What’s In A Number?

On 4-12-18, the Indiana Fever will draft 2-8-14. It will be the first time the WNBA Draft has ever been conducted on April 12 and it will mark the first time Indiana has ever selected twice in the first eight picks — or three times in the first 14.

But what is in a number? What is the significance of 2-8-14? Let’s explore.

Historically speaking, 2-8-14 was pretty non-descript unless you consider the opening of the first McDonald’s in Vietnam on Feb. 8, 2014. Yes, that really happened. Or, in 1914, the co-creator of Batman was born in Denver, Colo. His name was Bill Finger. Both facts are true.

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The Fever originally signed point guard Erica Wheeler on 2-8 in 2016, but chronologically speaking, 2-8-14 is rather dry. So, let’s get down to how the numbers 2, 8 and 14 relate to the Indiana Fever and the WNBA Draft!

The Fever have drafted at No. 2 just once, taking eventual 10-year veteran Tan White in the 2005 draft. She would play a central role in Indiana playoff teams from 2005-08 and she was a member of the club’s All-Decade Team, chosen in 2009.

In fact, Indiana has never chosen at No. 8, and its only selection at No. 14 was Kelly Schumacher, taken in the same first round as Tamika Catchings in 2001. That was during an early era with 16 WNBA teams, compared to the current 12. Schumacher, a former 6-5 center who now is an assistant coach with the Las Vegas Aces, starred with Indiana for five years. Her 159 games played, now eighth in club history, were a franchise record until the figure was passed by Catchings.

Fever head coach and GM Pokey Chatman also has never drafted at No. 8 or No. 14, but during her six-year reign as GM in Chicago she was responsible for possibly the greatest No. 2 draft selection in league history — Elena Delle Donne in 2013.

While neither Chatman or the Fever have an extensive history with picks at No. 2, 8 or 14, four current Indiana players were chosen with those picks:

  • Erlana Larkins was selected by New York with the 14th overall pick of the 2008 draft.
  • In 2009, Marissa Coleman was the No. 2 overall pick by her hometown Washington Mystics.
  • In 2013, Kayla Alexander was chosen No. 8 by San Antonio.
  • In 2016, Jazmon Gwathmey was picked No. 14 by Minnesota and later traded to San Antonio.

Counting White and Schumacher, two other former Fever players were 2-8-14 picks before arriving and retiring with Indiana: Jessica Davenport at No. 2 in 2007 and Shyra Ely at No. 14 in 2005.

History aside, what is most important for Indiana in 2018 is the IMPACT that picks at No. 2, 8 or 14 may bring as the Fever restocks their roster with an eye toward the future.

Coleman and Larkins are direct evidence of the longevity and stardom that come with players chosen so high in the draft. Delle Donne is one of the game’s greatest stars, but other great No. 2 selections include last year’s WNBA MVP, Sylvia Fowles (2008) and Defensive Player of the Year, Alana Beard (2004). All five of those players point to All-Star caliber careers likely to last at least a decade.

This year’s draft class is deep, providing the likelihood of the No. 8 pick also producing a lengthy and productive career. Alexander, herself, has been a part-time WNBA starter through five seasons. Another comparable star who began as a No. 8 pick (2009) and begins her 10th year in the league is New York’s Kia Vaughn.

Depth will help Indiana with the No. 14 pick, too. Recent stars chosen at No. 14 include All-Star guards Tiffany Hayes (2012) with Atlanta and Sugar Rodgers (2013), who teams with Vaughn in New York.

There are no promises of riches with picks at 2, 8 or 14. But there are riches to be had in the 2018 WNBA Draft and with three picks in the top 14, the Indiana Fever have the best odds in the WNBA.