One trade and suddenly the WNBA draft is one of the bigger topics among Storm fans. Seattle coach and GM Brian Agler swapped stars Swin Cash and Le’coe Willingham and one of the team’s second-round picks to Chicago in exchange for the No. 2 overall selection in April’s draft.
It’s not a deep draft, making the move puzzling to most fans. But it does clear about $200,000 in cap space for the Storm to acquire young talent in hopes of planning for the future while continuing to win. Seattle has advanced to the postseason the past eight summers.
Yet in planning for the future, nix those dreams of the Storm replacing All-Star PG Sue Bird with Notre Dame star Skylar Diggins. Or even having a chance at getting Baylor C Brittney Griner.
First, since several of you have asked, it’s possible for Diggins and Griner to enter the draft because they will be 22 in the same calendar year of the WNBA selections. (I previously thought you had be 22 before April, my bad). Born in 1990, Diggins turns 22 on Aug. 2 while Griner’s birthday is Oct. 18.
Only in speaking to reps from both camps, it appears unlikely either will announce an early entry to the draft. Diggins, a left-handed PG who’s working on a degree from the top-ranked Mendoza College of Business as a management-entrepreneurship, has never expressed an interest.
Griner, a 6-foot-8 blocking machine, would garner big money overseas like Candace Parker, Diana Taurasi, and Lauren Jackson, which could motivate her to enter early. Majoring in general studies with an emphasis in outdoor recreation, she could be heavily influenced by BU coach Kim Mulkey to stay, however.
Neither has won a coveted NCAA title. Doing so in Denver come April could change minds. And that would change the landscape of the draft, along with news from Delaware that Blue Hens star Elena Delle Donne could make an announcement within the upcoming weeks whether she’ll declare for the draft.
Delle Donne, a 6-5 junior with skills like Jackson, is eligible because this is her natural graduating class. She transferred from Connecticut in 2008.
With Los Angeles owning the top pick, the Sparks would likely select Griner regardless of who’s currently on its roster. That would move Delle Donne down a slot, if she entered.
Suddenly a perceived weak draft has some bite. For the players, like Minnesota last season, Los Angeles and Seattle have more realistic chances of winning now than Tulsa (second) and Chicago (third) did in 2011. Another motivator? Possibly.
But really, Griner is the only one of the two natural juniors that I’d bet on entering — and even that is slim. Seattle’s top choices, as of now, remain between Stanford’s Nnemkadi Ogwumike, a 6-2 F, and Delle Donne.
*PHOTO CREDIT: Notre Dame PG Skylar Diggins surveys options by Jamie Sabau of Getty Images