New York Liberty
19-15, 4th Eastern Conference, lost Conference Semifinals
After finishing fourth in the Eastern Conference last year, the Liberty will look much the same in 2012. A team that is on the cusp on competing for a championship, this draft will give them an opportunity to take the ever-important next step.
Head Coach John Whisenant, however, says that the Liberty have already taken one of those steps by adding veteran point guard Kelly Miller. Miller will back up Leilani Mitchell and take that burden off of Cappie Pondexter, who was forced to play 33.9 minutes per game last season as a result, fourth most in the league. There is no denying Pondexter’s talent. Not only does she lead the team in scoring (17.4ppg), but she is the team’s best facilitator, dishing out 4.7 assists a night. But, with fresher legs and less responsibilities, Pondexter will have the chance to be even more productive in lesser minutes.
With their biggest adjustment already made, the Liberty can go a few different directions in the draft. While it wouldn’t hurt to find another perimeter scorer to complement Pondexter and the multitude of post scoring options that the Liberty have, there’s a good chance New York will focus on rebounding, where it finished seventh in the league last year.
“We’re looking for a post that can guard and run the floor, but we need rebounds,” Whisenant said. “Rebounding is critical in all basketball and the WNBA is no different. That why big players are so critical, they’re closer to the rebounding. We’ll look for that. If that’s not there, we may take a scorer.”
Nobody seems to have a good gauge on who will be available in the second half of the first round, but the options for Whisenant and the Liberty may be limited at No. 7.
“There are two or three good draft picks in the post and a couple in the ‘2’, ‘3’ wing areas,” said Whisenant. “And we’ve got Leilani (Mitchell), we’ve got Kelly Miller and we’ve got last year’s rookie, Sydney Colson, who we had hoped would be more productive last year, but sometimes age will give you that. So, at the point guard, we’ve got about as much invested and we can invest, so what we’ll probably do in the draft is look probably at post, and everybody always takes the bigs first, so by the time we pick, I don’t know who will be left there.”
Luckily for the Liberty, they do not need a draft pick to step right in and play. In fact, it won’t be easy for any rookie to make this roster, as is the case with a few other teams across the league. All in all, in New York it starts and ends with Cappie Pondexter. Any other pieces you can add around her is just icing on the cake.
--Anthony Oliva, WNBA.com
Recent Draft History
10. Alex Montgomery
22. Angel Robinson
34. Mekia Valentine
13. Kalana Greene
16. Ashley Houts
25. Cory Montgomery
8. Kia Vaughn
21. Abby Waner