The Connecticut Sun earned the No. 1 selection in the 2014 WNBA draft Tuesday, winning the lottery for the first time in franchise history. The Tulsa Shock will pick second, the San Antonio Silver Stars third and the New York Liberty fourth. That's assuming, of course, those draft picks are not traded.
The Sun, who qualified for the postseason in their first six seasons in Connecticut after moving from Orlando, did not qualify last season—and have made it to the WNBA postseason just twice in the past five years. Last year, the Sun went without forward Danielle McCray, who missed the entire season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon. And the team was blitzed with a series of serious injuries throughout the season. Kara Lawson, Tan White, and Renee Montgomery all missed significant chunks of time in 2013.
And that's a whole lotta hurtin'.
Lawson, who has been putting together an impressive resume behind the microphone as a commentator, is likely at the end of her playing career—and almost certainly the end of her career in Connecticut—and European superstar Sandrine Gruda of France, does not wish to play in Connecticut. That could conceivably be two huge chips to trade in their re-tooling process. Throw in the ongoing unhappiness of Tina Charles with the franchise's direction, and one can easily see the treacherous waters the franchise is currently sailing in.
Donovan has not denied that the Sun conceivably could move Charles, the leading rebounder in Uconn women's basketball history, explaining that it would take a “blockbuster” offer for the team to consider moving its franchise player.
The consensus top pick in this year's draft is Stanford forward Chiney Ogwumike. Ogwumike, the sister of former No. 1 overall pick Nneka Ogwumike of the Los Angeles Sparks, averaged 25.8 points and 11.5 rebounds per game last year for the Cardinal, whose only regular-season loss came at the hands of the Huskies. Other top talent includes Maryland forward Alyssa Thomas, Baylor guard Odyssey Sims and Duke guard Chelsea Gray.
“The beautiful thing about this is that we can go in a number of different directions,” noted Sun head coach Anne Donovan. “We’re still in the process of looking at last year’s roster, and looking at the health issues that we’ve had, and just trying to determine what direction we’ll go in. That’s the beauty. We are in the driver’s seat to pick who we need. We could possibly go with a small forward to compliment Tina [Charles]. There are great point guards in the draft as well, so there’s evaluation still to be done to see what direction we go.”
“It’s a good feeling, there’s no doubt about it,” added Sun vice president and general manager Chris Sienko. “Going in, you can never be sure on what you are going to get, or not get, but fortunately it worked out in our favor. We’re excited. Being in this spot is good. It’s much better than being in another spot. I feel like we have a great opportunity ahead of us.”