2004 WNBA Draft Lottery: Team Analysis

WNBA.com breaks down five teams originally
slated for the WNBA Draft Lottery (before trades)
with a focus on each team's needs for 2004.

2003 record: 8-26; Top pick in 2004 WNBA Draft
Last season, the only major offensive statistical category in which the Phoenix Mercury finished better than league average was three-point field goal percentage (seventh), so they could use plenty of help on the offensive end of the floor.

John Shumate is no longer head coach, but the team has a handful of good complimentary players (guard Anna DeForge, center Slobodanka Tuvic, forward Lisa Harrison) and an All-Star in forward Adrian Williams, all of whom played aggressively on the defensive end of the floor as the Mercury led the league in steals per game a year ago.

Although the Mercury is probably weakest in the post, they can upgrade at just about any position with any of the top four picks.

2003 record: 9-25; Second pick in 2004 WNBA Draft
The biggest difference in the Mystics team that won 17 games in 2002 and only nine in 2003 was the retirement of former All-Star forward Vicky Bullett. The loss of Washington’s anchor in the middle was felt especially hard on the defensive end of the floor. Mystics opponents connected on 41.2 percent of their field goal attempts in 2002 (4th best in the league), but that number climbed to 44.7% in 2003 (worst in the league).

Washington’s defensive rebounding percentage also slid from the third best in the WNBA to eighth best in 2003, and the Mystics were 13th in the league in 2003 in steals per game and blocked shots per game, but new coach Michael Adams should instill a new brand of defnsive discipline.

Things weren’t a whole lot better offensively, as the Mystics posted the third worst field goal percentage in the league, and the second worst three-point field goal percentage. Coco Miller, Stacey Dales-Schuman and Annie Burgess give the Mystics a decent perimeter, and Chamique Holdsclaw is one of the best players in the league, but the Mystics need a consistent post player to work the paint.

2003 record: 16-18; Fifth pick in 2004 WNBA Draft
Like the Mystics, New York would love to improve its inside game where the team ranked ninth in the WNBA in defensive rebound percentage and last in offensive rebound percentage.

Becky Hammon (46.9%), Crystal Robinson (36.5%) and Vickie Johnson (36.9%) give the Liberty three of the most dangerous long-range shooters in the league, but Tari Phillips needs some assistance in the post. A career 48.1 percent shooter from the field heading into the 2003 season, Phillips field goal percentage dropped off to 39.7 percent a year ago.

Another offensive threat in the paint that can crash the glass would go a long way towards returning the Liberty to the playoffs.

2003 record: 18-16; Sixth pick in 2004 WNBA Draft
Injuries to Adia Barnes and Kamila Vodichkova cost Seattle a spot in the playoffs a year ago, so the Storm lineup could be the most difficult one to crack – especially if 2003 second-round pick Suzy Batkovic is able to join the Storm from Australia.

On the other hand, with a roster consisting of a number of international players, the possibility exists that some of those players will opt to train with their national teams prior to the 2004 Olympic Games, opening up the competition for spots in the rotation. The Storm still has the reigning MVP in Lauren Jackson and a perennial All-Star in Sue Bird as locks in the starting lineup.

From an offensive standpoint, the Storm could use some help out on the perimeter where the team ranked eighth in the WNBA in three-point field goal percentage. Defensively, the one place Seattle was most deficient was on the glass as the Storm ranked 12th in defensive rebound percentage.

2003 record: 16-18; Ninth pick in 2004 WNBA Draft (trade with Charlotte)
Defense, defense and more defense. The Fever ranked 12th in the league in opponent field goal percentage and 14th in opponent three-point field goal percentage, so they would do well to add a player with some defensive aspects in her game to the lineup.

Tamika Catchings and Natalie Williams were the only Fever players to average more than 25 minutes a game last season. The pair also scored nearly half the teams points a year ago, which leaves three other positions on the court that are possible upgrades.

Indiana was merely an average field goal shooting team (eighth best in the league) and 11 other teams went to the line more often than the Fever in 2003, so an inside presence or a slasher who can create her own shot and get to the free throw line could be enough to get Indiana back to the postseason.