With Wednesday's selection of the 2008 WNBA Draft class on the horizon, league President Donna Orender is riding high.
After one of the best seasons and playoffs in league history, the infusion of players like Candace Parker, Sylvia Fowles, Candice Wiggins and more will only make the league that much better. Donna chatted with WNBA fans on Monday afternoon to discuss the upcoming draft.
Moderator: Looks like WNBA President Donna Orender is going to be starting a little bit early, so get those questions in ASAP.
Moderator: And away we go...
Without further ado, heeeeeeeeere's Donna...
Donna Orender: Hey, greetings from the Women's Final Four here in Tampa!
Things here have been so exciting over the last few days, and they're just gonna get better! Our Draft is coming up on Wednesday on ESPN2, and this is just the start of another great season! So let's get to these questions...
Tori: Defuniak Springs, Florida:
Who do you see going number one in the draft and why?
Having spent two days with our GMs and coaches, it has been expressed that there are three No. 1's this year. Further, the talent is so deep that the impact of this year's class will be felt in the league for many years to come. NO, I won't say who I think the No. 1 will be. :)
Kirven (Rancho Cordova, CA):
With the success of last year, that wild playoff ride and this deep draft, how wide is that smile on your face?
Grinning ear to ear. Being here in Tampa is also stretching the grin, because the excitement for the WNBA is something so many fans are talking about.
Nique from Chicago, IL:
Hello my question is... How will you continue to expand the league so that young ladies who may not get drafted will still have the opportunity to play professional in the states instead of overseas. Maybe like a Women's
D-league, because as a male i love watching the women's game grow.
Hi Nique from Chicago. I'd like for us to focus on getting the WNBA "A" league right, first. Cities continue to contact the WNBA to discuss new franchises as they recognize the value that a team can bring to a community. Additionally, the talent as you rightly point out is very deep and we do want more playing opportunities for these terrific women.
kevin (macon ga):
Who are you picking to win, Stanford or Tennessee?
Always nice to hear from you. Ivory Latta is here and excited about the Dream.
It's a pick 'em game and i know you want me to pick it, Kevin... but i won't. Will say that I have been so impressed by the elegance of Wiggins' game... she has raised it a notch. I also do hope that Parker is healthy.
Eric Fluellen Everett, Washingtion:
Everyone is talking about how deep this draft will be and of course no one can doubt that. What I'm worried about is there's just not enought teams out there to support this growing talent pool, and so many players are going to be left behind. Can you comment on how you will change this?
Oh how the times are quickly changing. it was as recently as last season when people were worried about whether there is enough talent. As I just said, we are working on new teams and hope in the next several years to add jobs.
Hi DO...do you think that Alexis Hornbuckle will make a good choice for the Sun this year?
i am a hornbuckle fan!!!! and look forward to seeing her play in the league. She is considered one of the top guards coming out and i would expect her to go high to a team such a detroit or houston who say they need guards.. we'll see.
Did you get a chance to watch any of the pre draft camp? Who impressed you?
I watched a lot of the camp. Remember I am a basketball fan and do love to watch the game. I also enjoy seing talent develop. The women worked hard, very hard, and there was a lot of talent on display. Amber Holt, the leading scorer in the country stood out to me as well as Lindsay Pluimer for UCLA. Glad that Tasha Humphrey came and I got to spend time with the great Georgia Coach Andy Landers.... lots more but too many to mention.
Mike , San Diego cal.:
The WNBA just keeps getting better and better. So my question is, Is the financial side going as well and is there a salary cap or similiar arrangement?
we are progressing on the financial side as well and do hope that all of you who take the time to write also take the time to buy tickets. We announced new sponsors today in fact and are ahead of last year's pace in season ticket sales.
The league has recently signed a new 6 year Collective Bargaining Agreement which has a hard salary cap.
Dan (Minneapolis, MN):
What are the chances that the league will get rid of the draft lottery system? I have never understood the logic behind it, allowing a team like Phoenix to get the #1 pick last year when they just missed the playoffs. I know the odds are more stacked in favor of the teams with the worst records, but from what I've seen, the odds never hold true. I'm not complaining too much, since the Lynx were able to move up and get Seimone two years ago, but it's unfortunate when there are two clear cut can't-miss prospects in this year's draft, and the Lynx, tied for the worst record, miss out on both of them. Does the lottery actually encourage teams to keep playing hard at the end of a season?
Thanks for answering my question. I've been very pleased with your accomplishments as commisioner; thanks for doing a great job in growing this league.
thanks for your question and it is one that is raised from time to time. Don't know if there is an easy answer other than to tell the teams that the team with the worst record simply has the first pick... we continue to evaluate how it's best to fairly distribute talent and will continue to do so. For the time being, we find the draft lottery to be the most equitable way to handle it.
Cathy - San Antonio:
Last year you sounded genuinly suprised when announcing the Becky Hammon trade to us here in San Antonio (we are forever grateful for that!). Do you expect any surprises in this years draft? Also, any chance of having the draft on a weekend, so more fans can watch it? Looking forward to seeing you in San Antonio this season!
I do hope for more surprises this year... it makes the draft that much more exciting. Keeping my fingers crossed as there is a lot of wheeling and dealing going on behind the scenes!!!!
Elizabeth (Minneapolis, MN):
What is your favorite part of the draft?
For the record, the DRAFT is one of my favorite events of the year. I enjoy hosting the players and their families at an intimate reception and begin to get to know who will be becoming part of the WNBA family. I love that this event is truly about young women realizing their dreams and I like being a very small part of helping them realize them. Their families, coaches and friends are all caught up in their excitement and the moment before the number 1 pick is announced, the air is sucked out of the room. It's a very special graduation ceremony and it's important on many levels. All of us who are a part of it are very honored to be here.
Do you think Minnesota will be foolish to trade Candice Wiggins upon seeing her outstanding play in the NCAA final four(knocking of connecticut). Stanford could possibly defeat the Lady Vols. Why would you trade such an explosive player to Detroit who would almost certainly win another championship. Minnesota may need post players and experience, but at the cost of such asset as Wiggins, the choice to let her go would be foolish. Minnesota need another big scorer to complement Augustus. Harding is a great guard, but she is not a big scorer. The league is filled with teams with at least three or four high scoring players.Furthermore, since this draft is super deep, Minnesota could get a good post player who will develope guickly into an immediate impact player. Therefore, my advice to Minnesota: if you want to get to the playoffs and contend for the crown, KEEP WIGGINS!
You haven't posted a name so should i assume you are representing all of Minneapolis? You have had your say... and I'm sure the Lynx, who are absolutely focused on putting the best team on the court for you and your fellow fans, will have theirs soon enough.
Does it worry you that a significant number of the world's best players don't play in the WNBA? Is anything being done in negotiations with FIBA to structure the global schedule better to make it more likely that these players would make the WNBA part of their year?
Actually most of the world's best playes do play in the WNBA, so i wold take exception with that premise. That said, we continue to talk to fiba about making the global schedule better....
Donnie, Ann Arbor, MI:
Who will be the better pro, Donna: Candace Parker or Sylvia Fowles?
Isn't it great when you don't have to answer as an either/or? They will BOTH be great pros.
Ricky - Ocala, Florida:
How do you think Tamika Whitmore will do with her new team thhe CT Sun?
Spent some time with Coach Thibault re tamika and what a good fit she will be for his system and team. She is a heck of a strong and aggressive player and with her experience will bring a lot to the SUN.
Vincent Jenkins (San Antonio, Tx:
Why won't the WNBA go to the full size basketball so that our women will not be disadvantaged when they play overseas?
Vince - the ball size is the same all around the world.
John (Agawam MA):
I don't know if you've heard but theres a chance of the US boycotting the Olympics. IF that were to happen do you see any possible tweaking to the WNBA schedule because there is about that whole month off in August? I know it sounds premature but something to think about
thanks john for this one more thing to think about. :-)
Dan (Minneapolis, MN):
The talk in Minnesota is that the Lynx *NEED* to take a big at the #3. Assuming from your comment that there are "three #1" players that the third is Candice Wiggins, would you think the team should take the 'best available' and open up a tremendous running team with Seimone, Lindsey and Candice, as well as their other super sophomores?
It's a great question and one that Coach Z gets paid to figure out with Roger. So i leave the deep thinking to them but do cheer their efforts as I can tell you once again, that creating the best possible and most entertaining team for the lynx fans is their number 1 priority.
Wauters, Stepanova, Holdsclaw, Sales, Taylor (maybe), Batkovic, Valdemoro, Korstin, Bibrzycka, Harrower, Schegoleva, Rakhmatulina... All will miss the WNBA this year, among others. I think that's a significant number.
Who are the new sponsors or are they on the WNBA website?
press release should be up.. we announced ihop, pitney bowes and kia today.. hooray..
Tasha Warrington (Brooklyn, NY):
How likely is it that a player who didnt get invited to the predraft camp but participated in and performed well in the predraft free agent camp could be drafted or picked up?
Perhaps you know someone who was there. The reports from the coaches and gm's were very positive this year regarding the free agent camp and there was strong indications that there was talent that would be invited to camps.
Skip - Washington, DC:
What team do you think would be a better fit for an all around player like Khadijah Whittington?
She is impressive and there is chat about her ability. I don't know where she ends up ... but wherever she does, lucky for them.
Jeremiah Narberth, Pa:
The Sparks have been offered by the Chicago Sky, the number two pick and probably Dupree or Price for the number 1. Should they accept the trade?
Roberta (São Vicente, SP, Brazil):
What's your greatest expectation from the future WNBA players? What should they bring to the league?
I look for them to bring exceptional talent and commitment to the league. They are still young pioneers and their spirit to move the league forward and firmly establish it's success for generationsto come is important. Gracias
C.hurt (loganville, ga.):
Hey league President Donne Orender, how do u think players from mid-major programs will fit into the WNBA system?
Middle Tennessee, Western Kentucky, James Madison have all fielded good teams and the quality of their programs are producing WNBA calibur athletes. We say bring em on!!
Matt (New York):
Hello, Madame President. My question is, how has Adam Hirshfield been holding up under the intense scrutiny of his first solo circumnavigation around the WNBA Draft?
It's great to know that Adam has a fan base and deservedly so. Now that his sun is no longer eclipsed he is shining so so brightly!!
dee saint louis mo:
well saint louis ever get a wnba team
put it together dee and we can tawk.
I don't know if you see much of the season ticket holder information for the teams, but I was wondering if you knew the percentage of season tickets that were purchased for the Dream by people who live in the North Atlanta metro area? and How much does the league get involved in the home arena selection of the teams? (There are a lot of us out towards Athens that would like to see the Dream in Gwinnett very soon!)
I have spent a good deal of time in Atlanta and we are all very excited about the upcoming Dream season. I understand that broad sweep of the city and its environs and do hope that all will make the effort to come to Phillips to cheer on the new hometown team.
kevin (macon ga):
I already liked my Kia, now I like it even more!
If Kia Wright makes a team, that's a natural for a commerical, right?
Very cute, Kevin. We have people working on it already!
littlemosquito ( New York):
Is this year's draft going to be on webcast archive?
Hey littlemosquito... We're working on it as we speak. Should have an answer by tomorrow.
Willing to drop any hints of upcoming trades in Seattle?? ;)
Nothing is set in stone... ;)
who do you think will be the biggest impact on their team?
Honestly, this draft is so deep that players well into the second round could end up playing a big role this season. This is a class, like I said, that will have a profound effect on this league for many, many years.
I'm sorry, folks, but I have to take off. I'm leaving to present Kay Yow with the WNBA's Inspiring Coach Award... and it couldn't be going to a finer, more inspirational person and coach.
Thanks a ton for all of your terrific questions, please be sure to watch the draft on ESPN2 on Wednesday and keep buying those tickets!
I look forward to talking to you all again soon!