Throwback Thursday: The Stars’ Successful Track Record of Lottery Picks

The San Antonio Stars have the third pick in the 2014 WNBA draft, which takes place on Monday April 14th. It marks only the third time the Stars have had a lottery pick since Head Coach and General Manager, Dan Hughes took over in 2005.

“I think it’s a responsibility for a team that is not in the lottery very often to try and get a player that not only meets a need, but can also be a leader within that organization,” Hughes told SAStars.com earlier this year. “Your goal is to not be in the lottery very often, but when you are there you get something that is going to have a long term effect on your team.”

So far, the Stars have lived up to that mantra. In 2006, they drafted Sophia Young, now Sophia Young-Malcom, out of Baylor University with Hughes’ first lottery pick. The following year, Hughes traded the 2007 second overall pick, Jessica Davenport, to the New York Liberty in exchange for Becky Hammon and a 2007 second round draft pick. So, with Hughes’ first and only lottery picks with the Stars before 2014, he acquired two future cornerstones for the Stars franchise, living up to the responsibility he sets that you need to acquire a player that will “have a long term effect on your team”.

The Stars were awarded the fourth overall pick in the 2006 WNBA draft following the 2005 season in which the team finished with a 7-27 record in the Western Conference. As Hughes has stated before, he knew the importance of getting a lottery pick right for the future of the franchise. He selected Young-Malcom out of Baylor, and the move would prove to pay off. Young-Malcom was a First-Team All American following her senior season at Baylor and was the fourth player in NCAAA history to record totals of 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, 300 assists and 300 steals.

Young-Malcom’s presence on the Stars squad paid off immediately, as she led the team in scoring, averaging 12.0 points per game while being a unanimous selection to the All-Rookie team. She made the All-Star team as a rookie and started all 34 games as a rookie, leading the Stars to an improved 13-21 season.

Despite their improvement, the Stars were still awarded a lottery pick, this time landing in the number two spot. Hughes decided to make a bold move and traded the number two pick to the Liberty for Hammon and a second round pick. Hammon would now link up Young-Malcom to lead the new revolution of the Stars in the 2007 season. During that campaign, the Stars improved once again, but this time mightily, finishing second in the Western Conference with a 20-14 record. In 2007, Hammon averaged 18.8 points and 5.5 assists per game. Young-Malcom chimed in with 16.8 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, as the duo led the Stars to Western Conference Finals.

Young-Malcom and Hammon would continue to develop as individuals and teammates as the Stars progression continued and culminated in a 2008 Western Conference Championship and WNBA Finals appearance. Since 2008, the dynamic duo led the Stars to four consecutive playoff appearances between 2009 and 2012. Hammon has been named as a top 15 all time WNBA player, and both players were named to the Stars All Decade Team. The two suffered season ending injuries in 2013, but now are healthy and raring to go for the upcoming 2014 WNBA campaign.

Both players will be excited to welcome the latest lottery pick by the Stars. The name is not yet known, but if Hughes’ track record is anything to go by, the Stars’ number three overall pick will be an important piece to add to the squad, and a future leader for years to come.

You can see what the Stars and the other 11 WNBA teams do on draft day by watching the 2014 WNBA Draft live on ESPN 2 and ESPN News from the Mohegan Sun on April 14 at 7 p.m. CST.