WNBA draft: Lynx would love to trade up from pick No. 6
MINNEAPOLIS -- This year’s WNBA draft is far more important to the Minnesota Lynx than it has been in past years.
Certainly, the Lynx always wanted to take advantage of the draft. It’s important to try to add the best players possible. But with Minnesota’s often-stacked roster and parked position in the back of the draft, the reality is the Lynx were almost never adding rotation players.
That will not be the case Wednesday, April 10.
The Lynx own the No. 6 pick — their highest selection in years — and have a number of immediate needs to fill. So yeah, Lynx coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve said, there’s a higher sense of urgency.
“It’s a group that’s changed a little bit,” Reeve said. “We have some holes to fill and we’re picking a little bit higher, so we absolutely, even picks No. 16, 18 and 20, we’re up there right now and we’re hopeful that we’re going to get some decent players for us.”
For now, all eyes are on pick No. 6. Reeve doesn’t think there’s a generational talent in this draft — no Maya Moore or Breanna Stewart. If there was one, it was Oregon guard Sabrina Ionescu, who made the decision to return to school for her senior season.
But Reeve thinks there are some “really good players” who can become upper-echelon talents in the league in time.
How many of those exist?
“Any time you’re picking six, we think there’s five,” Reeve said. “We’re going to have to get lucky to get one of those that we think can do that.”
Reeve didn’t make it known who exactly those top five are. Different mock drafts have different players going in the top five. It’s a good bet Louisville’s Asia Durr, Notre Dame’s Jackie Young, Mississippi State’s Teaira McCowan and Connecticut’s Naphessa Collier are four of them.
The fifth could be anyone from Cal’s Kristine Anigwe to Uconn’s Katie Lou Samuelson to Stanford’s Alanna Smith.
“There are five players that you look at and go, ‘They’re going to be in the league a long time,’ ” Reeve said. “Beyond that, you go there’s a chance for this player to be pretty good. Perhaps their ceiling isn’t as high, or they’re close to their ceiling, and can you squeeze 10-20 percent more out of them? And there’s some where you go, ‘I just don’t know.’ Terrific college stats, but you just don’t know. Our league is very different, and what they’re going to face is very different than what they’ve done for the last four years. I think every team, whoever is picking eighth is going to say there’s seven good players, that’s just what we do.”
Minnesota might need some luck to get who it believes is one of the top five players. Reeve said the Lynx have made “numerous offers” to trade into the top five, all of which have been rejected.
“We’re the Minnesota Lynx, and that means no one answers our calls,” she said. “I have found out how deep that runs. We got a call with the team that at least took the call and say, ‘Why on earth would we help you?’ That’s what we get. Yeah, we’d love to move up. You have to have assets to do that, and when you’re us, you have to overpay to do that.”
Should the Lynx stay at No. 6, options could range from Samuelson to Notre Dame guard Arike Ogunbowale, whom many mock drafts project to go to Minnesota. Reeve said Tuesday the Lynx need both scoring and shooting. The only position where she feels confident in their depth, at full strength, at the moment is small forward.
Whoever the Lynx select, that player will have been well scouted. Reeve said team owner Glen Taylor upped the scouting budget this year, and Reeve and Co. “used every penny of it,” traveling to interview players and watch them in games and practices.
“It’s been a pretty darn thorough process,” Reeve said.