Wednesday, August 12, 2009
I believe it was Chantelle Anderson who wrote that trades were the hardest part of the sports business - you can give your heart and soul to a team and its community, but in the end, you're just a commodity to be bought, or sold, or tossed to the side. Two WNBA players have learned that lesson today: Tamera Young, and Armintie Price.
Young was a first round draft pick in 2008 out of James Madison University. Young and Amber Holt were the only players from mid-major universities to make the first round of the 2008 WNBA Draft and was the first player ever to be drafted out of James Madison. Things were looking up for Young, and the fans in Atlanta found Young one of the few highlights of the season, with Young's characteristic pigtails sparking "Pigtail Power" signs all over Philips Arena.
With a weak Atlanta team in 2008, Young was able to average 22.6 minutes a game and score 7.3 points per game. However, she only shot 33.3 percent from the field and 69.1 percent from the free throw line. The hope was that Young would improve over the 2009 season. However, the Dream signed Chamique Holdsclaw in the off-season and Angel McCoughtry was signed as the #1 pick of the 2009 WNBA Draft. With so many talented players to choose from, Young found herself fighting for playing time.
She suffered an ankle injury that took her out of several games. By that time, she was left as the last option and it looked like she would never fight her way off the bench. Her shooting hadn't improved, her rebounding power had dropped precipitously and she was still in the sub-70 percent range in free throws. Fans wondered if there was some sort of hostility between Meadors and Young, or if Meadors's pride - Young was a first round pick after all - was the only thing keeping Young with Atlanta.
Today, the other shoe dropped. Young was traded to the Chicago Sky for Armintie Price. Price was the #3 draft pick of the 2007 WNBA Draft. Price was a forward-guard, five inches shorter than Young and a lot smaller. It seemed like an even-for-even trade.
According to the Font of All Knowledge - Wikipedia - Price comes from a religious family - she's a member of the Apostolic Faith - to the point where she wore a skort during her high school basketball career to please her mother (she wasn't even allowed to play basketball until the eight grade). Price has a blog on Yardbarker and a web site of her own, which gives some details about her faith. Price needed something akin to a parental dispensation when she left for college so she could abandon the skorts. (The Apostolics forbid women to wear pants.)
She was known as a relentless player at Ole Miss, and was the only guard ever to lead the Southeastern Conference in rebounding. As Carol Ross, her coach at Mississippi said, "People want to put her in a box, and there is no box for her."
Price earned SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors twice over her four years at Mississippi. She was All-SEC First Team in her senior year, and was named as a third-team AP All American. Her final year was marked with a sad benchmark - the death of her mother from ovarian cancer.
In her first year with the Sky, she scored 7.9 poitns per game and 6.0 rebounds per game and was named the 2007 WNBA Rookie of the Year. However, her production and minutes declined every year after that. In 2008 she was only a part-time starter and scored 6.9 ppg. This year, she hasn't started at all and averages only 3.5 ppg in just 14.7 minutes of play.
(* * *)
So how can we evaluate the trade? I'll do it using three different metrics:
1) Total Adjusted Wins Score, which is not only an additive metric, but a cumulative one - which means it awards on volume as well as quality.
2) Adjusted Wins Score per 33 1/3 minutes - if you want a per-minute AdjWS, then just divide by 33.333333....
3) Diamond Rating, which makes a stab at determining how good a player would be if they had more minutes.
For Total Adjusted Wins Score:
Price: 6.2 (77th out of 159)
Young: -3.4 (113th out of 159)
Before we consider AdjWS the be-all-and-end-all of metrics, Total AdjWS considers Tamera Young a better player than Chamique Holdsclaw! AdjWS absolutely hates shooting inaccuracy and turnovers and fouls, but doesn't consider all that a player brings to a table. Holdsclaw might be the kind of player that defies all metrics.
Maybe we need Adjusted Wins Score Per 33 1/3 minutes:
Young: -1.69 (Holdsclaw's is only -0.37 - Holdsclaw's Total score is worse than Young's simply because she's played more minutes.)
And now, we'll haul out Diamond Rating, which does a lot of comparisons and tries to project what a player might be able to do with better minutes. Only players who have played > 2.0 mpg and < 21.0 mpg are eligible.
Price: 7.39 (34th out of 89)
Young: -4.14 (61st out of 89)
It looks as though the Dream might have gotten the better end of the deal. Before saying so, Young might have simply needed a better atmosphere to blossom. That just happens. Her first year, she was forced to play starters minutes because the team was so bad; the second year she got no time at all because of the people in front of her (and maybe, because of other factors).
The great thing is that a move to a new city means a new chance to make a first impression. Here's hoping that both Armintie Price and Tamera Young make those good impressions. Pleasant Dreams welcomes Arminite Price to the Atlanta Dream - I think you'll like our fans a lot.