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Friday, July 19, 2019

Monarchs’ Dispersal Draft: Slim Pickin’s

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Photo Credit: Original Artwork Courtesy istockphoto.com©

By Clay Kallam

If the Monarchs were any good, they’d still be around – which means Monday’s dispersal draft isn’t going to rock the WNBA’s world.

Yes, Nicole Powell is a very good player, and she’ll add value to any roster (even as trade bait, should she go to Minnesota). Rebekkah Brunson, prior to her knee problems, was an elite athlete, and despite her decline would help any team in the league.

After that, though, it’s banged-up vet DeMya Walker, the uncertainty of Courtney Paris, and well, not much else, so teams are not going to solve all their problems on Monday, or more likely, any of them.

Of course, with free agency and the draft still to come, there’s plenty of time to maneuver, so the rosters will be far from set. Still, some pieces of the 2010 puzzle will fall into place, so here’s a look at what might happen when the Monarch players change jerseys.

New York: What the Liberty really need is a new general manager, but John Whisenant’s not on the dispersal draft board. That means Carol Blazejowski will be wielding her personnel acumen like a blunt instrument – the only question is who will get the bump on the head? When she traded either Jayne Appel or Tina Charles (the likely number one picks in April) for Sidney Spencer last year, she gave New York fans a headache that may not go away for years. Monday, she can give them some aspirin in the form of Nicole Powell, who is a much better player than 2009 starter Essence Carson.

Granted, Powell’s game is eerily similar to Shameka Christon’s (Christon isn’t quite as good offensively or on the boards, but is better defensively and is more athletic), but playing them both at the same time will create serious matchup problems for most opponents.

Given that, Blazejowski will probably take the inconsistent, bad-kneed Rebekkah Brunson, or even worse, another young 6-2 center who needs minutes in Courtney Paris (to go along with Kia Vaughn). But even though I have my doubts about the personnel perspicacity of Blazejowski and Anne Donovan, I still think they’ll take the best player available – especially since there’s a starting spot available for her.

Minnesota: Rebekkah Brunson isn’t a very good shooter, and her knee may well be a career-long problem, but she’s still a nice add for a team that’s going to pick up two top players in the April draft. Even with a bad knee, Brunson is one of the best leapers (and best athletes) in the league. But if the knee gets worse, or is an on-again, off-again problem, then Brunson is robbed of her only real advantage. Otherwise, she has no post moves and hits the elbow jumper about one game out of three, which means she’s not someone a team can rely on.

Luckily, the Lynx don’t need to rely on her. They already have Nicky Anosike, and will presumably add Tina Charles or Jayne Appel. Slide Brunson into that rotation, and now that trio, plus Charde Houston, might just be the best post group in the league.

Powell, though, doesn’t help at all, and should New York take Brunson, there will be choices to make. Powell is much better than Courtney Paris, but to pick her means someone has to be traded: There’s just not room for Seimone Augustus, Candice Wiggins and Nicole Powell at the two and three – and Wiggins is not a point guard, in this league or any other.

Paris, like Brunson, would fortify the inside rotation, but Paris is an unusual player, and to be really effective, the offense needs to be at least partially structured to take advantage of her strength and skills.

So the Lynx will take Brunson if she’s there, and Powell if she’s not – unless of course the ghost of Susie McConnell-Serio re-emerges and engineers a blunder not quite equal to, but in the ballpark with, her trade of Katie Smith for Chandi Jones.

Connecticut: Mike Thibault is just hoping someone makes a mistake. Nicole Powell answers the Sun’s prayers, and gives them an elite WNBA wing who can shoot the three. Rebekkah Brunson replaces Kerri Gardin up front, and even on her worst nights, brings more to the table than Thibault’s 2009 options.

Most likely, though, Connecticut chooses between Courtney Paris and DeMya Walker – and in a way, the pick is a referendum on the future of the league. If the WNBA is here for 10 more years, Paris is the better choice, because she’ll at least be a solid post for a long time, and maybe even a very good one. Walker’s shelf life is a lot more limited, but if the Sun feel that the window of opportunity is going to shut, for whatever reason, very soon, then she’s the pick. Healthy, Walker is a fine defender, a decent scorer and a good rebounder – and an experienced veteran who understands the game.

Though there’s some chatter about Laura Harper, Walker is a far superior player, and Paris has much more potential, so it’s hard to imagine Thibault making that kind of misjudgment. The guess here, all things considered, is that the Sun go for the immediate gusto, and take Walker.

Chicago: If the chalk holds (now there’s an image for you), the Sky choose between Courtney Paris and Laura Harper. Harper is 6-4, can’t shoot, doesn’t make good decisions with the ball and is a mediocre defender. She’s also 6-4, rebounds well, and works hard. Considering that Chicago started Brooke Wyckoff 23 times, Harper probably can find a home in the rotation – but she’s not going to bring much more to the table than Shyra Ely.

Paris, on the other hand, doesn’t help that much either. She’s not nearly as good as Sylvia Fowles and the two really can’t play at the same time. Of course, Fowles has shown a tendency to get hurt, so Paris would be a nice insurance policy.

So the question is whether Steve Key lives down to his reputation as a below-average evaluator of talent, and somehow convinces himself that Harper, who shot below 40 percent from inside five feet, can contribute more than Ely. It says here he’s smarter than many think, and picks Paris.

San Antonio: Like Mike Thibault, Dan Hughes has to hope that two or three GMs do Blazejowski imitations and somehow let DeMya Walker slip this far. She’d be a tremendous get for the Silver Stars, and would solidify their rotation. Laura Harper would help too, though not nearly as much. Megan Frazee certainly looks like the better player, so Harper too becomes an insurance policy – though not a very good one.

Washington and Tulsa: Scholanda Robinson – bad shooter, bad ball-handler, good defender. Kristin Haynie – bad shooter, borderline ball-handler, mediocre defender. Chelsea Newton – bad shooter, bad ball-handler, good defender. No reason to pay veteran minimum for any of those three, so the only reason to pick them is to generate a couple of headlines in mid-December.



Originally published Sat, December 12, 2009

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Week: February 7, 2012
1 Baylor (31) 24-0 1 1 1 775
2 Notre Dame 23-1 2 2 2 743
3 Connecticut 21-2 3 4 3 710
4 Stanford 20-1 4 5 4 685
5 Duke 19-3 6 8 5 650
6 Miami (FL) 20-3 7 7 6 604
7 Kentucky 21-3 5 15 7 584
8 Maryland 20-3 10 10 8 534
9 Wisconsin-Green Bay 20-0 9 24 9 530
10 Ohio State 21-2 11 NR-RV
10 483
11 Tennessee 17-6 8 3 11 476
12 Delaware 20-1 13 NR 12 434
13 Georgetown 18-5 15 11 14 379
14 Texas A&M 16-5 16 6 15 378
15 Nebraska 19-3 18 NR 13 309
16 Rutgers 17-4 14 12 17 372
17 Louisville 17-6 12 9 20 276
18 Gonzaga 21-3 19 NR-RV
19 234
19 Purdue 19-5 17 21 16 222
20 Georgia 18-6 20 12 21 202
21 Penn State 18-5 21 14 18 176
22 DePaul 17-7 23 18 NR-RV
23 Georgia Tech 16-6 22 NR-RV
22 104
24 South Carolina 18-5 NR-RV
NR 24 46
25 Vanderbilt 18-5 NR-RV
NR 45
Dropped Out: No. 24 North Carolina, No. 25 Kansas.
First-place votes: Total first-place votes received (if any) are indicated in parentheses following school name.
Others receiving votes: St. Bonaventure (22-2) 34; North Carolina (17-6) 19; California (17-6) 18; Florida Gulf Coast (21-2) 16; Middle Tennessee (19-5) 15; Texas-El Paso (20-2) 8; Texas Tech (16-6) 5; Brigham Young (21-4) 4; Fresno State (19-4) 4; St. John's (15-8) 4; Princeton (15-4) 3; Oklahoma (15-7) 2; West Virginia (17-6) 2; Kansas State (15-7) 1.
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Credit: Courtesy Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). The weekly Division I Top 25 Coaches' Poll, sponsored by USA Today and ESPN, is based on voting by a Board of Coaches made up of 31 head coaches at Division I institutions all of whom are WBCA members.