Storm secure No. 1 draft pick
Considering the uncertainties facing the Seattle Storm next season, the news that they will be in the driver's seat for the 2015 WNBA draft was a welcome development.
The Storm got the top pick in the league's draft lottery on Thursday. The No. 2 pick went to Tulsa, and Connecticut got the third and fourth picks. The Sun obtained the rights to the first-round pick that belonged to the other lottery team, New York, in a trade with the Liberty in April.
Most project that UConn senior forward Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis is the top college prospect for the 2015 draft class, which isn't expected to be very star-studded or deep.
Connecticut had the No. 1 pick this year, which it used to take Stanford's Chiney Ogwumike. The Shock have never had the No. 1 pick, including when the franchise was located in Detroit.
It's first time the Storm will have the No. 1 selection since 2002, when Seattle picked UConn guard Sue Bird. The Storm also had the top overall pick in 2001, when they selected Australian Lauren Jackson.
"We know we're going to get a quality player," Storm coach Brian Agler said. "This selection is going to create a big opportunity for us, one way or another."
That means the Storm might keep the player they select at No. 1, or use the pick in a trade. Seattle missed the playoffs this season for the first time since 2003, ending a 10-year run of postseason appearances that included two WNBA titles.
Agler said Seattle was hopeful of making the playoffs this year, and held onto that hope right up until the end of the season. But once he knew the Storm were in the lottery, he began looking ahead to the possibilities.
"We're really proud of our ability to stay consistent at a top level, especially in the Western Conference," Agler said. "That's not something that's easy to do. We knew at some point this [missing the playoffs] was going to happen. We just didn't know when.
"The nice thing is, if you have to miss the playoffs, we are at least in the best possible position by having the No. 1 pick."
The Storm expect to be somewhat in transition mode in the immediate future. Bird had to sit out the 2013 season with an injury, and while she returned this season, she will be 34 in October.
Jackson, who will be 34 next May, has lost the past two seasons to injury and played only 22 games total in 2011 and '12 because of injuries and her commitment to the Australian national team.
Two other key Storm players, Tanisha Wright and Camille Little, will turn 31 and 30, respectively, before the start of next season.
"We have players where we really want to honor their legacy," Agler said. "They have meant so much to the Seattle Storm, but also to women's basketball. That being said, we're sort of in a position where we have to start remaking this roster, too. There's a balance of both, but there has to be a strong focus on what we need to do for the future."