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2012 WNBA Draft Recap: A Few General Observations

Over the last few days, I've had conversations with a number of people about Monday's WNBA Draft and a few themes seemed to emerge as prominent.

Jessica has already looked at the team-by-team results, but the following is a summary of some of the major themes.

  • Shenise Johnson might end up being the steal of the draft: I didn't think Johnson would fall past the Tulsa Shock at #4, a team that had a clear need for a wing. Glory Johnson was clearly among the most talented prospects in the draft, so it wasn't a costly mistake. But Shenise Johnson was among the most versatile playmakers - as in distributing and scoring - to come out in a few years.
  • Rebounders were a hot commodity: 6 of the 10 first round picks that played in the NCAA were very strong rebounders - including Stanford's Nneka Ogwumike, who the L.A. Sparks made the first selection overall - which makes a lot of sense in a "weak" draft as college offensive rebounding tends to transfer well as an indicator of potential at the pro level, even if not a dominant pro rebounder. Courtney Hurt (#34) is obviously undersized, but on an Indiana Fever team that needs rebounding she was well worth a chance as a third round pick.
  • Was Devereaux Peters drafted too high? I'm not sure there's any consensus on how good Peters might become. The question, and I'm not sure anyone has a definitive answer, is how much of what she has done in college will transfer to the pros and how close is she to her ceiling?
  • Kelley Cain wasn't a bad pickup in terms of WNBA potential, but drafting her at #7 was questionable: Included in that six above was Kelley Cain, who was a strong offensive rebounder in her last season at Tennessee before announcing her retirement from basketball. The nagging question, given said retirement announcement, is whether spending a first round pick on Cain was the best draft strategy - was she even on anyone else's radar? Could they have traded down to make that pick and added more talent? She is healthy and put up solid numbers in Turkey while overseas. At 6'6", she has as good a chance as any player available at that point in this year's draft to succeed, which is not a bad standard for drafting someone.
  • Could this be a good year for second round picks? Tiffany Hayes is not likely to be a star, but she was a value pick by the Atlanta Dream at #14 in this draft - with Angel McCoughtry on the perimeter efficient, complementary scorers could be as valuable as inefficient, volume shooters. The Sparks need a ball handler with Ticha Penicheiro departed to the Chicago Sky, so Khadijah Rushdan (#15) has a good chance to make their roster and could help improve their defense. Tyra White's (#16) defensive ability might help give her a chance at making the roster. Tulsa needed scoring so Riquna Williams (#17) will have as good a chance as anyone in this draft to make a roster. C'eira Ricketts (#24) is a fit for the Phoenix Mercury in that there were few players faster with the ball in the nation this year although she's not a particularly efficient college 3-point shooter.
  • Riquna Williams' suspension probably did hurt her draft stock, but so did being an inefficient 5'7" volume shooter. Given the track record of players with similar profiles in the past and the number of international players drafted, going #17 is a value pick but not much of a snub. Certainly the details of her suspension being reported didn't help her any, but her college numbers suggest she'd have to make adjustments to be an efficient rotation player in the WNBA even with all of her athleticism.
  • Julie Wojta is a great fit for the Lynx in theory, but their roster situation makes that selection somewhat unfortunate: On almost any other team in the league, Wojta would be the early favorite for steal of this draft at #18. She would be a great fit for the Lynx in that she's got an ideal skill set as a complementary pro player who can do a little bit of everything and she shot 40.8% from the 3-point line in her senior year. It would be difficult for her to make the roster this season, but there's little question that she offers as much or more than some other players currently on WNBA rosters, athletically if nothing else.
  • Are the Tulsa Shock willing or looking to trade one of their power forwards? Even if they arguably took the best player available with each of their four draft picks, the selections of Glory Johnson, Vicki Baugh, and Lynetta Kizer have made people wonder if they'd be willing to part ways with one of their bigs previously on the roster. Tiffany Jackson's trade value would seem to be higher than ever right now after putting up much-improved numbers last season. Or they could just decide not to keep those third round picks, which is probably more likely, given the track record of third rounders.
  • Our preseason selections didn't fare well: Two of our preseason top 10 (Briana Gilbreath, Lynetta Kizer) went in the third round and two others (Cierra Bravard, Lykendra Johnson) went undrafted. There are easy explanations for that - some of which might not have been predictable - but we've also identified a few ways we can improve upon that for 2013.
  • Damiris Dantas might be expected to come to the states next season: According to a report by the Brazilian Basketball Confederation, Minnesota's second first round pick (#12) might be ready to come to the states in 2013. Translated (via Google Translate): "This year is very important for the Brazilian National Team and I am very focused on the Olympics, but from next season I will defend Minnesota."

For more on the 2012 WNBA Draft, including all of our pre-draft analysis of prospects, check out our "WNBA Draft 2012" section.