2007 WNBA Draft Lottery: Team-by-Team Analysis
Four All-Stars came out of the 2006 rookie class. They were Minnesota's Seimone Augustus, Phoenix's Cappie Pondexter, Chicago's Candace Dupree and San Antonio's Sophia Young, resulting in what may very well have been the best Draft class in league history. It shows just how big of an impact the Lottery can have. This year, those four teams, along with the New York Liberty and Charlotte Sting, will hope that the ping pong balls bounce their way for a better chance of adding another impact player to the developing franchises. Teams will also have the opportunity to shape their rosters through trades and free agency before April's Draft. Based on last seasons rosters and statistics, WNBA.com breaks down the six WNBA Draft Lottery teams and offer an analysis of what each team needs for the 2007 season.
Each teams odds of winning the lottery.
After winning only six games during the 2005 season, the Sting nearly doubled their win total in 2006. Charlotte began the season with a 3-16 record before coming to life by winning four straight in mid-July. Eight-year veteran Tangela Smith led the team in scoring while two other vets, Tammy Sutton-Brown and Sheri Sam, contributed on the offensive end as well as on the boards. Monique Currie, last year's third overall pick, ranked fourth on the team in scoring (10.0 ppg), but shot a lowly 33.2 percent from the field.
No player averaged more than 5.87 rebounds per game as the Sting ranked third-to-last in the WNBA rebounds per game (32.18 rpg). They were fourth-to-last in points per game (72.2 ppg) and ranked second-to-last with 39.7 field goal percentage. However, the Sting played decent defense all season as they held opponents to only 42.4 percent shooting from the field and recorded a league leading 4.56 block per game average.
The Sting must continue adding young players to their veteran roster and focus on the future. Outside shooting and a physical presence inside are pressing needs. Drafting Currie was a start, but now the team must bring in another scorer along with a strong rebounding forward or center.
2006 record: 5-29
The Chicago Sky are entering their first lottery and unless the struggling first-year team adds some talented players via the draft or free agency, it will not be their last. It may take a few years before the Sky make the playoffs, but at least they found a franchise player to build around in forward Candace Dupree, the sixth overall pick of the 2006 Draft. Dupree, who averaged a team-high 13.7 points, was the only Sky player selected to the 2006 All-Star Game as she was forced to carry the load for the Sky the entire season.
Not much was expected from the expansion franchise as they entered the season with only three players with over three-years of WNBA experience, but their 5-29 record was unacceptable. The Sky ranked last in scoring (68.3 ppg) and second-to-last in rebounding (30.0 rpg). Second-year center Bernadette Ngoyisa averaged a team-high 5.67 rebounds and was the only other player to average double-digit points.
The Sky have a long way to go, but will have to start by adjusting to a new head coach. Former General Manager and Head Coach Dave Cowens resigned following the 2006 season and the Sky are still in search of a replacement. But whoever comes in as the next GM must add more depth to this team and possibly look to sign a veteran who can lead this young team both on and off the court. For a team that needs so much on the offensive and defensive end, taking the best player available in the draft would be a good start.
The Lynx were awarded the first overall pick inthe 2006 Draft and selected an instant star in guard Seimone Augustus to replace All-Star Katie Smith, who had been traded at the 2005 deadline. The former Louisana State guard took control of the team from the first game of the season and kept the Lynx in the Western Conference playoff picture into the final month. Augustus joined center Nicole Ohlde, point guard Amber Jacobs, and forwards Kristen Mann and Tamika Williams to form one of the youngest starting lineups in the league, creating a solid core for years to come. However, the Lynx still need to find another scorer to complement Augustus and must also continue building on their depth and improve their defense if they want to join the leagues elite in the postseason.
Minnesota spent the first month of the season around the .500 mark and stayed in playoff contention until a 2-11 season finish ended all hopes of a late run. Augustus hit the "rookie wall," if you can call it that, as her scoring average dropped from 23.3 points to 21.9 during the losing stretch and no one picked up the scoring slack . The team's second leading scorer, Nicole Ohlde, only averaged 9.6 points per game for the season.
The Lynx ranked eighth in points per game (74.2), but ranked second to last by allowing 80.4 points per game against them. They also allowed their opposition to shoot 43.4 percent from the field, ranking them third to last in that category, and 33.3 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.
A year after deciding to rebuild, the New York Liberty are back in the lottery for the first time since 2003 when they finished with a 16-18 record. Last season, the Liberty lost a franchise record 23 games and struggled throughout the entire season. Midway through the season, the struggling franchise lost a franchise-record 11 games in a row.
The Liberty were forced to play much of the season without injured All-Star guard Becky Hammon, but their playoff hopes were most likely too far out of reach before she was sidelined anyway. With Hammon on the bench, the younger players showed what they can do with extended minutes. Shameka Christon, Cathrine Kraayeveld, Erin Thorn and Sherill Baker each proved that they can put up big scoring numbers when given the opportunity, but as a team, the Liberty ranked second to last in points per game (69.8 ppg).
The Liberty's problems continued on the defensive end as well. They ranked last in rebounds per game (30.0 rpg) and fell within the bottom five in blocks (3.27 bpg) and steals (7.41 spg). Kelly Schumacher led the Liberty with an average of 5.52 rebounds while seven-year veteran Barbara Farris finished second with 5.24 rebounds per game. For the Liberty to be successful, they must add the best overall player available or several players who will pick up the scoring, defense and rebounding slack.
The Mercury barely missed the playoffs in 2004 and 2005, and they barely missed the playoffs again in 2006. Led by the league's best one-two scoring punch in rookie All-Star Cappie Pondexter and top-scorer Diana Taurasi, the Mercury finished the season on a seven-game winning streak, resulting in a three-way tie with the Houston Comets and Seattle Storm for the final two playoff positions in the Western Conference. Unfortunately for the Mercury, highest scoring team in the league (87.1 ppg), the Comets and Storm held the tie-breakers, sending the Mercury to their sixth straight lottery.
For the second straight season, the Mercury had four players score in double figures while also allowing teams to score on them at will. The Mercury gave up the most points per game in the league (84.7 ppg), which could be due to coach Paul Westhead's fast-paced offense. Phoenix also ranked last in the WNBA by giving up 37.7 rebounds per game while being outrebounded by over four boards per game.
With a developing, but young, veteran core comprised of Pondexter, Jennifer Lacy, Sandora Irvin, Ann Strother and Belinda Snell, the Mercury have a very bright future ahead of them. However, in order for the Mercury to hang with the leagues best, they must add a solid rebounder to assist Kamila Vodichkova (who is recovering from an injury) and Kristen Rasmussen in the frontcourt.
The Silver Stars looked playoff-bound with 12 games remaining in the 2006 season after coming out the gate with an 11-11 record. But a 2-10 record in the final month, which included losses to the weaker Sting and Lynx, pushed the Silver Stars to the bottom of the Western Conference for the fourth straight season. However, their 2005 draft picks, Sophia Young and Shanna Zolman, along with the return of second-year guard-forward Agnieszka Bibrzycka, showed that this very young team has a promising future ahead of them.
Despite an improvement from their 2005 record of 7-27 and the aquisition of veteran guard Vickie Johnson last offseason, the Silver Stars showed their immaturity during the second half of the season as their playoff hopes quickly disappeared. Also, the loss of center Chantelle Anderson for the final 11 games due to injury appeared to have too much of a negative impact for the team to overcome.
San Antonio is in desperate need of a big time scorer and needs a major impact defensive player. Sophia Young led the team with only a 12.0 scoring average and the Silver Stars shot only 40.6 percent for the season. On the defensive end, they ranked fourth to last by allowing 36.4 points per game against and blocked the least amount of shot in the league.