On Monday, UConn redshirt junior Azura Stevens declared early for the WNBA Draft. Stevens averaged 14.7 points and 7.4 rebounds per game and playing just 20.9 minutes a game. Stevens played in a sixth man role in her only season for the Huskies. She played her first two seasons (2014-16) at Duke where she averaged 18.9 points and 9.6 rebounds a game in her sophomore season.
As a 6’7 center who produced big numbers while playing relatively limited minutes due to UConn’s super-deep rotation, Stevens figures to be in the mix as a first round pick. She won’t be the first pick of the draft, but it’s likely that she could be in the mix when it’s the Mystics’ turn to pick at number seven. But how could she fit as a Mystics player if she falls to seventh — and Washington picks her?
Stevens could be a rebounding freak as a pro
Stevens averaged 12.79 rebounds per 36 minutes played in the 2017-18 college season. You shouldn’t directly compare NCAA stats to the WNBA, but that’s close to the 13.3 rebounds per 36 minutes played average Krystal Thomas had last season. Stevens has to gain some strength to produce similar numbers in the WNBA, but she’ll get her fair share of rebounds at the WNBA level.
Stevens has perimeter shooting touch for her position
Centers aren’t known as deep shooters. Stevens isn’t a stretch post Mo Wagner, but she made 9 of 51 threes this past season. Okay, the shooting percentage is well below 20 percent. But as a sophomore at Duke, Stevens made 19 of 53 threes (35.8 percent) for the Blue Devils. The Mystics are looking for more perimeter shooting options. Thomas isn’t that type of a player, but Stevens could be over the next few seasons.
Should the Mystics pick Stevens if she’s available?
The 2018 WNBA Draft appears to be deep. If there are two positions I think the Mystics can use reinforcements, one is at the wing. That’s because Tayler Hill is out until June, while Tierra Ruffin-Pratt and Natasha Cloud (who is more of a point guard) have been unreliable shooters throughout their careers to this point.
As for the post positions, the Mystics can use more depth since Emma Meesseman is out for at least this season and probably much of next. Krystal Thomas has proven to be a good starting center given the Mystics’ roster last season. But the Mystics should consider boosting the post by adding Stevens to the lineup if they get the chance to do so. She’s not just a great rebounder. Stevens could also be a stretch-five who could make the Mystics a nightmare for defenses throughout the league.