2014 WNBA Draft recap: Solid additions and training camp questions

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Having already looked at the big winners and best decisions of the 2014 WNBA draft last week, we look at a few teams that added potential contributors and others that are left with some questions as training camp approaches.

I really try to refrain from grading drafts anymore because it's hard to know how hard a player will work to improve or how fast they'll pick up plays from afar.

But the following are the teams that might not have had splashy drafts, but either made solid additions or additions with question marks that make them hard to evaluate until final roster decisions are made.

Solid additions

Chicago Sky

Draft night analysis

At first the Markeisha Gatling pick just looked like a best available thing, but with Carolyn Swords waived after missing games due to injury last season and Sylvia Fowles expected to miss time after surgery, Gatling could be in position to compete for an All-Rookie selection simply because she'll definitely have a chance to get bigger minutes than some of her counterparts.

As someone who has followed Cal in recent years, I'd love to see Gennifer Brandon make the squad but they're crowded up front after also adding Jessica Breland, Sasha Goodlett, and Avery Warley with the latter being a taller and more proven rebounder than Brandon.

San Antonio Stars

Draft night analysis | Bri Kulas a potential sleeper

Can't knock a thing that San Antonio did in the draft. McBride was a strong pick at three. Astou Ndour has plenty of upside when she does decide to come to the States. Third round Bri Kulas has a shot at making the roster and you have to think they like her better than Rice product Jessica Kuster, who is a similar player that the Stars chose not to select in the draft.

The interesting question for the Stars is how coach Dan Hughes will manage the minutes in the backcourt. That's not a question we can even answer until we see how all the pieces fit together on the floor - and even then, we have to see how veteran Becky Hammon holds up over the course of the season a year after coming off injury - but they're going to have a number of lineup combinations to play with this season, almost to the point where you could imagine "hockey subs".

That can be a blessing and a curse.

Atlanta Dream

Draft night analysis

Schimmel is a good fit for Atlanta's past style and needs, assuming Michael Cooper takes a similar approach. Inga Orakhova is a volume three point shooter, which could potentially fills a need as well. But this is also a team that has already brought in veteran Matee Ajavon this offseason to add to Tiffany Hayes and Angel McCoughtry on the wing (and the presence of Ashley Corral and Jacki Gemelos on their training camp rosters should also be noted given Cooper's familiarity with them). Schimmel is a fit to the extent that she adds a needed skill and comes from a program that plays a similarly uptempo brand of ball, but it will still be interesting to watch how they work all of those wings into the rotation and how much defense plays a role in working that out.

Lingering questions

L.A. Sparks

Draft night analysis

An argument could be made that Jennifer Hamson was the best player available when the Sparks selected her 23rd overall in the draft, but the reason I haven't previously highlighted the pick is simply a numbers game on their training camp roster and the fact that she could still choose to forego this season to focus on volleyball.

As they did entering last season, the Sparks have a roster with pieces that don't quite fit together perfectly, or perhaps do so awkwardly: most relevant to Hamson, All-Star forwards Nneka Ogwumike and Candace Parker both start in the Sparks' frontcourt, which often means that Parker is out on the perimeter bailing defenses out with jumpers. And with Ogwumike and Parker being arguably the best two players on the team, they have to start and can't really do so at small forward. That means that they have a forward taking starter's minutes at the center position then Jantel Lavender and newly-acquired Sandrine Gruda coming off the bench.

In theory, keeping the 6-foot-7 Hamson on the roster isn't a bad idea - she's agile enough to develop into a solid weakside shot blocker in limited minutes, similar to the type of contribution Ashley Robinson made early in her career. The Sparks can use that type of presence on their roster - even with the 6-foot-4 Sandrine Gruda offering a similar talent with more experience against elite competition - but it's not immediately obvious that she'd get the minutes to make a major contribution given the composition on their roster, even if she does choose basketball this season. That's why despite the hype about her defensive potential, it's difficult to call her a value pick: it's not clear when or how much she'll actually play.

Phoenix Mercury

Draft night analysis

You can understand how both Tiffany Bias and Maggie Lucas fit the Mercury; but figuring out if they can actually make the roster is far more difficult. That's not about them having marginal statistics as draft prospects as much as a matter of what the Mercury's depth chart looks like heading into training camp.

The Mercury's point guard spot should be an open competition, though Jasmine James is returning and they traded away their first round draft pick to bring in Erin Phillips (who may or may not play a full season due to the World Championships). On the wing, of course they have Diana Taurasi and DeWanna Bonner in addition to Penny Taylor, who should also be expected to play with the Australian National Team, but they've also brought back Briana Gilbreath and Alexis Hornbuckle as well as adding veteran Shay Murphy.

You can see on paper what Bias and Lucas might offer, but with 13 guards on their training camp roster it's not as though their spots are guaranteed or even how many we can expect the Mercury to keep given that they have big minute players on the perimeter.

Indiana Fever

Draft night analysis

In saying that Natasha Howard has tremendous upside if she continues to develop as a basketball player, we also have to admit that there's some chance this pick doesn't look very good in the next few years if she struggles with the physicality of the pros for some reason. If for whatever she's not ready to make an immediate contribution, the Fever don't otherwise have a lot of experience in the frontcourt and they spent their other first round pick on Natalie Achonwa, who will miss the season due to injury.

Obviously, they've shown they can win with Tamika Catchings and Erlana Larkins playing big minutes in the frontcourt after an injury-ravaged season last year and maybe less experienced players like Lynetta Kizer or Ziomarra Morrison can step up in bigger roles this year, but they still have some fairly significant frontcourt questions despite drafting for exactly that.

For more on this year's draft, check out our 2014 WNBA Draft section.

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