What Teams Need Heading Into 2005

2005 WNBA Draft Lottery: Team Analysis

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.

That said, based on last season's rosters, WNBA.com breaks down the WNBA Draft Lottery teams (before trades and free agency)
with a focus on each team's needs for 2005.



San Antonio
2004 record: 9-25
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 Thomas, 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 threat.

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.

Houston

2004 record: 13-21
Despite two of the best players in the world suiting up in the Comets' frontcourt, the Comets lack the same star power or reliability in the backcourt.

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.

Indiana

2004 record: 15-19
Plain and simple, the Fever need more help for Tamika Catchings. 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. Help can come in a number of shapes and sizes.

The Fever traded for Kelly Miller prior to 2004 to bring in a scoring guard and lights-out 3-point shooter, and she did tally 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), but shot only 41.1% from beyond the arc last season. Even with Miller, a pure floor leader to create easier opportunities for Catchings and get everyone else involved will alleviate some of the reliance on #24.

Natalie Williams had another fine season in the middle and 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.

Charlotte

2004 record: 16-18
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.

Dawn 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.

Phoenix

2004 record: 17-17
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 Taurasi 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 Taylor, a veteran member of the Australian National Team. The Mercury are also set with their other starting backcourt spot. Anna DeForge 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 is in greater need of an interior scoring presence. That could all change if Russian center Maria Stepanova decides to return to the team, which is still in question. 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 a scoring center. 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.

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