VP OF PLAYER PERSONNEL RENEE BROWN BREAKS DOWN EACH TEAM'S DRAFT SELECTIONS
By Renee Brown
After the smoke cleared and all was said and done for the 2002 WNBA Draft, Sue Bird flew West for the summer, the UConn four went in the top six picks, Stacey Dales-Schuman and her new husband will be moving to Washington and Portland drafted Nikki Teasley, then sent her to Los Angeles for a veteran point guard and much more. WNBA Vice President of Player Personnel Renee Brown sat down with WNBA.com to share what each team came away with at the end of the day.
Charlotte definitely improved in their guard area and I think that's important for them. They're going to allow a player like Sheila Lambert to learn from one of the best guards in the world in Dawn Staley. I know that Lambert is going to go there and blossom under Staley's tutelage. They have definitely become a faster team through this draft, and you can tell that they were looking for help on the perimeter.
The Cleveland Rockers helped themselves in the guard position, knowing that there's a chance that Helen Darling could be out (Note: Darling delivered triplets in April). Brandi McCain had an excellent pre-draft camp and really opened up a lot of eyes there. They also picked up Marche Strickland, who has great shooting range and can play either the one or the two. If they need her to be the leader and the court general out there, she could. So I see them helping themselves in the guard area in this draft. Their top pick, Deanna Jackson, is very versatile and will do a great job with this team.
Detroit got a whole host of players -- six -- out of this draft. Right off the bat you can tell that they are going to be a very young team. Swin Cash is a very versatile player from UConn, and Lenae Williams is a great shooter and a very versatile player as well. Ayana Walker is also very versatile. You can tell that Coach Williams is looking to run a lot more and will definitely play more of a motion game. I think that in general they are going to be a very young team, especially if a lot of these players make it.
Houston definitely went big by getting Michelle Snow and Cori Enghusen. They are definitely looking to get some new post players there. I think it's great for Michelle to go there with the crowd and the fans that Houston has, and even to join the veteran players that are there. I definitely think that Michelle is going to dunk and that Sheryl Swoopes, Tina Thompson and Janeth Arcain are going to help her get that dunk. Houston did very well for themselves in the post area.
Indiana really improved their inside game with Tawana McDonald and Zuzi Klimesova. Klimesova is a versatile player -- she can play either the three or the four, face up or post. McDonald is definitely a center that scores on the low block, and both players are excellent rebounders. During this draft they definitely improved on the inside to go along with acquiring Nikki McCray, and Tamika Catchings coming back from injury.
Los Angeles is the type of team where they have really looked to the perimeter to improve. By drafting Rosalind Ross and trading for Nikki Teasley, it's definitely "Showtime" in Los Angeles. I think that Teasley and Ross are going to go there and really help a lot on the perimeter. Jackie Higgins can lend some help on the inside, but overall their picks are definitely guard-oriented.
Miami has really put a lot of emphasis on their guard position. By drafting Tamara Moore, they got a big guard who is an excellent scorer, a great passer, has the ability to break players down, and also has the ability to create for others. Lindsey Yamasaki is a very versatile player -- she can play either the three or the four -- and she's going to help them on the outside. She's a great three-point shooter, an excellent rebounder and she's quick to the ball. Overall, they drafted very guard-oriented.
For Minnesota, getting a player like Tamika Williams definitely helps their inside game. She's extremely versatile. Williams can post up, she can step out and hit the 17-foot shot, and she's an excellent rebounder. Lindsey Meder is also a great player, had a great showing at pre-draft camp in Chicago, and is great at getting the ball to other players. I think the key here is what the Lynx got in Williams. They really went out and got a versatile player who is going to fit into the Minnesota offense. The Lynx run a motion offense, and Williams is used to playing the motion offense, and she's a great passer who moves well without the ball. She's a great pick for them.
Linda Fröhlich is a great pick for New York. For her to be there for them at No. 26, I'm sure they were in their offices screaming. She's a versatile player with great size who has the ability to hit the three, can post up, can put it on the ground and take it off the dribble. She's an excellent rebounder who has a great understanding of the game. I think Fröhlich will definitely help them with their inside game. With Korie Hlede now with New York, she brings some great passing ability and excellent one-on-one skills. Hlede is the type of passer that's like a highlight waiting to happen. She will have a good time with Teresa Weatherspoon, Becky Hammon and Vickie Johnson. Hlede will really help open up the game as well because she can hit the three. Hlede has the ability to score and this is what New York needs.
Orlando went for size. Davalyn Cunningham is a six-foot forward and Saundra Jackson is a 6-4 center. I think they were looking for size and some help in the middle and also some additional defense and rebounding. With the addition of Clarisse Machanguana via trade, they've really increased their post game. Now they have some size with Davalyn and Clarisse, they are definitely improved in the middle.
Phoenix is definitely looking to improve their inside game. By selecting Amba Kongolo, Kayte Christensen and Tootie Shaw, they are looking for size, rebounding, outside shooting and defense. When I look at what they got, they got great inside scorers and rebounders.
Portland was looking for a guard who can help Jackie Stiles and the rest of the team out. Mandy Nightingale is tough, has a great understanding of the game and also has the ability to score. I think getting Mandy is a good, good choice for them. Picking up a player like Ukari Figgs is a great trade for the Fire. I think Ukari will fit well into their system. The Fire were definitely looking to increase their guard play.
I think it's a great pick for Sacramento to get Hamchétou Maïga. Maïga playing with Ticha Penecheiro will be great to see, and they're both ODU alumni, too. I compare Hamchétou to a player like Mwadi Mabika ... she is a great player. Maïga has the ability to put the ball on the ground, and she does have outside shooting range even though a lot of people think she doesn't. She runs the floor extremely well and is an uptempo type of player who will really fit into the Sacramento system. With Ticha pushing the ball up the court, Ruthie Bolton hitting the threes, Yolanda Griffith being able to get down the floor, they want to play that fast break type of game and Maïga will fit right into that.
I think that Sue Bird is going to help Seattle a lot. The reason being is that she's a great passer. She is going to make everyone around her look really good, but then she has the ability to score as well. Sue is going to be a guard who goes there and gets the ball to the right people, gets them in the position to score, and also has the ability to shoot. She will compliment players like Sonja Henning and Michelle Marciniak and also bring a three-point game to the Storm.
Utah definitely tried to impove on their power forward game. Getting a player like a Danielle Crockrom, the Starzz become a quicker team and they like to run an uptempo style. Crockrom did extremely well in the WBCA All-Star game where they played against the USA team. I think she had about 14 points and seven rebounds. She's extremely versatile, a great rebounder, and a great defender. In this draft, Utah improved overall from power forward to guard.
I think Washington improved overall. They definitely helped themselves by getting Stacey Dales-Schuman, who brings Olympic experience since she played for Canada in the 2000 Olympics. She knows Chamique Holdsclaw, she knows her game, she's played against Chamique and against a few of the other players. I think her strength is her passing ability and she's definitely going to go in there and help at the guard position. Asjha Jones is very versatile, is a great rebounder, a scorer on the low block, but can face up and hit the 15-footer.