The WNBA’s Draft Lottery was held this morning by conference call from New York, where Jamin Dershowitz, the league’s legal counsel (at right), and WNBA President Donna Orender ran the show. I listened in to the call with Storm COO Karen Bryant.
If you’re not familiar with the NBA/WNBA Draft Lottery model, there are 14 lottery-style ping-pong balls placed in a hopper (that is not, alas, the technical term). One at a time, four are drawn without replacement. There are 1,001 possible combinations when four numbers are drawn out of 14 without regard to order. One of those is thrown out; the other 1,000 were assigned ahead of time to the five teams in the lottery. (My hope was that the 1,001st “dead” combination would come up; no such luck.)
When the Draft Lottery results are televised, the order goes backwards, saving the drama for the end. The actual drawing goes in the proper but less dramatic order – first pick, then second, then third.
We didn’t have the combinations up in front of us, but when the number one came up during the drawing for the first pick, Bryant quickly noted that the Los Angeles Sparks owned the combinations that included a one. Lo and behold, it is the Sparks – who tied with the Minnesota Lynx for the WNBA’s worst regular-season record – who got the top overall pick.
I surely won’t be the first or only to note the eerie parallel with the San Antonio Spurs, who won the NBA Draft Lottery in 1997 and picked Tim Duncan, who teamed with an existing superstar (David Robinson) whose season had been cut short by injury (Lisa Leslie and pregnancy in the parallel case) to win a championship early in a brilliant career. Yikes.
The second pick went to the Chicago Sky, who will continue to add to a young core of Candice Dupree and Armintie Price that allowed them to be in contention for a playoff spot most of last season. It was good to see one of the top three picks head to the Eastern Conference.
The Minnesota Lynx were denied in their quest to land a third straight No. 1 overall pick (which was done by trade last year). Minnesota will pick another top young player to go with Seimone Augustus and Lindsey Harding.
The complete draft order:
1. Los Angeles
7. New York
11. Detroit (from San Antonio)
14. New York (from Detroit via San Antonio)