Q&A With Swish Appeal's Jessica Lantz
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?
Jessica Lantz: As a local-area writer, I was a little disappointed when I found out the Shock didn't get the first pick. But if you look at WNBA draft history, some notable players have gone second - Sylvia Fowles, Cappie Pondexter, Alana Beard, Swin Cash - so having the draft's second pick is not necessarily a bad thing.
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?
JL: I personally like the idea of the lottery. I hate the idea of teams in any sport intentionally not giving their all just so they can secure the first pick in the draft. The lottery makes having the first pick a wild card, rather than a certainty.
TS: As the college basketball season kicks into gear, what is your projected top-four picks in next year’s draft?
JL: Projected top-four right now: Maya Moore, Liz Cambage, Amber Harris, Jantel Lavender
TS: Where do you see the Shock going not only with their second pick, but the seventh pick as well?
JL: Depending upon what Cambage expresses on playing in the WNBA, I think she'd be a good fit for Tulsa - combining size and speed and tremendous ability. But as an NBA fan who watched the Ricky Rubio drafting with much interest, I think it would be an obvious detriment to draft a player who isn't sure if she'd move to the U.S. or already has a specific team in mind (the L.A. Sparks).
For the seventh pick, Danielle Robinson of OU, if she's still available. Picking 'local' didn't work as planned last year with Amanda Thompson, but I think Robinson's shooting ability (.494 FG), athleticism and overall skill-set could make the local fit work wonderfully.
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?
JL: The Storm were dominant throughout the season, but weren't expected to have such an easy time before 2010 play got underway. Because the Storm weren't the 'dynasty' type of team talked about as prohibitive favorite, I think it was positive as a whole to see the fashion in which they ran through the season. Along with their obvious multitude of skills, their professionalism, drive for success and veteran leadership was a positive sight for the league.
Couple in the fact that some in Seattle are still stinging from the loss of the Sonics, I think it was also a bonus for the city to see a successful professional basketball franchise reach prosperity.
TS: In your mind, what steps does the league have to take to become more engraved in the American sports fabric?
JL: I wish there was an easy answer, but honestly I don't know. That being said, I think the progression of the league has been healthy and steady and the WNBA will continue to be weaved into the fabric of sports with each passing season. I think it takes:
Time - time for fans to become invested in not just a franchise or favorite player, but in the survival and necessity of the league as a whole.
Exposure - with every season that passes, more and more exposure is given to the sport of women's basketball and the WNBA. Highlighting the benefits of the league and the impact its members have on their communities goes a long way.
Respect - NBA players have shown respect for the games of their female counterparts. Fans who take the time to watch see the skill, athleticism and quality of play in the WNBA. And once respect is earned, the WNBA becomes more ingrained into the sports landscape.