Sparks hit the lotto and will pick 1st in draft

first_imgLisa Leslie, 34, who sat out the 2007 season to give birth, is entering the twilight of her WNBA career. Now, the pick allows the Sparks to select an impact player who they can build around for the next decade. Senior Sylvia Fowels of LSU, an athletic 6-foot-6 post player, and 6-5 Candace Parker of Tennessee – if she elects to make herself available – are thought to be the cream of the crop. Parker, who sat out a year because of an injury, is eligible to come out with her senior class. Forward Tasha Humphrey of Georgia (6-3) and guard Candice Wiggins of Stanford (5-11 ) are others who are expected to be top candidates. “Does it make the Sparks future look bright? Yes,” Toler said. “It’s not about the dynasty because you’ve still got to play. … We are going to wait to see who is available and draft accordingly.” The Sparks, who tied with Minnesota for the worst record in the league at 10-24 last season, selected Sidney Spencer of Tennessee 25th in the 2007 draft. She finished second in the vote for WNBA Rookie of the Year. Earlier this month, Cooper predicted the Sparks would land the No. 1 pick, get some top free agents to go along with Leslie and Spencer and bring a WNBA title back to Los Angeles. Arguably the Sparks’ biggest need is in the backcourt, where they struggled last season when Temeka Johnson missed all but 11 games. The sharpshooting Spencer, along with Spanish guard Marta Fernandez, should continue to see much of the ball in 2008. After coming over from the Liberty during the season, Sherill Baker averaged 8.5 points in just over 20 minutes a game and should continue to develop. Mwadi Mabika started 23 games and averaged 8.1 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. Still, a floor leader might be an early second-round option, especially with Johnson’s health in question. Atlanta, an expansion team added to the Eastern Conference last week, was automatically awarded the No. 4 pick. The date of the draft, traditionally held after the NCAA Women’s Final Four, has not been determined. The remaining draft order, based on team record, is the New York Liberty with the seventh pick, followed by the Seattle Storm, Connecticut Sun and Sacramento Monarchs rounding out the top 10. The Detroit Shock, Indiana Fever, defending champion Phoenix Mercury and Liberty wrap up the first round. Last year, Phoenix became the first team to win the No. 1 pick despite having the longest odds – 2.5 percent. The Mercury selected Lindsey Harding and minutes later traded her to the Lynx for veteran forward Tangela Smith. The lottery was conducted by league officials and representatives from the accounting firm of Ernst & Young at the WNBA office in New York. News services contributed to this story.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.But on Tuesday, when the WNBA held its draft lottery in New York to determine the selection order for six teams, everything in the cosmos fell right in place for Coach Michael Cooper and the Sparks to win the lottery and receive the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 WNBA draft in April. The Sparks had 341 chances out of 1,000 (34.1 percent) to win the top spot. “I feel great right now,” Sparks general manager Penny Toler said. “It’s about the universe lining up. It’s a great day for the Sparks. It’s a great day for L.A. When something like this happens. You have to enjoy the moment.” The Chicago Sky will draft second followed by the Minnesota Lynx, the new Atlanta franchise, the Houston Comets and the Washington Mystics. Toler agreed that this is one of the most pivotal moments in franchise history. The ball club is entering a transition period. WNBA: The foundation for the club’s next generation could be determined. By Earl Williams STAFF WRITER Last season, the moon, stars and planets didn’t line up perfectly for the Sparks to make the playoffs. last_img read more