Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Guru's WNBA Lottery Outlook: Here's The Numbers -- It's Not Crazy

(Guru's note: There is a general WNBA overview above this written off Friday's pre-Olympic conclusion to the WNBA schedule).

By Mel Greenberg

Attention (Baylor's) Brittney Griner, (Delaware's) Elena Delle Donne, and (Notre Dame's) Skylar Diggins:

Though they've yet to meet you.
This is not crazy.
They've got the numbers (yours and theirs).
They'll call you (more than) maybe.

Actually, Washington sort of got to meet Diggins in Connecticut on Wednesday night because the Irish, as in ND, sensation, who is doing an internship for the ESPNW website, was in the house at Mohegan to do an interview for a story about her former teammate Natalie Novosel, who was a first-round pick by the Mystics.

That aside, if it looks like another sizzling race for the WNBA title, right now, at the top of the standings in the Eastern and Western Conferences, there's quite a bit of neck-and-neck action down below in the sub-playoff zone where it looks like it will be a race to the wire in the post-Olympic portion of the schedule to see who lines up best for lottery positions and then hope for the lucky yield from the ping pong balls to determine who will get the top four picks in order, of which the first three are the ones with lucrative talent value.

A few days ago it looked like New York was in a no woman's land, so to speak -- not good enough to slide into the playoffs but perhaps better than others in the lotto hunt that will cause enough wins the rest of the way to force them in the fourth spot in number of ping pong balls and needing a miracle.

Should the Liberty land in the lottery there's no news yet if the management crew will ask their big NBA brother New York Knicks to provide golden oldie Patrick Ewing to be on hand for good luck.

After all, it was Ewing, then a super stud coming out of Georgetown, that caused NBA commissioner David Stern to create the lottery among the bottom teams to ensure no one team tanks to become the worst and automatically get the No. 1 pick.

As it was, New York, which was awful that season, became the winner to grab Ewing.

The Liberty may have gotten into the hunt after losing a game Friday in the Prudential Center to the Washngton Mystics, who, had they lost, would have tied the Tulsa Shock for the worst record at 3-15.

In the world of the lottery, things are done in reverse. So, say Washington and Tulsa were tied, because they are in different conferences, the first break, just as if it were an intra-conference deadlock, would be head to head.

Well, the Mystics and Shock split their two crossover games, so the next break would be in reverse of how home court advantage for the playoff finals would be handled. The better deal would go to the team with the worse record between the two against the opposite conference teams.

Anyhow, and for now Atlanta and Chicago will be left out of this unless they drift downwards after the hiatus, and likewise the same goes for Seattle, which has a five-game lead in fourth over Phoenix, here is the lottery standings at the break:

Team W-L G.B.
Tulsa Shock 3-15 -- --
Phoenix Mercury 4-15 -- 1/2
Washington Mystics 4-14 -- 1
New York Liberty 6-12 -- 3

Believe it or not, though New York has the fourth-worst record, the Liberty are in great shape to not finish in playoff shape if that is what the fanbase prefers.

At this point there's more talk like that among what's left on the fanbase in Washington.

On several trips down to the Verizon Center the Guru has been spoken to of a similar situation in the past when the NFL Philadelphia Eagles were on a winless run to land (pre-controversy) OJ Simpson until they were dumb enough to win the last two games.

But the Guru digresses.

First, and this can be good or bad, but after Friday, anything goes, so here are the number of games left that this group will play among itselves.

New York -- 7: Washington (3), Phoenix (2), Tulsa (2). Furthermore the Liberty will play the Shock home-and-home the final two games of their regular season.

Can you imagine of the Libs stand one foot from the playoffs and another from the No. 1 pick opportunity going into those games. Furthermore, except for some unknown roster deal, New York is looking to get healthy but won't have any influx of Olympic returnees.

Phoenix gets Diana Taurasi back after she hardly played the first half due to hip flexor, while Tulsa, which has played better than its record, will get second-year pro and 2011 No. 2 draft pick Liz Cambage, the center from the Australian national team.

Washington -- 3: New York (3).
Phoenix -- 3: New York (2), Tulsa (1),
Tulsa -- 3: New York (2), Phoenix (1).

But now look at how the heavyweights of the moment who line up against these franchises.

New York (6-12): East -- 8: Conn. (2), Chi (2), Wash (3), Ind. (1).
West -- 8: LA (2), Phoenix (2), Seattle (1), Tulsa (2), San Antonio (1).

Wash (4-14): East -- 13: NY (3), Atl (4), Ind (3), Chi (2), Conn (1).
West: -- 3: @Minn (1), @San (1), LA (1).

Phoenix (4-15): West -- 8: Seat. (3), San Ant. (2), Minn (1), Tulsa (1), LA (1).
East -- 7: Ind (2), Conn (2), NY (2), Chi (1).

Tulsa: (3-15): West -- 10: San Ant. (4), Minn (2), Sea (2), LA (1), Phx (1).
East -- 6; NY (2), Chi (1), Ind. (1), Atl (1), Conn. (1).

So there you have it. Underdogs galore but perhaps next April at ESPN, top dogs at the draft.

That's the numbers. And it's not crazy.

-- Mel (who will eventually get to DC sooner or later this weekend.)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


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