The 2012 WNBA draft ended the exact same way it had been projected to be all year: weak. With the lack of acknowledgement for the last several picks, this draft ended with a thud. With that being said, several teams made significant moves forward as well as a few team lying down and rolling back down the hill. I began to write this article strictly as an angry Phoenix fan, but I figured it would be in better taste to give an outlook on several teams that I thought either got significant pieces or missed the target completely.
1. LA Sparks: I don't think I would be the only person to say that the perimeter for the Sparks was a major weakness for this team. Not only were they inconsistent offensively, but they weren't going to stop a soul from getting to where they wanted. You know it's a major issue when your best perimeter scoring option is a volume shooting guard that hasn't shown an ability to be a legitimate WNBA starter even once given the opportunity. The rich got richer in the post with the obvious #1 overall selection of Nneka Ogwumike but the wealth of guards LA was able to grab in Khadijah Rushdan, Tyra White and April Sykes not only improve their chances of putting the ball in the basket, but it gives them a perimeter defense that is fairly stout and will cause problems for opponents. I personally like the players that they selected to make the roster over the guards they signed in Ashley Shields, Darxia Morris, and Sharnee Zoll even though Zoll is likely to make the roster as the sole true point guard in camp. It will be interesting to see how this turns out for the Sparks.
2.Tulsa Shock: Coming into this draft I really had questions about what the Shock could do to improve their team due to this draft being weak and their selections being a bit spaced. Gary Kloppenburg's team will benefit from teams passing on the likes of Riquna Williams, Vicki Baugh, and Lynetta Kizer, all of whom were invited to sit in the green room for the draft which obviously means that someone, somewhere thought very highly of these kids. With Cambage coming in late from the Olympics and lesser talented players sitting on their roster, all three of these players along with 4th overall selection Glory Johnson have a legitimate shot at making this roster and I think that they all will. With that being said there are questions about each of these players, Baugh's drawback being injuries. Williams has character issues that are in question, which is likely why she dropped. I think that the main questions surrounding Kizer are her motor and willingness to work hard, which I think will be nullified by her having to sit in the green room until the middle of the last round of the draft and her want to prove teams wrong.
3. Minnesota Lynx: You're probably wondering how a team that came into this draft with really only one roster spot could be seen as a winner in this draft. This team hit the ball out of the park in selecting the player it wanted over players that might seem more talented or pro-ready but with Mama Taj approaching 42 and Rebekkah Brunson breaking thirty with athleticism being her calling card, Peters is a great pick as this next season she can learn from two of the best in the game and even have an opportunity to full get back to 100% health. The selections of Julie Wojta and Kayla Standish may have been seen as picks that would be trade bait but I truly think that both these players could beat out Amber Harris for a spot, especially if I was coaching the Lynx. Even if that isn't the case, they now have the rights to these players which could turn into major trade bait and possibly put Minnesota back in the the mix for a lottery selection in next years draft that will produce several studs. I think the biggest pick for Minnesota will turn out to be Jacki Gemelos, a player that I coveted as a Mercury fan. Even though she won't play this year, she has made it clear that her basketball career is not over. I truly believe that the sky is the limit for this player and if anyone can recover from 5 ACL tears it would be her.
4. San Antonio Silver Stars: If you would've told Dan Hughes that with the only selection he had in the 2012 WNBA Draft that he would get a big guard from the ACC that scored over 2000 points, grabbed over 1000 rebounds, dished out over 500 assists and stole the ball just shy of 400 times while playing, he probably would have requested that you be committed. When Shenise Johnson fell to the number 5 slot, Hughes was able to add a big guard to play alongside Becky Hammon and Danielle Robinson after Roneeka Hodges was traded and Scholanda Robinson struggled with injuries. This kid is an absolute stud that is willing to do whatever her coaches ask her to do and I think that this selection will pay dividends for Dan Hughes for years to come.
1. New York Liberty: First off, you find out Janel McCarville still won't be returning for this season. Then Quanitra Hollingsworth might be playing for the Turkish National Team as it works towards qualifying for the Olympics. Then you sign Kelly Miller and DeMya Walker, two players who bring championship experience but little else. Then to top it off, you use your first round selection to choose a player that retired from the game a year ago, and even when she was playing was hampered by injuries and conditioning issues. I'm truly hoping that John Whisenant has spoken with Kelley Cain and truly has a commitment from her that she plans to play in 2012 because if not, I see this as a very obvious attempt at tanking for the 2013 draft. This team still has decent pieces but it barely earned them a playoff berth last year. Even considering that, the teams around them got better. Even the Mystics took significant steps forward. I really don't see how this will pan out for the Liberty, but then again, who really does? The best thing that I can hope for is that Cappie Pondexter uses her omission from the Olympic roster as a building block for an MVP season (which I find highly unlikely).
2. Phoenix Mercury: Going into this draft knowing that Corey Gaines, whom I have constantly questioned as a coach, was now the GM of my favorite squad, I was extremely worried. After a conversation with my older sister, who is a player for the Merc, I started to relax a bit and truly think that we would be fine. And boy did Corey prove me to be correct from the start. I don't see what the direction of this team is right now. With only two true "post players" in Nakia Sanford and Krystal Thomas, both of whom have been underwhelming, this organization goes and selects two point guards. This is after trading for Andrea Riley and Alexis Hornbuckle, along with already having Alexis Gray-Lawson returning. Now I'm not saying that any of these players are true point guards, but they all have the ability to push the ball and score the ball, which is all that a Merc point guard is needed for. Samantha Prahalis is a great fit, although I question her mental stability in playing with the likes of Diana Taurasi and for Corey Gaines. Along with that mental stability, she has a propensity to trying to make home run plays that usually equal turnovers. If you're turning the ball over as much as she did in college, the jump in the level of pro defenders will only make things worse. I had hopes that with the third round selections, Gaines would select and claim the rights to the aforementioned Jacki Gemelos, a player with a game and a flair similar to Diana Taurasi and one that has stated her interest in playing for the Mercury and names Taurais as her favorite player. There's still a chance that moves will be made, which are my biggest hopes because otherwise, this is going to be a loooooooong season for me as a Merc fan.