Thursday, April 1, 2010



Swish Appeal WNBA Mock Draft v 1.0: Balancing Impact & Upside

Even after what most people considered a "down" year for
 Stanford University center Jayne Appel, her passing ability in the post
 remains an asset to WNBA teams. (Photo by Craig Bennett/112575 Media)
Even after what most people considered a "down" year for Stanford University center Jayne Appel, her passing ability in the post remains an asset to WNBA teams. (Photo by Craig Bennett/112575 Media)
It may seem obvious, but it might as well be said again because inevitably some people either ignore it or refuse to accept it: drafting is not a science.
Nevertheless, fans will either cheer or complain when their team makes a pick assuming to know more than the general managers that have watched 100s of hours more of one prospect than the average fan sees of the entire field of prospects, not to mention actually talking to the players and getting to know them beyond the recycled words of the media. And even then, the "experts" will be proven wrong.
Nobody can really claim to know how these draft things will actually turn out 3-5 years down the road.
For the WNBA, the situation may be even more difficult this season -- with rosters being cut to 11 drafting becomes even more difficult, especially in what analysts consider a "weak" draft. Whereas NBA teams will often draft players on potential and keep them as projects -- perhaps even fetishizing potential at times -- there is simply less room for that in the WNBA this season.
"There is less room, but I don't think it's a bad thing," said Chicago Sky coach and general manager Steven Key in an interview with Swish Appeal yesterday. "Although we lost a team in Sacramento I think what its done is cause even greater parity. We went down from 13 players down to 11. The cap room came down and everything else. I just think it evens out because it will make the product a lot better...It's just hard that some people aren't going to get in in this situation -- not being about to have that 12th or 13th person that you see how in a couple if they get and they grow possibly turning into a regular or starter on your team. So on one side it's good that you're going to get more talent overall when you only get 11, but on the other side you know that you definitely won't get an opportunity that much or that often, unless you have a team where 5 or 6 people are eating up the majority of your cap and you need some of the younger players in order to fit under the cap.
"There could be a situation -- and I'm sure some teams will look at it that way -- where that's going to be how they carry that extra person in order to see if a couple of years from now whether or not they pan out."
This dilemma of balancing impact and "upside" could affect this draft as early as when Key has to make a selection at #4. After the top 3 or 4 players, there are a number of players with promising strengths and successful college careers that also have noticeable flaws. From talking to general managers this off-season, the 2010 WNBA draft will involve a delicate balancing act of talent, need, and potential - there are very few clear cut picks.
So after conversations with coaches, the WNBA pre-draft media conference, statistical analysis, and watching far too much basketball, here is my first attempt at a mock draft. Although the draft itself and the ensuing player development is quite unpredictable, we can take stock of player strengths and weaknesses to get a sense of what a player might offer a WNBA team. The following is my current assessment of the draft, with explanations for each pick below.
WNBA First Round Mock Draft as of March 31, 2010
1. Connecticut Sun: Tina Charles, center, University of Connecticut
2. Minnesota Lynx: Jayne Appel, center, Stanford University
3. Minnesota Lynx: Monica Wright, guard, University of Virginia
4. Chicago Sky: Epiphanny Prince, guard, Botas-Spor/Rutgers
5. San Antonio Silver Stars: Alysha Clark, forward, Middle Tennessee State University
6. Washington Mystics: Kelsey Griffin, forward, University of Nebraska
7. Tulsa Shock: Andrea Riley, guard, Oklahoma State University
8. Los Angeles Sparks: Allison Hightower, guard, Louisiana State University
9. Atlanta Dream: Jenna Smith, power forward/center, University of Illinois
10. Seattle Storm: Alison Lacey, point guard, Iowa State
11. Indiana Fever: Kalana Greene, guard, University of Connecticut
12. Los Angeles Sparks: Jacinta Monroe, center, Florida State University


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