The Draft? A Light Breeze
No Monarchs will be difference-makers.
by Clay Kallam
Though some dispersal drafts can have an immediate impact on the WNBA, the Monarchs’ dissolution probably won’t be one of them – for a couple of reasons.
First, the rapidly shrinking league’s rosters are much more solid than in the past, both for the teams that can get a quality player and for those who won’t. That means it’s harder to tilt the balance of power.
Second, the Monarchs didn’t have much left on the shelf, especially with Ticha Penicheiro (maybe the most underrated player in WNBA history) a free agent. Kara Lawson, though of limited value, is not in the draft for the same reason, as is Hamchetou Maiga-Ba, a very nice complementary player. Nicole Powell and Rebekkah Brunson, though, are both solid players, but Powell plays the position (shooting wing) that almost every team already has filled, and Brunson’s spectacular physical gifts are offset by her injury history and lack of a jump shot.
Nonetheless, it’s worth taking a look at what’s likely to happen on Monday, and we’ll go player by player rather than team-by-team.
Nicole Powell: An All-Star, and a great shooter. She’s 6-2, but isn’t really an inside player or a rebounder. She’ll get her points, but she’s not a great defender (no quickness), and there are rumors she’s doesn’t add much to team chemistry. She still pretty much has to be one of the top three picks, but she’s basically Shameka Christon, so the Liberty don’t need her, and Seimone Augustus is better, so neither do the Lynx. But if Powell somehow falls to the third spot, Mike Thibault will be doing cartwheels in Connecticut.
Rebekkah Brunson: About one out of three games, Brunson can hit the elbow jumper – and when she does, she’s a tremendous player. When she doesn’t, the only way she can score is off an offensive rebound, and since she’s the best leaper in the league (or was before her knee started bothering her), she’ll always get a few points. She and Cathrine Kraayeveld are about as different as two power forwards can be, but having both would be a nice problem for Anne Donovan to have. Expect New York to go with Brunson, unless Carol Blazejowski’s incredible ability to misjudge talent leads her to opt for Nicole Powell (who New York doesn’t need) or Courtney Paris (eventually a decent player).
Courtney Paris: Give her minutes, and watch her score and rebound. Watch the other center score and rebound. Watch her make the opposing point guard and post morph into Stockton and Malone. But in the right system, Paris has the skills and strength to be an effective player. She’s not going to set the WNBA on fire, and she doesn’t mesh well with Sandrine Gruda, but then again she won’t be missing every other year for National Team commitments. All in all, a plus for the Sun, who will likely get her; then again, the Lynx might decide to go for Paris rather than try to cram Powell onto a crowded perimeter.
DeMya Walker: The biggest benefactor of the dispersal draft might well be Chicago, which, as a recent expansion team, still has to build up its roster. Walker is a very good player, who finally got healthy and in shape toward the end of last summer, and if she’s 100 percent, she will a perfect fit in the frontcourt rotation for Chicago. She’ll rebound, defend, scrap and charm the fans, and make life a whole lot easier for Sylvia Fowles and Candice Dupree. Of course, if the detractors are right, Steve Key will be too blind to see all this, and instead go for …
Laura Harper: Please. Harper is a raw athlete with limited skills and so far, a limited understanding of the nuances of the game. At 6-5, and never shooting further than five feet from the basket, she made only 38.8 percent of her shots last season. Her career totals of 32 assists and 90 turnovers are an accurate reflection of her decision-making, and though she’s a good rebounder and apparently a hard worker, she’ll be 24 next year, and you have to wonder if she really has any more to give. Megan Frazee looks like a much better player so even with Erin Perperoglu in Greece, I don’t know if she’d help San Antonio. DeMya Walker would, though, so if the Sky get this wrong, look for Walker to play an important role for the Silver Stars.
Scholanda Robinson: Robinson is a good defender who has twice as many turnovers as assists in her WNBA career. She also shoots 30.2 percent from three and is an indifferent rebounder. She can defend, but the chances of her making a roster next year are about as good as Rush Limbaugh embracing the public option, especially in Washington. Maybe Tulsa’s guard corps will be so depleted, it will be tempting to take a chance – but the only reason Sacramento started her 29 games is that the Monarchs simply had no one else.
Kristin Haynie: As a long-time Haynie-basher, I will admit she’s an attractive young woman with a pleasing on-court persona. And for all I know, she takes care of sick puppies and visits old folks’ homes on her off days. As a point guard, though, she’s a mediocre defender with a 1.1 A/TO. As a shooter, her funky form can deliver some hot streaks, but her career accuracy is 35.1 percent. I don’t know how many more chances she’ll get to show she can’t play in this league, but cuteness obviously counts, so maybe she’ll get one more shot.
Chelsea Newton: The Monarchs, one of the worst teams in the league last year, cut her because she couldn’t help them. ‘Nuf sed.
You can read more of Clay Kallam, and more about women’s basketball, at Full Court Press.