Prior to the season, I wrote that Kayla Pedersen had to "become a more efficient scorer or better rebounder to help the Shock fill out their post rotation" given that they had waived two centers in training camp.
She did actually improve on both fronts - and quite a bit as a scorer - but she was still below average for a post player in both categories and ultimately the Tulsa Shock have decided to move on, trading the Stanford alum to the Connecticut Sun for a 2014 second round pick.
When considering her fit with the Sun, it might be clear what coach and GM Anne Donovan has in mind: Pedersen is still an efficient distributor for her position (1.53 pure point rating) and with an assist ratio of 23.47% she can actually be considered one of the best post passers in the league. With the Sun's defense revolving entirely around center Tina Charles - and possibly too-Charles centered - having a player who can pass that well next to her makes sense. And while this move could work well for Pedersen - she'll be going from the fastest paced team in the league to among the slowest third slowest paced, which complements her skillset well given the rest of the Sun's personnel - it's not clear how much this will help the Sun moving forward.
The fact remains that the Sun have the lowest effective field goal percentage and highest opponent offensive rebounding rate in the Eastern Conference, according to the Four Factor statistics posted at National Sports Rankings. In other words, Pedersen's biggest weaknesses are also weaknesses for the team. Yet in comparing Pedersen to current starting forward Kelsey Griffin, Pedersen is both a better ball handler and rebounder in addition to being a couple of inches taller.
So the trade probably wouldn't be a big deal at all if it weren't for the all-around disappointment it represents: Pedersen, drafted seventh overall in the 2011 WNBA draft, has now been traded for a second round pick while Kelsey Griffin, drafted third overall in 2010, figures to be competing with her for minutes. Meanwhile, Ashley Walker, drafted 12th overall in 2009, has been released by the Sun to accommodate the move.
In a particularly unfortunate coincidence, Jim Fuller of the New Haven Register published an article just this past Saturday about Walker finally finding a WNBA home in Connecticut and hoping to stick around. Walker did show promise as a rebounder in limited minutes (16.72% offensive rebounding percentage in just under 8 minutes per game), but had a low true shooting percentage (37.27%) and high turnover ratio (23.58%) making her no more efficient a player than Griffin or Pedersen. Less than a week after the article, Walker finds herself without a job once again.
Ultimately - as Fuller alluded to - this all comes down to how difficult a time the Sun have had replacing Olympian Asjha Jones who is sitting out the season to get healthy. For the Shock, a team with similar weaknesses as the Sun statistically, this moves opens up room to bring back a player like Courtney Paris who scored 10 points in just over 17 minutes in the Shock's overtime loss in Los Angeles on June 8.
For more on the Sun's season, visit our 2013 Connecticut Sun storystream.