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Fifty percent of the WNBA’s coaches are now former players

Josh Huston/NBAE

Vanessa Nygaard is set to become the latest ex-WNBA player to coach in the league, with The Athletic reporting that the Scottsdale native has been appointed as the next Phoenix Mercury head coach.

Nygaard joins Atlanta’s Tanisha Wright, Seattle’s Noelle Quin, Dallas’s Vickie Johnson, Las Vegas’s Becky Hammon and New York’s Sandy Brondello as former WNBA players turned head coaches.

Hammon and Nygaard were both brought on ahead of the 2022 season, while Quinn was hired by the Storm in June of 2021.

The most recent WNBA coaching hires highlight a welcome trend in a league that has historically struggled to solidify a player-to-coach pipeline. With eight of the 12 WNBA head coaching positions now filled by women, the league has also slowly begun addressing gender disparities at the front of the bench.

While progress has undoubtedly been made in the 25-year-old league, WNBA insiders are still pushing for the development of a deeper coaching pool to foster up-and-coming talents.