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WNBA Draft 2011: Swish Appeal's Final First Round Mock Draft & Pivotal Picks

If drafting is not a science, then I'm not sure what that makes mock drafting.

Fun? Let's go with that because it's extremely difficult to predict this draft.

So first, let's look at a few things that change the direction of this draft:

  • Who will the Chicago Sky pick at #3? We have learned that the Sky are leaning toward point guard Courtney Vandersloot, but could select Amber Harris, who former coach Steven Key was intrigued by last season (when Harris decided to stay in school). If they go with Vandersloot, things could turn out the way we have them here. If they go with Harris, Minnesota will have a few options and Vandersloot could fall to - but likely no lower than - the San Antonio Silver Stars.
  • What will happen with picks five and six? Even if things go as we suggest and Vandersloot is selected third, picks five and six could go in any one of a number of directions. Astute readers might have picked up on the fact that there aren't a whole lot of first round caliber perimeter shooting prospects, which leaves the Los Angeles Sparks picking who they feel is best available. If that's a center, we can hardly agree who the best center is. And although the Silver Stars will likely be looking to fill different needs, they could pick any one of 4-5 players that would make perfect sense. From there, things might flow a bit more naturally... until.
  • How will Lindsey Harding's trade demand affect the Washington Mystics? We originally had the Mystics pegged for a post player and now with the acquisition of Nicky Anosike, that's unquestionably changed and we have them slated for a point guard. The x-factor in that decision could be what they're able to get in return for Harding and what's available based on everything that's happened before.

With those acknowledgments that we simply cannot predict this thing perfectly, we took our best shot putting our insights together to make a first round mock.

The Process:

  • Like our first mock draft, four of our contributors (Holly Tanneyhill, M Robinson, DishNSwish, and I) submitted mock drafts based on perceived team needs.
  • I aggregated them to determine a consensus opinion of who each team should draft.
  • I used James Bowman's previous post of top college seniors to add insight or break ties.
  • People submitted explanations for their picks, so those will be added when necessary as well as an attempt at justifying the pick.

Swish Appeal's First Round Mock Draft

1. Minnesota Lynx: Maya Moore, F, Connecticut Huskies

Other votes: none.

Boxscores rank: 1

Commentary: We have nothing further to say about Moore. She's good.

2. Tulsa Shock: Liz Cambage, C, Australia

Other votes: none

Boxscores rank: N/A

Commentary: Even if it means drafting her and trading her, it's hard to imagine this pick going any other way.

3. Chicago Sky: Courtney Vandersloot, G, Gonzaga Bulldogs

Other votes: None.

Boxscores rank: 9

Commentary: There is of course a chance that the Sky would take the more conventional route of taking Amber Harris here, but there's a lot worse things a GM can do than building a team around a point guard and center. Vandersloot was a once-in-a-lifetime point guard in college and is worth a lottery pick in the WNBA.

4. Minnesota Lynx: Amber Harris, F, Xavier Musketeers

Other votes: Ta'Shia Phillips

Boxscores rank: 5

Commentary: Assuming Vandersloot goes third, Harris seems too talented to fall below this point. But with Anosike gone, there's also a feeling that the Lynx could go with a true center in Ta'Shia Phillips, which could help strengthen their post defense.

5. Los Angeles Sparks: Ta'Shia Phillips, C, Xavier Musketeers

Other votes: Amber Harris, Jantel Lavender

Commentary: The team is probably still looking for some perimeter scoring, but the best players available will almost certainly be bigs and as former Washington Mystics GM Angela Taylor blogged having someone on the block to score is a need for this team. Whereas Lavender might be a solid scoring option, Phillips figures to be a solid defender in the league.

6. San Antonio Silver Stars: Danielle Robinson, G, Oklahoma Sooners

Other votes: Sydney Colson, Kayla Pedersen

Commentary: This pick could be a real wild card. As someone put it (half) jokingly, this team's number one need is youth. Any of Colson, Pedersen, and Robinson could make sense here and I'm particularly partial to Colson - for all the talk of replacing Vickie Johnson's presence, Colson might be the best candidate to do so. However, playing next to Becky Hammon, Robinson makes quite a bit of sense as well - while Robinson's college numbers suggest that she'll be more of a scoring guard than distributor in the pros, her size and speed might be an ideal fit next to either Hammon or Edwige Lawson-Wade as someone who can handle the ball and get to the basket.

7. Tulsa Shock: Victoria Dunlap, F, Kentucky Wildcats

Other votes: Danielle Robinson

Boxscores: 3

Commentary: By the numbers, Dunlap is the best on the board, two voters have her, and the other had Dunlap a pick ahead. Tulsa would likely love to have Danielle Robinson fall here, but with Robinson gone the choice is Dunlap. There might be doubts about Dunlap's ability to finish consistently enough to be a factor in the WNBA, but Tulsa is one place where she would have a chance to succeed because of Nolan Richardson's style of play.

8. Atlanta Dream: Kayla Pedersen, F, Stanford Cardinal

Other votes: Jeanette Pohlen

Boxscores: 14

Commentary: After some indecision on Pedersen in our first mock draft, this time we're pretty clear: it's either 6 or 8. If she falls past 8, it's a bit unclear where she'll go.

We also seem to be pretty sure that someone from Stanford will go here and Pohlen wouldn't be a bad pick as someone who can shoot the three and add a scoring dimension to the Dream that they definitely don't have currently.

9. Indiana Fever: Jasmine Thomas, G, Duke Blue Devils

Other votes: Sydney Colson, Kachine Alexander

Boxscores: 23

Commentary: Our general consensus here is some sort of point guard. Sydney Colson seems like a great fit here defensively, but Thomas would add some scoring punch. Alexander is obviously not a point guard, but fits the perimeter defender mold.

10. New York Liberty: Jantel Lavender, C, Ohio State Buckeyes

Other votes: Ta'Shia Phillips, Danielle Robinson

Commentary: The consensus remains that the Liberty need a post player. With Taj McWilliams- Franklin leaving for Minnesota center is a significant need for the Liberty.  Jantel Lavender makes sense as a big center that can score and potentially replace that element of McWilliams-Franklin's game.

11. Washington Mystics: Sydney Colson, G, Texas A&M Aggies

Other votes: Danielle Adams, Angel Robinson, Jasmine Thomas

Commentary: With Lindsey Harding apparently asking out of Washington, a point guard seems like the direction for the Mystics to go. Angel Robinson is the sleeper here as quite possibly the best all-around point guard available, but with absolutely no consensus Colson fits the defensive mold that this team has established for themselves in their backcourt.

12. Seattle Storm: Jeanette Pohlen, G, Stanford Cardinal

Other votes: Ify Ibekwe, Dawn Evans

Commentary: Pohlen is an interesting choice here as yet another player capable of playing both 1 and 2 and adding another long-range shooter. Alexander and Danielle Adams would be choices here as best available as well. Another selection worth throwing out there: Arizona's Ify Ibekwe, another defensive rebounding and shot blocking presence that a coach like Brian Agler might like to have at his disposal.