SLAM's Stephen Litel on the 2011 WNBA Draft
Tulsa Shock: You have been around the Lynx all year - any chance that they don't take Maya Moore? Why should or shouldn't they take Maya?
Stephen Litel: Sorry, Shock fans, but Maya Moore is a lock to join the Minnesota Lynx.
She will not fall to you at number two. Roger Griffith has made some bold moves in the past couple seasons to upgrade the team, such as acquiring hometown hero Lindsay Whalen. In a separate trade last year, the Lynx drafted Kelsey Griffin and traded her to Connecticut for another shot at landing Maya Moore. However, the combo of numbers that eventually became the right to draft number one were those the Lynx held themselves, not the numbers from Connecticut.
Maya will be a member of the Lynx in two weeks. Going through all of that, then the opportunity to draft her is their own? She’s supposed to be in Minny.
Now, that’s not to say that there aren’t a good amount of fine players in this year’s draft, but of course, Maya Moore is the big prize.
Tulsa Shock: Who do you see the Shock selecting with the second pick? Why?
Stephen Litel: Let me be clear that I don’t have any “inside information” on which players the Shock will select in the draft and this is strictly my personal opinion. Although it may be tempting to select Liz Cambage at this spot, I think the Shock should go with Amber Harris from Xavier.
Outside of Maya Moore, Harris is the player I most enjoy watching from this draft class, as she has a great game.
The Shock has a lot of players out on the wing such as Andrea Riley, Scholanda Robinson, Amber Holt and Rashanda McCants who are all fine players, but, in my opinion, the biggest weakness of the team is in the post. Adding Harris to the mix would be perfect since she is the most versatile player in the draft, she can hit the three and plays very strong defense. I would expect that Coach Richardson would love her.
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Tulsa Shock: Do you envision any surprise or under the radar players creeping up into the top-five of the draft?
Stephen Litel: I don’t expect any surprises in the top five picks in the draft, as far as the players chosen there. However, you can never say that there won’t be any surprises coming as far as trades. As of today, I haven’t heard anything to expect that to happen, but who knows? If a team makes a good offer to the right team, it can be done.
In no particular order, I expect the top five picks to be Maya Moore, Liz Cambage, Amber Harris, Kayla Pedersen and Jantel Lavender.
Tulsa Shock: Who do you think the Shock will land with the seventh pick in the draft?
Stephen Litel: This is why I believe the Shock should take Harris with the number two…because at the seventh pick, they will more than likely be able to address an area of need. The loss of Shanna Crossley hurts this season, so if everything plays out as expected, the team should be able to choose between Courtney Vandersloot from Gonzaga and Danielle Robinson from Oklahoma, both point guards.
While both have many positives to them, if I’m the one making the call I go with Robinson. She is a little longer and athletic and could be a great addition to the team, but the thing to watch with her though in her rookie season will be if she can find a way to hit threes and limit her turnovers. If she’s able to do so, Shock fans will love her very quickly.
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Tulsa Shock: Assuming the ideal scenario in the draft, the off-season transactions and a roster going into its second year together, what are you expectations for the Shock in year two in Tulsa in what is shaping up to be a tough Western Conference?
Stephen Litel: The West is tough and every team ahead of the Shock in last year’s standings will be better this summer. The Storm are the reigning champs and will be the team we always expect them to be each year. The Mercury will be formidable, as always, and their additions of Marie Ferdinand-Harris and Nakia Sanford make them more dangerous. The Los Angeles Sparks added Ebony Hoffman and—familiar face to Shock fans—in Natasha Lacy. San Antonio will be formidable as ever and, of course, the Minnesota Lynx will add Maya Moore to their mix. They also added Taj McWilliams-Franklin this off-season.
Despite all of the additions to the Shock’s Western Conference competitors, I’d expect Tulsa to have a better season this year than last season. They have a wonderful opportunity to add two young pieces to their mix through the draft and I certainly can’t imagine as many trades as last season. Because of that, the Shock will have a little more stability this season and can roll with their new core group of players. With this team, it isn’t necessarily about this season…it’s about building a team the right way, a team that can stay together for years.