Analyzing the 2010 WNBA Draft Lottery
Which team has the most to gain?
by Ben York
With just 13 teams comprising the WNBA, it certainly makes for an eventful and league-changing draft every single year.
Names like Diana Taurasi, Candace Parker, Seimone Augustus, Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird have all graced the No. 1 spot over the past 10 years and have made immediate and lasting impacts on their respective teams. Other lottery picks, not in the top 2-3, have done wonders for their teams as well (see Bonner, DeWanna).
This year will be no different, and there are several teams right on the cusp of taking off.
I won’t delve into exactly who the teams will/could draft quite yet, since things will change dramatically once the collegiate season gets going. What I will do, however, is talk about which teams (who did not make the playoffs in 2009) have the most to gain in the 2010 Draft. What type of player do these teams need? How will the incoming rookies enhance their new teams in 2010? What gaps do teams need to fill?
Below are the teams ranked in order that have the best chance of receiving the No. 1 pick. According to the WNBA website, “There are 1,001 possible combinations when four balls are drawn out of 14, without regard to their order of selection. One thousand of those combinations will be assigned to the five non-playoff teams based on their order of finish in the 2009 regular season. The remaining combination will be unassigned. If the one unassigned combination is drawn, the balls will be placed back into the machine and the process will be repeated until an assigned combination is drawn.”
1. Sacramento Monarchs: 420/1,000
2. Minnesota Lynx (from New York): 261/1,000
3. Minnesota Lynx: 167/1,000
4. Connecticut Sun: 76/1,000
5. Chicago Sky: 76/1,000
Sacramento Monarchs (12-22 in 2009)
Sacramento is clearly a much better team than their 2009 record indicates. Injuries plagued them throughout the entire season, they went through a questionable coaching change, and lost multiple games in the last minute. In my humble opinion, the Monarchs need someone to bring finesse to their tough and gritty style of play; something similar to what Shavonte Zellous did for the Detroit (Tulsa?) Shock.
They have a solid mix of youth and veterans on their team including two of the best in the game – Kara Lawson and Nicole Powell. What they do need, however, is a spark; someone who can help Powell and Lawson with energy and scoring ability. They ranked near the middle in virtually every statistical category in 2009, both on the offensive and defensive end, and they’re about one piece away from truly being a tough, contending team in the difficult Western Conference.
Minnesota Lynx (13-21 in 2009)
The Lynx will have two picks in the lottery in 2010, and I look for them to be used solely as depth for this young Minnesota team. The Lynx can certainly put up points in a hurry under new coach Jennifer Gillom, but they are sorely missing someone who can orchestrate their up-tempo and open offense.
The player with the highest average assist per game total for the Lynx last year was, amazingly, center Nicky Anosike with just 2.7 per game. Missing Seimone Augustus for the year certainly hurt the Lynx team in terms of depth and scoring ability down the stretch, and they’ll look to add a pass-first guard to help facilitate their offense in the draft. They already have a phenomenal core group of players in Augustus, Anosike, Charde Houston, Candice Wiggins, Renee Montgomery, and Roneeka Hodges and with a couple additions to enhance their depth and point guard play, they’ll be incredibly dangerous in 2010.
Connecticut Sun (16-18 in 2009)
With Lindsay Whalen leading the way, the Sun will always a team to be reckoned with. But Whalen cannot do everything by herself as was evident in 2009.
The Sun missed leading scorer Asjha Jones for about one-third of their season and it hurt them dramatically. Jones averaged about 17 ppg and the next closest player was Sandrine Gruda with 13.5. Still, the Sun managed to win 16 games with their balanced attack and ability to distribute the ball.
What Connecticut needs is another scorer, plain and simple; only three players averaged in double-figures in points last year. Their team is built on depth but they’ll need another player who can put the ball in the basket if they want to return to the playoffs in 2010.
Chicago Sky (16-18 in 2009)
Chicago is, perhaps, the most compelling team in the league – they don’t score a whole lot of points but they also don’t allow a whole lot of points. Sometimes they’ll look brilliant and other times they’ll look like they’ve completely lost touch with the game.
Still, I think they are a minor adjustment away from making noise in the East – and it starts with playing Sylvia Fowles more! Fowles played just over 25 mpg last year shooting 60 percent from the floor to go along with her 12 points and 8 rpg.
Of course, the Sky has Candice Dupree who is one of the most underrated players in the league today as well as dangerous players in Jia Perkins and young Kristi Tolliver. Quite simply, this Sky team is athletic, young, and good enough to improve upon their 16-18 record in 2010, and they’ll need to select a similar type of player who fits that mold with their pick; a tall, play-maker who can create their own shot. They’ll have plenty to choose from, and I anticipate that player doing wonders for their depth while enhancing their core group of great players.
Rounding out the 1st round…
• San Antonio: Someone has to help Becky Hammon in the back-court.
• Washington: Only two players over 6-3 – they need a ‘big.’
• Tulsa: Will the blue-collar style of play change with the move?
• Los Angeles: I bet they are missing PG Temeka Johnson right about now…
• Atlanta: Solid core, need help on the defensive end.
• Seattle: Depth, depth, and more depth.
• Indiana: One more distributor will open things up offensively in a big way.
• Los Angeles (from Phoenix): Imagine what the Sparks could do with one more shooter…