The big news in the WNBA is that Connecticut and Minnesota have traded first-round draft picks. Previously, Minnesota had the #1 Draft Pick and Connecticut had the #2 overall pick.
to Connecticut: Minnesota’s first round draft pick (#1 overall) and Renee Montgomery (PG)
to Minnesota: Connecticut’s first round draft pick (#2 overall) and Lindsay Whalen (PG)
What does Connecticut get? First, it gets the #1 Draft Pick, which gives the Sun the chance to pick up senior center Tina Charles out of the University of Connecticut. Since Montgomery is also a UConn player, it looks like the Sun is stocking up on local players to help draw a crowd at Mohegan Sun Arena.
However, Tina Charles is no slouch. She’d probably edge out Jayne Appel of Stanford as the majority #1 consensus draft pick. She was #10 in the Boxscores Values for 2008-09, and most of the players above her were seniors and WNBA draft picks in 2009. Furthermore, 11 of the previous 13 WNBA #1 picks have been stars.
My prediction? Charles will be a great player, but you don’t need a metric to see that.
Now what about Renee Montgomery? The player most statistically similar to Montgomery after her first year of play is Stacey Dales. The point guard most similiar to Montgomery after her first year of play is Matee Ajavon. Dales was at least an average player in the years before her first retirement; Ajavon has been less impressive.
Whalen, on the other hand, has been really good. I have Whalen as #25 in WNBA history in player efficiency rating (PER) among starters. She’s a two-time All Star and is mentioned with Becky Hammon and Sue Bird among the premier point guards in the WNBA. Furthermore, Whalen will be 28 next year, and if 28 isn’t a peak age, it’s close to it.
So the question becomes “how good is that second pick in the 2009 WNBA Draft going to be?” If it’s good, then you’d have to give Minnesota the win in this trade. However, this year’s draft is generally acknowledged as a weak one and only five of the thirteen overall #2 picks can be considered to be stars – Griffith, Cash, Beard, Pondexter and Fowles. Given that, I think that the balance tilts in Connecticut’s favor.
Of course, I could be wrong. And being wrong is the fun part.