MOCK DRAFT UPDATE: With the seventh overall pick in the Swish Appeal Community 2015 WNBA Mock Draft, the Los Angeles Sparks select Brittany Boyd of California.
In L.A., Boyd will help bolster the team's guard rotation, even though there are a number of veteran players at the point guard spot especially. Still, she could be a steal when the history books look at this draft class. To replace her, Elen Ibiam of South Carolina is now in the poll.
We now head to the nation's capital where the Washington Mystics are on the clock for the eighth overall pick. L.W., take it away. - Big Brother
You are Washington Mystics General Manager and Head Coach Mike Thibault. You joined the Mystics in 2013 after being fired by the Connecticut Sun, promptly winning Coach of the Year honors for turning a five-win team in 2012 into a 17 win team without the addition of any superstar players. In 2014, you drafted Stefanie Dolson and traded All-Star forward Crystal Langhorne for rookie combo guard Bria Hartley.
The Mystics have had a relatively uneventful offseason. Nearly everybody from 2014 is returning, and the only major new addition so far is Armintie Herrington. They let Monique Currie (the last pre-Thibault player on the roster) walk in free agency, and third year forward Tianna Hawkins will miss all or part of the season due to pregnancy.
As perhaps the most overachieving team of 2014, the Mystics are in the unfortunate position of having a low pick (#8) but not a very star-studded roster. Still, you've historically been good at finding gems late in the draft. For example, you found second round pick Emma Meeseman and signed an undrafted Tierra Ruffin-Pratt as a rookie free agent, so this is another opportunity to add to the team's young core.
Projected Depth Chart
If the Mystics make no additional moves or cuts, here's what their rotation will probably look like:
|G||Ivory Latta||Kara Lawson|
|G||Bria Hartley||Tayler Hill|
|G||Armintie Herrington||Tierra Ruffin-Pratt||Kalana Greene|
|F||Emma Meeseman||Jelena Milovanovic||Kayla Thornton|
|C||Kia Vaughn||Stefanie Dolson|
Tianna Hawkins was not included on the depth chart because she will miss most of, if not the entire 2015 season.
There are two things that stand out after looking at this projected rotation.
Primary Weaknesses: Small forward and outside shooting efficiency
Besides their lack of a superstar, the Mystics' roster has two major weaknesses. First is their lack of a quality small forward.
With Currie now in Phoenix, the Mystics will probably have a conventional starting lineup. I assume that they will play small ball and go with a starting three-guard lineup of Latta, Hartley, and Herrington. This team could then push the tempo and play at a pace Thibault prefers. However, this also will mean that they will sacrifice on the defensive end as small forwards from other teams could take advantage of their size. Besides Ruffin-Pratt, who also is a bit short at the position at 5'11, there aren't many other serviceable wings.
Another possible direction they could go in is by sliding Emma Meesseman to the small forward position, which would allow Stefanie Dolson to start alongside Kia Vaughn in the low post.
Consequently, this could be the depth chart though I wouldn't do it:
|G||Ivory Latta||Kara Lawson|
|G||Bria Hartley||Armintie Herrington||Tayler Hill|
|F||Emma Meeseman||Tierra Ruffin-Pratt||Kalana Greene|
|F||Kia Vaughn||Jelena Milovanovic|
|C||Stefanie Dolson||Kayla Thornton|
The good news here is that Meesseman has been working on her outside shooting this offseason, and she is a versatile defender with a lot of room to grow. However, she is a natural power forward in the WNBA game, and quicker small forwards can still take advantage of her that way. In addition, perhaps Milovanovic could play at this spot to stretch the floor more with her shooting ability. However, they may have a post log jam on the court not unlike the Los Angeles Sparks last season.
Their second major weakness is a lack of accurate three-point shooting. Last season, the Mystics were well below average three-point shooting team in terms of percentage though they didn't hesitate to attempt long shots. The only player who defenses will always respect from outside is Ivory Latta (who not only shoots well overall but has a penchant for timely threes). Kara Lawson has been a good three point shooter in the past but struggled to find her rhythm for most of last season, leading many to wonder if her age was catching up with her.
Of their younger backcourt options, Hartley can hit from deep but is notoriously streaky. Hill is the Mystics' only young draft lottery pick and remains as the Mystics' most important player for their future. But she has yet to demonstrate that she can consistently contribute as a pro though she showed promise as a three-point marksman toward the end of her rookie season. After Hill, the Mystics' remaining wing players like Ruffin-Pratt or Herrington are high-energy defense-first players but can't shoot well.
It's possible that some combination of Hartley, Lawson and Hill could start hitting consistently enough from deep to unpack the paint, but it wouldn't hurt the Mystics to give themselves another shooter.
Which player could be the best fit for the Washington Mystics at #8?
Amber Orrange is a career 37% three-point shooter, but has taken less than two per game every year except her junior year (where she took 2.4) suggesting that she may be very selective in her shot choice. It's hard to say how much or how well she'll shoot against WNBA defenses in that regard. Brittany Hrynko is a career 34% three-point shooter though fairly or not she also has a reputation for being streaky. Ariel Massengale is also a solid option as a career 36% three-point shooter.
However, a player that the Mystics must take a good long look at is Isabelle Harrison, who almost certainly would have been a lottery pick if she had not torn her ACL. Despite the fact that she does not fill any immediate needs and that the Mystics already have several talented young post players, Harrison is an absolute steal at #8. In addition, Dearica Hamby is still available, but Harrison may be too good to pass up.
Now it's time to vote!
Voting ends at 5 p.m. ET on Saturday, April 4! We will not have a Mock Draft post on Monday or Tuesday because of the Women's Final Four. But on Wednesday, we will head back to San Antonio and take a look at what the Stars may do with the ninth overall pick.
UPDATE: In light of Amanda Zahui B. and Jewell Loyd declaring early for the 2015 WNBA Draft this past week, we have canceled the community draft. The order of the draft would be completely altered because of their departures and we're now a bit too late to just "do it over." I apologize for the inconvenience. - Albert