WNBA Draft outlook cloudy for Sun
It's difficult enough to forecast what the Connecticut Sun will do with the ninth overall pick in Wednesday’s WNBA Draft.
It's even tougher when there's not even a sure-fire No. 1 pick.
The consensus opinion about the Class of 2019 is that there is no consensus top pick. There’s no A’ja Wilson, Breanna Stewart or Maya Moore, that player who is expected to be a dominant player from the jump. There are quality players available, but no franchise player.
“In past drafts, you had a good sense of the top pick,” Sun head coach and general manager Curt Miller said. “There’s so much uncertainly at number one. … As soon as Las Vegas is on the clock (with the first pick), it’s going to be interesting.”
Bill Laimbeer, Las Vegas' president of basketball operations and head coach, was asked to name his top three players during a conference call last week.
“I say, in no particular order, (Louisville guard Asia) Durr and (Mississippi State center Teaira) McCowan and then, yeah, go pick somebody (else),” Laimbeer said.
The Sun also pick at No. 21 (second round) and 33 (third round).
The draft got slightly deeper Monday when Notre Dame guard Jackie Young decided to pass on her final year of eligibility.
“Everything is on the table when you look at our options at nine,” Miller said. “We feel that this draft has quality depth, and I think the jury is out on how many all-stars will come out of the draft. I do feel confident that there are a number of players in the draft that could have long and productive WNBA careers.”
Connecticut doesn't have much room on its roster. It has 12 players under contract, the league maximum, and its core group is still young (the average age of its players is 26).
“The challenge (of the draft) is do we go best available players, or a need for the future knowing that we have five players from that 2016 draft class that all come off contracts next year,” Miller said.
Those five are starters Jonquel Jones and Courtney Williams and reserves Rachel Banham, Bria Holmes and Morgan Tuck.
“Do you protect yourself for the future, or do you trade the pick?,” Miller said.
Among the players who could be on the board for at No. 9 are Notre Dame forwards Jessica Shepard and Brianna Turner, Iowa forward-center Megan Gustafson (the Associated Press Player of the Year) and Missouri guard Sophie Cunningham.
UConn’s Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson will both go in the first round but, just like everyone else, there’s no telling when they’ll be taken.
Kara Lawson, an ESPN basketball analyst and former Sun standout, praised Collier during a conference call last week.
“Napheesa Collier is in the conversation for me to be the best player in the draft,” Lawson said. “She's somebody that's very complete, and I think what she does well translates at the next level.
“One of the adjustments you have to make is you go to a league with 12 teams and with players that are unique, and you have to find a way to make an impact without the basketball in your hands. That will not be a challenge for Napheesa.”
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The Connecticut Sun had little time to celebrate their most important win of the season.