Atlanta Dream Executive Vice President and General Manager Angela Taylor took time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions about the upcoming WNBA Draft - her first with the Dream. Read below to find out more about how she and the Dream coaches are preparing for the draft.
Tell us about how all the preparation that goes into the draft. What do you and the coaches do to prepare? One of my favorite quotes by George Washington Carver is There is no short cut to achievement. Life requires thorough preparation. Taking those words to heart, our staff has been working diligently over the last few months identifying the top college seniors, assessing their potential impact not only in the WNBA but also in our system with the Atlanta Dream, projecting what other teams may do with the picks prior to ours, and subsequently narrowing our list down to those candidates we feel will fall into our box at No. 8, 18 and 20. Our process of due diligence has included attending games and practices, watching games on television, analyzing the film breakdown and statistical data on Synergy, communicating with one another about our individual evaluations of each player, working with our medical team regarding those players who are or were injured, and talking to coaches (USA Basketball & college). We will continue this process up until the Draft on Monday in order to make sure every aspect has been covered.
What will your draft-day setup be like in the office? Throughout the day on Monday and in the hours leading up to the Draft, the coaching staff and I will be in our war room continuing to build our draft boards. The boards will highlight our Top 40 prospects overall, Top 40 ranked by position, and the Draft order (in case any picks are traded) among other lists. Coach Cooper and the coaching staff, our medical team, our basketball staff, and our owners will continue to refine our list and assess our prospects at each position as we continue to talk to coaches and agents and watch film on each prospect.
How does the actual process of making a selection take place? As each team makes their selection prior to our picks, we will continue to narrow our list of prospects in our box at each pick, so that we know exactly who we will take when Laurel Ritchie says that the Atlanta Dream is on the clock. The four of us will note who will be there to take at our pick and then Coach Cooper and I will have one final conversation to confirm what we want to do with the pick and then Ill call it in to the league office. Typically, as your time to pick grows closer, you may receive a lot of interest from other teams who may be interested in trading up or trading back into that round. So well be fielding phone calls and contemplating a variety of moves that we can make to improve our roster in addition to assessing the player we can take.
How do you work with Coach Cooper and the assistant coaches in determining which player to select? Who has final say? We have prepared for Mondays Draft, so as the draft is going on were constantly assessing our box and zeroing in on the player that we want to select. The biggest discussion will be whether to take the best player available at certain picks or to make a pick for a roster need. Through all of the preparation weve done with our draft boards, the two options should be pretty clear for Coach Cooper and I to make the selection.
This is your first draft since joining the Dream. In what ways, if any, has the preparation been different than when you were with Washington or Minnesota? There really are no secrets, so the preparation from team to team has essentially been the same. What is different is the make-up of the people in the room, which ultimately creates a different style of communication depending on the key constituents who are making the decision. I think the biggest difference from both Washington and Minnesota is that (aside from the 2010 Draft in Washington) those teams were in the lottery, so we had a pick really early in the Draft. This year, we are completely subjected to what happens (or doesnt happen) with the seven picks ahead of us. When you are pick No. 2 or 3, you have much more of an influence over the direction the Draft will go while you are hoping to select someone who will be an instant starter for you. With the No. 8 pick and what we feel is a solid roster, we are looking for a talented player who can make an impact but who also complements our core players.
Speaking of the draft class in general terms, does this draft appear to have more depth or less depth than in other recent years? The fascinating thing is that every year, the draft classes have a bit of a different tenor from previous drafts. Obviously, the 2013 WNBA Draft was pretty high profile especially around the Three to See. This year I see more depth at a variety of positions without the transcendent players like a Griner or Delle Donne that we saw last year. These players certainly have the same opportunity to impact the league like BG and EDD did last year, but I think that this years class is comprised of systematic player talent - players who may thrive in one system more than they would in another and therefore it is important where they are drafted. We also are seeing more depth at the guard position AND post position, which isnt always the case. Sometimes there are only a few posts, only a few shooters, only a few perimeter playmakers. This year there is a lot to choose from, which is great for us as we have 3 picks in the Top 20.
What are your goals/objectives for draft night? Our goal for draft night is to select three players who fit the Atlanta Dream philosophy and system, players who are ready to compete for a roster spot in training camp, and players who can help us bring a WNBA Championship to the ATL this year and in the future.