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Thursday, November 4th, 2010 at 3:26 pm  |  13 responses

When Luck is Unlucky

The Lynx win a lottery they wanted to lose.

by Clay Kallam

So the Minnesota Lynx win the draft lottery — which should the occasion for shouts of joy and an outbreak of celebration. But for this perennially unlucky, and self-destructive, franchise, it is of course a mixed blessing.

The reason? The unquestioned prize of the Draft is one Maya Moore, a wing player whose pro position is uncertain. She’s too small to be a 4, maybe not quick enough to defend at the 3, but a wonderful player with a tremendous toolbox of skills. She’s also a hard-working winner who went from not having a jumpshot as a junior in high school to being a 41.7 percent shooter from beyond the arc as a junior in college. She’s the perfect fit for a lot of teams, two of which happened to be in the lottery with the Lynx.

But Tulsa and Chicago didn’t get the first pick, Minnesota did, and the Lynx already have a 3-4 combo player in Seimone Augustus, who is at the same level as Maya Moore. They also have Candice Wiggins, a 2-3 college All-American, and Monica Wright, the No. 3 overall pick from last year, who came on strong at the end of the season, also as wing player.

Sadly, Wiggins and Wright are both miscast as point guards, and even if they could play there, Minnesota just traded for hometown girl Lindsay Whalen, who can only play the 1.

So if Minnesota picks Moore, where do they play her? They already have a logjam on the wing, though a rotation of Augustus, Wiggins and Wright is acceptable, especially if Wiggins picks up a few minutes at the point. (If Wiggins plays 10 minutes for Whalen, that’s 90 minutes of time for the trio, which works out rather nicely.) But add Moore to the mix, and there’s a problem. Moore isn’t a WNBA power forward, and neither is Augustus, but even if each played 10 minutes a game there, that still wouldn’t give all four young, talented players enough court time.

In addition, the Lynx’ incumbent power forward is Rebekkah Brunson who, when healthy, is a rebounding demon and the perfect complement to the skilled perimeter players. So Brunson at the 5? Not really. She’s undersized at the 4, and besides Nicky Anosike isn’t that bad.

(Perceptive readers may wonder why, if Minnesota has all this talent, that the Lynx even had a lottery pick. In a word, injuries. Only Whalen and Wright were healthy the entire season, and Wiggins played only eight games. Augustus came back very quickly from major surgery in April and was never really 100 percent, and Brunson battled a balky knee early in the summer.)

Maya Moore is a Minnesota problem.

But even with Brunson and Anosike, as both have knee issues, what Minnesota really needs is a big, strong post player — and there just happens to be one out there. Australian teenager Liz Cambage is 6-8, and was a revelation in the World Championships, showing strength, aggressiveness and just enough skill to look like one of the world’s best centers. So what’s the problem? Moore is a great American player; Cambage is a pretty good Australian. Moore could become Michael Jordan; Cambage could become Greg Oden, which would leave the Lynx looking like fools, a role they have too often played. (How about trading Katie Smith for Chandi Jones? Still the worst trade in WNBA history …)

OK, trade down to the No. 2 spot, let Tulsa take Moore and get Cambage. It still wouldn’t look great if Moore turns out to be an MVP, but Cambage and something else of value would be a deal that could be justified. The problem? Tulsa’s got nothing to offer that’s worth anything except a first-round draft choice in 2012, and even Nolan Richardson might be smart enough not to give up a lottery pick to move up one spot in the Draft. After all, Cambage or Amber Harris or whoever will help the Shock, who aren’t going to the Playoffs any time soon.

No, the Lynx need a big-time post player, and Chicago doesn’t have one to offer either. The Sky certainly isn’t giving up Sylvia Fowles, unless Minnesota threw Augustus into the mix, and hopefully, the Lynx front office is smart enough to see the stupidity of that move.

What Minnesota needs, simply, is Liz Cambage, who probably isn’t worth a first overall pick. Maya Moore clearly is, but the Lynx don’t need her.

Luckily, no decision needs to be made — or should be made — until next spring, so Minnesota’s brain trust can see how Moore does as a senior who must carry pretty much the entire load for UConn, and how Cambage develops, and if Amber Harris or someone else emerges as a viable alternative in the top spot.

Still, it would have been a lot easier for Minnesota if the ping-pong balls had bounced Tulsa’s way, or even Chicago’s. Then the Lynx’ choice would have been made for them.

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  • CONEY ISLANDER

    FIRST, THEY CAN’T GET ANYTHING RIGHT IN SOTA! T’WOLVES, VIKINGS, LYNX. THEY NEED HELP…BAD!

  • http://members.cox.net/pilight/ pilight

    I wonder if Augustus is still at that level. She didn’t look that great this season and apparently isn’t impressing in Europe either.

  • http://slamonline.com the underrated one

    ALWAYS DRAFT THE BEST PLAYER!!!!! END OF STORY

  • Groves@UWA

    ^or move down in the draft and trade for pieces

  • Shell4

    Cambage is definitely worth the #1 pick – there is no way Maya Moore is guaranteed to even be successful in the WNBA.
    Moore has a lot less potential for improvement than Cambage who has not played ball for very long and certainly hasnt had the luxury of attending UCONN and playing with the best college players for 4 years. They need to take Cambage at the 1 or make a trade in the meantime with another team and give up half of their backcourt to fit Moore in!

  • Gus B.

    I think the Lynx will ‘try’ to find a spot for Maya Moore. Rotate her at the 2, 3 & 4… who cares. This is the most athletic, versatile player the WNBA has ever seen. She is an impact player from a league perception from day 1 she arrives at camp. The Lynx will need to find a 5 that can play 25 minutes to compliment that line-up. Brunson can play the 5 on occasion. Remember too that they do have perimeter assets to turn into a big if they need to. Don’t feel sorry for the Lynx… if any year was THE year to get the #1 overall it was this year.

  • Hussman25

    U have to draft Mya… atleast; then figure the rest out later.

  • Sallina

    Anyone who passes up an opportunity to take Maya Moore is CRAAAZY!! And thats coming from an Aussie. Cambage is a good player but I think she needs another year with Coach Tom Maher at least, before hitting the WNBA. Cambage could become the best Centre in the World but she needs to develop her skills first. She needs to learn how to dribble, pass, catch and how not to foul lol. Don’t get me wrong, Im salivating at the thought of Cambage hitting the big league but I would prefer she go in more prepared. She gave a good showing of herself at the Worlds, imagine what she could become with just a little more time. Maya Moore for #1!!!

  • http://slamonline.com Clay Kallam

    It really does make sense for the Lynx to take Moore number one. It also makes sense for them to take Cambage number one.

    Either way, if it doesn’t work out, they will be pilloried again.

  • MNLynxfan

    Talk about bad information. Augustus has never been viewed as a PF/4. She has NEVER played PF for the Lynx, ever. She’s a 2/3 and the first 2yrs in the WNBA she did fine as the 2/SG. She is not at the level she was prior to the injury so why would one expect her to be after coming back in 10 months from a knee reconstruction & having a hystorectomy on the eve of training camp? Give the child a break please. It may take her anohter year to re-find her groove but I have faith she’ll get back in form. Wiggins is as much a natural PG as Tanisha Wright, lol. She has been a 2/1 in the pros. I had no problem with Ice backing up Whalen this past season and would like to continue to see her progress in that role. She seemed more then comforatble with it & needed that time (as Whalen did, & more so) to get more familiar with her teammates & what this team would do offensively. And Monica Wright was not the #3 over all pick in the draft she was the #2 overall pick. As for trading some of back court players for = quality post, haaa, right. With vet post already in demand, I don’t see teams parting w/any quality post. We should take Maya Moore, she can play the 3/SF. Draft a post. What some people call “too much talent” should never be a problem. Its called depth.

  • Ninti9

    Clay these fans aren’t going to listen to you, I agree, the Lynx need size on their team, every year, they ignore it.

  • MarkShooter

    The Lynx need da size. Moore has class and a big future. I think she will do better in Tulsa.
    But lets face facts here. Someone who is 6’8 and can post up against the US bigs at the worlds and score is a good prospect. A 6’8 player is 6’8 every time she steps on court.
    I webcast the entire world champs and watched Cambage improve each and every game. It was scary considering that she had never played international ball against the US and Russia. The only thing she didn’t do was shoot the 3. I have never seen a girl of that size put it on the floor and drive like that.
    At the moment she is playing in Australia under Tom Maher (who helped in the development of LJ and Penny Taylor). She has player of the week awards two weeks in a row and has vowed to dunk during the season.
    She needs to work on toughness, a long shot and passing (but hell if you can dunk over the top of your oposition why shoot the 3?). I think the WNBA is the best place for her to learn this these skills.
    So many talented smalls in the league but so few talented bigs. Cambage at 1 is my pick (oh how I would love to have her at the Fever).

  • Mike Miller

    Get Morre then trade her for whoever you want. Trade bait. But if they take Liz they must keep her.

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