Sorry, fans, the Phoenix Mercury won't be drafting Maya Moore in the 2011 WNBA Draft on April 11. In fact, they won't be drafting anyone until the middle of the second round. The team traded away their first round pick last season in a deal that brought center Kara Braxton to town.
According to Mercury General Manager Ann Meyers-Drysdale, some fans are upset that the team doesn't have their pick, the seventh of the first round. Meyers-Drysdale sees it differently.
"Would that number seven pick be better than Kara Braxton? We didn't think it would be, not unless we were getting the number one pick in Maya Moore," the Hall of Fame basketball legend said.
Braxton, 28, played 13 games for the Mercury last season, averaging 11 points and 4.8 rebounds in 17 minutes of floor time. The 6-foot-6 center with six years of pro experience gave the team an inside defensive presence and toughness they were missing and offensively is a low post option that often demands a double team.
Word is that Braxton lost 30 pounds playing in China this winter and will be in better shape to run in the Mercury's up-tempo system this season.
It remains to be seen if Meyers-Drysdale is right and that Braxton would be better than the players available with the number seven pick, now owned by the Tulsa Shock. Here's three different mock draft results for that slot and those surrounding it.
WNBA Draft 2011: Swish Appeal's Consensus First Round Mock Draft - Swish Appeal
7. Tulsa Shock: Victoria Dunlap, F, Kentucky Wildcats
WNBA.com: 2011 WNBA.com Mock Draft
7. Tulsa Shock Danielle Robinson, G, Oklahoma
2011 WNBA Mock Draft - WNBA DraftSite.com - WNBA Mock Draft
7 Tulsa Danielle Robinson
The Mercury are left with a second (19) and third (31) round pick in the April 11 draft.
In the WNBA, it is rare for players drafted that late to make a team. With only 11 roster spots on the 12 teams in the league, jobs are at a premium. Add to that the lack of depth of talent in the women's college game and the chances that the Mercury's late picks make the roster are very slim indeed.
But you never know what might happen. Just last year, undrafted rookie Taylor Lilley made the squad when she impressed head coach Corey Gaines with her long-range shooting, defensive tenacity, and general toughness on the court.
"We'll probably be looking at guards, even though we picked up Marie Ferdinand-Harris to give us stability in the back court, and also another veteran in the locker room," Meyers-Drysdale said about her team's two late picks.
"Corey, in his system, it's always about the guards. We're pretty good at the bigs. We can never not look at what else is out there, but he's always looking for shooters and ball handlers. Who that is? I wish I knew?"
Ann feels the team is solid in the front court with Braxton and Candice Dupree. Losing Tangela Smith to free agency will open up more time for forward DeWanna Bonner and free agent signee center Nakia Sanford.
Overall, Meyers-Drysdale is excited for the season and cautiously optimistic. She goes into every year thinking her team can win, but this time around has an extra edge.
Diana Taurasi's unfortunate false positive on a drug test while playing in Turkey resulted in her and teammate Penny Taylor spending several months in the States resting and preparing for the WNBA season. That's a luxury few WNBA stars have and one that the Mercury GM will certainly take advantage of.
"Diana (Taurasi) and Penny (Taylor) being very well rested for the season, I think, is a plus in a lot of different ways. I'm excited about the chemistry on this team and the continuity."
For more coverage of the WNBA and the up-coming draft, visit Swish Appeal, SB Nation's home for women's basketball.