The Los Angeles Sparks head into the 2019 WNBA Draft with looming decisions to maintain contention in the postseason.
The Los Angeles Sparks look forward to the draft as there are many possibilities that are hanging over them this upcoming season.
After a second-round exit in the playoffs and a 19-15 regular season record, the Sparks are ready to bounce back to continue to be a competitive team in the Western Conference.
Los Angeles played through an early stretch without Candace Parker, who was dealing with a back injury and started off with a 4-1 record in May. There were also injuries and ailments to Nneka Ogwumike and Alana Beard that made July a rocky month as they went 4-6.
The Sparks did weather through those ailments and made it the playoffs. They defeated their finals’ foe in the Minnesota Lynx in the first round then fell to the Washington Mystics in the second round.
Despite their ailments, Ogwumike and Beard were named to the All-Defensive teams. Beard won Defensive Player of the Year for the second season in a row. Parker was voted to the All-WNBA Second Team.
At the end of the season, Brian Agler resigned from his head coaching duties. Former New York Knicks head coach and five-time Los Angeles Lakers champion Derek Fisher accepted the head coaching job with the Sparks shortly after.
A Liz Cambage Situation
The trade request made by Dallas Wings’ center Liz Cambage is a wavering thing that surrounds this year’s draft. Cambage requested the trade and said that Los Angeles was her destination of choice.
There is the possibility of a Cambage trade happening on draft day but it is just a matter of who will have a suitable trade package with Dallas if they decide to go through with parting with Cambage.
Los Angeles is among one of the teams that could be looking to make a deal with the Wings that may include one of this year’s draft picks and players already on the Sparks’ roster.
Cambage trade or not, the Sparks will draft the talent who can fit with the team’s vision moving forward.
In this draft, the Los Angeles Sparks will look to choose a player that will thrive and grow with this team of seasoned veterans and first-year head coach in Fisher. Los Angeles holds the seventh pick in the first round along with the 19th and 31st picks.
The Sparks needs in this draft includes perimeter shooters and impactful frontcourt players. This team is a mix of players in their primes and solidified veteran players. Utilizing some productive youthful players can balance the team out while still being a contending team in the league.
Here are the potential prospects that Los Angeles could draft in the first round based on mock drafts.
Katie Lou Samuelson, UConn
Katie Lou Samuelson has had a great collegiate career with the University of Connecticut. Samuelson is a 6’3 guard and forward who does so much damage from the perimeter. She is a stellar scorer and a serviceable wing. In her career with UConn, she has averaged a 41.7 percent from three-point range.
Samuelson also has great court vision on the offensive end as she makes the right passes for teammates who tend to be ready to score in the paint. She averaged about six rebounds during her senior year, which was the most she’d averaged in her collegiate career. Throughout her time at UConn, she has improved with rebounding.
Alanna Smith, Stanford
Alanna Smith was a scoring threat at Stanford who is a stellar three-point shooter as a big. The forward finished her collegiate career with a 35.2 percentage from three-point range. Smith is also able to stretch the floor and be of great help on the defensive end.
Defensively, Smith is a terror. Her inside presence on the defensive end is very aggressive as she is always ready to be on her assignment. Rebounding on the defensive end is also Smith’s bread and butter. She averaged about six rebounds a game in her collegiate career. Smith also anticipates a good block and that has teams on edge when in the paint.
Kristine Anigwe, California
Kristine Anigwe is a physical threat on the floor and a dominant scorer who rose to excellence for the California Lady Bears. Anigwe’s talent can translate to the league as she is constantly getting better. She is great at crashing the boards both on offense and defense. She averaged 3.6 offensive rebounds, 7.2 on the defensive end, and 10.8 in total over her collegiate career.
Anigwe has been a productive scorer in her career with the Lady Bears as she averaged 20 points on 56 percent shooting. She averaged 38 percent from three-point range. Her offense was always on par and her defense got her over the hump in her senior year.
A majority of mock drafts have the Sparks taking Kennedy Burke from UCLA with the 19th pick in the second round. Burke is a wing player with a great presence on the defensive end and she can be very productive in the paint against smaller defenders.
Los Angeles is projected to draft Li Yueru with the 31st pick in the third round. Yueru is a prospect of China who has a ton of potential at the next level. The 6’7 center is a good shooter with a big frame on the inside.
No matter who the Sparks will take in the draft, it will be a good situation to be in going forward.
The draft will take place on ESPN2 and ESPNU. The first round will be broadcasted on ESPN2 at 7 p.m. ET then the second and third rounds will follow on ESPNU at 8 p.m. ET.