The WNBA Draft lottery was televised today during ESPN’s Sportscenter and the Phoenix Mercury came out on top.
With the expected return of Penny Taylor in 2013 and 2012 draft choice Samantha Prahalis showing promise at point guard, the Mercury look poised to emerge as a contender next season.
“We have a solid base already with Diana (Taurasi), (Candice) Dupree and DeWanna (Bonner) had a superstar year,” said Phoenix Mercury coach Corey Gaines prior to the selection show. “Penny Taylor, who had an ACL problem and now she’s coming back next year… Our core is solid, so to add another piece to that is just even better.”
Of course, the way the Mercury fell to last in the Western Conference has been the subject of controversy throughout the 2012 WNBA season, as described by Mechelle Voepel of ESPNW yesterday.
Causing the most consternation among those suspicious of a conspiracy in the desert was the handling of past No. 1 draft pick and MVP Diana Taurasi. She played in just eight games this season, the first time in her nine-year WNBA career that she didn’t compete in at least 31.
However, Taurasi started all eight games during the Olympics for the United States, averaging 24.1 minutes and a team-high 12.4 points. That she played in just six of the Mercury’s 15 contests after the London Games raised some eyebrows.
On the flip side of fortune is the Washington Mystics who ended up with the fourth pick after finishing with the worst record in the league in 2011 and winning just 11 games over the last two seasons.
“You know, obviously no one likes to be a part of the draft lottery,” said Mystics COO Greg Bibb prior to the selection. “Obviously, if you’re taking part in a draft lottery, things probably haven’t gone well for you in recent times. With that being said, if you’re going to be a part of a draft lottery, this is the one to be a part of with the draft class that’s coming.”
Falling to fourth means the Mystics will likely miss out on the three prospects that makes this the lottery “to be a part of”: Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne, Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins, and Baylor’s 6-foot-8 center Brittney Griner. The Mystics could have used the help that any one of them offer, but will now likely have to figure out who that fourth-best prospect is assuming things go the way everyone has assumed.
Regardless of the outcome, everyone acknowledges that having the lottery televised nationwide on ESPN is a positive for the league as a whole.
“I think it’s fabulous,” said Bibb before the selection occurred. “I think it’s representative of the quality and the depth of the class that will be entering the league in 2013, and I think it’s representative of how far and how quickly the WNBA, women’s basketball and women’s sports have come along and become a legitimate part of the sports landscape. Credit to ESPN for recognizing this and reacting to it.”