Team Needs Heading Into the WNBA Draft Lottery
NEW YORK, Oct. 22, 2007 � With last week's announcement that the WNBA will expand to add a 14th team in the wonderful city of Atlanta, the offseason wheels have officially been set in motion. And the next event on the docket is Tuesday's WNBA Draft Lottery, which will decide the order in which the five lottery teams -- Los Angeles, Minnesota, Houston, Chicago and Washington -- will make their picks. Atlanta is set in the No. 4 spot, while the playoff teams will pick in reverse order of their regular season records.
And with several exciting college stars -- Sylvia Fowles, Tasha Humphrey, Candice Wiggins and potentially Candace Parker -- in the mix, the lottery takes on that much more significance.
We won't know until tomorrow where exactly the lottery teams will be drafting, and of course we don't know who will be available when it's each team's turn to pick. But that won't stop us from taking a look at each team's potential needs and draft strategy looking ahead to next April in Tampa.
2007 record: Debut season
Have No. 4 pick in 2008 Draft
The as yet unnamed expansion team in Atlanta will select fourth in the 2008 WNBA Draft. There will be an expansion draft in the coming months where the franchise will likely pick up some young talent and a couple of solid veterans. But it's safe to say that they will need everything.
2007 record: 14-20
Chance of getting No. 1 pick: 9.7 percent
The team is young but developed nicely last season under Coach/GM Bo Overton. With two very solid post players in Candice Dupree and Chasity Melvin, the Sky finished fifth in the league in rebounds per game (34.2) and are pretty well set in the frontcourt.
Overton will likely look for shooting and depth its backcourt and perhaps another
big body to complement Melvin down low.
2007 record: 13-21
Chance of getting No. 1 pick: 16.7 percent
The Comets' problems, however, stemmed from a great deal of inexperience in their backcourt. Hamchetou Maiga-Ba, Crystal Smith, Barbara Turner, Tamara Moore, Roneeka Hodges and Erin Grant make up the underwhelming list of Houston's starting guards in 2007, and they are largely responsible for the Comets committing the most turnovers in the league at 17.7 per game.
Veteran Tamecka Dixon was superb after joining the team on July 6, averaging 12.0 ppg, but her return next year is also unclear. After a promising start to the season, first-round pick Ashley Shields underachieved in the second half, shooting a woeful 27.5 percent from the field and at times disappeared from coach Karleen Thompson's radar.
The veterans on the squad -- Thompson and Dixon, in particular -- were the
glue that held the team together all season long. A playmaking point guard would
fill the team's most immediate needs, but they'll need a young, big-time scorer
to eventually take the reigns from Swoopes and Thompson.
2007 record: 10-24
Chance of getting No. 1 pick: 34.1 percent
The Sparks have the best shot at No. 1, so they'll likely end up with an impact player. Lisa Leslie will be back in the fray for L.A. in 2008, providing a dominant presence inside with fellow veteran Taj McWilliams-Franklin. Throw Christi Thomas and LaToya Thomas into the mix, and you have the potential for a very solid group down low.
After coming over from the Liberty during the season, Sherill Baker averaged
8.5 points in just over 20 minutes a game and should continue to develop. Mwadi Mabika started 23 games and averaged a solid 8.1 points and 3.8 boards per game.
Still, a ball-handling, floor leader of a guard might be an early second-round
option, especially with Johnson's health in question.
2007 record: 10-24
Chance of getting No. 1 pick: 34 percent
The team is capable offensively, especially with the WNBA�s second leading scorer in Seimone Augustus, but it could use another body or three to help Nicole Ohlde on the front line. Kristen Mann is a solid three, but at 6-1, is a bit undersized for a power forward. A big with some strength and presence in the post might help Minnesota improve upon its league-worst 2.8 blocks per game, its league-high 45 percent field goal percentage allowed and its 80.9 points allowed per game, second behind only the Mercury.
2007 record: 16-18
Chance of getting No. 1 pick: 5.5 percent
So the numbers suggest that Washington needs a shooter, a playmaker and some bulk on the inside. And my stats don't lie. Point guard Nikki Teasley's 3.3 assists per game were a career worst. The early season trade of Chasity Melvin clearly took a toll on the Mystics' low-post game. Milton-Jones had another All-Star season (despite shooting just 23.5 percent from three) and Sanford was solid at times, but more strength and size in the post are necessities.
Coach Tree Rollins will no doubt build on the progress made after Washington's 0-8 start in 2007. He will come in next season with more say in the team's setup, more knowledge of the players' strengths and weaknesses and a higher comfort level with his own duties. If the Mystics can grab a versatile post and improve in their perimeter game, they could surprise some teams next May.