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Past articles:
  • WNBA '07 post-sesason report card

  • WNBA '07 awards

  • WNBA '07 mid-sesason report card

  • The 2007 Young All-American Team

  • WNBA 2007 draft preview

  • Phoenix wins 2007 draft lottery

  • 2006 WNBA season wrap-up

  • New Wave of Talent in WNBA

  • The 2006 Young All-America Team

  • 2005-06 College Awards

  • Academic All-America Teams

  • Candace Parker's Comeback

  • 2005 WNBA Season wrap-up

  • 2004-05 College Awards

  • Stanford walk-on Markisha Coleman

  • 2004 WNBA Awards

  • 'BEEF' up your shooting!

  • Gball's Players of the Year

  • UConn's two freshmen

  • Gball's 2003-04 All-Americans

  • Leslie repeats as Player of the Year

  • 2002-03 NCAA Awards

  • Sophia Young

  • WBCA All Stars

  • NWBL Draft

  • The Burge Twins

  • 2002 WNBA Successes

  • Title IX's 35th Anniversary

  • The 2002 High School State Champs

  • The 2002 Gball Awards

  • Being Recruited

  • Protecting Your Knees

  • Candace Parker dunks!

  • Michigan Playoff Results

  • WNBA Teen Advisory Board

  • St. Ann's girls' team

  • Leslie Gball's Player of the Year

  • Hitting the last-second shot

  • Scholarships,
    Part I

  • Scholarships,
    Part II

  • Improving Agility

    By Dave Wohlhueter

    Did you know there hasn't always been a draft lottery in the WNBA? The first five years of the league, the No. 1 pick went to the team with the worst record from the previous season.

    The first two years that the lottery draft was used, the team with the worst record, and thus having the best chance of winning the first pick did not win the lottery. That was also the case this year, as Los Angeles, with a 10-24 record and 341 chances out of 1.000 to receive the first overall pick, grabbed the brass ring for the opportunity to make the first selection in the 2008 collegiate draft.

    The Chicago Sky (14-20) will choose second, followed by Minnesota (10-24), new franchise Atlanta, Houston (13-21) and Washington (16-18).

    And whom will LA pick as the No. 1 draftee? Rumor has it, although it's probably not much of a rumor, that Tennessee junior Candace Parker, who will graduate in December, is headed to the WNBA next summer and will be wearing the Sparks uniform. The winner of the 2007 Wade Trophy and named USBWA Player of the Year, Parker averaged 19.9 ppg., 9.8 rpg., and 2.9 blocks last winter. Since then, she has picked up valuable experience with the USA Senior National team.

    That would be some awesome frontcourt with the return of superstar Lisa Leslie at center, and Parker and veteran Taj McWilliams-Franklin at the forwards. Just throw the ball towards the basket and watch things happen. Parker is so versatile, that she probably could also play the shooting guard position at 6-4.

    It's very doubtful that the Sparks would pass on Parker if she is available, but if they do go in another direction, they might stay on the West Coast and shore up the backcourt with Candice Wiggins of Stanford, who also performed well on the world stage this summer.

    Taking a look at the other needs of the lottery teams, all of them would of course take Parker if she was available, but here is what they might grab if Parker is gone.

    Needs to find a scoring guard, and that could be Wiggins. The Sky is set up front with Candice Dupree and Chasity Melvin. Armintie Price, the Rookie of the Year, is an outstanding guard with only an up side, but she probably isn't capable of scoring 20.0 ppg. A guard is definitely in Chicago's future.

    The Lynx have had good luck with the draft. Guard Seimone Augustus was the No. 1 pick two years ago, and now is an all-star. Last year, Minnesota traded Tangela Smith to Phoenix for No. 1 pick Lindsey Harding, and Harding was having a rookie of the year kind of performance until she tore her ACL in the 20th game of the season. LSU center Sylvia Fowles would be an ideal fit to help Nicole Ohlde on the boards, and add scoring up front. Fowles should be available at No. 3.

    With a brand-new roster, Atlanta will take the best player available. Certainly Georgia 6-3 forward Tasha Humphrey would like to stay at home, but is she worthy of the No. 4 pick in the draft? The expansion draft will take place before the collegiate picks are made. Atlanta will have a better idea of its needs by that time, but taking the best player available might be the marching orders.

    Picking No. 5 will be a new procedure for the Comets, who normally make their choices way down the line because of the team's annual success. With perennial all-stars Sheryl Swoopes and Tina Thompson on the downsides of their careers, Houston has needs everywhere. What a back operation will do to Swoopes is unknown at this point. Thompson carried the load, averaging 18.8 ppg. and 6.7 rpg. last summer, and was named to the second team. Crystal Langhorne of Maryland would be a fine young talent in the forecourt. Rutgers point guard Matee Ajavon would fill a vital spot at the No. 1 guard.

    The last lottery team, the Mystics, need a shooter badly. They were the worst shooting team in the WNBA last summer. Crystal Kelly of Western Kentucky, a 6-3 forward, averaged 24.1 ppg. and shot 62.4 percent as a junior. She is a shooter. A versatile post player such as Georgia's Humphrey would help if she falls that far. North Carolina center LaToya Pringle might be small at 6-3, but she averaged 9.7 ppg., and 7.5 rpg. last year.

    We have already mentioned lottery picks for 2006 and 2007, Augustus and Harding, respectively. The now defunct Charlotte Sting had the 2005 lottery pick and chose center Janel McCarville out of Minnesota. McCarville was hurt much of her time in the south, but excelled for New York this past summer -- so much in fact, that she was the WNBA Most Improved Player of the Year.

    Phoenix got its franchise player in the 2004 draft by winning the lottery. After an illustrious career at UConn, Diana Taurasi was taken by the Mercury and lived up to all her press clippings by winning Rookie of the Year honors, averaging 17.0 ppg. in her initial season. Taurasi headed one of the best rookie classes in the history of the WNBA.

    In 2003, the now-defunct Cleveland team was the top lottery pick, and the Rockers selected forward LaToya Thomas out of Mississippi State. Thomas helped Cleveland improve its game in the win column by seven games. She has averaged about 10.0 ppg. with the Rockers, San Antonio and Los Angeles.

    In the first season of the lottery pick (2002), Seattle took UConn guard Sue Bird, and she helped the Storm also improve seven games in the wins category. Bird has annually been an all-star.

    After the lottery picks, the order of the 2008 draft will be: New York (16-18), Seattle (17-17), Connecticut (18-16), Sacramento (19-15), Detroit (from Sacramento) (20-14), Indiana (21-13), Phoenix (23-11), and New York (from Detroit).

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