2008 WNBA Draft Lottery News and Notes

NEW YORK, Oct. 18 -- When the WNBA conducts its annual draft in 2008, it will mark the seventh year that the team receiving the top pick in the WNBA Draft has been decided by lottery. Prior to that, the top pick went to the team with the worst record from the previous season.

During the first two seasons with the lottery system in effect, the team with the worst record from the previous season, and thus the best chance of earning the first pick, did not win the lottery. However, in the 2004 Draft Lottery, the Phoenix Mercury finally saw the odds fall in their favor. But once again in 2005, 2006 and 2007, form did not hold true and Charlotte, Minnesota and Phoenix defied the odds and respectively nabbed the top picks. Who will have the honors next April?

2007: Mercury Win Lottery, Parlay it Into Title

Tangela Smith
Order Prior to Lottery: Chicago, Minnesota, New York, San Antonio, Phoenix
Order After Lottery: Phoenix, San Antonio, Chicago, Minnesota, New York

The Phoenix Mercury were the least likely team to come away with the No. 1 pick in the 2007 WNBA Draft, but luck was on their side during the lottery as they overcame overwhelming odds to win the top selection. On draft day, though many suggested the Mercury would benefit from a young post player, they nabbed Duke guard Lindsey Harding with the top pick. But moments later, they traded the rights to Harding to the Minnesota Lynx for veteran center Tangela Smith, who the Lynx had picked up in the Charlotte Dispersal Draft. (Smith went on to help the Mercury to their first ever WNBA title.)

And that wasn't the only deal on draft day. With the second pick, the San Antonio Silver Stars selected Ohio State center Jessica Davenport, but soon after traded her rights and a 2008 pick to the New York Liberty for All-Star guard Becky Hammon. Though neither of the top two picks stuck with the teams that originally drafted them, they both had solid seasons and have bright futures ahead of them.

But it was No. 3 pick Armintie Price out of Mississippi who took home the Rookie of the Year honor. The Chicago Sky snapped up the athletic guard, and despite being only 5-9, Price led all rookies in rebounding and nearly helped the second-year Sky to the playoffs. Joining Price on the WNBA All-Rookie Team were Harding, Camille Little of San Antonio and the Sparks' Sidney Spencer and Marta Fernandez.

2006: Lynx Win the Lottery, Hit the Jackpot

Seimone Augustus
Order Prior to Lottery: Charlotte, San Antonio, Minnesota, Phoenix, Washington
Order After Lottery: Minnesota, Phoenix, Charlotte, San Antonio, Washington

The Minnesota Lynx were not favored to win the top spot in the Lottery, but when they did, they made the most of their luck and chose L.S.U. guard Seimone Augustus with the first overall pick. Augustus did not disappoint, becoming the first rookie to score more than 20 ppg and earned Rookie of the Year honors. She was selected to the All-Star Team and chosen to represent the United States in the World Championships. Augustus was pushed all season both in the scoring race and ultimately for Rookie of the Year by the second overall pick, Mercury guard Cappie Pondexter, who also had a tremendous season in the desert.

But just because these two stars were the top two picks certainly does not mean they were the only stars coming out of the Class of 2006. In fact, there were four rookies who participated in the All-Star Game in New York in July. The San Antonio Silver Stars selected Baylor forward Sophia Young with the fourth overall pick and the expansion Chicago Sky nabbed Temple center Candice Dupree with the sixth pick. There may never be a class of rookies to come in and make as immediate an impact as this past crop of rookies. Or there may... that is the beauty of the Draft and the Draft Lottery.

2005: Sting Sneak In To Win Top Pick

Janel McCarville
Order Prior to Lottery: San Antonio, Houston, Indiana, Charlotte, Phoenix
Order After Lottery: Charlotte, Indiana, Phoenix, San Antonio, Houston

The Charlotte Sting defied the odds and came away with the top pick in the 2005 WNBA Draft Lottery. With that pick, they selected a center from the University of Minnesota, Janel McCarville. However McCarville was unable to stay healthy and enjoy the success that previous top selections had in their rookie years. With the second pick, the Indiana Fever selected guard Tan White, who had a great season and had many of the league's top plays on the highlight reels

But neither McCarville nor White won the 2005 WNBA Rookie of the Year as several unexpected rookies made quite the splash in their debut seasons. The Washington Mystics took a diminutive point guard from L.S.U. with the six pick, and Temeka Johnson stole the headlines and was named the league's top rookie. A surprising rookie taken by the Sacramento Monarchs enjoyed a great season as well. Chelsea Newton was taken in the third round, and ended up starting for the WNBA champs. White, Johnson and Newton were joined on the All-Rookie team by centers Katie Feenstra and Kara Braxton.

004: Phoenix Gets Its Franchise Player
Diana Taurasi
Order Prior to Lottery: Phoenix, Washington, San Antonio, New York, Indiana, Seattle
Order After Lottery: Phoenix, Washington, Indiana, San Antonio, New York, Seattle

After winning the 2004 WNBA Draft Lottery, the Phoenix Mercury selected Diana Taurasi with the top pick in the 2004 WNBA Draft. Living up to all of the hype, she went on to have one of the best seasons for a rookie in the history of the WNBA en route to winning the Rookie of the Year Award. averaged 17.0 points and 4.4 rebounds per game to help the Mercury improve from 8-26 in 2003 to 17-17 in 2004.

But Taurasi was not the only rookie to make a big impact in 2004. The Washington Mystics added Alana Beard to the team, and Beard added her team to the Eastern Conference playoffs. The rookie frontcourt tandem of Nicole Ohlde and Vanessa Hayden also went to the playoffs with the Minnesota Lynx while the fourth pick, Lindsay Whalen, took the Connecticut Sun to the WNBA Finals.

2003: Cleveland Wins Draft Lottery

LaToya Thomas
Order Prior to Lottery: Detroit, Cleveland, Phoenix, Sacramento
Order After Lottery: Cleveland, Sacramento, Detroit, Phoenix

After winning the 2003 WNBA Draft Lottery, the Cleveland Rockers selected LaToya Thomas with the top pick in the 2003 WNBA Draft. Thomas averaged 10.8 points and 5.1 rebounds per game to help the Rockers improve from 10-22 in 2002 to 17-17 in 2003.

Rookie of the Year honors went to Cheryl Ford, whom the Detroit Shock selected with the third overall pick. Ford averaged 10.8 points and 10.4 rebounds per game to help the Shock go from worst to first and capture the 2003 WNBA championship.

2002: Seattle Wins Draft Lottery

Sue Bird
Order Prior to Lottery: Washington, Detroit, Seattle
Order After Lottery: Seattle, Detroit, Washington

After winning the 2002 WNBA Draft Lottery to earn the number one pick for the second year in a row, the Seattle Storm selected Sue Bird with the top pick in the 2002 WNBA Draft. Bird averaged 14.4 points and 6.0 assists per game to help the Storm improve from 10-22 in 2001 to 17-15 in 2002.

Rookie of the Year honors went to Tamika Catchings, the third overall pick in the 2001 WNBA Draft, who missed the 2001 season with an ACL injury. Catchings averaged 18.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per game in 2002.

The Draft Order was not determined by a Lottery until the 2002 season.

2001: Seattle Selects Lauren Jackson

Lauren Jackson
With the top pick in the 2001 WNBA Draft, the Seattle Storm selected Australia's Lauren Jackson. Jackson averaged 15.2 points and 6.7 rebounds per game in 2001 to help the Storm improve from 6-26 in 2000 to 10-22 in 2001.

Rookie of the Year honors went to Jackie Stiles of the Portland Fire. The fourth overall pick in the 2001 WNBA Draft, Stiles averaged 14.9 points and 2.4 rebounds per game in her rookie season.

2000: Cleveland Selects Ann Wauters
Ann Wauters
With the top pick in the 2000 WNBA Draft, the Cleveland Rockers selected Ann Wauters from Belgium. Wauters averaged 6.2 points and 4.0 rebounds per game in 2000 to help the Rockers improve from 7-25 in 1999 to 17-15 in 2000.

Rookie of the Year honors went to Betty Lennox of the Minnesota Lynx. The sixth overall pick in the 2000 WNBA Draft, Lennox averaged 16.9 points and 5.6 rebounds per game for the Lynx.

1999: Washington Selects Chamique Holdsclaw
C. Holdsclaw
With the top pick in the 1999 WNBA Draft, the Washington Mystics selected Chamique Holdsclaw from Tennessee. Holdsclaw averaged 16.9 points and 7.9 rebounds per game in 1999 to help the Mystics improve from 3-27 in 1998 to 12-20 in 1999.

Rookie of the Year honors went to Holdsclaw, marking the only time in WNBA history that a number one draft pick has won Rookie of the Year.

1998: Utah Selects Margo Dydek
Margo Dydek
With the top pick in the 1998 WNBA Draft, the Utah Starzz selected Poland's Margo Dydek. The 7-2 Dydek averaged 12.9 points and 7.6 rebounds per game in 1998 to help the Starzz improve from 7-21 in 1997 to 8-22 in 1998.

Rookie of the Year honors went to Tracy Reid of the Charlotte Sting. The seventh overall pick of the 1998 WNBA Draft, Reid averaged 13.8 points and 5.2 rebounds per game.

1997: Houston Selects Tina Thompson
Tina Thompson
With the top pick in the 1997 WNBA Draft, the Houston Comets selected Tina Thompson.

Thompson averaged 13.2 points and 6.6 rebounds per game in the league's first season, helping the Comets capture the inaugural WNBA championship.

(Photo Credits: Barry Gossage, Nathaniel S. Butler, Gregory Shamus, Jesse D. Garrabrant, Jeff Reinking, David Kyle, Jennifer Pottheiser, M. David Leeds and Bill Baptist/NBAE/Getty Images)