Thursday, August 7, 2008

When Talent Overwhelms Necessity

Generally, there's a consensus as to who the number one pick of a draft in any year should be. Most of the draft touts who write about the NBA, or the NFL, or even the WNBA are pretty much in agreement about who the first handful of picks should be in any given year. There's a general consensus as to who the #1 pick should be, a slightly smaller consensus as to who #2 should be, and everyone's draft list differs beyond that spot.

If it were just as simple as teams choosing the best players available when their turns come up, predicting a draft would be easy. What makes draft predictions so hard is that teams have needs beyond talent. A team might already have talent at one position, but be lacking in another. If a team has two strong forwards, they won't be looking for another forward; rather, they'll be looking at the best of the guards still on the draft board. A team has to fit specific needs when drafting. Necessity is the mother of the draft.

There is, however, an exception. The exception is when one of the remaining players is so head and shoulders in talent above the rest that you should draft that player regardless of position. In the case of the team with the two forwards above, a undrafted forward might be playing at a level above the undrafted guards. In which case you draft the forward, and then decide who is going to get traded for a guard down the line or who can shift positions to make place for the new player.

Making matters more complicated for the Atlanta Dream is that if the magic ping-pong balls bounce the right way, Atlanta will get the first pick in the 2009 WNBA draft. In which case they'll have to answer their ultimate question, "draft for talent or draft for necessity?"

Here's how I see the Atlanta Dream vis-a-vis positions:

guard: not much of a need
center: we might be able to make do with Bales and Feenstra
forward: a clear need.

Therefore, Coach Meadors has to be thinking: "go with the best forward in the draft". I've been doing my preliminary analysis (to be printed tomorrow) and right now, I have the best forward as being Angel McCoughtry out of Louisville. The problem is, McCoughtry is the best forward but not the best player. That player, according to preliminary analysis, is Courtney Paris, a center out of Oklahoma.

So who does Meadors take? Paris, or McCoughtry?

The answer to that question is, "is Paris substantially better than McCoughtry?" Right now, my answer is "yes", Paris is just enough better than McCoughtry for the Dream to take Paris as the #1 pick if they get the chance. That will probably mean that Bales will stay as backup and poor Katie Feenstra will have to pack up her bags and go.

Where, oh where, will poor Kit go? And what kind of a forward could we get for Feenstra? Any takers?


Q said...

Great post...and I'll be looking forward to tomorrow's as well.

I always believe that you take best player available regardless of need, perhaps until the second round when there are less dynamic talents.

Do you think Young will be the answer at SF in the future?

pt said...

My current poor system (such as it is, it's still in beta testing) ranks Young as 70th overall if she were in the 2008-09 draft class.

So-so efficiency as a shooter, so-so conferenece, and poor rebound rate hurt her, and having 77 assists and 95 turnovers in your senior year is not what you want in a guard at the WNBA level.

Of course, one always begins a statistical analysis with the words, "what I say might make a fool of me...." But I had Young as the lowest ranked "KEEP" player in my "KEEP/PASS" post of a few days ago.

afoundingfan said...

I remember hearing on a ESPN broadcast earlier this year that Paris was not certain she wanted to play in the W. Has that changed?

pt said...

AFF, I've been hunting the internet since you posted and can't find any statement that Courtney might not want to play. Of course, that doesn't mean it didn't happen, it just means that I can't find it.

That actually inspires a new post -- which will have to wait till tomorrow....

Soonerbay said...

OU's CP3 will bring another level of excitement and competition to the Atlanta Dream. I've been watching her since her early years of club ball/AAU and she is a game changer. If the Dream management is serious about building a great franchise then they will not only select CP3 if they get the first pick, but they should do what they need to do to get her "big sister" Ashley who will more than likely go in the first round as well. They would also become an Atlanta "dream marketing machine". I live in the San Francisco bay area where they grew up. They had rock star status in high school, but you would never know it based on how humble they are. My own selfishness is hoping the Sacramento Monarchs trade, buy, whatever they need to do to get "The Twins". That would take the Monarchs to another level of success and the Twins would be basically playing in their hometown (unless Oakland gets a WNBA team).