10 Marta Xargay (ESP), 7 Alba Torrens (ESP)
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Would this WNBA wild card team compete in 2018?

NEWCASTLE (Paul Nilsen Women's Basketball Worldwide) – The final rosters have been decided and the games are now flowing fast in the opening weeks of the new WNBA season.

I thought it would be fun to focus on players who are not going to be stepping out on a WNBA floor in 2018 and consider, with the help of a couple of friends, whether we could produce a 'wild card' roster that could actually compete.

With the help of seasoned WNBA observers Albert Lee, a lead writer and editor at Swish Appeal, as well as David Siegel, the longtime host of the Dishin & Swishin podcast and current host of the SunCast on the Connecticut Sun's website, we came up with our jointly-agreed roster and opinions of how this lineup might perform if it was put in place.

Backcourt/Wings: Anna Cruz, Marta Xargay, Ivory Latta, Ana Dabovic, Alba Torrens

Wings/Frontcourt: Adaora Elonu, Sonja Petrovic, Kelsey Griffin, Sandrine Gruda, Ramu Tokashiki, Erlana Larkins, Emma Meesseman​

"Marta Xargay and Ana Dabovic could make a dynamic backcourt," explained Albert Lee.

"Xargay is one of the best guards in Europe and Ana Dabovic is one of the best all-around scoring guards. Ivory Latta could also be a deadly three-point shooter when healthy - while Anna Cruz would make for some nice competition with Xargay.

"A 2/3 and 4/5 trio of Alba Torrens, Emma Meesseman, and Sandrine Gruda would easily make one of the WNBA's most feared units. Kelsey Griffin hasn't played in the WNBA in a few years, but has become one of the top posts in Australia's WNBL. Erlana Larkins is still a very effective rebounder and will still make an impact.

"Meanwhile Sonja Petrovic would help stretch defenses with her shooting and Adaora Elonu can be a multi-positional defender that any team can use.

He continued: "So, where does this team rank? This side would probably play a slower paced offense to allow the frontcourt stars in particular to do most of the damage. But ultimately, they'll be about average because the reserves on this team are not as strong collectively as the top two or three teams in the WNBA."

Meanwhile David Siegel commented: "The international community of non-rostered women ballers is extensive and talented. However, when using them as the primary focus of an expansion WNBA franchise, we have to come back to what kind of success would they have in the WNBA.

"For every Emma Meesseman that is a success, there is a Celine Dumerc who did not pan out. With that said, it is impossible to field a competitive 'new' WNBA franchise without including the top international players. In fact, most of the team compiled here is from that community.

"On the United States side, veteran center Erlana Larkins and guard Ivory Latta would be a big help. Larkins is successful despite being an undersized post, and most likely can still be effective banging inside, setting screens, and pulling down boards.

"Latta is a spark plug, with the ability to make big shots from outside. It is that ability to make shots that makes her an important part of the squad. She may not be called on every game, but as a veteran she will always be ready when called upon.

"I'll still call Kelsey Griffin, the Australia national team performer, a US player too. Griffin is tough as nails, and is able to do multiple things on the court. Versatility will help her earn her keep here.

"One thing this team makes abundantly clear though, is that to be competitive in the WNBA, more than just free agents are needed. The expansion picks and college draft picks will be crucial to long-term growth of our franchise. I sure wouldn't mind seeing our roster play a game or two against a WNBA team."

Not being a WNBA expert by any stretch, I am enjoying opening my mind more and more on this topic. A strong WNBA is good for the global game – as is an attractive EuroLeague and EuroCup Women. I concur with much of the analysis given by my two 'Co-GMs', although I think more store would need to be ploughed into whether having players like Torrens and Petrovic in particular could change the anticipated slower style.

I think the team could certainly get some joy in transition, but for sure, the one missing element is a top-level USA star. It's nice to see Asian representation from Ramu Tokashiki and maybe in the future, Li Yueru too!

Thanks to both Albert and David their valuable contribution. I can appreciate why some people might question the purpose of this, but it did actually open up some additional debate as to the depth of women's stars in the global game, the impact non-US players could make, as well as the biggest point – who did we miss? I am sure you can let us know.

Paul Nilsen


FIBA's columnists write on a wide range of topics relating to basketball that are of interest to them. The opinions they express are their own and in no way reflect those of FIBA.

FIBA takes no responsibility and gives no guarantees, warranties or representations, implied or otherwise, for the content or accuracy of the content and opinion expressed in the above article.

Paul Nilsen

Paul Nilsen

As a women's basketball specialist for FIBA and FIBA Europe, Paul Nilsen eats, sleeps and breathes women’s hoops and is incredibly passionate about promoting the women’s game - especially at youth level. In Women’s Basketball Worldwide, Paul scours the globe for the very latest from his beloved women’s basketball family.