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    CT Sun
    Wednesday, May 22, 2024

    Sun have no pressure headed into WNBA Draft

    Sun head coach Curt Miller, right, comforts point guard Jasmine Thomas after she was hit in the face by an errant ball during warm ups prior to a game against the Dallas Wings last season a Mohegan Sun Arena. The Sun won't picked until the second round (No. 23 overall) in Friday's WNBA Draft. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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    There’s little pressure on the Connecticut Sun headed into Friday’s WNBA Draft after they acquired star forward DeWanna Bonner in a sign-and-trade from the Phoenix Mercury in February in exchange for their two first-round picks this year as well as next year’s.

    One of the Sun’s few concerns — that Zoom, Skype or whatever videoconferencing their staff will use during the draft doesn’t crash.

    The COVID-19 pandemic has made this year’s WNBA Draft a “virtual” production, which will be broadcast on ESPN at 7 p.m. There won't be any players, guests or media attending. All the draftees will take part remotely.

    Miller and his staff will be in their respective homes videoconferencing during the draft.

    “When things start happening quickly, we’re not all in the same room talking about things” Miller said. “Those discussions of what's happening in the draft are a little bit harder because now we’re all in different locations.

    “The overall anxiety right now is on communication on draft night and hopefully there’s no technology problems.”

    The Sun have two picks — No. 23 (second round) and No. 35 (third round).

    “We have DeWanna Bonner,” Miller said. “It’s (this draft) a little bit easier because we don’t feel the pressure to have to hit a home run. We feel like we hit a home run during free agency.”

    The odds are slim that Connecticut's draftees make the team because it has little roster space. Teams can roster no more than 15 players at training camp and 12 during the season.

    No one knows for sure if there will be a WNBA season due to the worldwide pandemic. The league has already postponed the start of training camps and the regular season (May 15) without naming a date.

    If there is a season, Connecticut already has 10 players under contract and another four signed to training camp deals.

    Compounding the issue is that players won't be arriving late to training camp if, again, there is season. It’s commonplace in the league for players to arrive late due to overseas commitments. That won’t be the case this year because leagues across world shut down early due to COVID-19.

    “I love the versatility of our lineup right now,” Miller said. “I just feel like we have tremendous flexibility to draft the best player available when we’re on the clock. I don’t feel like we’re compelled to have to take a particular position or a specific skillset.”

    UConn’s Crystal Dangerfield (point guard) and Megan Walker (small forward) are among those in this draft class. Consensus projections have Walker going in the middle of the first round, and Dangerfield going late in the first round or early in the second.

    “Megan is coming off a fantastic year shooting the ball,” Miller said. “(She) is a fantastic 3-point shooter with size (6-foot-1). A lot was put on her shoulders this season and really did a good job leading that UConn team.

    “Crystal is one of the elite point guards in the draft. She has great shooting range. Knows how to lead a team. I think it’s fair to say she will be even better surrounded a roster of great players. She knows how to win.”

    Point guard looks to be the draft’s strength. Miller believes it’s very top heavy in the first round, and that there’s potential for “value picks” taken late in the second round who could have as successful a career as a player taken in the mid-to-late first round.

    There’s always the possibility for trades. The defending champion Washington Mystics pulled off a coup Wednesday when they acquired Olympian post and former Sun Tina Charles from the New York Liberty in a three-way deal that also involved the Dallas Wings.

    “It’s the first draft I can remember in years that there’s rumors people are willing to move down maybe to pick up different types of assets,” Miller said. “(It) speaks to the belief of many that it’s a draft that has some depth, and that there’s not tremendous separation between certain number of picks.”

    n.griffen@theday.com

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