The 2K11 WNBA Draft from a Former GM’s Perspective (Part 2 of 3)
Posted by ataylorblog on April 9, 2011
AT’S MOCK 2K11 WNBA DRAFT
As a fan this year, I too am reading all of the great articles and mock drafts that have been published recently like this one from Stephen Litel or this compilation from the experts at SwishAppeal. There is a lot of great insight on the draft available to us all, and for those of us anxiously awaiting the draft I thought I’d play armchair quarterback (or general manager in this case) by sharing my thoughts on what I think the teams will do during Monday’s WNBA Draft (note that this isn’t necessarily what I would do if selecting for each team instead what I think the coaches & GM’s will do with their picks).
*Before I get to the mock draft, here’s a mini-analysis on Saturday’s trade between Minnesota and Washington sending Nicky Anosike to the Mystics for their 2012 1st Round pick. I think we can all agree that this was a WIN-WIN for both teams!
Minnesota: Sometimes addition by subtraction can have a very positive & profound affect on your team. In this case, I believe that it was probably in the best interest of both parties to part ways. Anosike has developed into a very talented player on both ends during her 3 years in Minnesota, but it was simply time to move on. Signing McWilliams-Franklin and having a couple of viable post options at the #4 pick in the draft probably made this trade a bit easier for GM Roger Griffith. Sometimes you can have too much talent (can’t believe I’m saying that), and I think it would have been difficult to keep all of these talented players happy (especially at the offensive end). Hedging their bets that they get another lottery pick in the 2012 draft makes sense for these reasons 1) other teams knew they didn’t have to over bid for the trade to work, 2) Minny’s roster is overloaded and they can’t take bodies back, and 3) even in drafts that aren’t very deep, first round picks (i.e. talented players on rookie salaries) can be invaluable as key pieces in trades. Similar to Bill Belichick and the Patriots, the Lynx have managed to multiply the number of #1 picks they have for 2012 without destroying their roster. As Charlie Sheen would say #Winning
Washington: This was a fantastic trade for the Mystics as the worst kept secret in recent years was that they needed to add another legitimate interior threat to balance out their team. We tried desperately to trade for Anosike before the trade deadline last season to no avail, so this is a great move to get it done by Trudi. When healthy (and as the roster currently stands), the Mystics undoubtedly have one of the best & deepest perimeter rotations in the WNBA and Crystal Langhorne has had to do yeoman’s work in the post as she elevated her game to be legitimately considered one of the top posts in the league. The addition of Anosike will make the Mystics one of the most balanced teams in the league with a variety of scoring options on offense and potentially one of the most potent defensive teams around (Atlanta would be in the conversation). She will make it difficult for teams to double (and triple) team Langhorne, freeing her up for more scoring opportunities, is a great passer out of the post, runs the floor, and will add another rebounding force to compliment Langhorne. It will be fun watching the team develop with another inside presence. #Winning
Based on conversations I’ve had throughout the college season & during the Final Four, watching the seniors play, and putting together a comprehensive analysis of team needs at the end of last season, here is how I think Monday’s draft goes.
1. MINNESOTA LYNX – Maya Moore (Connecticut)
Comments: Roger Griffith has assembled one of the deepest and most talented rosters in WNBA history. They legitimately go 10 players deep. This is a no-brainer, so I won’t waste too much of your time telling you what you already know. Maya Moore is the best player in the draft and will soon be one of the best players in the WNBA.
2. TULSA SHOCK – Liz Cambage (Australia)
Comments: After a year where Coach Richardson made roster move after roster move up until the trade deadline last summer, they now have an opportunity to select a player who will be a cornerstone for their franchise for years to come. A player like Cambage does not come around too often (well until Griner graduates from Baylor), and the consensus is that she will soon be one of the most talented players on the international stage. Therefore, she is someone you can’t pass up in the draft when you are in the building (or rebuilding for Detroit Shock loyalists) phase as is Tulsa. Despite the uncertainty as to her availability during Olympic & World Championship years, the Shock can quickly turn their franchise around with Cambage owning the paint on both ends of the floor. The more success they have early & the better players he surrounds her with, the more likely she (as does LJ) will make a point to bring her talents to Tulsa each summer.
3. CHICAGO SKY – Amber Harris (Xavier)
Comments: The Sky really need a true point guard to take over the reins from Canty in the future, but I think a PG at #3 is a bit too high considering that they are extremely interested in trading for Harding. With that in mind, they go with the best player on the board, which is Amber Harris. Her perimeter & face up skills are nice compliments to Fowles’ low-block dominance and differ from what Kraayeveld brings to the table. Coach Chatman is probably the perfect coach to get Harris to play to her talents on a regular basis. However, if the right deal becomes available (involving a veteran PG), don’t be surprised if this pick is moved.
4. MINNESOTA LYNX- Jantel Lavender (Ohio State)
Comments: Lavender’s versatility is the perfect pick at #4 if Harris is already off the board. Her ability to run the floor, score in the high post, and pass post-to-post will be nice compliments to the arsenal of weapons Coach Reeve has to work with. The Anosike trades frees up some minutes for a rookie post like Lavender to get valuable minutes.
5. LOS ANGELES SPARKS – Ta’Shia Phillips (Xavier)
Comments: Since Lisa Leslie’s departure, the Sparks have been in need of a true Center to command doubles on the low block & to free up space for some of the games most versatile Power Forwards in Thompson, Hoffman, Parker, and Milton. Phillips is a heady & physical player who could provide that presence for the Sparks. Signing Loree Moore in the off-season has given Toler options at #5. She also could consider a PG at this point, but needs more depth at center.
6. SAN ANTONIO SILVER STARS – Danielle Robinson (Oklahoma)
Comments: With the retirement of V. Johnson, the Silver Stars have been in need of a player capable of creating off the dribble to free up Hammon for some open perimeter looks. Hammon has had to have the ball in her hands too much since Johnson’s departure, and Robinson is a good fit for their culture. She will need to work on her perimeter jumper but can give them someone to help push the tempo for what has become a half-court team. Vandersloot is another legitimate option here as well.
7. TULSA SHOCK – Courtney Vandersloot (Gonzaga)
Comments: The cornerstone of a winning franchise is a point guard and a center. Coach Richardson has the opportunity to grab those two pillars in the Top 7 picks in the 2011 Draft. At #7, they can draft a point guard who will benefit from the tutelage of Naismith Hall of Famer Teresa Edwards…one of the best to ever play. Look for Tulsa to take the guard that San Antonio passes on, either Vandersloot or Robinson. Heading into the draft, there are some very likely trade scenarios (involving a PG) that affect picks 3-6, which could cause Vandersloot to slide a bit. In this event, I think Vandersloot, who helped the Zags to lead the nation in scoring, is the perfect addition to play in the “Forty Minutes of HE_ _” system.
8. ATLANTA DREAM – Kayla Pederson (Stanford)
Comments: When Sancho Lyttle was out with a concussion around the All-Star break last year, the Dream struggled a bit. When they moved Michelle Snow, their solid 3-player post rotation took a hit. Look for them to add to their post depth with a player who will be able to bring something new to their post rotation. Bales seemed to be the player they hoped to be a perimeter threat from the post last year, so I look for Kayla Pederson to be a strong consideration here. Her poise & her ability to stretch the defense with so many Dream players who can attack the rim around her would be an added bonus.
9. INDIANA FEVER - Jasmine Thomas (Duke)
Comments: The Fever can either go post or guard at this position, but with the loss of Tully this off-season, Thomas would be an interesting addition to a defensive minded team. With the other two guards off the board at this point, Krauskopf and Dunn look to Thomas to fill that gap.
10. NEW YORK LIBERTY – Victoria Dunlap (Kentucky)
Comments: As Coach Whiz looks to bring his White Line Defense to the Big Apple (or Newark), look for him to select the best player available on the board. With the departure of McWilliams-Franklin, Dunlap would be a nice replacement. Dunlap will be able to quickly adjust to the pro game on the defensive end, therefore adding another solid interior defender alongside Pierson. Another player that Whisenant likes in his system and will take into strong consideration is Jeanette Pohlen.
11. WASHINGTON MYSTICS – Jessica Breland (North Carolina)
Comments: It’s no secret that the Mystics have been in need of another solid inside player to compliment Langhorne and now Anosike. With Phillips off the board at this point, look for Breland’s name to be called. Breland gives them a different skill-set in the post. Her health is certainly a concern, but her length, shot-blocking ability, and ability to defend could help the Mystics’ post depth.
12. SEATTLE STORM – Jeanette Pohlen (Stanford)
Comments: Coach Agler has a solid starting 5, so he will be in the ideal position of being able to take the best available at the #12 spot. With many of the role players from last year’s Championship team not returning, Pohlen will be a steady back-up for both guard positions.
Early Second Round Selections: Italee Lucas, Dawn Evans, Angel Robinson, Porsha Phillips, Amy Jaeschke, Carolyn Swords, Danielle Adams, Ify Ibekwe
Note: I actually think that Vandersloot is a Top 5 pick based on her body of work (not just the tournament run where the nation witnessed what she’s been doing quietly in the northwest for a couple of years), but (because I anticipate a draft day trade) I figured it would be more interesting to talk (and debate) about Tulsa replicating the Bird/Jackson tandem with their own of Vandersloot/Cambage.
Roger Griffith, Coach Reeve, and the Minnesota Lynx….you’re now on the clock.
Oh wait, really…Michael Alter & Pokey Chatman…you’re on the clock since we already know who’s going #1 and #2!
Good Luck with the Draft!!
Stay tuned for Part 3 of this series – Behind the Scenes in the War Rooms