By all accounts, for more than a year the 2010 class has been expected to be a weak draft by WNBA standards. Sadly, little has changed to get coaches and general managers excited.
Thursday's WNBA Draft Day, beginning at 3:00 p.m. Eastern, may be the "main event" in terms of both publicity and suspense, as general managers and coaches wait to find out who they will get and players and their families look forward to seeing where (and how high) they will go. But that's just the first step in the journey for this year's WNBA rookie class.
With the demise of the Sacramento Monarchs, only 132 player slots remain in the league, and many of them are already occupied by veteran players still in their primes. When you throw in the dispersal of the former Monarch players to other rosters, there is a better chance than ever that even some first-round picks may not find their names on a WNBA roster come opening day.
One thing that may -- almost counter-intuitively -- help this year's rookies is the reduced salary cap, which has put some teams into a major money squeeze. Salary increases built into the collective bargaining agreement remain intact, while each franchises overall maximum salary cap has actually been reduced from last year by $28,000, rather than going up by $24,000 as anticipated. Those factors combine to create a $52,000 negative swing in personnel budgets. To teams caught in this squeeze, cheap rookies, as opposed to pricey veterans, may look good at the end of the bench.
In fairness to the players drafted after round one and two, the draft needs to be shortened to just two rounds. This would give a prospect a chance to pick a team where she and her advisers think she has the best chance of sticking. As it is, some second and almost all third-round picks are doomed to be cut and done with the league before game one. As a free agent, a player could at least get in on day one of training camp for a team where she thinks she has her best shot, rather than being drafted by a team who has little need for her particular skill set and is just picking the best player left on the board. By the time that player is (predictably) cut, it may be too late in the day for the player to have much of a shot on another team where she could have contributed.
This years draft really falls into three segments -- the first pick, the next three, and the rest. In this article, we'll analyze more than 40 players likely to be in play in Thursday's 2010 WNBA draft, some briefly and some in detail, as most of them fall into the "rest" category. Lets dig into the particulars, starting in order of predicted first-round selection:
With the college season and the Final Four now behind us (just barely), attention now shifts to Secaucus, New Jersey, where the 2010 WNBA Draft will take place on Thursday, April 8, at 3:00 p.m. Eastern. Full Court Press will be on hand to keep you up to date on who gets picked, how high, by whom and, most importantly, on how these selections are apt to effect the fortunes of the WNBA franchises who welcome them.
In the meantime, just to whet your appetite, it's time for our traditional check-in on the ACC's elite and their WNBA potential as Full Court Press correspondent Rob Clough takes his annual look at the ACC, sharing his predictions on the draft potential of the conference's top 10 seniors and its up-and-coming juniors. He also 'fesses up on how he did with last year's prognostications. (And who else does that?)
The pickings from the ACC this year's senior class are even thinner than they were last year, with only Monica Wright looking like a sure-fire WNBA star. There's good news on the horizon for WNBA scouts, however, as the junior class is loaded with talent and athleticism. Let's take a closer look: