Despite the struggles of the five 2005 WNBA Draft Lottery teams during the
2004 season, they do not necessarily have to wait years to return to prominence
and the playoffs. Not only can they improve their team through the Draft and trades
prior to opening day, but this offseason, free agency will go a long way in shaping
teams and rosters before they ever get to Draft in April.
based on last season's rosters, WNBA.com breaks down the WNBA Draft Lottery teams
with a focus on each team's needs for 2005.
Offense. Scoring. Points. In order to get back to the playoffs, the Sting need
to find a way to score more than 61.5 points per game, which was last among the
13 teams. Yet, had they not lost their last three games, they would have been
in the postseason yet again.
Just two seasons removed from representing the
East in the WNBA Finals, the Sting fell into trouble when they relied too much
on their perimeter game. Over the course of the season, Allison
Feaster led the team in scoring with 11.8 points per game, but no other Sting
player managed to average in double figures. Starting two-guard Andrea
Stinson's production diminished from 11.2 ppg in 2003 to only 6.0 ppg in 2004.
Nicole Powell and Kelly
Mazzante were highly-touted rookies, but neither really had a chance to show
all of their skills while fighting for time in the crowded backcourt. Powell is
now gone and Sheri Sam and Tangela
Smith have been brought in a very busy offseason for the Sting.
Staley still leads the show at the point, but she is not getting any younger.
Every attempt to develop a backup or eventual successor has proven unsuccessful.
In what could be a Draft rich inpoint guards, is this the year the Sting make
it happen? Another big body in the paint would give the Sting another way to put
the ball in the basket. However, with the lack of frontcourt offensive production,
the Sting must go after another post player capable of putting the ball in the
basket either with her back to the basket or facing up.
Plain and simple, the Fever need more help for Tamika
. Catchings led the Fever in just about every statistical category
once again, but despite her superstar production, she could not single-handedly
will Indiana into the postseason. Hoping to find the floor leader they have sought
to create easier opportunities for Catchings and get other players more involved,
the Fever signed veteran Tully
from Seattle this offseason. She should help in defending the opposition’s
perimeter as well as provide needed stability to the Indiana backcourt.
Bevilaqua in the backcourt will be Kelly
Miller, for whom Indiana traded prior to 2004 to bring in a scoring guard
and lights-out 3-point shooter. She tallied career highs in points, rebounds and
assists, but when push came to shove, it was still Catchings who took the big
shots. Miller entered the 2004 season as the league's career leader in 3-pt percentage
(.434). She shot 41.1% from beyond the arc last season while starting all 34 games
– the first 34 starts of her career.
Williams had another fine season in the middle and four-year veteran Kelly
Schumacher contributed the finest season of her career. Schumacher started
the team’s last seven games, averaging 10.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks
during September. Rookie Ebony
Hoffman played well in limited minutes last season, even started in 13 games,
but only averaged only 2.0 points and 2.9 rebounds per game. Another reliable
post player that can provide points in the paint would help as would a slasher
who can create her own shot and get to the free throw line, one that could either
challenge Deanna Jackson for
the starting role or provide solid minutes off the bench.
Let's first look at what the Mercury, who turned eight wins into 17 wins last
season, do NOT need to Draft or worry about this offseason. With the top pick
in the 2004 WNBA Draft, the Mercury took Diana
and both got its franchise player and locked up the point guard position
for years to come. In the Dispersal Draft, the Mercury picked up Penny
, a veteran member of the Australian National Team. The Mercury are
also set with their other starting backcourt spot. Anna
has improved her game and become an one of the best shooters in the
league and was an All-Star in 2004.
So what does that leave? The post. Perhaps
no team was in greater need of an interior scoring presence before they signed
center Kamila Vodichkova
away from Seattle in early March. And could all Russian center Maria Stepanova
decide to return to the team? Veteran Slobodanka
Tuvic started in the middle for the Mercury, but in her first season in that
role, she managed just 2.8 ppg and 3.7 rpg.
With Taurasi, DeForge, Taylor and
Plenette Pierson able to
put up points in Phoenix, perhaps they do not need much more post scoring. After
all, they were one of only five teams to have a positive points differential (+1.91ppg).
In that case, the Mercury need to add serviceable depth to the bench capable of
giving the starters some relief.
The Silver Stars won three of their first four games, but only won six games the
rest of the season, indicating they need help in a number of areas. A bright spot
for the Silver Stars the play of second-year player LaToya
, finishing the 2004 season ranked fourth in the WNBA in field goal
percentage (48.9%) and 13th in free throw percentage (84.1%). However, her 14.2
points per game led the team and she often lacked a consistent second scoring
The team suffered a blow on July 2 when Marie
Ferdinand dislocated her right elbow at Los Angeles and ended up missing the
rest of the season, but her absence gave Agnieska
Bibrzycka a chance to step in. She averaged 10.4 points and 3.1 assists in
nine games as a starter, but it was clearly not enough. The team's only other
legitimate scoring threat, Adrienne
Goodson, proved she can still hang, but she was the fourth oldest player in
the league in 2004.
One area for concern is the backcourt. The retirement
of Semeka Randall, who left the WNBA to coach at Michigan State, leaves a spot
to fill while Olympic point guard Shannon
Johnson's offensive production dropped in 2004, tallying 4.4 assists per game
and a career-low 9.3 points per game. But San Antonio's greatest need may be in
the post. Margo Dydek became
just the fifth player in league history to pull down 1,500 rebounds in her career
and is known for her shot blocking ability, but she was in and out of the starting
lineup and often seemed out of place in now-departed Coach Dee Brown's system.
Midway through the season the Stars traded for 2003 All-Star Adrian
Williams to strengthen the post and add depth to their bench, but their reserves
only averaged 14.2 points per game.
Despite two of the best players in the world suiting up in the Comets' frontcourt,
the Comets lacked the same star power or reliability in the backcourt in 2004.
took a year off
for the Olympics, but will be back in Houston this season. At 36, she still could
have some drive left in her tank.
The two primary differences in the Comets
team that won four WNBA titles in the first four seasons in league history and
the team that only won 13 and missed the playoffs in 2004 were the lack of a dependable
guard and the presence of a third (and fourth) scoring option. All-Star and Olympic
forwards Tina Thompson and
Sheryl Swoopes had to do it
all in 2004, but with all the talent in the league, they could not be expected
to carry the team to greatness by themselves.
With 8.9 ppg and a team-leading
7.7 rebounds per game, Michelle
Snow is also a safe start at center. The starting frontcourt accounted for
nearly two-thirds of the Comets scoring, but beyond those three, nothing else
is set in stone. Of the two guard positions, the Comets likely have a greater
need for a point guard who can get the ball into the big three down low. However,
a sharpshooter from 3-point range would also alleviate some of the pressure to
get all of the points in the paint.