Q&A With SLAM's Ben York

Apart from being one of the biggest WNBA fans I've ever ever encountered, Ben York writes "The W" blog for SLAM Online and also writes features on the league in SLAM Magazine. You can follow York's various observations about women's basketball on Twitter @bjyork. Amidst his countdown of the Top-20 players in the league at SLAM Online, York was kind enough to review the WNBA Draft Lottery, the Tulsa Shock and the overall state of the WNBA with us. Our conversation below ...

Tulsa Shock: First reaction when you found out the 2011 WNBA Draft order and specifically that the Shock would be selecting second overall despite having the best chance at winning the lottery?

Ben York: My first thought was, "it happens." It's really too bad because the inevitable No.1 pick, Maya Moore, would fit well in Tulsa - in my humble opinion. Not that selecting No.2 is bad by any stretch of the imagination, but I've seen it happen in the NBA many, many times. Just bad luck.

TS: Just curious, are you in favor of the lottery process in the WNBA or do you prefer just ranking the teams in reverse order from the standings?

BY I see the merits in both methods. I kind of like the NFL system (worst to first) but with just 16 games, there isn't much options. I think the lottery system is about as fair as possible but it certainly stings when it doesn't go your way. Hey, you never know - the Portland Trailblazers selected Greg Oden No.1 overall a few years ago instead of Kevin Durant (No.2) and we know how that panned out...

TS: Before the college basketball season kicks into gear, what is your projected top-four picks in next yearís draft?

BY Other than No.1 (Maya Moore), that's tough. I think it will depend on what teams do in the off-season but I could see Kayla Pedersen, Amber Harris, Liz Cambage, Danielle Robinson, and Jessica Breland rounding out the top 6 in some order. Still, I wouldn't be surprised to see Jasmine Thomas or Jantel Lavendar in there either. At this point, before we see what they do on the court, it's difficult. There is a lot of talent that should come out of the 2011 draft but I also wouldn't be surprised to see more blockbuster trades happen like they did in 2010.

TS: Where do you see the Shock going not only with their second pick, but the seventh pick as well?

They need scorers so I could see them taking Amber Harris or possibly Liz Cambage out of Australia. She is a work in progress but the payoff could be absolutely huge. As for the No.7 pick, I'd take another scorer or slasher depending on who is available. And you never know, those picks are highly coveted so possibly a trade? Time will tell.

TS: This past season, there was a single dominant team in the Seattle Storm, do you feel that dominance was a positive or negative for the WNBA?

BY I think of it a little differently. I see the teams being so competitive across the board that the cohesion the Storm had allowed them to catapult to the top. With so many players on new teams, building that chemistry takes time. With Seattle, their core remained in tact and we certainly saw how amazing they played. I personally believe that as the WNBA continues to amass large amounts of talent that's dispersed amongst all teams is a fantastic thing for the league. In fact, it's exactly what they need.

TS: You tweeted about your disappointment that more people werenít talking about the WNBA Draft Lottery earlier, do you think thatís a league issue or just the difficulty of promoting the womenís game?

BY That goes for me as well. I needed to do a better job of getting information out there. Sports today has been dominated by negative stories in the NFL with the (supposed) "Big Three" in Miami. The WNBA draft lottery is an exciting time, especially as the league continues to gain momentum.

TS: In your mind, what steps does the league have to take to become more engraved in the American sports fabric?

BY: I think they're doing it, but it just takes time. The league (contrary to what some believe) is indeed growing and becoming more popular. But we're still young. The more information and, more importantly, access to information that is out there the better. Kudos to the Tulsa Shock for realizing this and making it a priority!