MOCK DRAFT UPDATE - With the sixth pick in the Swish Appeal Community 2015 WNBA Mock Draft, the San Antonio Stars select Samantha Logic of Iowa.
In San Antonio, Logic will be a backup to Danielle Robinson, but her ability to score, pass, and rebound will help shore up the Stars' needs on the bench. In addition, Dan Hughes is a coach known for developing young players, and this team is about as good as any for Logic to start her pro career. To replace Logic, we have added Kiah Stokes of UConn on the draft board.
We're at pick number 7. L.W. will give you the scoop on what's going down in L.A. - Big Brother
You are Los Angeles Sparks General Manager Penny Toler. After an ownership scare in 2013 and an underachieving 2014 season, you have hired veteran coach Brian Agler and shook up the bench with a number of high-profile free agent signings.
You have waived Lindsey Harding and signed backup point guards Erin Phillips and Temeka Johnson. You have also added some international talent like Serbian star Ana Dabovic and Latvian star Elina Babkina. And you also signed 6'7 shot blocking machine Jennifer Hamson (playing her rookie season after opting to use her 5th year of NCAA eligibility to play volleyball). Marianna Tolo and Emmiline Ndongue to round out the training camp roster.
It's not completely clear how all of the pieces fit together, but with an All-Star post duo of Candace Parker and Nneka Ogwumike, the Sparks look to assert themselves as a championship tier team this season.
Projected Depth Chart
If the season opened today, and no moves were made, the Sparks' rotation would probably look something like this:
|Position||Starter||Backup||Backup #2||Backup #3|
|G||Kristi Tolliver||Erin Phillips||Temeka Johnson|
|G||Alana Beard||Ana Dabovic||Elina Babkina|
|F||Candace Parker||Farhiya Abdi|
|F||Nneka Ogwumike||Sandrine Gruda||Nikki Greene|
|C||Jantel Lavender||Jennifer Hamson||Marianna Tolo||Emmiline Ndongue|
From looking at this depth chart, you can see that there is one major weakness on the roster that still hasn't been addressed from last season.
Primary Weakness: Small forward
Even if restricted free agent Sandrine Gruda elects not to play in the WNBA this year, the Sparks are loaded in the post. Lavender, Ogwumike, and Parker can handle most of the C/PF minutes. But even if Parker starts at SF, many match-ups may favor her sliding over to the post for extended stretches. When she does, perhaps one or two of Hamson, Tolo, Greene and Ndongue filling in additional minutes in the post.
The Sparks have also solidified their point guard rotation and solved last year's three-point shooting problem with the additions of Phillips and Johnson. Phillips lead the league in three-point percentage last season, and Johnson is a career 36% three-point shooter. Between them and Toliver, the Sparks should be able to create plenty of space for the bigs inside.
At the two guard spot, Alana Beard brings hustle (and occasional bursts of scoring) and Ana Dabovic makes her WNBA debut to add more shooting. Both Beard and Dabovic are tall enough to play some small forward if necessary, and that's a good thing because the wing is looking a little sparse behind Candace Parker. Farhiya Abdi averaged just 8.4 minutes last season (down to 4 in the playoffs), and it seems unlikely that Coach Agler will feel comfortable giving the third year player a bigger role.
Given that Dabovic is still unproven in the WNBA, the Sparks should be concerned that they'll end up using Beard as the primary backup SF. In addition, they will also heavily rely on a backcourt tandem under 5'8, which could give them serious problems defensively, particularly against intra-conference rivals like the Minnesota Lynx.
Which player could be the best fit for the Los Angeles Sparks at #7?
Choices are a little slim down here at the 7th pick. Since this is a veteran team, it will be an uphill battle to make LA's veteran-centric roster, even if a mid-first round draft pick fills a need.
If Dearica Hamby can make the transition to SF from PF, could provide the Sparks with energy and defense off the bench. But if she can't successfully play on the wing, she'll find herself stuck at the end of an already-crowded post rotation. The rest of the top prospects remaining are point guards (Brittany Boyd, Brittany Hrynko). L.A. already has that position well covered.
They could also draft injured post player Isabelle Harrison, who will not be available to play this year.
Unless they think Hamby can fill in at SF, the Sparks should consider taking Harrison. At #7, she could be a major steal. Though she won't help them this year she could give them a boost next year, the wealth of good post players will give the Sparks many trade options next year. Perhaps they could either for a veteran at a position that better suits their needs, or to trade up in the 2016 Draft. It's unlikely that any of the remaining players will put the Sparks over the edge this year, so they should look to take a player who will be valuable in the long term.
Now, it's time to vote and make your pick!
Voting ends at 12 p.m. ET on Friday, April 3, 2015! Soon after, we'll take a cross-country flight from LAX to Dulles where the Washington Mystics will have the eighth overall pick.