The Washington Mystics selected Rutgers swingman Kahleah Copper with the seventh pick in the 2016 WNBA Draft. They then used their second-round pick on former Washington State guard Lia Galdeira and their third-round pick on St. John's guard Danaejah Grant.
Before the draft, Thibault talked about how he goes about the process of finding and drafting players on this Monumental Sports Network video. One of the most important parts he looks at is how a player acts during practice. He stressed that finding players who are among the best listeners are those who he prefers.
After letting the Draft results sink in a little, here's what I got out of it.
Copper will have a chance to make an impact right away
With the seventh pick the 2016 Draft, the Mystics had no chance of getting other small forwards like Breanna Stewart or Aerial Powers, who went first and fifth respectively. That said, Copper was the next best option so they took her. Here's what Thibault had to say about her in the Mystics' press release:
"Kahleah is one of the most improved and under-appreciated players in the country," said Mystics general manager and head coach Mike Thibault. "She has improved each year at Rutgers. Her length and quickness have helped her become a very good defender. She has always been good in transition and has been a very good rebounder. This past season, she added the three point shot to her game and shot a very good overall percentage from both inside and outside the three point line.
I'm not sure if Copper will be starting, at least right away. But she could be in such a role in the not-too-distant future.
Training camp will determine how the Mystics' backcourt shapes out
The Mystics have no shortage of decent guards on their team. Their last two picks are both guards who will make the rotation even more competitive. I'll be upfront and say that I don't expect Danaejah Grant to make the opening day roster. Third-round picks don't have much of a chance to have long WNBA careers.
However, Galdeira is an intriguing option because she had a promising college career with Washington State through 2015 and is having a great year in Bulgaria with Haskovo 2012 where she is scoring 22.8 points a game. In the press release, Thibault was also quite excited about her.
If Lia reaches her potential, she can be one of the exciting finds of this draft. She can score in a large variety of ways," stated Thibault. "She has great court vision which makes her an excellent passer. She is a great athlete, which allows her to also be a good rebounder and she led the Bulgarian League in steals. Her biggest adjustment will be at the defensive end of the court, where she will have to get used to playing against great scorers every night.
Washington doesn't have too many tall guards so the 5'11 Galdeira may have a better shot to make the team than many other second round picks.
Mike Thibault zigs when Mock Drafts said he'd zag in the first round
In our last preview piece earlier on Thursday, all of the mock drafts had the Mystics picking up a post player, whether it was GW center Jonquel Jones or Texas center Imani Boyette. Both players aren't bad options, but ask yourself this if they did.
How will Jones or Boyette find minutes when All-Stars Emma Meesseman and Stefanie Dolson are starting? In addition, their backups are LaToya Sanders and Kia Vaughn. All four posts are playing great basketball overseas, and this quartet is poised to be among the best -- if not the best -- low post group in the WNBA.
I just don't see how Jones or Boyette would have found much playing time with this group. The Mystics aren't exactly rebuilding from scratch anymore, so it makes sense that they would pick players who are the best fits for various roles instead of simply picking best player overall regardless of position.
WNBA training camps open on April 24. It will be interesting to see how everything shapes out when the season begins on May 14.