With the 10th pick in Swish Appeal's 2014 WNBA community mock draft, the Chicago Sky selected Louisville's Shoni Schimmel; we're adding Penn State's Ariel Edwards (arguably a more solid prospect than some of those we've already added who I've just oddly neglected to discuss).
As a reminder, we don't really need to add a new player to the poll after this pick, but through this process we're also incidentally compiling a community draft board: a list of players who we feel are the top 25 or so. Since it was suggested that we re-do this draft process, what we might instead do is to create a community draft board in addition to the mock draft so we can collectively decide who we'll consider the best players available on draft day.
Tl;dr: vote for the Sparks' pick, but also be sure to suggest one or two players that you'd like to see round out our top 25 prospects list so we can begin building a draft board.
You are the GM of the Sparks. With the backing of Magic Johnson, you're happy to still be in Los Angeles instead up north or unemployed. But the time for celebrating your existence is over: you have to get better this offseason after a disappointing end to the 2013 campaign.
Considered a championship contender along with the defending champion Minnesota Lynx and heavy favorite Phoenix Mercury, your squad finished second in the Western Conference but fell in dramatic fashion in the first round round of the 2013 WNBA Playoffs.
Falling well short of some lofty expectations last season, it will be a fight just to keep your team out of third place in 2014 with the Lynx returning their entire championship rotation and Mercury superstar Brittney Griner only expected to improve.
Obviously, you have a few of the ingredients for success: MVP Candace Parker and All-Star Nneka Ogwumike form a talented frontcourt duo, but create some well-documented strategic problems. In the backcourt, Lindsey Harding and Kristi Toliver form a potent complement offensively in theory, but are both best with the ball in their hands offensively and struggle to guard bigger guards defensively. Alana Beard brings veteran savvy to the wing on the defensive end, but had the least efficient scoring season of her career in 2013.
So there are some tensions within this talented roster to work out, but those can't be addressed without making trades - the draft is a time to make additions and there are plenty of those to be made.
A bigger guard to defend in the backcourt would be a major asset to complement their current guard rotation. Presumably, that was the role 2013 first round draft pick A'dia Mathies out of Kentucky might have filled, but she played less than 10 minutes per game last season. But with the loss of Marissa Coleman to the Indiana Fever, they're also growing thin at the small forward spot and needed someone who could score consistently off the bench (from anywhere) for them as it stood with Coleman. 6-foot-2 2012 draft pick Farhiya Abdi could step up in theory, but averaged only 7.2 minutes per game in 17 games.
At this point in the 2014 draft, that makes their priorities pretty clear: there are a number of wings available and the defensive needs in the backcourt and any consistent scoring on the wing are needs they might be able to fill with this spot.
Depending on who you talk to, a guard might just be the best player available. The player with the most defensive potential on the board might be Georgia Tech's Tyaunna Marshall, who's an aggressive offensive rebounder and attacks the rim as well as any guard in the draft. Tennessee's Meighan Simmons' quickness and wingspan also gives her plenty of offensive potential to go with her ability to shoot threes off the dribble. 6-foot-3 forward Ariel Edwards is an interesting option to consider as a player who has made the transition from post to wing in the college and could continue to develop and provide a long defensive presence.
Although you already have ball handlers, Oklahoma State's Tiffany Bias is a better defender than her 5-foot-6 stature suggests and might be an interesting fit. If three point shooting is something you want to bolster, Vanderbilt's Christina Foggie or Duke's Tricia Liston might be options you'd consider as potential scorers off the bench. Similarly, forwards Jordan Hooper or Bri Kulas could add another perimeter threat to the team.
However those options don't exclude going big, if you feel one of them are the best player available: LSU's Theresa Plaisance might be an interesting complement to the existing post rotation with Parker being such an effective low post player; Notre Dame's Natalie Achonwa has proven she's a high IQ player who can help facilitate offense from the high post and might be considered a player whose availability at this point is a bit surprising.
But the bottom line is that they can't afford to spend another top-15 pick on a player that can't contribute this season if they want to keep up with the other teams in the Western Conference: they need a player who can step in and make an impact right away.
So, who would you pick as the L.A. Sparks' GM at #11?
To provide your input, vote in the poll below, AND also provide a comment below. Remember that voting alone will not be sufficient to get a player picked since we don't want to see potential trolling of the system. Thanks for your cooperation and we look forward to seeing who you would pick.