The History of No. 8 Picks in the WNBA Draft

When the 2014 WNBA Draft takes place next Monday, April 14, the Dream will be looking to add some key components to its team, holding the No. 8, No. 18 and No. 20 picks in the draft. But how much of a contribution should Dream fans expect from its first-round pick? We’ve examined the history of No. 8 picks in the WNBA Draft for a comparison.

This will mark the third time in Atlanta’s seven drafts that the Dream held the No. 8 pick. The Dream’s very first college draftee was Tamera Young, who was taken eighth in the 2008 pick, and the Dream selected Ta’Shia Phillips eighth in 2011 but immediately traded her to Washington with Kelly Miller for Lindsey Harding.

Young had a solid rookie season, averaging 7.3 points and 4.2 rebounds during the inaugural Dream season in 2008. In 2009 she was traded to Chicago for Armintie Herrington, and has played for the Sky ever since. In six seasons, she has averaged 6.8 points and 3.5 rebounds per game.

If history is any indication, Dream fans may want to temper their expectations of getting an immediate impact player at No. 8, as Young’s rookie scoring average of 7.3 points is actually the highest of any No. 8 pick since 2005. In fact, eight of the last 12 No. 8 picks averaged no more than 3.5 points per game as a rookie.

The last No. 8 pick to be named to the WNBA All-Rookie team was Katie Feenstra-Mattera, who averaged 8.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocks for San Antonio in 2005. She also played one season for the Dream in 2008, averaging 6.7 points and 3.9 rebounds per game.

Long-term success is no guarantee at No. 8 either, as seven of the last 11 players picked eighth were out of the league after no more than three seasons. Only two players picked eighth have been named to an All-Star team, and those picks came back in 2001 (Marie Ferdinand-Harris) and 1999 (Tari Phillips). The only other No. 8 picks that have had at least one season at any point of their careers scoring at least 10 points per game were Kia Vaughn (10.1 ppg in 2011 with New York) and Maria Stepnova (10.4 ppg in 2001 and 10.8 ppg in 2005, both for Phoenix).

Ferdinand-Harris and Phillips would likely battle for the honor of best No. 8 pick ever. Ferdinand-Harris was a three-time WNBA All-Star who played in 305 games over 10 seasons. She averaged 9.8 points and 2.7 rebounds for her career, with five seasons averaging more than 10 points per game, topping out at 15.3 points per contest in 2002. Phillips was a four-time All-Star who played in 233 games over nine seasons, and earned All-WNBA Second Team honors in 2002. She had four seasons averaging 10+ points per game, with a best of 15.3 in 2001 with New York, and was named the league’s Most Improved Player in 2000.

While history seems to indicate that the chances of landing a star player are less than stellar at No. 8, it is important to note that several key players from last year’s Dream conference championship team were drafted even lower than eighth. Jasmine Thomas was the No. 12 pick in the 2011 draft, Alex Bentley was picked 13th in 2013 and Tiffany Hayes was the No. 14 pick of the 2012 draft. Neither Aneika Henry nor Le’Coe Willingham were even drafted out of Florida and Auburn, respectively, nor was Erika de Souza as an international player.

So Dream Executive Vice President and General Manager Angela Taylor, along with head coach Michael Cooper and assistant coaches Karleen Thompson and Teresa Edwards, will have their work cut out for them, searching for a hidden gem out of a pool of talented prospects. Only time will tell how the No. 8 pick of the 2014 draft compares to previous selections.

Previous No. 8 picks

2013 - Kayla Alexander (San Antonio)
Rookie Season: Played in 33 games, averaging 2.8 points and 3.0 rebounds

2012 – Natalie Novosel (Washington)
Rookie Season:
Played in 31 games, averaging 3.2 points and 1.3 rebounds
Career: Did not play in 2013

2011 – Ta’Shia Phillips (Atlanta, traded to Washington)
Rookie Season:
Played in 15 games, averaging 1.5 points and 1.3 rebounds
Career: Did not play after rookie season

2010 – Andrea Riley (Los Angeles)
Rookie Season:
Played in 29 games, averaging 3.4 points and 1.0 assists
Career: Played in 73 games over three seasons in the league, averaging 4.4 points and 1.4 assists

2009 – Kia Vaughn (New York)
Rookie Season:
Played in 34 games, averaging 4.8 points and 2.6 rebounds
Career: Has played five seasons, averaging 6.1 points and 4.1 rebounds
Notes: One double-figure scoring season (10.1 points, 6.7 rebounds in 2011)

2008 – Tamera Young (Atlanta)
Rookie Season:
Played in 33 games, averaging 7.3 points and 4.2 rebounds
Career: Has played six seasons, averaging 6.8 points and 3.5 rebounds

2007 – Ashley Shields (Houston)
Rookie Season:
Played in 26 games, averaging 5.3 points and 1.3 rebounds
Career: Played in 36 games over two seasons, averaging 4.5 points and 1.0 rebounds

2006 – Tamara James (Washington)
Rookie Season:
Played in 21 games, averaging 2.7 points, 0.8 rebounds
Career: Played in 52 games over two seasons, averaging 4.3 points and 1.3 rebounds

2005 – Katie Feenstra-Mattera (Connecticut, traded to San Antonio)
Rookie Season:
Played in 34 games, averaging 8.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocks
Career: Played in 150 games over five seasons, averaging 6.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 0.9 blocks
Notes: Named to All-Rookie Team

2004 – Chandi Jones (Detroit)
Rookie Season:
Played in 31 games, averaging 3.5 points and 1.5 assists
Career: Played in 68 games over three seasons, averaging 4.9 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists

2003 – Jung Sun-min (Seattle)
Rookie Season:
Played in 17 games, averaging 1.8 points and 0.6 rebounds
Career: Did not play after rookie season

2002 – Deanna Jackson (Cleveland)
Rookie Season:
Played in 18 games, averaging 3.1 points and 1.5 rebounds
Career: Played in 142 games over five seasons, averaging 5.8 points and 2.6 rebounds

2001 – Marie Ferdinand-Harris (Utah)
Rookie Season:
Played in 32 games, averaging 11.4 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists
Career: Played in 305 games over 10 seasons, averaging 9.8 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists
Notes: Three-time WNBA All-Star … Third in Rookie of the Year voting … Five seasons averaging 10+ points … Best scoring average in 2002 (15.3 ppg)

2000 – Tamicha Jackson (Detroit)
Rookie Season:
Played in 17 games, averaging 6.8 points and 2.1 assists
Career: Played in 151 games over seven seasons, averaging 6.8 points, 2.6 assists and 1.7 rebounds

1999 – Tari Phillips (Orlando)
Rookie Season:
Played in 32 games, averaging 4.1 points and 2.1 rebounds
Career: Played in 233 games over nine seasons, averaging 9.2 points and 5.5 rebounds
Notes: Four-time WNBA All-Star … All-WNBA Second Team in 2002 …2000 Most Improved Player … Four seasons averaging 10+ points … Best scoring average in 2001 (15.3 ppg)

1998 – Maria Stepanova (Phoenix)
Rookie Season:
Played in 20 games, averaging 3.3 points and 1.9 rebounds
Career: Played in 114 games over five seasons, averaging 7.6 points and 4.7 rebounds
Notes: Two seasons averaging 10+ points … Best scoring average in 2005 (10.8 ppg)

1997 – Toni Foster (Phoenix)
Rookie Season:
Played in 28 games, averaging 8.8 points and 6.1 rebounds
Career: Played in 54 games over three seasons, averaging 6.5 points and 3.9 rebounds