Taking Leticia Romero with the final pick in the WNBA Draft may make the Lynx winners in the long run.
If you’re the GM with the final pick of the first round in this year’s WNBA Draft, you’re probably throwing a dart at the wall in hopes of finding a player decent enough to stick to your roster, right?
That is the very tall task lying ahead for Minnesota Lynx GM Roger Griffith, who thankfully is used to being in this position ever since he and Minnesota landed the highly coveted No. 1 draft pick back in 2011. And luckily for the player who gets the honor of joining the Lynx in training camp this season, there seem to be a few roster spots available for the taking, at least at this moment. The 2016 WNBA runners-up only have nine players currently signed to this season’s roster with the league minimum being 11. The good news for draftees is there’s only nine players signed. The bad news for players attempting to make the roster is those nine players are all on guaranteed contracts and are most certainly a lock to make the final 11 player roster. The Lynx are allowed to carry 12 max, but with the offseason addition of veteran All-Star Plenette Pierson, salary cap issues will hinder them from being able to do so.
So let’s take a look at the players (listed alphabetically) who may be available when that 12th pick comes around:
Evelyn Akhator – forward, Kentucky
Makayla Epps – guard, Kentucky
Jessica Jackson – forward, Arkansas
Tori Jankoska – guard, Michigan State
Alexis Peterson – guard, Syracuse
Alexis Prince – guard, Baylor
Leticia Romero – guard, Florida State
Sydney Wiese – guard, Oregon State
Some of you might be thinking, wow there are a ton of guards listed. And for those of you who have watched the Lynx the last couple of seasons know exactly why that might be the way they go in this draft. Look, we have all heard just about every joke or pun imaginable to describe this “weak” draft, but that doesn’t mean Minnesota can’t come away with a player they can mold into a serviceable and reliable back-up for their future Hall of Fame and ever-aging backcourt.
Unfortunately for the #LosLynx faithful, Lindsay Whalen and Seimone Augustus won’t be around forever, but that doesn’t mean the next Tully Bevilaqua or Leilani Mitchell isn’t sitting in this draft. Heck, no one could have dreamed that Pokey Chatman would have hit it out of the park with her steal of a selection in Jamierra Faulkner back in 2014. Selected with the Chicago Sky’s 34th pick as a virtual unknown out of Southern Mississipi, Faulkner was 6th in the WNBA last season in assists per game (4.6) in her third season in the league. Finishing behind the likes of Sue Bird, Jasmine Thomas, Candace Parker, Courtney Vandersloot (her own teammate and Sky starting PG) and Briann January, all of whom were selected in the first round. Ironically enough, Jasmine Thomas was herself a 12th pick in the draft (2011 by Seattle Storm).
If I were selecting out of the players listed above, my choice would be Florida State and Spain guard Leticia Romero. She suffers from a condition called Raynaud’s Phenomenon which causes blood vessels narrow faster and tighter than normal when cold, so as long as the team never has to play on an ice hockey rink, she should be okay. Romero is also somewhat of a gamble due to the “foreigner factor” as she is a member of Spain’s National Team which may cause her to miss time due to national team commitments in the future.
In Romero’s case, the pros outweigh the cons. She is a combo guard with decent size and good strength for both guard positions in the WNBA. She is the most pro-ready of this bunch as she saw a decent amount of action against her WNBA counterparts this past summer in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. She had 9 points., 5 rebounds., 2 assists., and 1 steal in 17 mins. of action in Spain’s preliminary match-up against Team USA. She only played garbage minutes in the Gold Medal game for Spain against Team USA in the rematch, adding 1 assist and 1 rebound in four minutes of action, but their was an Olympic silver medal put around her neck at the end of the game, so that’s a major positive on her resume in my book.
The Kansas State transfer led FSU to their third-ever Elite 8 appearance, falling just short of a comeback win against eventual NCAAW champion South Carolina, 71-64. She finished her Seminoles’ career as the ACC’s all-time leader in 3-point field goal percentage (47.7 percent), her school’s first three-time All-American (2015, 2016, 2017) and in the Top 20 all-time in the ACC in both free throw percentage (83.7 percent – 12th) and assists per game (4.5 – tied for 19th). A legit 5-8, Romero’s ability to defend will be tested at this level just like all rookies, but her ability to hit threes (shot above .500 this season) and read/execute pick and roll offense will lend itself in her favor. She’s consistently had a good assist to turnover ratio throughout her college career and her work ethic and leadership qualities have never been called into question. Ask the experts what has translated into a successful pro career and they’ll tell you, ability to hit threes and a positive assist to turnover ratio are the two most important for guards at this level.
So it’s important to remember come the 13th of April, that anything’s possible and the Lynx, if luck will have it, may land their own steal of the draft. Minnesota also owns the 24th and 36th picks in the 2017 WNBA Draft. For all the latest updates on the 2017 Minnesota Lynx Draft check out Lynx Draft Central on the Lynx WNBA.com team page.