Fanpost: Mystics Draft Preview

WashingtonMystics.com asked two loyal Mystics fans to present their take on some of the top prospects entering the WNBA and explain how they think they would fit as a Mystic.

The following are the words of Ebenezer Famutimi with the help of Albert Lee, and all opinions expressed are solely their own and do not reflect the opinions of the Washington Mystics or their Basketball Operations staff.

Alex Bentley, PG (Penn State)
Strengths: excellent mid-range scorer, physical player, leadership skills
Weaknesses: lacks point guard speed, undersized
As a Mystic:
Alex may be the most underrated player in the draft, but will not be a surprise, if at the end of this season, she is a prime candidate for R.O.Y. honors. At 5’7”, she’s not the tallest of point guards, but compared to Shannon Bobbit (5’2”), she’s tall enough. Alex will bring leadership and swag to the Mystics, traits this franchise has been sorely lacking since its inception. Her demeanor is reminiscent of Cappie Pondexter…and that’s saying a lot!
Chance of Selection: Not likely - If Ivory Latta is the starter at the point guard position, Bentley’s selection will basically be a waste because she’d be a backup on this team.

Layshia Clarendon, SG (California)
Strengths: all-round scorer, strong pull up shooter, quick defender
Weaknesses: not a physical player, not a strong free throw and three point shooter
As a Mystic:
Cal’s first ever Final Four appearance made Layshia a household name, which only begs the question: is she a one-tournament wonder, or a diamond in the rough. If the latter, the Mystics will not be wanting in the scoring department as Layshia displayed skills reminiscent of Seimone Augustus and Deanna Nolan. But the WNBA is more physical than the college game, and one can only wonder if Clarendon is prepared for the bump and grind of the pros. Clarendon lacks the flair and feistiness which would be a plus for the otherwise tranquil Mystics, but with Latta at the helm, such a trait may not be a necessity.
Chance of Selection: Possible – While Clarendon certainly has played her “A Game” in the NCAA Tournament, the Mystics are likely eyeing other guards in this draft at #4, such as Tayler Hill. Clarendon could also drop later to the first round, and the Mystics could make a deal to get a pick in this position as well if they really want to draft her.

Kelly Faris, PG (Connecticut)
Strengths: Strong defender, Strong rebounder at the guard position, Strong playmaker and distributor
Weaknesses: Does not have a scoring mentality and could be too unselfish; three point shooting was not great until her senior season which was very efficient to be fair
As a Mystic:
Providing a fair analysis on Kelly was a tad frustrating simply due to her alma-mater. Rarely does a student of the great Geno Auriemma fail to make a positive impact in the pros, and therein lies the problem. Is she a draft prospect because of skill or affiliation? Were Kelly’s numbers in Uconn impressive? Yes indeed. But who wouldn’t excel with the likes of Maya Moore, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Breanna Stewart as teammates? Our Ladies in Red do not have such a stellar supporting staff, but Mike Thibault certainly has had his share of UConn grads on his past Sun teams, and may have some familiarity with seeing her game and get her to fit in well here.
Chance of Selection: Possible – Faris may not be a player who will score 20 points a game for the Mystics or perhaps any WNBA team, and they need someone who has the mentality to score efficiently at the guard position and who could start right away which is a knock against her. However, Faris’ rebounding and playmaking ability could help the offense run more fluidly and efficiently, and she can play at either guard position and play significant minutes, even if she’s not starting per se. Lastly, the Mystics have not had a Connecticut grad on the roster in quite some time, and Huskies generally contribute in a positive manner for WNBA teams.

Tayler Hill, PG (Ohio State)
Strengths: Efficient scorer, in particular with the right distributors around her. Strong defender.
Weaknesses: not a physical player, lacks point/shooting guard speed
As a Mystic:
Hill is considered to be the best guard in the Draft after Skylar Diggins. She enjoyed her best scoring efficiency in her junior year when she was alongside now-Phoenix Mercury guard Samantha Prahalis who was a strong candidate for the 2012 Rookie of the Year. However with the Buckeyes missing the Dance, does this hurt her stock? I think it certainly is possible considering that Clarendon and Faris led their teams to long March postseason runs and they probably raised their stock from those runs.
Chance of Selection: Likely - If the Mystics select a guard at the 4th spot, Hill seems to be the pick and could even be starting on opening night. If Latta is the distributor that Mike Thibault thinks she can be, Hill could make a very good impact right away. That said, would Faris or Clarendon also make good fits in Washington as well, and maybe better fits into Mike Thibault’s system?

Lindsey Moore, PG (Nebraska)
Strengths: strong distributor, efficient scorer, strong ability to get to the free throw line, leadership skills
Weakness: lacks point/shooting guard speed
As a Mystic:
Lindsey is yet another player whose numbers in the college may not immediately translate into the pros. Averaging 15-plus point in her senior year isn’t bad for a player one may consider as the only ‘true’ point guard in the draft; but those numbers dipped in Nebraska’s loss against Duke. If the 1-spot was the only position lacking in Thibault’s roster, Moore would definitely be that final piece to the puzzle in terms of feeding the ball to her teammates and more importantly, being a floor general, which the Mystics haven’t had since Katie Smith. The problem of course is, the Mystics lack talent depth everywhere.
Chance of Selection:Not likely but possible – Considering the faith that Thibault has in Latta at least in the offseason, it’s unlikely that he’ll seriously considering drafting Moore at all if he expects her to be a floor general point guard like Wizards point guard John Wall since Latta appears to have the upper hand anyway. But at 5’9”, Moore could be a combo guard along with Latta and give the Mystics a backcourt that can score, create for their teammates, and each other. Some people also believe Moore at her peak could be like Lindsay Whalen, who was also the 4th pick in the WNBA Draft in 2004, and played for Mike Thibault in her early years at Connecticut so if she’s here this summer, we may see her compared to Whalen quite a bit.

Sugar Rodgers, PG (Georgetown)
Strengths: strong scorer, strong rebounder, physical strength
Weakness: inefficient scorer, negative assist to turnover ratio
As a Mystic:
Sugar Rodgers is perhaps the most consistent of the players on this list in terms of her scoring mentality year in, year out, and it’s this consistency that will prevent her draft stock from being severely damaged by Georgetown’s failure to participate in the NCAAW tournament. Rodgers is basically a small forward playing the guard position, which explains her weakness in speed. And if Coach Thibault agrees with this assessment, the Mystics may finally have an answer at the wing. Besides filling the stats sheets for DC’s Finest, Rodgers, as a ‘home-town girl’ will make some fans happy. All this said, Rodgers’ sub 40% shooting in three of her college seasons cannot be overlooked, though it may be partly because she was always the Hoyas’ primary perimeter option on offense. In addition, she always had a negative assist to turnover ratio in college as a perimeter player, and this has to be rectified regardless of what team she’s on.
Chance of Selection: Possible - Though Rodgers has a strong scoring mentality and local ties, her scoring inefficiency may slow down the tempo of the offense Coach Thibault is looking for which other guards may be better able to do. In addition, the team also still has Matee Ajavon who also plays a similar role, though she could be traded away.

Tianna Hawkins, PF (Maryland)
Strengths: excellent rebounder, physical player, excellent mid-range shooter
Weakness: inconsistency year in, year out
As a Mystic:
Some have already penciled in Ms. Hawkins as the beneficiary of the #4 overall pick. Let’s face it; Tianna has everything you want in a power forward: the rebounding and tenacity of a center, and the speed and scoring prowess of a small forward. Also, the fact that she’s another ‘hometown girl’ certainly will not harm her draft stock in the Mystics war-room. The only problem is, T-Hawk’s amazing highlight reel is limited to her senior year. Where was she prior? Is Hawkins a one-season wonder or simply a player hitting her stride at the right time? Tianna may be the best player available regardless of position, but is she that much better than Tayler Hill? Would she fit Thibault’s system better than Faris or Clarendon could?
Chance of Selection: Very Likely – Hawkins would be a lock for the Mystics selection if not for the presence of Crystal Langhorne and with Kelsey Bone going pro a year early, and that’s because she’s a great rebounder, NOT because she’s from the University of Maryland. But considering the lack of guard depth, using the 4th pick on Hawkins is a waste unless either she or (gasp) Langhorne is traded for other players who can address the needs in the perimeter, considering that Thibault appears happy with his starting low post players.

Toni Young, SF (Oklahoma State)
Strengths: overall athleticism, body control
Weaknesses: lacks inside scoring, not a physical player
As a Mystic:
At 6’2”, Toni is the only ‘pure’ small forward out of the 12 WNBA draft invitees. She’s also the least known of the 12. Young lacks the speed and slashing skills of Monique Currie, but is easily the stronger of the two. Her style of play…not level of play…brings Sophia Young to mind (no relation). Assuming the Mystics have addressed needs in the other positions, and decide to part ways with Currie, Toni would be a pleasant addition. Otherwise…
Chance of Selection: Unlikely - Toni is not that much of impact player for the #4 overall pick at least not right away. As a matter of fact, she may end up a late 1st rounder, if not a 2nd rounder.

Kelsey Bone, C (Texas A&M)
Strengths: excellent mid-range and inside scoring, good passing ability for a center
Weakness: lacks defensive skills, not a strong shot blocker at the center position.
As a Mystic:
Apart from Elena Delle Donne and Candace Parker if you want to call them centers, Bone is perhaps the most versatile of the centers in the women’s game. What’s even more striking, unlike EDD and CP3, Kelsey is a ‘big body’ center. The former Aggie is tall as well as massive. Bone will definitely provide points and excitement to the Verizon Center. Also, her swag and fun personality won’t hurt the attendance. On the flip side, any tape on Kelsey’s collegiate exploits will expose a major deficiency: DEFENSE. Block shots and rebounding are not Ms. Bone’s forte. Perhaps another year in college would have benefited Kelsey in developing these skills?
Chance of Selection: Very Likely - If not for the recent acquisition of Kia Vaughn, Kelsey may be the player to pick because she may the best player available regardless of position. However, like with Hawkins, should Bone be drafted, it’s likely that she is a backup, and they need guard help more than post help. With only an 11 player roster, they can’t afford to just “draft and stash” Bone and just give Vaughn and Langhorne the lion’s share of minutes in the post. If they do select her, like with Hawkins, it’s certainly possible that she or other post players on the Mystics’ roster may be dealt for other players who could address their needs more effectively.