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Scouting the 2006 Sparks: Post Players

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PF JESSICA MOORE

G
MPG
PPG
RPG
APG
TS%
Reb%
Pass
Pos%
TO%
PER
34
19.5
4.3
2.9
0.7
.481
24
8.9
29
0.06
23
12.3
17
15.5
15
10.2
29

Within a year's span, Moore went from being released by the Charlotte Sting (who drafted her in the second round in 2005) to starting for the Western Conference's best team. All of the Sparks post players besides Chamique Holdsclaw and Lisa Leslie have low usage rates, allowing Holdsclaw and Leslie to dominate the ball in the paint. Moore fits this, but she is virtually no offensive threat at all, averaging 9.0 points per 40 minutes. Moore finished with the third-best field-goal percentage in NCAAA history playing alongside Sue Bird and Barbara Turner at different points in her college career at UConn, but without as many easy buckets in the pros, she shot just 43.4% this season.

Moore is a solid position defender who can play the opposition's best post scorer to keep Leslie out of foul trouble and allow her to block shots, but Moore is overmatched at times against the league's elite (fortunately, one of this small group is on her team). Moore would be a lot more valuable if she was a good rebounder, but instead she is one of the weakest power forwards on the glass in the WNBA, averaging just 6.0 rebounds per 40 minutes.

PF CHAMIQUE HOLDSCLAW

G
MPG
PPG
RPG
APG
TS%
Reb%
Pass
Pos%
TO%
PER
25
29.5
15.0
6.1
2.2
.531
11
12.2
19
0.28
5
24.7
6
13.9
11
23.2
7

Chamique Holdsclaw, defensive specialist? No, that will never be the case, and it's offense that's the biggest reason Holdsclaw has the best net plus-minus on the Sparks at +15.8. However, Holdsclaw's defensive versatility is a major reason she spent the season as Los Angeles' sixth woman after missing the first six games of the season to be with her father and stepfather, both battling cancer. Joe Bryant loves the ability to bring Holdsclaw in at any of four positions, though that's more true on defense - where Holdsclaw's length and quickness allow her to defend on the perimeter - than on offense, where she's usually in a forward role.

Against the Storm, Holdsclaw has defended Bird at times as while playing at the top of the key as the point guard in a 3-2 zone. She even played shooting guard down the stretch in the last matchup with the Storm because Mabika was out of the lineup but Bryant wanted to play big. The downside to that jumbo lineup is a lack of shooting - Holdsclaw has range to about 18 feet, but made only three 3-pointers (in 15 attempts) during the season. Holdsclaw isn't the dominant scorer in L.A. than she was in Washington, but she's still the primary - and possibly secondary - option when Leslie is out of the game. One of the league's best rebounders with the Mystics, Holdsclaw has dropped off since coming to the Sparks, both because of Leslie's presence and because she has played more on the perimeter, including starting at small forward most of last season.

PF MURRIEL PAGE

G
MPG
PPG
RPG
APG
TS%
Reb%
Pass
Pos%
TO%
PER
34
20.3
4.9
3.6
1.0
.521
13
10.4
25
0.13
16
12.3
28
15.8
16
12.4
23

Page came to Los Angeles with Johnson after eight seasons in Washington and has fit in, posting an excellent +13.4 net plus-minus rating. At least some of that is probably attributable to Page playing alongside Holdsclaw, but she's been a useful role player in her own right and is a savvy presence. Page is a 47.1% shooter who rarely turns the ball over or makes mental mistakes. Defense is where Page particularly shines. A long 6-2, she can defend any of the three frontcourt positions capably.

C LISA LESLIE

G
MPG
PPG
RPG
APG
TS%
Reb%
Pass
Pos%
TO%
PER
34
30.9
20.0
9.5
3.2
.557
4
18.4
3
0.46
1
31.5
1
17.1
8
30.9
1

Ah, what is there to say about Leslie that hasn't already been said? The world's second most dominant post player, Leslie does it all. Note that turnover rate is the only area in which she does not rank amongst the top five of centers. That is her primary weakness, as Leslie led the WNBA with 3.7 turnovers per game. Leslie also can struggle at the line, hitting 65% of her free throws this season and a paltry 58.6% in 2005.

Leslie used a higher percentage of her team's possessions than any other player in the WNBA, and it had little detrimental effect on her efficiency, as she shot 51.1% from the field. An All-WNBA First Team defender, Leslie finished fourth in the league with 1.7 blocks per game. She's vulnerable to foul trouble, however, when she plays more than her average of 30 minutes per night.

C CHRISTI THOMAS

G
MPG
PPG
RPG
APG
TS%
Reb%
Pass
Pos%
TO%
PER
27
20.3
6.1
5.3
1.0
.534
11
15.8
8
0.07
10
16.2
20
21.5
20
15.0
14

Thomas had a fine third season interrupted by a cartilage tear in her left knee which forced her to miss seven games. While Thomas returned in late July, the knee still bothers her to some extent and she did not participate in the portion of Los Angeles' practice open to the media on Thursday. Thomas is a well-rounded post player who shoots 48.9% from the field, has some range on offense and crashes the glass hard. She's better off without the ball in her hands, but can finish when teammates create for her.

Thomas is less effective defensively, where she's not tremendously mobile and is not a big shot blocker - about one per 40 minutes. That's a big reason why Moore has earned the starting role ahead of Thomas, but the former Georgia post is the stronger overall contributor.