Lynx have last pick in first round of WNBA draft

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 14, 2014 - 2:12 PM

It’s a good problem to have. The Lynx will pick last in the first round for the second year in a row.

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Notre Dame forward Natalie Achonwa (11) pulls in a rebound during the first half in the NCAA Women's Final Four college basketball championship game against the Baylor, in Denver, Tuesday, April 3, 2012.

Photo: Eric Gay, Associated Press - Ap

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When the Lynx finally get around to making their first pick in Monday night’s WNBA draft, the most important skill that person might need is patience.

For the second year in a row the Lynx have the 12th and final pick in the first round.

In all, the Lynx have four picks in three rounds. There is a good possibility that just one — and perhaps none — of those picks will still be around when the Lynx begin defense of their 2013 league title in May. That’s what happens when a prospect joins a team that has won two of the past three WNBA titles and is returning its top eight players.

“The goal would be along the lines of we want to get a player who can help us, probably in the future,” Lynx executive vice president Roger Griffith said.

The Lynx’s entire starting five is back, as are top backups Monica Wright and Devereaux Peters. Last year’s first-round draft pick, guard Lindsey Moore, is expected to make a big jump in her development in her second season.

So that doesn’t leave a whole lot of jobs available.

Backup center Amber Harris, who injured her knee late last fall, will not be back. Australian Rachel Jarry, who was a backup wing player last season, is not likely in the picture either. Guard Sugar Rodgers is expected to be in camp but will have to earn her position for a second season.

“The best player available is going to come in and compete against whoever is [also at her position],” Griffith said.

Or that draft pick might not play at all, at least right away. The Lynx have, in the past, done a good bit of drafting for the future. Neither Damiris Dantas (the 12th overall pick in 2012) nor Waltiea Rolle (No. 36 last season) was with the team last year. But both will be in camp this spring to compete for Harris’ old spot.

The Lynx are also in position to draft a player who is injured, such as Notre Dame post player Natalie Achonwa, who tore an ACL during the NCAA tournament, and Duke guard Chelsea Gray, who fractured her kneecap in January. Many consider both to be top-six talents otherwise. Achonwa, in particular, would seem to fit the Lynx roster well as a high-motor center/power forward with good passing and leadership skills.

Others the Lynx might consider with the 12th pick are North Carolina State center Markeisha Gatling; Astou Ndour, a 6-6 Senegal native now playing in Spain; and BYU center Jennifer Hamson.

When it comes to the second round, the Lynx won’t have to wait long, picking at 15. Among the players who might still be available are Louisville guard Shoni Schimmel, Duke guard Tricia Liston and Georgia Tech guard Tyaunna Marshall.

It’s not certain that Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve will be at Target Center for the draft; she had back surgery more than a week ago. If she cannot be there, she will be in close communication with the team.

But one thing is certain: It will be a challenge for any player drafted by the Lynx to stick with the team this summer.

“We’re going to win with the top eight players on our roster,” Griffith said. “Those are the people who will make the difference. Those people are set.”

 

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