Tulsa Shock Draft Preview
First 3 Selections in 2013
Last 3 First Round Picks (Pick, Year)
Areas of Improvement
Last season wasn't easy for Gary Kloppenburg, a first year WNBA coach tasked with turning the Tulsa Shock franchise around. The good news? The team tripled its win total from 2011. The bad? After a few unexpected setbacks, they still finished with a record of 9-25.
"We obviously were disappointed because we wanted to win more," Kloppenburg said. "But from where we were at in such a hole, we felt we were making progress in becoming a competitive team. We beat the LA Sparks twice and had a couple of good wins. Overall, the team is playing hard and being competitive, that was a plus. Hopefully we can make some more progress this year."
But if history is an indication, all it takes is a high-profile draft pick to make an immediate change in a franchise. And at the No. 3 overall pick this year, Tulsa has the opportunity to get their hands on whichever player's left from the Big 3 -- Brittney Griner, Elena Delle Donne or Skylar Diggins. While Griner is a likely choice for first pick, how Diggins and Delle Donne will be selected is where it gets interesting. Kloppenburg said either player would be a "tremendous asset" for the Shock and the team will basically pick whichever of the two will be available.
"We've seen them play in person and a lot on television," Kloppenburg said. "What impresses me the most about them is their willpower to win. They're obviously highly skilled at their positions, but it's their intrinsic willpower to win and make those plays. When their team needs a big play, they come up with some kind of great play. That's the intangible that separates them from the rest of the players behind them."
The young franchise will also get some veteran talent thrown into the mix, having signed Candace Wiggins in the offseason from the Minnesota Lynx.
"She's a great shooter and a great defender," Kloppenburg said. "She did a super job for Minnesota and she's at the next point in her career, where she wants to come in and take on a challenge like helping a young team move up the ladder."
Superstar center Liz Cambage did not play for the Shock last season, opting instead to play basketball abroad for the Australian Olympic team and then in China. And now, Cambage has indicated that once again she will not play for the Shock in 2013, much to the disappointment of the team and many of her fans Stateside.
"We would love to have her back and thrown into the mix with this young team," Kloppenburg said. "With her progress and development she's had over the past couple of years, she could be the wild card for us in being a really really good team. She's a high-level player that could do a lot for us."
With new talent and a new focus changing things up for the Shock -- not to mention the chance to pick up a franchise-defining player on April 15 -- Kloppenburg said that hopes are high in Tulsa.
"We're going to prepare our team to try and win every game," he said. "We're going to make sure our team is playing at a 110 percent level every game. It's going to be a war every night. As far as wins and losses, we want to get into the playoffs. We want to be in that mix. Obviously that's your goal to try and make a run for championship. We're not going to set our sights low, we're going to try every game to win."
2012 (top 3 picks)
5. Glory Johnson
17. Riquna Williams
25. Vicki Baugh
2. Liz Cambage
7. Kayla Pedersen
21. Italee Lucas
19. Amanda Thompson
31. Vivian Frieson
1. Ivory Latta (14.3)
2. Temeka Johnson (12.2)
3. Glory Johnson (11.5)
1. Glory Johnson (6.8)
2. Kayla Pedersen (4.4)
3. Courtney Paris (3.3)
1. Temeka Johnson (4.7)
2. Ivory Latta (3.3)
3. Riquna Williams (2.1)