The WNBA world doesn't allow for much reflection time. The season ends, and immediately it's time to start thinking about the next one. That means honing in on the draft.
Obviously, a few things can change between now and the draft. There is still a college basketball season to be played, but any prognosticators worth their salt won't let trivial details like this keep them from loudly proclaiming what the future holds.
With that in mind, here are my predictions for how the first round of the 2014 WNBA draft will play out in April.
*This draft order does not predict or reflect the results of the draft lottery and is based solely on regular-season records.
No. 1: Connecticut Sun: Chiney Ogwumike, PF, Stanford
With Tina Charles already providing this team with an established inside presence, Chiney Ogwumike would give the Sun a fearsome frontcourt. She has the skills to be the top player chosen and would be a good fit with the roster.
Last season, the Nigerian-American led the Cardinal in points at 22.3 per game and rebounds at 13.2. She is adept on both ends of the court and athletic enough to play alongside of Charles.
No. 2: New York Liberty: Stefanie Dolson, C, Connecticut
The Liberty are desperate for interior help. New York did a solid job on the glass last season, but that was a team effort, and their No. 5 ranking in that category is largely due to the athletic wings and active guards.
Stefanie Dolson would be a nice fit on this team. She is an excellent shot-blocker and can deliver on the boards. Last season she led Connecticut with 7.1 rebounds per game, and at .593 she was second in the nation in field-goal percentage.
No. 3: Tulsa Shock: Alyssa Thomas, F, Maryland
The two-time ACC Player of the Year is a versatile inside presence. Last season she notched 20 double-doubles, two of which were triple-doubles.
Alyssa Thomas would be a much-needed boost to a Shock frontcourt that didn't have a player average over 8.9 rebounds per game last season. As a team they finished eighth in rebounding. Thomas makes a lot of sense as part of the solution for Tulsa.
No. 4: San Antonio Silver Stars: Gennifer Brandon, F, California
The Silver Stars are in an interesting position. They need frontcourt help here, but there is better value to be had at guard. While I would expect them to explore trades, in the end the potential of Gennifer Brandon will be too much for them to pass on.
Brandon is a naturally gifted rebounder, finishing 30th in the nation last season at 9.9 per game. Offensively, she is still a bit raw, but she has the ability to be a solid scorer with some time developing in the WNBA.
No. 5: Indiana Fever: Odyssey Sims, PG, Baylor
Odyssey Sims is the best pure point guard in this class. She is a natural floor leader with great vision and the touch to deliver quality passes. She is also pesky on the defensive end, and her quick hands lead to aggressive steals.
She also has noticeable touch from distance, highlighted by her career shooting percentage of .405 from beyond the arc while at Baylor. She would be a wonderful addition for a team that didn't have anyone average more than 3.7 assists per game last year, and could make an instant impact.
No. 6: Seattle Storm: Kayla McBride, G, Notre Dame
Kayla McBride is a versatile and effective wing player and displays the athleticism and leadership qualities every coach covets.
McBride is also an excellent shooter with impressive ball-handling skills. She can shoot over a defense from distance or take it to the rack, making her an offensive threat who would benefit her Seattle teammates.
No. 7: Atlanta Dream: Samarie Walker, SF, Kentucky
The depth and versatility Samarie Walker would provide to the Dream frontcourt would make it a matchup nightmare for the rest of the league.
Walker is a natural scorer and quality overall athlete. She is also an underrated rebounder for her position. With Erika de Souza a double-double machine and Sancho Lyttle an all-around threat, Walker would be a compelling complement.
No. 8: Washington Mystics: Maggie Lucas, G, Penn State
Maggie Lucas has some height for her position at 5'11", but more importantly, she possesses a killer three-point shot. She is already the Big Ten's all-time third-most prodigious three-point shooter. Get Lucas the ball with just a sliver of daylight and she will deliver.
The boost in perimeter shooting is badly needed in Washington, so this is a logical fit.
No. 9: Phoenix Mercury: Chelsea Gray, PG, Duke
Last season, Chelsea Gray averaged 12.6 points, 5.4 assists, 5.3 rebounds and 3.6 steals for Duke while providing leadership and clutch play. However, a dislocated right kneecap in the 25th game ended her season early last year. She will have to prove she's fully recovered, and if she does, Phoenix would get itself a gem.
No. 10: Chicago Sky: Shoni Schimmel, G, Louisville
The Chicago Sky won't enter this draft with a lot of needs to fill. That will free them up to take the best player available, and they will have a hard time finding anyone better than the well-rounded Shoni Schimmel.
Schimmel can score, dish and play defense. She will find a role on this team and carve out early and long-lasting success.
No. 11: Los Angeles Sparks: Bria Hartley, G, Connecticut
Bria Hartley had a tremendous sophomore season last year with Connecticut. She finished with 533 points and 140 assists, which is the seventh most in both categories for any sophomore in Connecticut's history.
The Sparks could use an increase in talent in the backcourt, and Hartley would be a great start.
No. 12: Minnesota Lynx: DeNesha Stallworth, C, Kentucky
DeNesha Stallworth does not bring the most athletic inside presence, but that doesn't stop her from being an effective force down in the paint.
Last season, her first with Kentucky after transferring from Cal, she finished in the top 20 of the SEC in scoring, rebounding, field-goal percentage and blocks. She was also top five in the latter two categories.
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