campaign against the rest of the league.
Taurasi hit 121 threes that season and shattered the three-point record. In a year where teams hit an average of five threes a game, the Phoenix Mercury star knocked down 3.6 per game by herself. She accounted for just under half of the Mercury’s total made threes, and she hit 74 more threes than next best shooter on the team, Cappie Pondexter.
Although other teams were able to match her pace, no individual players could stay close. Taurasi had been below league average shooting from distance her first two years in the league, but hit her stride in 2006 and shot nearly 40% from three. The three-point revolution was still years away from beginning to take hold of the WNBA and she was running laps around the league’s best shooters.
The rest of the league was playing a quaint game called basketball while Taurasi was doing doing something else entirely. She more than doubled the number of threes the fourth best shooter that year, Katie Smith, hit, and blew past Smith’s 2001 record for threes attempted in a season by more than 60. She made the league’s three-point shooting outliers look average that year.
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More than a decade later and Taurasi strikes again
The WNBA rang in its 10th season when Taurasi destroyed those records in 2006. In 2019, a fews years after the league celebrated its 20th anniversary, her three-point shooting mark still stands. Her performance in 2006 was way ahead of its time, and Taurasi’s record is still waiting for everybody else to catch up.
Even with teams taking more and more threes, only one person has come remotely close to her 2006 season: Taurasi herself. Twelve seasons after her historic run in 2006, she broke 100 again in 2018.
Taurasi’s 102 threes is the second most in WNBA history, and the most threes made since the league moved the three point line more than a foot back in 2013 to match new FIBA standards. The WNBA set a record for total threes taken last season, yet everybody is still lagging behind Taurasi.
But, as the league continues to embrace the three-point shot, and the game’s elite young shooters continue to get greener lights to shoot from deep, it seems inevitable that Taurasi’s record will fall eventually. Even so, the rest of league has a long way to go to compete with Taurasi’s best seasons.
She’s one of just seven players to make 80 or more threes in a season, and she’s done it eight times. She’s also the only one to do ever do it both before and after the three-point line change. Taurasi has spent most of her three-point shooting career alone in the company of herself.
Taurasi will turn 37 a month before the 2019 season tips off, but could still be poised to make a run at her own shooting title. She’s shown little sign of slowing down offensively, and has posted three of her five best three-point shooting seasons by volume in the past three years.
If anybody is going to touch Taurasi’s 121 mark, she just might be the one to do it, 13 years later.
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