Two Weeks Before Draft, Storm Still Uncertain

Two weeks before the 2004 WNBA Draft, the picture for the Seattle Storm seems little less murky now than it was when the Storm first found out it would have the sixth pick of the draft at last December's lottery. Speculation continues to center around a handful of players as possible selections with that sixth pick - Houston's Chandi Jones, Minnesota's Lindsay Whalen, and Penn State's Kelly Mazzante, all guards; and Florida's Vanessa Hayden and Kansas State's Nicole Ohlde up front.

The Storm's primary needs are no secret. Even after selecting Betty Lennox in this January's Dispersal Draft, the Storm would like to add another young wing player, a role Jones, Whalen or Mazzante could fill. 35-year-old Sandy Brondello was the Storm's oldest starter last season, making an injection of youth desirable.

Despite a strong starting frontcourt of Lauren Jackson and Kamila Vodichkova, there's also a need up front, one that was exposed last August when Vodichkova went out with a sprained left foot. In Vodichkova's absence, the Storm was thin up front and lost five of its last seven games. While a healthy Alisa Burras will go a long ways towards improving the Storm's post depth, a youngster could keep the Storm going through injuries.

Could that player be Suzy Batkovic, last season's second-round draft pick? The expectation was that Batkovic would not arrive in Seattle until 2005 at the earliest because of this summer's Olympics. However, with Basketball Australia allowing Jackson to play overseas and for the Opals, Batkovic could join her. According to Australian newspaper The Advertiser, Batkovic is considering playing in the WNBA.

The other possibility is that the Storm deals the sixth pick.

"If I had my needs right now, I would pick an experienced, veteran, big perimeter player that is aggressive, confident, and hungry," Storm Coach Anne Donovan said at the conclusion of last season.

Already, the WNBA has seen quite a bit of movement in terms of draft picks. Indiana and Charlotte swapped first-round picks, with the Fever getting guard Kelly Miller in addition to the ninth pick and the Sting getting the third pick as well as pick 18 in the second round.

The Connecticut Sun acquired the fourth pick from San Antonio, giving up All-Star point guard Shannon Johnson and also swapping picks to move up in the second and third rounds.

Phoenix acquired Connecticut's original first-round pick, eighth overall, in a three-way trade last week, and Detroit got the 11th pick from Houston in the deal that sent guard Kedra Holland-Corn to the Comets.

There should be more movement in the time remaining before the draft. The Minnesota Lynx has made no secret of its desire to move up from its seventh spot in order to be able to select Whalen, a local hero.

In addition to the sixth pick, the Storm also holds pick 19 in the second round. "Best player available" always becomes a consideration in the second-round, but the Storm will probably look to fill a need wherever it does not with the first-round pick. Seattle traded its third-round pick to the Houston Comets last May to acquire guard Rita Williams.