Editor's note: We've updated some of the formatting of the post and added a note on the San Antonio Stars' acquisition of the sixth overall pick. All statistics are good through February 19, 2015.
This is my first take on the upcoming WNBA Draft. As I discovered while creating it, predicting this draft is going to be nearly impossible. On three separate occasions in the last three days, I have had to rework the order as a result of trades, free agent signings or injuries. Couple that with the fact that any of the top four picks could go first or fall to sixth, and you start to understand just how difficult this process is.
Despite all of that, I have been as thorough with my predictions as possible. Taking into account team needs, coaching philosophies, player potential and franchise short and long-term goals. This means I have detailed not only who at this moment COULD be taken by each team, but also the arguments for and against each player. Also included is a brief list of other possible selections at each pick. Once a player is ‘selected’ in this mock draft, they will not be listed as a potential pick for another team.
Without further ado, let’s begin the 2015 WNBA mock draft: ‘Too Soon To Tell’ edition.
#1. Seattle Storm: Reshanda Gray, 6’ 3 Forward, Cal
Key stats: MPG 26.7, PPG 18.1, RPG 7.0, BLKS 1.0, FG% 57.6.
Case for the pick:
Seattle is at the start of a massive rebuilding project. To put into perspective just how big, one only has to look at the 2014 roster and compare it to what it looks like today. The team president, GM, head coach and (so far) four players from the start of the 2014 season, are gone. In other words, Seattle needs EVERYTHING!
In pretty much any draft, there is a premium on players who can score in the paint and rebound effectively. For Seattle, drafting Gray would give them a potential star player down low or at worst a serviceable power forward to add depth behind Crystal Langhorne. There is another reason for selecting Gray, but I'll get to that in pick #3.
Two words: foul trouble. Gray has proven herself to be capable of monster scoring performances in her career (see her 43-point game at the end of last season for proof). However, she is constantly in foul trouble meaning she is not on the floor long enough to consistently show what she is capable of doing. If she struggles with fouls in the college game, she will foul at a higher rate at the WNBA level. Once you add in the fact that the Storm will likely have a top 4 pick in 2016 and could draft Jillian Alleyne and the case for Gray at #1 is 50-50 at best.
Other potential picks: Elizabeth Williams, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Dearica Hamby, Brittany Boyd, Crystal Bradford
#2.Tulsa Shock: Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, 5’ 11 Guard/Forward, UConn
Key stats: MPG 28.2, PPG 13.8, RPG 4.3, 2pt% 56, 3pt% 50.
Case for the pick:
The one major position that the Shock have been desperately lacking in is at small forward. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis is by far the best perimeter shooter in the draft. Her accuracy and range from deep would open up the floor for Diggins and Simms to penetrate, and for Glory Johnson to operate without fear of consistent double teams down low. Having a starting lineup of Odyssey Sims, Skylar Diggins, Mosqueda-Lewis, Glory Johnson, and Courtney Paris would make Tulsa one of, if not the most exciting teams to watch next summer and for years to come. Once you take into account all five players have Team USA experience of one kind or another, AND that all of them will be starting caliber for the next decade, you have yourself one hell of a lethal combination.
As of now, Mosqueda-Lewis has a lot of weaknesses in her game. She can’t create her own shot, doesn’t have the ability to drive to the rim, struggles to stay in front of players defensively and almost never gets to the free-throw line. If she were in the 2016 Draft, she might fall as far as 7th. Many teams in the WNBA would question taking a mostly one-dimensional player so high in the draft.
Other potential picks: Elizabeth Williams, Crystal Bradford, Dearica Hamby
#3. Seattle Storm: Brittany Boyd, 5’ 9 Guard, Cal
Key stats: MPG 33.6, PPG 13.5, RPG 7.6, APG 7.4, SPG 3.1
Case for the pick:
It’s not every day a point guard ranks in the top-15 in FIVE statistical categories, especially in a conference as deep as the Pac-12. Boyd does just that. She ranks 1st in assists, 2nd in steals, 7th in rebounds, 8th in minutes and 13th in scoring. It is even rarer when said player is on a team that features another potential lottery pick in Reshanda Gray. With Seattle in desperate need of a new floor general to succeed Sue Bird, and now without a perimeter defensive ace after the loss of Tanisha Wright, Boyd would be an ideal candidate for the 3rd pick. This is especially the case if Gray is also the first pick. The potential of having the second great duo in Storm history (Bird and Lauren Jackson are the first, obviously) could give the Storm a solid foundation as they move forward with rebuilding.
Put simply, Boyd isn't a good shooter. She converts just 42.1% of her shots inside the arc, only 32.7% from downtown and an abysmal 59.5% of her free throws. If it weren’t for her poor shooting Boyd would likely be considered the best pure point guard prospect in the NCAA since Sue Bird. Unfortunately, she is nowhere near efficient enough as a shooter to earn such praise.
Other potential picks: Elizabeth Williams, Samantha Logic, Dearica Hamby, Crystal Bradford.
#4. Connecticut Sun: Elizabeth Williams, 6’ 3 Center, Duke
Key stats: MPG 31.0, PPG 14.7, RPG 8.5, BLKS 2.9
Case for the pick:
Connecticut is a team on the rise that has been dealt a devastating (though temporary) setback with the loss of Chiney Ogwumike to microfracture surgery. While they have already shored up their frontline by adding Camille Little, she seems to be more of a short-term replacement than a long term solution in the post. Enter Elizabeth Williams, a center who has great defensive instincts, rebounding skills, and can put up consistently good offensive numbers. When you add in that the Sun already drafted Chelsea Gray, Williams' running mate at Duke last year, you have a built-in chemistry between the point guard and center to ease both players transition to the pros. Plus once Ogwumike returns to the lineup, she and Williams have the potential to be one of the best low post combos in the WNBA.
The Sun already feature several young and developing post players and adding another could create a log jam in the paint. Williams is also on the lower end of the scale in terms of field goal percentage at 50% despite playing 15 feet and in. She is also sub par from the free-throw line where she shoots just 59.8%.
Other potential picks: Dearica Hamby, Crystal Bradford, Isabelle Harrison.
#5. Chicago Sky: Isabelle Harrison, 6’ 3 Forward, Tennessee
Key Stats: MPG 23.7, PPG 12.8, RPG 9.1, BLKS 1.3
Case for the pick:
There are three things to take into account when considering Chicago’s pick.
First, they have no real needs. Their roster's loaded with talent and depth. If it hadn’t been for a disastrous number of injuries last season they would be drafting 11th instead of 5th.
Second, Harrison just suffered a truly unfortunate, season ending knee injury that will keep her out of the WNBA in 2015.
Third, Isabelle Harrison is just a very good player. Like Indiana did last year with Natalie Achonwa after her knee injury; Chicago could draft Harrison and wait for her to recover while still exposing her to the workings of a WNBA team. The added benefit of this is that Harrison, once healthy, could play either the power forward or center position. So if Delle Donne or Fowles were to go down again, Chicago would have a legitimate option to fill in at either spot.
This isn’t the first time Harrison has injured her knee. It’s not even the first time this season. Taking her could be a major gamble especially if she physically is unable to return to her pre-injury form. She also would need to add strength to be able to go head to head with a vast majority of WNBA post players. Couple that with her 47% field goal shooting and it might be in Chicago’s best interest to select another player or trade the pick for a pick in a future draft.
Other potential picks: Dearica Hamby, Samantha Logic, Aleighsa Welch, Crystal Bradford.
Indiana Fever: San Antonio Stars: Dearica Hamby, 6’ 3 Forward, Wake Forest
Key Stats: MPG 35.4, PPG 20.4, RPG 10.7, FG% 52.1.
On March 12, 2015, the San Antonio Stars acquired the sixth and 18th overall picks of the 2015 WNBA Draft in exchange for Shenise Johnson. While the Stars could go ahead and draft Hamby at #6, it's very possible that they could acquire a guard, or trade it for another asset. From the original post:
For San Antonio, the trade comes as the team begins to build for the future. An injury to Danielle Adams combined with the retirement of Becky Hammon has left the team thin in both their front and backcourts. Even with Adams planning on being ready for the season, the addition of a second mid first round pick gives the Stars an opportunity to add both a guard and a post player who they can develop for the future. Potential guards who could be on the board include Amber Orrange, Samantha Logic and Jazmine Davis.
Having two first round picks also gives the Stars the flexibility to possibly trade up in the draft or acquire another veteran if one is made available via trade.
The original notes on Hamby are below though they do relate to her as a potential Indy player.
Case for the pick: Hamby has a proven track record as a versatile, athletic front court player capable of playing the 3, 4 or 5 and doing so in near dominant fashion in the ACC. Her averages of over 20 points and 10 rebounds per game while playing in a conference that has five teams ranked in the top 25 is a remarkable feat. When you consider she can handle the ball on the fast break, can out jump most anybody in the NCAA and has range to the three-point line as a true post player, you start to realize she has the most star potential in the entire draft class. With Tamika Catchings retiring after 2016, the chance to draft another versatile front court player to help fill Catchings’ shoes could be very tempting for the Fever. Case against: While Hamby’s numbers are spectacular and consistent, her team's lack of depth could be the main contributing factor as to why. Wake Forest is 1-12 in ACC play so far this season, and Hamby is one of only two players on the Demon Deacons scoring in double figures. Her offensive output accounts for 30% of Wake Forest's scoring and her 10.7 rebounds account for 28% of their total. Furthermore, she might not be strong enough to battle in the paint consistently in the WNBA, and she isn't a particularly good three-point shooter. Her blocks per game have also dropped from just over 1 per game last year to just .6 per game this season. In addition, Indiana is already developing two other versatile front court players in Natasha Howard and Natalie Achonwa, meaning that despite her potential, Indiana could pass on Hamby.
Other potential picks: Samantha Logic, Crystal Bradford, Aleighsa Welch, Amber Orrange, Vicky Mcintyre.
#7: Los Angeles Sparks: Crystal Bradford, 6’ 0 Guard/Forward, Central Michigan
Key stats: MPG 33.8, PPG 20.3, RPG 9.1, APG 3.7, SPG 2.7, BLKS 1.0.
Case for the pick:
The Sparks have already made significant moves to improve their fortunes for the upcoming season. That said, even with the signing of Euro star Ana Dabovic they still lack depth at the shooting guard and small forward positions. At 6’ 0, Bradford has the size to run the 3, while also possessing true guard skills which could allow L.A. to run a truly giant lineup, especially if Jennifer Hamson decides to sign on for next season.
Additionally, Bradford utterly dominates the statistical categories of her conference. Bradford ranks first in the Mid-American conference in Points, rebounds and steals per game, is fourth in assists and tied for fifth in both blocks and minutes. She is the only guard in the country ranked in the top five in her conference in both rebounds and blocks. Her prowess as an all around threat was on full display against Oregon and Jillian Alleyne earlier this season. Bradford finished the game with 34 points, 15 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocks and 2 steals.
Like Boyd, Bradford isn’t a good shooter. While she has improved this season, especially from the free-throw line, she still is below average for her position. She makes just 24.8% of her threes despite attempting over five per game. Her free-throw percentage stands at only 68.1% this season (which is a nearly 17% improvement from last season when she shot just 51.6%) and for her career she converts just 56.3% of her shots from the charity stripe. Additionally the signing of Dabovic who is also a 6’ 0’ guard could make Bradford redundant on the Sparks.
Other potential picks: Samantha Logic, Amber Orrange, Jazmine Davis,
#8: Washington Mystics: Aleighsa Welch, 6' 0 Forward, South Carolina
Key stats: MPG 25.2, PPG 9.1, RPG 6.3, BLKS 1.2, FG% 56.6%
Case for the pick:
Welch is a proven player at one of the most elite programs in the country. While her numbers are down this season due to the system Dawn Staley is running, she has continued to step up big when called upon. One only needs to look at her performance against UConn in which she finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds going against the toughest competition in the country. Add in her ridiculous field goal percentage and beyond-her-size shot blocking ability, and you have a player who could be a very good contributor for a team like Washington.
The Mystics obviously have a lot of needs, and they won't be able to fill them all this offseason. Of these needs, their biggest is at the small forward position after Monique Currie signed with the Phoenix Mercury as a free agent. Welch could fill in her shoes effectively and carve herself a role in D.C. while the Mystics figure out what they will do long-term.
Welch does not have a three-point shooting game which could make it difficult for her to play small forward at the next level. She is also abysmal at the free-throw line where she is converting just 41.2% of her attempts during the season.
Finally, this isn't a case for or against Welch being on the Mystics, but it's with them picking 8th overall as a rebuilding team that still lacks an elite or even a near-elite player. We're in year three of the Mike Thibault Era, yet most of the talent issues that Albert
whined, I mean complained about in 2012 still apply in 2015. Sorry Al.
It's nice to see that they are overachieving despite getting screwed in the 2013 Draft Lottery, and they finished with a better regular season record last season than more talented teams like the Sparks and Sky. But by doing so, they pick even later in a draft while still having a talent deficit compared against most other teams.
Sure, this Draft probably doesn't have that franchise star D.C. desperately needs. But you can make a case that the Mystics have played with fire by winning as many games as they have over the last couple of seasons. By doing so, they are paying the consequences of having less flexibility to improve through the draft and free agency.
Other potential picks: Samantha Logic, Kiah Stokes, Martha Alwal, Vicky McIntyre.
#9: San Antonio Stars: Samantha Logic, 5’ 9 Guard, Iowa
Key stats: MPG: 34.4, PPG 12.4, APG 7.8, RPG 6.8, STL 2.0.
Case for the pick:
With the retirement of Becky Hammon, San Antonio needs to add depth in their backcourt, particularly at the point guard position. Samantha Logic would be an ideal fit. Her versatility combined with her high basketball IQ and desire to do whatever is asked of her make her an invaluable asset to whatever team decides to draft her.
She is a nightly triple-double threat in the NCAA and is capable of singlehandedly deciding the outcome of a game through her incredible passing, her uncanny rebounding ability or through sheer scoring when necessary. The Stars already have Kayla McBride as their shooting guard of the future, and she needs another guard to run alongside her besides Danielle Robinson. Of the players left, Logic is the logical answer.
If Logic is available this late in the draft, it would be a big mistake not to take her. That being said, the loss of Danielle Adams for the season could lead the Stars to select a post player or stretch 4 who could back up or play along side Jayne Appel in the way Adams did. They also could consider taking a player who shares some of Hammon’s craftiness and flare for scoring if they felt so inclined.
Other potential picks: Martha Alwal, Jazmine Davis, Elem Idiam ,Kiah Stokes, Vicky McIntyre.
#10: Atlanta Dream: Martha Alwal, 6’ 4 Center, Mississippi State
Key Stats: MPG 24.9, PPG 9.5, RPG 6.4, BLKS 2.4, FG% 56.6.
Case for the pick:
Martha Alwal is proven center with legitimate size to hold her own down low in the WNBA. Her shot blocking ability (she leads the SEC with 2.4 per game), along with her highly efficient 56.6% shooting from the field make her an enticing prospect for any team in the mid to late first round. She has also been a highly effective scorer in her college career, averaging 14.9 per contest to go along with 8.8 rebounds her junior year.
Atlanta already is loaded in the low post with quality players who have equal size and skills to Alwal. What the Dream truly need is a small forward to back up Angel McCoughtry. With the draft featuring so few quality players at that position Atlanta becomes the most likely team to trade their pick in order to fill a roster need.
Other potential picks: Vicky McIntyre, Elem Idiam, Kiah Stokes.
#11: Minnesota Lynx: Kiah Stokes, 6’ 3, Center, UConn
Key stats: MPG 19.7, RPG 5.1, BLKS 4.5, FG% 53.5, FT% 80.0.
Case for the pick:
The Lynx are desperate for legitimate rim protection. Their lack of size and shot blocking played a MAJOR role in their defeat to Phoenix in last year's Western Conference Finals. With Stokes, they would add a player who is a truly elite college shot blocker on the same level as Britney Griner. Her experience playing alongside multiple current and future WNBA players in the best program in the country also gives her an added edge in the basketball IQ department, something Cheryl Reeve prizes in her players.
Stokes is slightly undersized for a true center at 6’ 3. Additionally, she has seemingly no desire to score the basketball. Her lack of offensive prowess could be severely detrimental to a team that could use a legitimate post scoring threat to do battle with the ever increasing number of dominant post players in the WNBA.
Other potential picks: Vicky McIntyre, Amber Orrange, Jazmine Davis
#12: Phoenix Mercury: Amber Orrange, 5’ 7 Guard, Stanford
Key stats: MPG 31.1, PPG 13.0, RPG 4.0, APG 3.5, FG% 47.5, 3pt% 41.2, FT% 82.8.
Case for the pick:
Phoenix is in desperate need of an adequate, long-term solution at point guard. With Diana Taurasi out for the season and Erin Phillips signing with L.A., the need only became more pronounced. In Orrange, Phoenix would be adding an elite level point guard with final-four experience who is also used to playing in an offense that features a post player as its focal point. Also making Orrange an intriguing prospect is her elite shooting percentages. Adding such a player on the Mercury would give them yet another offensive weapon both on the perimeter and in transition who could run the offense and take preassure off Taurasi when she returns in 2016.
None. If Orrange falls all the way to 12th, Phoenix could potentially have the biggest steal of the draft. When you consider their need for a point guard, and just how good Orrange is as a prospect, you start to realize that this would be a great fit for both the Mercury and Orrange.
Other potential picks:
Jazmine Davis, Natasha Cloud, Vicky McIntyre