Washington Mystics Draft Preview
Ned Dishman/NBAE/Getty Images
First 3 Selections in 2013
Last 3 First Round Picks (Pick, Year)
Areas of Improvement
Mike Thibault remembers watching the WNBA Draft Lottery last September. He remembers the anticipation -- a full nine months ahead of the Draft itself because, well, sometimes you just have to give drama time to breathe -- in the room as four teams waited for a shot to draft Brittney Griner. Or Elena Delle Donne. Or Skylar Diggins. For a shot, ultimately, to change their franchise.
And he remembers the looks on the faces of the Washington Mystics when, after a five-win season, the team with the worst record in the WNBA fell to the fourth overall pick in a year defined by the Big 3.
Three months later, Thibault was named the Mystics' brand-new head coach.
"I was still in Connecticut, so I didn't have a feeling one way or another, but I felt bad for Washington," he said. "You'd think they could catch a break somewhere. Then when I took that job, I was like, "Man, I really wish they caught a break."
So, while Brittney Griner, Elena Delle Donne and Skylar Diggins will attract nearly all the interest in the 2013 WNBA Draft, it's the Mystics who may own the most interesting pick -- especially now that Kelsey Bone, the junior out of Texas A&M, has declared for the Draft.
And Thibault's willing to listen to offers.
If they do hang on to No. 4, Bone has turned herself into the presumptive favorite. And with good reason. The 6-foot-4 forward's coming off a season at Texas A&M that saw her put up 16.6 points and 9.3 boards a game (third and second in the SEC, respectively) with a league-high field goal percentage. In two seasons in College Station, the Houston native (and transfer from South Carolina) made such an impression that, when she declared for the Draft, A&M coach Gary Blair said that Bone is "who I consider in my ten years at Texas A&M the best spokesperson for A&M and women’s basketball."
So she's an option. However, Thibault said, don't write her in yet. The addition of Kia Vaughn in the offseason will cut into Bone's minutes -- "Bone's an intriguing talent," Thibault said, "but right now, Kia Vaughn is a better player than her" -- and Bone just recently showed the kind of consistency needed to compete on the block in the WNBA."She's been a player who had a lot of question marks about her game, as to how hard she worked, but clearly this year she's grown up quite a bit," he said. "She's in better shape. She's been more consistent. She runs harder. She's been willing to take her team on her back a little bit, but she's an unfinished product right now. But she has low-post, back-to-the-basket skills. She's big, she's strong, but she has a lot of question marks. You have to have a pretty good prediction of how far she's gonna attack those.
A lot of people have assumed we're gonna take her because of the perception of her talent, but that's not a lock by any means."
The Bone decision falls under the general theme of the Draft for Washington: do the rebuilding Mystics want a player that can help them immediately, with a slightly lower ceiling? Or can they take a chance on a potential star that requires a little more patience and a stomach for risk?
"That's a really good question," Thibault said. "I go back and forth. The last couple days I've been go for the star, but as we get closer, I don't know if we get more conservative. We won't get a bad player. We may not get a franchise-changer, like the Big 3, but we'll get a solid player."
In sum, Thibault said that the staff's looking at "three to four players." Falling into his more conservative category was Maryland's Tianna Hawkins, the offensive rebound magnet -- however, with Vaughn and Crystal Langhorne in the lane, Hawkins may not get a chance to play more than 20 minutes a night. Ohio State's Tayler Hill and Kentucky's A'dia Mathies fit into the high-upside category, and could potentially start from the start, given the Mystics' shortage of perimeter players.
"Our first decision is twofold: do we need a wing or a post," Thibault said, pausing. "But we kind of need everything now."
2012 (top 3 picks)
8. Natalie Novosel
11. LaSondra Barrett
26. Anjale Barrett
11. Victoria Dunlap
23. Karima Christmas
35. Sarah Krnjic
6. Jacinta Monroe
14. Jenna Smith
18. Shanavia Dowdell
1. Crystal Langhorne (14.7)
2. Monique Currie (12.0)
3. Jasmine Thomas (8.2)
1. Crystal Langhorne (6.3)
2. Michelle Snow (5.4)
3. Monique Currie (3.6)
1. Jasmine Thomas (2.8)
2. Shannon Bobbitt (2.6)
3. Matee Ajavon (2.0)