Swish Appeal Community Open Thread: Is the 2013 WNBA Draft class really headlined by a "Big Three"?

Notre Dame Guard Skylar Diggins is considered to be the best guard in the 2013 Draft. But is she really part of a "Big Three" or is this more of a "Big Two" or "Big One" type of draft class? - Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

With some conference basketball tourneys coming up later this week and with the NCAA Tournament on the horizon, this gives college basketball's top seniors a chance to give their last, and hopefully their best impressions on WNBA teams in regards to their draft status. There's been plenty of talk by the league that this is a draft headlined with three game changing draft prospects: Baylor center Brittney Griner, Delaware forward Elena Delle Donne, and Notre Dame guard Skylar Diggins. However, is this draft class really a headlined by "Big Three", or are there more or less prospects who figure to be game changers or impact players in the WNBA this season?

We've seen a lot of great insights in various threads where some people think differently on the top of this draft class. And we'll hit these concepts in more detail:

1. This is a "Big Three" draft class with Griner, Delle Donne, and Diggins leading the way.

This belief is basically the "status quo" more or less in the eyes of the conventional media.

The WNBA has already put up a section on these three called "Tomorrow's Stars" which gives weekly updates on their stats and how they're doing their senior seasons. ESPN has already called these three young women as the "3 to See" during their senior seasons, and also as pros.

There also has been quite a bit of buzz around all three collectively for at least the last couple seasons. Griner has led Baylor to the 2012 National Championship. Diggins has led the Irish to two straight national championship game appearances. And Delle Donne has turned a Delaware team in the mid major Colonial Athletic Association into a team that's nationally ranked.

Their accomplishments go beyond what they have done in college. Delle Donne and Diggins were both on the 2011 Team USA World University Games team which won the championships in China. Delle Donne was the leading scorer on the team, and Diggins was third with Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike as the 2nd leading scorer. Griner was actually considered to be on the Team USA Olympic team last year until she declined in April.

Maybe this class just does have that legitimate "Big Three" coming in this year. And sure, this draft class is considered to be deeper than usual, but the other prospects just aren't going to be as great as the "Big Three."

2. This is a "Big Two Plus Two" Draft with Griner and Delle Donne as the Big Two, and Skylar Diggins plus the fourth pick of the draft as the "Plus Two."

Of the Big Three picks, there are at least some who believe that Skylar Diggins is not as deserving of being in the same level that Griner and Delle Donne are in terms of being game changers. Possible weaknesses include that she is not a great three point shooter, which may limit her effectiveness given the longer three point line this season, and also this season, her assist to turnover ratio has dropped which may lead some to question whether she can be able to be an effective point guard in the WNBA right away. Lastly, Diggins is also the player who has a large fanbase, at least from judging twitter followers, and maybe having fans like rapper Lil' Wayne may be causing some "Pygmalion Effect" where every good thing she does seems better than it is.

Back last October, Nate implied that perhaps this draft class may be one where there is a "Big Two" with two "game changers", but two other players would be impact players, though maybe not at Griner's or Delle Donne's level assuming they both play at a high impact level. Let me also state that Nate didn't necessarily specify that Diggins would be part of the "Plus Two" in that comment, but for purposes of this discussion, let's assume he was then.

I'm not saying that Diggins won't be a top guard in this league. I actually think she can be a "game changer." But let's say Griner and Delle Donne both become major impact players and MVP contenders over the next five to ten years. Then we say that Diggins is a legitimate WNBA All Star (meaning she would reasonably expect to get the coaches' blessing into the game if not voted in) but not necessarily a perennial MVP candidate. Now add the fourth pick as a player who also hits that level of play over the next five to ten years.

If this draft is a "Big Two Plus Two," it seems to play in favor for the Washington Mystics, the team that currently holds the fourth pick.. Along with Ohio State guard Tayler Hill who Nate mentioned as a possible candidate for the "Plus Two", other players such as Maryland forward Tianna Hawkins have made strong cases to be a lottery pick this year. Could they or maybe even others qualify as players who are part of this "Plus Two?"

Either way, if Mystics GM/Head Coach Mike Thibault believes this is a "Big Two Plus Two" (or maybe more) draft, should he find another one of these players by filling a need? Or should he just pick the best player available, even if that means that the fourth pick ends up playing as a backup for her rookie season or possibly two? To this point in the Mystics offseason, they have made many moves, but they still have not changed the top of their roster at least as of the date of this post. Maybe something will happen when we get toward draft time, but that's beyond the point.

3. This is a "Big Two" Draft of Brittney Griner and Elena Delle Donne. Skylar Diggins, while still a very strong player is not as distinguishable as some may think, like Lil' Wayne and thewiz06 do.

This concept hits along the same lines of #2. Truthtella had some great points here in a comment on last Friday's post announcing the Deanna Nolan/Janel McCarville/Candice Wiggins deal. Here is the whole thing:

"If" Diggins falls to #3?

She’s been slated as the #3 pick in this draft ever since Delle Donne returned to basketball. Nothing’s changed. 5-9 college scoring guards will be taken after 6-5 Dirk-esque players any day.

I’m sorry, but this whole "if Diggins slides to #3" notion is so farfetched it’s ridiculous.Diggins was never, at any point, anything more than the third-best player in this draft class. She’s done nothing to warrant being picked higher than #3. There are Skylar Diggins-like players in every draft class. There are two PGs in next year’s draft class who are BETTER than Diggins. If things don’t work out with Chicago’s PGs this year, they can look forward to Chelsea Gray or Odyssey Sims in 2014. I happen to think that adding a 6-5 versatile scorer to the Fowles/Prince scoring duo is too intriguing to pass up. And Pokey, with her European coaching career, probably feels the same way. Scoring guards come dime-a-dozen in women’s basketball. 6-5 shooter/scorers do not.

Any and every team in the league that had the #2 pick would draft Delle Donne over Diggins. That’s how draft stock works. Delle Donne’s draft stock is higher than Diggins. Simple as that.

Some of you guys fail to see the huge gap that exists between Elena Delle Donne and Skylar Diggins as it pertains to them as prospects. This isn’t a "Big Three" draft. Diggins is a lot closer to the rest of the field than she is to Delle Donne and Griner. Nobody’s saying that she’s not good, but when compared to Delle Donne, Diggins is simply not good enough.

Candice Wiggins does not request a trade to Tulsa if she doesn’t believe that Skylar Diggins will be joining her on April 15.

In drafts, physical attributes are often what can earn prospects higher draft spots and let's face it. Brittney is at 6'8" and plays above the rim. Elena is at 6'5" and can stretch the floor and be the "Dirk-esque" player that many project her to be. Skylar Diggins is at 5'9" and while she is definitely a great player herself, she isn't a physical freak whether it is height or has some dimension in her game that we haven't seen often in the women's game. And this certainly is a fair point as to why she may not necessarily be the "game changer" that the media or some fans may think she is.

4. This draft is all about the one and the only Brittney Griner.

Well, they didn't call the 2013 Draft Lottery the Brittney Griner sweepstakes for nothing. Pilight hits this concept on the head right here in a comment also in the aforementioned Nolan/McCarville/Wiggins deal:

I agree that Delle Donne will be taken #2 and deservedly so. I also agree this isn’t a big three draft. It’s a big one draft. Griner is much further ahead of Delle Donne than EDD is ahead of Diggins.

The thing is that no matter what way you look at it, Brittney Griner is the only player in this draft class who adds a dimension to the WNBA game that no one else physically can because she is an athletic center who can regularly play above the rim and alters shots defensively that no other women's player can do. Delle Donne and Diggins can't do what Griner can. At least to me, the skill set that Griner brings to the pro game is what distinguishes her more from Delle Donne than the stretch forward and multidimensional game that Delle Donne has as a 6'5" player from the 5'9" Diggins who really can't be used as a small forward though we have discussed her here as a guard who can play both as a floor general and as a scorer.

Conclusion

So here are some talking points in regards to the 2013 Draft coming up next month. How do you feel about the top of this class? Sure, it may be a deeper than usual draft, but in regards to the top of the order, is the "Big Three" as big as some think it is? Or is this just a draft with one potential game changing center and some other players who figure to make a larger than average impact than most rookies who are draft lottery picks? We here at Swish Appeal love debates (just keep it civil so Big Brother Swish Appeal Admin doesn't come at you virtually), so please, speak your minds!

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