Quick Analysis: Tulsa trades Kara Braxton to Phoenix for Nicole Ohlde & 2011 First Round Pick

Photo by Ryan Malone

The Tulsa Shock have confirmed through a press release that the Kara Braxton for Nicole Ohlde and a 2011 first round pick trade that Freelantz reported last night.

Kara Braxton and Nicole Ohlde are essentially similar players...except Braxton is the better rebounder and scorer, while Ohlde has a higher assist rate and lower turnover percentage.

For the Mercury, acquiring Braxton is a double bonus -- not only do they get a more reliable post scorer to complement more perimeter oriented post players Candice Dupree and Tangela Smith, but also brings an arch nemesis to their side: during the four game season series against Phoenix just completed last night, Braxton 12.75 points on 62% shooting against Phoenix.

Mercury Shake Up Roster For Playoff Run, Ohlde Traded For Braxton - SB Nation Arizona
Gaines said this about Braxton after the teams played last week, "Forget all the fancy step-through - all that bullshit. She (Braxton) goes straight to the basket - which is a force - so we kind of have to watch out on her."

Not that they were going to see her again, but clearly they've addressed a need for some muscle in the post with this acquisition.

Braxton's biggest asset -- and perhaps the most important strength she brings to Phoenix -- is defensive rebounding. Braxton currently has a defensive rebounding percentage of 27% and has been among the top defensive rebounders in the league all season. For a Phoenix team that has been getting beaten on the offensive boards by nearly 8% -- among the highest differentials in the league -- having a center Braxton's size to help control the glass both helps them limit second chance points and trigger the fast break.

More subtly, Braxton's steal percentage of 4.4% places her in the elite among centers and the reason her average isn't higher could easily be attributed to the fact that she has had 10 less minutes a game than top center thieves. In addition, Braxton is reportedly in better shape than usual as a result of Nolan Richardson's rigorous workout regimen. As Phoenix looks to defend their title in the playoffs, Braxton might be something of an asset to bolster their post rotation.

As for Tulsa, we could certainly do a strict basketball analysis but that's clearly was not what this trade was about. The big prize in this trade for Tulsa was Phoenix's 2011 first round draft pick. At present, the Western Conference playoff picture is far from set and second place Phoenix would be below the last place New York Liberty in a draft order. Meaning Tulsa has acquired a potentially very valuable mid-first round draft pick. How valuable?

Here are players potentially available in the 2011 draft, aside from the highly touted Maya Moore:

Angie Bjorklund

Jessica Breland

Liz Cambage

Victoria Dunlap

Amber Harris

Ify Ibekwe

Jantel Lavender

Kat Nash

Kayla Pedersen

Ta'Shia Phillips

Chastity Reed

Danielle Robinson

Brittany Spears

Jasmine Thomas

Courtney Vandersloot

Danielle Wilson

You don't have to go through a deep analysis of all 16 of those prospects to get the point here: one could imagine that the first round (and into the second round) will have enough talent to make this type of trade (and the earlier Shavonte Zellous trade) worthwhile for Tulsa. And just as players may decline in their senior years, this list obviously does not include any players who might potentially emerge throughout the season. In other words, Tulsa has traded their way into possibly getting a young rotation player who fills any one of a number of needs as they try to build this team. This was undoubtedly a trade for the future.

Related Links:

Mercury Shake Up Roster For Playoff Run, Ohlde Traded For Braxton

Mercury Acquire Kara Braxton