Chasing the Title statistical summary:
"She only ranks in two areas that I calculate, Stop Percentage and BoxScores. This indicates that she is strong defender and rather versatile. She is among the best shooting guards with regards to both Stop Percentage and Offensive Rating."
- The aggression and toughness that Tyra Grant demonstrates on the court is what most immediately stands out when looking at her statistics. She had a very impressive free throw rate of 43.13% and shot a reasonable 80% from the free throw line, indicative of her ability to get herself easy points by attacking the basket and drawing fouls. That aggression in the paint is reinforced by a strong defensive rebounding rate for a guard at 9.97%, averaging nearly 5 rebounds a game.
- The most glaring weakness for Grant as a shooting guard is her shooting percentage. She shot an effective field goal percentage of 41% and a 3 point percentage of 32.02%, neither of which are particularly encouraging for a guard. More problematic though for a guard that likes to attack the basket is her 2 point percentage of 37.63%. Combined with the fact that she had a turnover ratio of 12.06% -- not quite offset by her assist ratio of 8.16% -- Grant is a player who was quite productive, but not necessarily efficient, with the ball in her hands. Perhaps on a professional team where she isn't relied upon so heavily to make plays -- she had a usage percentage over 30% -- she won't be forced into so many mistakes. However, it's a leap to say that alone explains the shooting numbers.
- WNBA prospect profile
Quote from an analyst:
"I think that the guard spot is going to be the toughest spot to make a team. I think that if she's drafted as far as the training camps, it's going to be a battle. I think that there are so many experienced perimeter players now and you gotta remember that the Sacramento Monarchs suspended operations so you have some veteran players and there's 11 less spots this year, which makes it tough. She is a very talented guard, terrific career in the Big Ten. At that position, it's extremely competitive."
- ESPN analyst Carolyn Peck during the WNBA pre-draft media conference call.
After posting the article with the Top 45 WNBA prospects on Tuesday, someone politely emailed me with what amounted to the following question: where's Tyra Grant?
Perhaps it's ironic that I previously wrote that one of my favorite draft day stories is former Ohio State guard Michael Redd and then proceeded to leave Penn State University guard and Big Ten leading scorer Tyra Grant out of my rankings for being an inefficient college scorer.
In the 2010 WNBA draft, Grant finds herself in a somewhat similar situation to Redd upon entering the 2000 draft as an early entry -- an inconsistent shooter, who is clearly athletic, passionate, and strong in attacking the rim. Redd's inconsistent shooting led NBA teams to pass on him until the Milwaukee Bucks selected him in the second round. Now we can say he might have been one of the best second round picks in NBA history -- after tirelessly working on his shot, he's made himself into one of the top long range shooters in the NBA, an All-Star and a member of Team USA.
Although Grant's numbers don't bode well for immediate success, stories like Redd's have to be considered inspiration for both her and prospective teams. Clearly as the Big 10's leading scorer she can play. The fact that she gets to the line so well demonstrates strong scoring instincts and her rebounding ability shows that she's a rather well-rounded guard for her size. However, in her senior year, her tendencies point to a pure scorer who distributed the ball primarily as a result of her efforts to score (e.g. driving while looking to score and finding others once that option was shut down). So while it seems as though she is able to create scoring opportunities for herself at the college level, the fact that she's a pure scorer means that her shooting efficiency has to improve to make her a viable WNBA player.
The problem is that a transformation like Redd's - or even a shift in mentality - isn't something we can predict; it would require the right combination of work ethic, relationship with the coaching staff, and patience from the front office to maintain a salary cap hold for potential. So to pick Grant over other guard prospects could be considered a gamble at best and would require a commitment from a team to help her develop and adjust her tendencies a bit.
Unfortunately, in the current WNBA climate it's also difficult to imagine a team being so patient with a player that might ultimately amount to a project, especially with the relative depth of talent at her position. With rosters cut to 11 and veterans fighting for their jobs, competition will be tight. Grant has a fight ahead of her, to say the least.