Baylor senior Brittney Griner has proved that she is a force to be reckoned with again and again. Averaging 23.8 points, 9.4 rebounds and 4.1 shots blocked per game for her senior year, Griner has become the third woman to win player of the year in two consecutive seasons. With these phenomenal statistics, Griner has not only caught the eye of many WNBA teams, but also several NBA teams.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has made public statements that he has considered drafting 6-foot-8, 200-pound Brittney Griner as a second-round
When asked about Cuban’s statements, Griner said to the New York Times, “I can hold my own. I’ll try, too. I’m not going to back down from a challenge.”
Griner is expected to be the first overall pick by the Phoenix Mercury of the April 15th WNBA draft.
Griner also said, “The WNBA is where I’m at. That is where I’m going. After that, if I get a shot, why turn down something like that? That’s big, even if you don’t make it. Hey, at least you tried. Somebody pushed the envelope.”
Griner thinks she would be ready for an NBA tryout, especially after some time in the WNBA. However, Cuban’s statement and the consideration of Griner for the NBA have become a major controversy, especially during the peak of the NCAA season. At 6-foot-8, Griner has the skills of a center, but is the size of a small forward in the NBA. In order to be considered a power forward, she would have to gain more muscle mass. Griner knows the men are bigger and stronger than her, but she isn’t afraid of the challenge.
“I would have to, as you say, man-up … if I get an elbow to the chest from one of those big guys, hey, at least I can say I was there and I tried it,” Griner said to the L.A. Times.
When asked about playing taller, stronger men like the Los Angeles Lakers’ 6-foot-10, 260-pound Dwight Howard, Griner said, “I would finally see what everybody feels like against me, a taste of my own medicine I guess.”
Several former female players such as Nancy Lieberman and Ann Meyers Drysdale have been advocates of allowing Griner and other top female players a chance to play in the NBA. Lieberman and Drysdale know the struggles of competing with men firsthand. Lieberman was the first woman to actually play in a men’s pro league while Drysdale was given a tryout by the Indiana Pacers but did not make training camp. They do not see the physicality of men as an issue, as Griner is relatively tall and a physical player herself. In fact, the NBA has many similar sized players that would be even matchups for Griner. The more uneven matchups would be Griner against Dwight Howard, LeBron James or other superstar players.
Many well-established women’s NCAA coaches such as Duke’s Joanne McAllie and UConn’s Geno Auriemma think it would be a terrible idea for Griner to test her luck in the NBA.
Louisville coach Jeff Walz said to the New York Times, “I’m not sure it would really be for her, or would it be for publicity to try and say ‘look what we did in Dallas, look what we’ve done’?”
As the second all-time scorer in women’s NCAA history with 3,283 points, and as the top shot blocker ever, in both men’s and women’s NCAA history, with 748 blocks, many think it would be a shame for Griner to miss out on the huge impact she could make in the WNBA.
Regardless of Griner’s decision, she has made a huge impact in the world of collegiate basketball. She should not have to prove herself against the men before she goes down in the record books as one of the best players to play the game. As a star in the WNBA or a curiosity in the NBA, she is a woman who commands respect on and off the court.