•  Register
14

2017 WNBA Draft Preview

by Gentry Worthington on Apr. 14, 2016
Now that the 2016 WNBA Draft is over, it's time to shift our focus to 2017. Here are some of Gentry's thoughts (from before the 2016 WNBA Draft started):
 
Seattle- I have questions about Kelsey Plum's size and how that will affect her ability to score at the next level. I think the Storm might be one team that would be willing to overlook her height just to keep her in town. After Diamond Deshields, Kelsey Plum is the most talented scorer in this draft. And at the college level if I needed one basket I would probably choose Plum over Deshields to get it for me. The history of small scoring guards going on to have star careers in the WNBA is pretty short. Most recently I can think of Odyssey Sims, the #2 pick a couple years ago. Although I think Odyssey could run an offense better at the point and was a more efficient shooter. Kelsey Plum at Washington has to score for her team to be successful. She is the offense. But until she can learn to make her teammates better I am skeptical about how effective she will be in the WNBA. She has shown a lot more driving, drawing defenders, and kicking in her game over the last month of the season. She averaged a little over 4 assists per game in the regular season, but in the NCAA tournament she bumped that up to 7.25 per game and her team is better off because of it, having a surprise run to the Final Four. If she carries that over into next year she will probably go in top half of the first round. Another reason I could see her slip though is this 2017 draft is very deep with scoring guards. That's actually really all this draft is. Alaina Coates and then a bunch of shooting guards/combo point guards. So teams will have a variety of options to add depth to their backcourt. If I look at the teams I have drafting after Seattle it's hard to find a fit for Kelsey Plum until I get a bit further down.
 
Washington- I just love the fit of Tyler Scaife to the Mystics. She is a good defender. She has great elevation on her jumpshot. She is a good finisher around the basket. I could also see her fit well with LA, Minnesota, Chicago or New York. Possibly Phoenix too.
 
Indiana- I see the biggest potential for growth from any of the guards in Shatori Walker-Kimbrough. Maybe the most athletic player in this draft, she added an effective 3-point shot to her game this year, leading the country at 57%. I think coach Stephanie White wants to play a little more of an offensive up and down game than her predecessor Lin Dunn, and Walker-Kimbrough is the perfect player for that. If she improves as much in her senior year as I think she will, I could see her going in the top two or three, maybe even #1 overall if Diamond Deshields isn't in this draft. I would still like to see her use her athleticism and be more dynamic with the ball in her hands in a half-court set than just as a shooter. The main reason Maryland was upset in the second round of the NCAA tournament this year by Kelsey Plum's Washington was because UW said "we're going to get back in transition and we're going to pack the paint and make Shatori Walker-Kimbrough beat us." She hit a bunch of threes in the game, but the rest of the strategy worked, because Walker-Kimbrough didn't do much more than sit, wait, catch and shoot.
 
Chicago- After trading Sylvia Fowles, their next two or three drafts need to be revolved around defense. They were atrocious last year. They better hope they can get Imani Boyette or Ruth Hamblin this year as an anchor in the middle and then in 2017 they should be looking at the best perimeter stopper available. Alexis Jones would fit that role. They should not even have Kelsey Plum as an option on their board for the first round.

Nina Davis should go to a team that has the time to develop her as a wing so she doesn't have the pressure right away to make that leap because it is not easy and a lot more first rounders have failed trying to change positions than those who have successfully done it. She can already defend well on the perimeter, but she needs to work on being able to move around without the basketball from outside 15 ft and with the ball, when it comes to handling and creating offense. Her jumpshot looks funky as heck, but she makes a good percentage of them when she is left open. Connecticut would've been the perfect team to take this risk, before they traded it to Los Angeles. Otherwise she could slip into the second round.

Dallas- They already have two left-handed scoring point guards in Odyssey Sims and Skylar Diggins. And then drafting Brianna Keisel last year, Dallas is the one team I doubt Kelsey Plum will end up with unless they really like her and are willing to shift around the pieces they already have in the backcourt.


Here's my ranking of guards in the 2017 class:

1. Diamond Deshields: Has the potential to be special if she puts everything together. She can score on anybody, and is a bigger, very athletic guard, so it's hard to matchup with her.
2. Shatori Walker-Kimbrough: A track athletic playing basketball, also has skill leading the nation in 3-pt %
3. Kelsey Plum: Can score anyway she wants to. Has the vision and leadership qualities to develop into a point guard.
4. Alexis Jones: Lefty who can score and has shown she can back up the point; a great shutdown defender.
5. Makayla Epps: Best finisher around the rim in the draft
6. Tyler Scaife: Needs to improve 3-point% if she will go as high as I project
7. Leticia Romero: Most complete point guard in the draft, can score in bunches and has excellent vision
8. Adrienne Motley: Streaky shooter, athleticism
9. Sydney Wiese: A great shooter and has great size for a point guard. I have questions about if she can run a team on the pro level though
10. Lindsay Allen: A streaky scorer at the college level averaging fewer than 10ppg, but makes very few mistakes and should be able to make a WNBA team as a backup point.

Diamond Deshields is in fact Delino Deshields' daughter, yes. I think her brother plays in the major leagues now too. I know he was in the Rangers farm system at some point. And I hate to use head case to describe Diamond, just because I was such a huge fan of her freshman year at Noth Carolina. She came in with the women's equivalent of a Calipari-Kentucky or Michigan Fab Five level talented recruiting class and when she abandoned them I lost some respect for her, but still stayed hopeful for her future. I saw the situation a bit more positively when the rest of that class transferred out the next year. Hoping for sake maybe she just had more foresight than everyone else. But her consistency struggles this year in Tennessee are a bit troubling. I still am hoping for the best for her and hope she matures and works on her leadership to reach her potential.

Also, my #2 pick Alaina Coates is the niece of Ben Coates, a tight end for the Patriots in the 90s and won a Super Bowl with the 2000 Ravens.
And Makayla Epps' father Anthony was the starting point guard for Rick Pitino's national championship winning Kentucky team.