Mark Cuban made headlines Tuesday when he said that he’d be willing to give Baylor Lady Bears’ star Brittney Griner a shot if she were the best available talent in the second round of the 2013 NBA Draft.
Since then, there has been a steady stream of both opposition and optimism that a woman might one day be drafted into the NBA.
ESPN’s Tom Haberstroh spoke with Miami Heat small forward Shane Battier about it.
In context, Battier did not give any direct prediction with regards to Griner’s ability to make it in the NBA. He only weighed in on a woman’s ability to play with men in the big picture.
“There’s no doubt that in our lifetime, there will be a woman NBA player. I don’t know if it’s Griner or if it’s someone who is 5 years old right now, but we’ll see it. It’ll happen in our lifetime. Just the law of averages.
“…I don’t think it would be out of the realm of possibility that [one day] we’ll see a female LeBron. You could be the most skilled player in the world that the women’s game has ever seen, but that won’t cut it in the NBA. She’d have to be a physical specimen.”
Much of the criticism that has been levied against Griner has been that, at 6’8″ and only 208-pounds, she would be undersized for a low-post player—where her basketball acumen and skill set lie. While no one will truly know if she’d be able to handle post-play against bigger, taller male athletes until she actually tries out for an NBA roster, it seems fair to assume that the critics may be right.
At the NBA level, most 6’8″ players are generally athletic small forwards with some niche skills—whether it be three-point shooting, dribble-drive penetration or both.
The women’s college player who is overlooked by most pundits when it comes to this debate is Delaware Blue Hens star forward Elena Delle Donne.
While she may not satisfy the athletic requirements of a Lebron-esque specimen, as suggested by Battier, Delle Donne has the necessary skills to potentially succeed as a legitimate role player in the NBA.
At 6’6″ she has adequate height and size for an NBA 2-guard. She also has the skills.
She can play inside-0ut, she rebounds well, knows how to post up and—best of all—she can shoot the ball from distance (a career 41-percent three-point shooter). Additionally, should she benefit from the referee’s whistles, she is a 91-percent free-throw shooter.
Hopefully, should someone be willing to give Griner a look in the draft, they will be sensible enough to do the same for Delle Donne.
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