WNBA draft primer
It's no secret that the Mystics would like to add a post player in today's WNBA draft. General Manager Angela Taylor and Coach Julie Plank have talked quite candidly about it actually in recent weeks, knowing full well that they need more balance and consistency in the paint after expanding the team's guard depth during their first year at the helm.
Washington will make the sixth overall pick in the draft, which begins at 3 p.m. and will be aired on ESPN2, in addition two second round (14th and 18th) and a third round selection (30th).
"We've been joking that there's no doubt in everybody's mind. They know the Mystics are certainly looking for a post," Taylor said. "But although we have specific needs coming out of the draft we're not going to let that put blinders on us...We aren't just going to select a post player just because someone is 6 foot and over."
While Taylor won't rule out any options when it comes to who might fall to the Mystics at No. 6 and the possibility of picking a non-post player, many would be surprised if the choice isn't a forward or center who could become part of the team's young core.
If you haven't already, check out the WNBA's draft headquarters. Then read on for some of Taylor's analysis on a few prominent frontcourt prospects and on the draft in general.
"This is a talented draft but I don't think it's as deep as it's been in the past. Last year or the year before, it's certainly top-heavy. You have a couple players like Tina Charles, who will be able to come in and contribute right away and the rest will have to continue to develop in a role, some depending on the system on the team and the team's needs."
C Tina Charles, Connecticut, 6-4: "I think she really is the full deal right now, she still has some things to work on but she should be ready to come in and have that impact." It's assumed that the Connecticut Sun will take Charles with the first-overall pick, "but if somehow she'd fall to six that'd be phenomenal," Taylor added with a laugh.
C Jayne Appel, Stanford, 6-4: "I've been aware of her since she stepped on campus four years ago, working to help my Cardinal try to get back to the Final Four. The coaches speak very highly to her and you see what she's accomplished, but freshman to sophomore year and sophomore to junior year you really saw her change her body and get into great shape. Her awareness of the game is something that you can't teach.
"For her, I think the main thing is to get healthy. She had the surgery on her knee in the off season and then this ankle injury. ... She hasn't been able to practice and she's going to need to get her conditioning back. ... Right now Jayne commands a lot of double teams on the low block and she's able then to use her passing ability, but if she can't prove that she can score one-on-one then she might not get that double and her passing might be nullified to a certain extent. She's going to have to be more of an offensive player and work on her face-up game. Right now she's strictly a low-block player in the system Tara [VanDerveer] employs."
F Kelsey Griffin, Nebraska, 6-2: I don't think that anybody was expecting to see Nebraska have the type of season that they had, but when you talk to the coaches and they say it was the seniors, led by Kelsey and just her blue collar nature that helped get them there. You look at us and we're a blue collar team -- she certainly has the on-court aspects that you like -- but the off the court aspects are where you're able to identify who fits.
"She doesn't really shoot a lot of threes, so that's something that she'll have to work on, but she plays every aspect of the game hard and that's something you love. Whether it's defensively, taking charges or being able to grab a rebound, take it full court and set up the offense. She's going to have to get stronger physically to play on the low-block because she really isn't a face up player, but she's a [power forward]. I see her as a true 4."
F/C Jacinta Monroe, Florida State, 6-5: "She's reminiscent of a Michelle Snow, so physically she'll have to get stronger but she can play the 4 or 5. She needs to be able to refine a couple things and be able to score in the low block, as well as consistently hit the perimeter jumper. Some of our players are familiar with her having played against her in the ACC and she has great basketball IQ."
F Chanel Mokango, Mississippi State, 6-5: "She had a good run in the tournament and will physically have to get stronger. She has a thin, frail frame like a Lisa Leslie, and I think that is the biggest adjustment for most of these players -- Tina Charles and Jayne Appel are the two players that you look at physically and they already have the size."
C Jenna Smith, Illinois 6-3: "She wasn't in the NCAA Tournament so she didn't get as much attention as everybody else did, but if you look statistically, she's probably at the top of every category for post players coming out for this draft. She plays more minutes than everybody else does as well, so that's a factor. ... She's shown her physical conditioning and her agility, but she's somebody who is able to score in the low block or face up and probably just needs to get stronger at this level."
*Taylor guessed that there might be some activity between teams this year as well, both in trading up to the draft and perhaps as it unfolds. (Teams had until Wednesday afternoon to trade their picks, but now must select players before completing any draft-day trades.)
The Connecticut Sun, owners of the first overall pick, swapped guard/forward Amber Holt and Center Chante Black to the Tulsa Shock for the No. 7 selection. You can check out the full release here.
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