Thursday, April 11, 2002
Updated: April 22, 7:42 AM ET
WNBA Draft day needs
By Nancy Lieberman
Special to ESPN.com
As the WNBA Draft approaches, here's a look at what each team needs heading into April 19 (listed in draft order according to first-round pick):
Needs: With Katy Steding's retirement, the Storm are very small on the perimeter. They've got great veterans in Lauren Jackson and Kamila Vodichkova, and I really like Simone Edwards' game. Center Quacy Barnes is getting better each year, and they're pretty solid in the middle. A big wing player and a physical post would help, but they really need someone who's going to run their team.
Draft day decision: If the Storm don't make a trade, Lin Dunn is going to take Sue Bird. That means Seattle might end up starting Bird, Jamie Redd and Semeka Randall, which makes the Storm pretty small. But Seattle can't afford to pass on Bird, unless somebody just knocks over Dunn with a trade. Bird will step up quickly with good veterans around her.
Needs: The Shock really need to get a guard, especially since Claudia Maria das Neves and Jae Kingi aren't coming back and Jen Rizzotti was traded away. The Shock also could use some size in the post, where they're not very big with Astou Ndiaye-Diatta and Wendy Palmer.
Draft day decision: Stacey Dales is a wonderful player, but she's not a true point guard, and that's exactly what Detroit needs. Players such as Sheila Lambert and Nikki Teasley are ideal, and Lambert, whose game has won over a lot of people, would have been drafted ahead of Teasley if she hadn't suffered the broken fibula in the WBCA All-Star game. Detroit needs someone who can really handle the ball and get after it defensively, and Teasley fits the bill.
Needs: The Mystics need post players, a point guard and a shooting guard. The bottom line is that Washington needs to get more athletic.
Draft day decision: With the No. 3 and 4 picks, the Mystics could do very well and get two starters out of the first round. If they're looking to get athletic, they would be well-served to get Lambert, Teasley, Dales or Swin Cash. Washington needs two of those four players.
Needs: The Fire are very satisfied with their inside game, although they could use a scorer down there. The biggest thing Portland needs is a big point guard to play alongside Jackie Stiles.
Draft day decision: Coach Linda Hargrove wants a big guard so badly that I'm thinking about coming out of retirement -- after all, I'm 5 feet 10 and can still get the ball to Stiles. Hargrove spent a lot of time in Norman, Okla., in the offseason, and it appears she's really after Dales. If the Sooners' Kodak All-American isn't available, I'd still expect Portland to pick up a point guard in the first round.
Needs: With Katie Smith, Svetlana Abrosimova and (hopefully a healthy) Betty Lennox already on board, the Lynx want to pick up somebody who doesn't want to shoot the ball. A big in the middle would bolster the lineup.
Draft day decision: Minnesota might look to get Danielle Crockrom or Michelle Snow to give the Lynx some size in the paint. Another option might be trading away the sixth overall pick to get an experienced power forward.
Needs: The Miracle need a physical post who can take some of the beating off Taj McWilliams-Franklin.
Draft day decision: Orlando needs to draft someone who plays like Latasha Byears or Pollyanna Johns, players who are tough and can be tough on opponents, and go about their job in a Charles Oakley-type fashion. Orlando already has some legitimate scorers in Shannon Johnson, Nykesha Sales and Adrienne Johnson, but this is going to be an interesting season. Dee Brown is going to have to do a lot of homework rather quickly.
Needs: Helen Darling, who's pregnant with triplets, is out for the season, and unless they're planning on starting Rizzotti, the Rockers need a point guard.
Draft day decision: Cleveland ran a two-headed point guard last season. Tamara Moore, a big guard and great defender out of Wisconsin, could help fill in some holds for the Rockers this year. Moore, the 2000-01 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, is big (5-11), strong and working on her offensive game.
Needs: Anne Donovan is looking for a player who can give her some dimension on the perimeter like that 1-2-3 position. The Sting also need to get younger at the point. I really like Kelly Miller, but she's not the answer for this team.
Draft day decision: If they don't focus on getting a guard, the Sting might look to get a more athletic post. Players such as Deanna Jackson or Ayana Walker, who comes in with a lot of experience because of her USA Basketball stints, could really help out.
Needs: Van Chancellor hasn't changed -- he's never satisfied with his posts or point guards, and will be looking to add players in those positions.
Draft day decision: Van Chancellor really likes Deanna Jackson's game. Jackson plays of the Tina Thompson mold -- she can score, dribble, pick and pop. But Houston needs another guard, too. Coquese Washington is a great leader and incredibly intelligent. But the Comets need a bit more athleticism in that spot.
Needs: The Starzz are a lot like their NBA counterpart Jazz -- a very veteran-oriented team. But Utah needs youth and to start developing some young talent as Jennifer Azzi and Adrienne Goodson get older.
Draft day decision: South Carolina's Shaunzinski Gortman might be a perfect fit for the Starzz. She's got a long, very good, athletic body and can play multiple positions, a versatility that would benefit Utah.
Needs: With Edna Campbell out, the Monarchs might need another guard. Campbell, who is battling breast cancer, will start the season on the injured list. We send her our love and prayers for a healthy recovery.
Draft day decision: If there are any left, the Monarchs might look for a post. Simply put, Sacramento has perhaps the best starting five in the league and doesn't have a lot of needs.
Needs: The Fever are looking for a big post who will take up space and run the floor. Nell Fortner worked a really good trade in getting Nikki McCray, who adds some leadership and scoring to Indiana. This is a good situation for McCray, and the new scenery will help the former Mystic tremendously. She'll be able to do some things she didn't do as well as she wanted in Washington. McCray and Fortner have a good relationship, with a lot of mutual trust and confidence.
Draft day decision: A player such as Iowa State's Angie Welle or Indiana's Jill Chapman would fill Indiana's need in the middle.
Needs: The Liberty need to get younger and to add some size in the post. New York also needs to start giving Andrea Nagy some substantial minutes to develop as a point guard for the future, or find someone else they trust in that position, which would mean New York might be looking to add another guard.
Draft day decision: Tari Phillips needs some help and size inside. Maybe Tawana McDonald, a 6-4 player from Georgia, gets the call.
Needs: The Sol need a post player who every once in awhile can step in for Elena Baranova and take some pressure off her. Youth is getting important at the guard spot as Debbie Black and Sandy Brondello get older, and Miami is looking for a solid guard who can step in and contribute.
Draft day decision: For Miami, it might be a case of picking up the best available player. It's possible that could be OU's LaNeishea Caufield, Hamchetou Maiga or Lucienne Berthieu out of Old Dominion or Oregon State's Felicia Ragland.
Needs: It's tough to find anything too suspect with the defending WNBA champion. The Sparks are just a nice, solid team.
Draft day decision: The only thing L.A. might want to add is a bit of depth at guard since the Sparks might be looking to play Tamecka Dixon at the 1.
ESPN analyst and Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman is a former WNBA coach, general manager and player. She is a regular contributor to ESPN.com's women's basketball coverage.