2013 WNBA Draft: Rookies Who Will Compete for a Title from Day 1
The 2013 WNBA draft has come and passed, with 36 women entering the ranks of the world's elite. As this year's rookies join their respective teams, however, we've inevitably entered the phase of evaluating their potential impact.
This garners the question—which first-round rookies will compete for a title from day one?
From college stars joining established contenders to top picks altering the status of their new franchise, we saw it all transpire on draft night. The true question on everyone's mind, however, is how much these rookies can contribute.
Here are the rookies who will be competing for a title in 2013.
Kelly Faris, Connecticut Sun
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As only fate would have it, Kelly Faris has gone from the 2013 National champion Connecticut Huskies to the WNBA's Connecticut Sun. Not only will this be a huge morale boost for the in-state product, but it will place Farris in position to win again.
The Sun finished the 2012 WNBA regular season with the best record in the Eastern Conference at 25-9.
Faris reunites with former UConn teammate Tina Charles to lead the Sun in 2013. Charles, the 2012 WNBA MVP and a three-time rebounds champion, is coming off of a season in which she averaged 18.0 points and 10.5 rebounds per game.
With two-time All-Star power forward Asjha Jones, as well as All-Stars Kara Lawson and Renee Montgomery, Faris should have no trouble fitting into a winning culture—one that she's quite familiar with.
This in-state pairing should work wonders for Faris and the Sun.
Brittney Griner, Phoenix Mercury
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It was no surprise when Brittney Griner, the NCAA's all-time leading shot-blocker, went first overall during the 2013 WNBA draft. What may be surprising is that her name is on this list, as the Phoenix Mercury finished 2012 at 7-27.
With that being said, star guard Diana Taurasi played just eight games due to injury in 2012, and Candice Dupree saw just 13 games of action—in other words, Phoenix is better than its record.
Griner enters a situation in which established stars are surrounding her on a roster without an interior enforcer. It just so happens that Phoenix now has the most prolific shot-blocker in NCAA history protecting the rim.
An encouraging sign, to say the least.
In Taurasi and Dupree's absence, DeWanna Bonner stepped up to average 20.6 points per game. This also placed her into the starting lineup on a consistent basis after she won the Sixth Woman of the Year award in her first three seasons in the WNBA.
Taurasi, a former MVP and a five-time WNBA scoring champion, is the key to it all, though. With her and Dupree, a three-time All-Star, the Mercury have an elite core.
Griner rounds it out and pushes the Mercury into title contention.
Lindsey Moore, Minnesota Lynx
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Former Nebraska Cornhuskers guard Lindsey Moore couldn't have landed in a better spot. Nebraska's all-time assists leader landed with the Minnesota Lynx, who you might have heard of.
They've won back-to-back Western Conference titles and won the 2011 WNBA Championship.
Leading the way for Minnesota is the dominant tandem of Seimone Augustus and Maya Moore. They're joined by three-time All-Star point guard Lindsay Whalen.
To say that Moore is joining a complete team would be a drastic understatement.
Augustus was the 2011 WNBA Finals MVP, Whalen has led the league in assists in three different seasons and Maya Moore was the 2011 WNBA Rookie of the Year.
Minnesota will be right back at it in 2013.
A'dia Mathies, Los Angeles Sparks
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The Los Angeles Sparks have as powerful a rotation as you'll find in the NBA. When your lineup includes the likes of Candace Parker, Kristi Toliver, Nnemkadi Ogwumike, Alana Beard and DeLisha Milton-Jones, it's not hard to see why.
In order to add depth, the Sparks selected Kentucky guard A'dia Mathies—a move the senior should be thrilled about.
Mathies joins one of the most decorated teams in the WNBA, as the Sparks come off of a season in which they finished 24-10 and eventually lost in the Western Conference Finals. In order to get by the Minnesota Lynx in 2013, they'll need their bench to improve.
Mathies is the perfect fit.
Led by Parker, a former WNBA MVP, the Sparks are prepared for big things. Ogwumike is a force down low, Toliver is an elite facilitator, Beard is a four-time All-Star and Milton-Jones is a three-time All-Star and two-time WNBA champion.
How much better company could a rookie ask for?
Layshia Clarendon, Indiana Fever
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During the 2012 WNBA season, the Indiana Fever finished at 22-12. They proceeded to go to the playoffs, reach the finals and win their first WNBA Championship in franchise history.
Who's to say they can't repeat?
The Fever are led by 2011 WNBA MVP and 2012 WNBA Finals MVP Tamika Catchings. Catchings, a five-time Defensive Player of the Year, is coming off of a season in which she averaged 17.4 points and 7.6 rebounds per game.
Just don't think she was alone in the category of elite.
Katie Douglas is a four-time All-Star and a five-time All-Defensive Team selection. Briann January, meanwhile, has become a respected lead guard for the Fever.
The addition of Layshia Clarendon means Indiana just became more passionate than ever—a scary thought.