Chat with Mechelle Voepel
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, women's basketball writer Mechelle Voepel will stop by to chat some hoops.
Voepel has covered women's college and pro basketball for ESPN.com since 1996. Read her blog at www.mechellevoepelblog.com.
Send your questions now and join Voepel Thursday at 2 p.m. ET!
Mechelle Voepel (2:03 PM)
Good afternoon. The WNBA playoffs begin tonight, and we'll also find out who gets the No. 1 pick in next April's draft. So ... a few things to discuss. Let's get going.
aussie fan (australia)
hi mechelle, pleased to say several play off games on tv via espn here over the next few days ! cant wait.
Mechelle Voepel (2:05 PM)
That's great to hear. I have a feeling I could guess who the favorite team will be for the Aussies. :)
at this point, who is the #1 overall pick for the 2015 WNBA draft?
Mechelle Voepel (2:08 PM)
The obvious choice, provided she is healthy, is UConn's Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis. Of course, she had injury and health issues last season, and was never 100 percent. But by the NCAA tournament, she was at least in fairly good health, and she was a huge factor in the Huskies' championship. At her best, she's a great 3-point shooter, a pretty good rebounder for her size, and she has the UConn pedigree, which has been worth a lot in the WNBA. I think right now, she's the pretty clear choice. But what we'll have to see is how healthy she is throughout this coming season, and if anyone else has a big-time senior year and kind of surprises us.
Glenn (Fresh meadows)
With Elizabeth Williams waffling on playing in the W...is there anything of value below KML in the draft, or in English is tonight's lottery more who gets KML then who can get a veteran for an overvalued pick?
Mechelle Voepel (2:14 PM)
I think you nailed it pretty accurately. There were no juniors on this past season's 10-member WBCA All-America team. KML likely would have made it if she'd been healthy. But it tells you that this isn't a strong senior class. Especially not compared to this year's coming junior class, led by Breanna Stewart. I think KML, when healthy, is a pretty darn good player and could either be a valued rookie in 2015 for Seattle, Tulsa or Connecticut, or valuable trade bait for a veteran for those teams. It's harder to gauge the value of the 2-4 picks. I feel like maybe I'm being too pessimistic about this senior class, but at the same time, I haven't seen a lot of evidence that that assessment is wrong.
kevin (macon ga)
This is the 5th time in seven years that we've had a first time winner as MVP. What does that tell you about the depth of top level talent compared to the days when Lisa Leslie and Sheryl Swoopes alternated winning every year?
Mechelle Voepel (2:20 PM)
I think it in part reflects the players who have grown up with the WNBA to look forward to and train for. Even someone like Tamika Catching - while she didn't have the WNBA when she was a kid - did have it while she was in college. And I believe that has made a difference: More and more kids are really committing to basketball and are coming to the WNBA better prepared to make an impact. Then there's also the fact that three of those players in the window you mentioned are from UConn - Diana Taurasi (2009 MVP), Tina Charles (2012), and Maya Moore (2014). And that reflects how well that program has prepared players to succeed at the next level. I think you're starting to see more of that from other programs, and that's an important part of the sport's growth.
Jonathan (New York)
What's different in the situations of international players like Erika de Souza, Sancho Lyttle, Celine Dumerc, Penny Taylor, and others -- that they decided to play the 2014 WNBA season while other international players chose to train with their national teams for the 2014 FIBA World Championship? Thanks
Mechelle Voepel (2:24 PM)
Since there is a major international competition every two years - the Olympics or World Championship - the international players have to develop relationships with their national teams that work best for them. There just isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to that. There are financial considerations, how "guaranteed" their spot on their national team is, how much they enjoy their national-team experience, their relationship with the national-team coach, etc. So everybody's situation is a little different, based on all those factors.
what can the Liberty do for 2015 without any 1st round pick?? Hope and pray Carson comes back 100%? Is anyone worth trading?? Or does Laimbeer just tap into free agency??
Mechelle Voepel (2:30 PM)
Unless Bill Laimbeer can pull some rabbits out of hats, I think the Liberty has real worries. I don't second-guess the trade that brought Tina Charles; she is a great player, and even if it turns out that it costs them the No. 1 overall pick, it was still a deal worth making. But, as you said, how much trade value do the Liberty have? They're an older team, Cappie Pondexter has not seemed anywhere near 100 percent healthy, and this team didn't have winning chemistry this year. How much can be fixed through free-agency? Does Laimbeer have a plan that can work for next season? As opposed to Connecticut, the other East team that missed the playoffs. The Sun has a lot of young talent, and they have two of the top four picks for 2014. As we said, the draft class is not great ... but, especially if the Sun ends up with No. 1, they have some bargaining chips and more ways to improve for 2015. I'd be concerned if I were a Liberty fan that this team isn't going to be able to get a lot better quickly.
a recent article says that half of the teams in the WNBA are set to post a profit for 2014, the same as last season. Does this surprise you and does this mean the league is on solid ground for once??
Mechelle Voepel (2:34 PM)
I think any kind of consistency in terms of profit is a good thing. Obviously, the goal is to get to where all 12 are profitable, and I don't know how close they are to that. But I think you can look at this and say, "We know what's possible. Now the league just has to work with the individual franchises to help all of them reach their profit potential without it affecting the quality of the fan experience and the play itself."
Lynx in 2 over Stars, Mercury in 3 over Sparks, Lynx over Mercury in 3. Did I play out the Western Conference playoffs correctly?
Mechelle Voepel (2:38 PM)
We did our picks for ESPN.com/ESPNW, and my picks were similar to yours, except I picked the Mercury to sweep LA. People have been asking why I picked the Lynx over the Mercury ... at this point, it's really hard NOT to pick Phoenix. I've just kind of stuck with my original pick of the Lynx, in part because it's a little easier to conceive of a team beating the Mercury in a 3-game series than a 5-game series. If the Mercury wins the West, there is no chance they are going to lose the Finals. But I still think there's a chance the Lynx might pull an upset if they meet in the West finals. I guess the Stars and the Sparks are feeling pretty underestimated. But it's just hard to imagine we won't see the Mercury and Lynx in a pretty epic showdown in the West finals.
glenn fresh meadows [via mobile]
Of the teams that missed the playoffs who has the best and worst hopes of breaking through next year abd what will it take to see it thru
Mechelle Voepel (2:43 PM)
I think tonight's lottery will have an impact on that question. Again, just because the No. 1 pick should have value. But overall, I think Connecticut may have the best chance to be a playoff team next year, based on the young talent they have. But ... there are some chemistry issues on that team, and they're going to have to figure that out. Also, I think Tulsa wasn't *that* far away this year, even though it probably seems like we've been saying that awhile. But as Tulsa fans have told me over and over, they need more help defensively, and that probably is something they'll need from getting a veteran, rather than a rookie.
Ronald Moore (Siena)
Do you watch much of the NBA, how would you compare the way the players play in the men's league and the WNBA?
Mechelle Voepel (2:50 PM)
Honestly, I don't watch much of the NBA during the regular season, because I don't have time. I watch as much women's college basketball as possible during the winter, because that's my primary beat. And during the fall, early winter, I try to watch a lot of volleyball because I cover that, too. I tend to watch the NBA a lot only during the playoffs. That said, one thing I would say is that the WNBA teams and players have learned to utilize pick-and-roll opportunities better, and the overall skill level is definitely better, especially in the last decade. And it that way, you can kind of compare how they play to the NBA. Also, I think WNBA players and coaches have a lot more interaction with NBA players and coaches than used to be the case - Becky Hammon's situation with the Stars/Spurs being just one high-profile example. And the benefit of that is there is so much knowledge and strategy that the WNBA can tap into when they can interact with those in the NBA. The skill level and athleticism of NBA players is just untouchable, but it certainly helps the WNBA players to emulate the best qualities of the NBA players and coaching staff. I just think that's really helped the WNBA.
kevin (macon ga)
Brittney Griner and Glory Johnson have only been together for two months and now they're engaged. Are they moving too fast?
Mechelle Voepel (2:56 PM)
Well, I admit when I heard about the engagement, I thought, "Wow, that's fast!" But I'm also an "old person" and I am reminded of that song by Rod Stewart, "Young Turks." :) You don't tell young people in love that they are moving too fast ... because they are not going to listen. :) And that's OK. That's part of being young, and sometimes it all turns out just fine. Heck, there is no formula for how you can be 100 percent sure a marriage will work. Some people get engaged quickly, and it lasts forever. Some people date forever, then get married and the whole thing falls apart. So ... best of luck to Brittney and Glory. I wish them all the happiness in the world.
Mechelle Voepel (2:58 PM)
Well, the countdown to the playoffs is on. Hope you enjoy all the action starting tonight. We'll chat again next week.