24-10, .706 (1st in East)
2007 Starting Lineup
2007 Key Reserves
2007 Draft Recap
2008 Key Additions
2008 Key Losses
After grabbing the crown in 2006, Detroit entered the 2007 season as the frontrunner for the title. Despite playing much of the year without Cheryl Ford, who battled various injuries, the savvy Shock lived up to the hype throughout the regular season, starting 7-0 and finishing with the best record in the league at 24-10.
The playoffs were less of a breeze for Detroit, but the team still managed to make it back to the WNBA Finals for a matchup with the Phoenix Mercury. Unfortunately, the Shock were ultimately unable to keep up with Phoenix’s run-and-gun style in a series that went the distance. Detroit dropped the final two games of the five-game set, including the deciding game on its home court, and thus failed to complete the back-to-back bid.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
With Ford often sidelined, Deanna Nolan was forced to step her game up and did so, using her athleticism and offensive prowess to average team-bests of 16.3 points and 3.9 assists in the regular season. Backcourt mate Katie Smith complimented Nolan nicely, averaging 13.2 points. While Nolan and Smith were lethal from the perimeter, Detroit also got help from its post players. Plenette Pierson, Swin Cash, Kara Braxton, Katie Feenstra and Ford (when healthy) all played pivotal roles in the Shock’s bruising offensive game-plan. The Shock averaged 79.3 points in the regular season -- good for third-best in the league.
Although the Shock were a force on offense, their calling card remained their tenacious defense. Detroit held teams to an average of 74.7 points per game and led the league in rebounding (38.6 rpg). In Ford’s 15 games, she averaged 11.2 boards.
On top of all that, the team had unparalleled depth. Pierson especially had a breakout season and garnered Sixth Woman of the Year honors for her efforts. She averaged 11.6 points and 5.8 rebounds in 25.2 minutes per game off the bench.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Despite still winning in her absence during the regular season, the Shock felt the effects of playing without a healthy Ford in the playoffs. Inconsistent play from Braxton and Feenstra at the center spot didn’t help matters and Shock coach Bill Laimbeer found himself shuffling his front court lineup during the regular season and all the way through to the end of the Finals.
Adding to Laimbeer’s frustrations were turnovers. His team averaged 16.2 turnovers per game – fifth-most in the WNBA. Such instances of sloppy play led to uncharacteristic lapses in focus during some of the most pivotal points of the playoffs. In Round 1 of the playoffs they fell 73-51 at New York and they were blown out by Phoenix in Game 2 of the Finals, 98-70.
Detroit’s off-season saw the end of an era, as Swin Cash, a member of the two Detroit championship teams (2003, ‘06), was shipped off to Seattle in return for the No. 4 overall pick in this year’s draft. Owning such a high selection as well as another in the first round (11th overall) and five total in the draft, gives the Shock some flexibility.
The scary thing is Detroit really doesn’t have any weaknesses, outside of maybe lack of stability at the center position since Feenstra was selected by Atlanta in the expansion draft.
Still, the team has lost some of the depth that made it so dangerous the past two seasons, which it could look to replenish. Besides Cash and Feenstra, Ivory Latta and Shannon “Pee Wee” Johnson have also departed. Latta was traded to Atlanta in exchange for former No. 1 overall pick LaToya Thomas and the 18th pick in the draft, while Johnson signed on with Houston.
Thomas could fill the starting spot vacated by Cash, or the Shock could possibly look to Pierson to step into the role.
Whatever the case, the Shock, armed with a talent-laden squad and five picks, have options heading into one of the deepest drafts in recent memory. They could stand pat with their picks and address their few problem areas, or they could swing a trade or two in the hopes of making substantial upgrades.