Getting the WNBA draft‘s No. 1 choose proper, because the New York Liberty did Friday with Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu, typically has been simple for the league’s groups. However the remainder of the draft through the years has generally been difficult, and even has produced some actually head-scratching picks.
That wasn’t the case this yr, regardless of the obstacles that everybody confronted due to the coronavirus pandemic. There was no NCAA event or any draft combines for analysis functions. Groups’ decision-makers weren’t all collectively in struggle rooms discussing their selections; like the whole lot else with this draft, many of the communication finished was by way of video calls and expertise.
But many of the groups did an excellent job focusing on and deciding on gamers that each addressed their wants and have an opportunity to make the roster. The latter may be very exhausting to do; with solely 144 jobs out there within the 12-team league, it is a robust highway for many rookies.
However, maybe reflecting a better sophistication in evaluating expertise, many of the groups positioned themselves to benefit from the draft as finest they might, which is why there are quite a lot of excessive grades.
Dallas Wings: A-plus
Picks: 2. Satou Sabally, Oregon, SF; 5. Bella Alarie, Princeton, PF; 7. Tyasha Harris, South Carolina, PG; 21. Luisa Geiselsoder, Germany, C
Crew president Greg Bibb and coach Brian Agler stated this draft can be pivotal in setting the course for the franchise’s future. And it went in addition to they might have imagined. They acquired gamers they needed, and who will match what they want.
“We’re painfully younger,” Bibb stated of the Wings. “We’ll have some ups and downs, however we’ve a really proficient crew now that may develop collectively.”
Sabally and Alarie are each cellular 6-foot-Four submit gamers who can shoot the three and rating from all around the court docket. They added 6-5 Astou Ndour within the offseason, and already had 6-Four Kristine Anigwe, 6-Three Isabelle Harrison and 6-Three Megan Gustafson. It is a younger submit crew, however one with quite a lot of promise.
The Wings additionally actually needed some extent guard and had been completely satisfied that Harris dropped to the No. 7 spot so they might get her.
“She’s an unbelievable flooring basic and chief,” Bibb stated.
Harris reunites with former South Carolina teammates Allisha Grey and Kaela Davis, who had been first-round picks in 2017. All three had been on the Gamecocks’ 2017 nationwide championship crew that received its title in Dallas.
In Geiselsoder, the Wings get a middle for the longer term. She is simply 20 and isn’t as more likely to play within the WNBA this season, however the Wings have her rights and would possibly unite her with fellow German Sabally sooner or later.
Minnesota Lynx: A-plus
Picks: 6. Mikiah Herbert Harrigan, South Carolina, F; 16. Crystal Dangerfield, UConn, G; 26. Erika Ogwumike, Rice, G
The Lynx acquired precisely what they had been searching for, beginning with an lively younger ahead in Herbert Harrigan. She steadily moved up the draft board this season and her MVP efficiency within the SEC event was simply extra gas for her rise.
The Lynx additionally needed to get some extent guard, and regarded Herbert Harrigan’s teammate, Tyasha Harris. However they felt they might look forward to the next-best level guard on their board to return up, and Dangerfield was nonetheless there for them to soak up the second spherical. She’ll be part of former UConn teammate Napheesa Collier, who was the WNBA Rookie of the 12 months final season. Each Herbert Harrigan and Dangerfield deliver robust defensive credentials with them, too.
The Lynx made yet another transfer involving the draft, as they traded ahead Stephanie Talbot to New York for Ogwumike, the Liberty’s third-round choose. It may be a problem for third-rounders to make WNBA rosters. However heading into the draft, Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve spoke extremely of Ogwumike’s scoring capacity and, in fact, her household historical past within the league with older sisters Nneka and Chiney each being No. 1 picks in 2012 and 2014. Each are with the Sparks now.
Satou Sabally drafted No. 2 by the Dallas Wings is happy for the chance to be German and to play in Dallas identical to her NBA idol Dirk Nowitzki.
Picks: 23. Kaila Charles, Maryland, SG; 35. Juicy Landrum, Baylor, SG
With two low picks, you could not have anticipated so much from the Solar, who had been the WNBA runner-up final yr. But each their choices are sensible selections that not less than may have an opportunity at making the crew.
Charles was the highest scorer this season for the Terps, who projected as a No. 1 seed within the NCAA event. She does not shoot the 3-pointer and that is a knock towards her, however coach Curt Miller nonetheless actually likes her sport. And he has had success integrating gamers who may not be standard suits at positions. The other of Charles, Landrum’s signature is the 3-pointer; she made an NCAA single-game ladies’s report 16 this previous season. Her talent from behind the arc ought to not less than give her some probability of creating the roster.
Picks: No. 24 Jaylyn Agnew, Creighton, SF; No. 36. Sug Sutton, Texas, SG
The defending champs did not want something, and traded their first-round choose earlier this week to New York for Tina Charles. So this was a low-key draft for them — they usually nonetheless picked up two good gamers.
Whether or not they make the roster, Agnew and Sutton are each stable picks. Agnew was the Large East participant of the yr and is a premier scorer. Sutton was a teammate at Texas with Ariel Atkins, who has been a starter the final two years for the Mystics, and brings some comparable expertise.
Picks: 20. Beatrice Mompremier, Miami, PF; 22. Leonie Fiebich, Germany, SG; 34. Tynice Martin, West Virginia, SG
The Sparks had been pleased with their roster earlier than the draft, but they must be happy with the gamers they had been capable of choose regardless of no first-round choose. Some thought Mompremier would go within the first spherical, however she appeared to fall due to issues in regards to the damage that restricted her 17 video games as a senior. However she averaged near a double-double when wholesome, and at 6-Four she is an athletic presence. The Sparks haven’t got a necessity at energy ahead, however she was the very best participant out there at No. 20.
Fiebich is simply 20 years outdated, so she may not play within the WNBA this season. However at 6-4, she brings quite a lot of dimension to the guard place. Martin is a extra conventional capturing guard and fell decrease than some anticipated. She comes from a Mountaineer program that emphasizes protection, which is to her benefit.
After being chosen No. 9 by the New York Liberty, Megan Walker is shocked by Kevin Durant with a video message.
New York Liberty: B-plus
Picks: 1. Sabrina Ionescu, Oregon, PG; 9. Megan Walker, UConn, SF; 10. Jocelyn Willoughby, Virginia, SF; 12. Jazmine Jones, Louisville, SG; 13. Kylee Shook, Louisville; PF; 15. Leaonna Odom, Duke, PF
Liberty followers’ heads must spinning after this evening. New York had six draft picks, then traded for an additional (Willoughby) and dealt one (Erica Ogwumike). To say the least, it is going to be a new-look Liberty below first-year coach Walt Hopkins. The Liberty picked up some good particular person items, however it’s slightly exhausting to examine proper now the way it’s all going to suit collectively. It is unlikely there shall be six rookies on a 12-player crew.
Ionescu was the anticipated prime choose, and he or she should change into the Liberty’s chief shortly. That is what she has been making ready for, and he or she desires to be within the highlight in an enormous market. There’s none greater than New York, which remains to be searching for its first WNBA title.
The Liberty traded heart Tina Charles this week, the one New York submit participant to common in double-figures scoring final yr. They did not appear to draft an apparent alternative for her. Walker and Willoughby are positively scorers, however they’re extra wing gamers. Shook has dimension just like Charles, however is considered extra as a defensive participant.
Jones has good dimension (6-0) as a guard and averaged 14.1 factors for Louisville this season, however made simply 17 3-pointers. She and Shook be part of former Louisville teammate Asia Durr, who was the No. 2 choose by the Liberty final yr however performed simply 18 video games due to accidents.
This might all come collectively sooner or later for New York, though it could be exhausting for the Liberty to jell sufficient to be a playoff crew this season (if the league performs this yr). However Hopkins is unquestionably getting to place collectively the crew he desires from the beginning.
WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert gives an replace on the WNBA’s plans going ahead with regard to the coronavirus pandemic.
Indiana Fever: B-plus
Picks: 3. Lauren Cox, Baylor; C; 14. Kathleen Doyle, Iowa; PG; 28. Kamiah Smalls, James Madison, SG
The Fever acquired the primary participant they needed. Cox fills a necessity at energy ahead and will type a stable younger tandem with 6-7 heart Teaira McCowan, who was the Fever’s No. Three choose final season. Cox has robust passing expertise — she excels on the high-low sport and discovering 3-point shooters — and is an excellent defender. She’ll slot in nice with new coach Marianne Stanley and basic manger Tamika Catchings.
How nicely Doyle suits in stays to be seen. Iowa hasn’t had quite a lot of success placing gamers within the WNBA; Megan Gustafson made the Wings roster final yr after initially being minimize from the crew as a second-round choose. Doyle, like Gustafson earlier than her, was the Large Ten Participant of the 12 months, and averaged 18.1 factors and 6.2 assists as a senior.
Smalls is a 5-10 guard who had her finest season a senior for JMU, averaging 18.6 PPG.
Chicago Sky: B
Picks: 8. Ruthy Hebard, Oregon, PF; 30. Japreece Dean, UCLA, PG; 32. Kiah Gillespie, Florida State, PF
The Sky whiffed with their first choose in 2019; Katie Lou Samuelson at No. Four did not match nicely in Chicago, and he or she was traded to Dallas earlier this yr. We’ll see if Hebard, who shot higher than 65 % from the sector for her Geese profession, works out higher. She most likely will. Hebard is not taking part in alongside Sabrina Ionescu, however in Courtney Vandersloot she has one other level guard who was coached by Oregon’s Kelly Graves (when he and Vandersloot had been at Gonzaga).
The Sky made the playoffs final yr and misplaced a tricky single-elimination second-round sport to Las Vegas, however they confirmed they had been a reasonably good crew. Dean may add some depth at level guard. And Gillespie simply would possibly change into a steal from the third spherical. There’s all kinds of opinions about how she would possibly play on the subsequent stage, however she was an excellent participant for the Seminoles.
Princeton’s Bella Alarie is chosen No. 5 by the Dallas Wings, following in her father’s footsteps. Mark Alarie was the No. 18 pick of Duke by the Nuggets in 1986.
Atlanta Dream: B-plus
Picks: 4. Chennedy Carter, Texas A&M, SG; 17. Brittany Brewer, Texas Tech, C; 25. Mikayla Pivec, Oregon State, SG; 27. Kobi Thornton, Clemson, PF
Carter may change into a celebrity on the subsequent stage; that is actually as much as her and the way nicely she accepts teaching, how she matures and if she listens to recommendation from veteran teammates. There have been occasions at Texas A&M when she nearly single-handedly received video games, and occasions she seemed like she was taking part in just for herself. However make no mistake: She is a terrific expertise, and the sky is the restrict.
The Dream had the worst report within the league final yr, however that is recent begin of kinds with the strikes the crew made within the offseason and this draft. Brewer is an intriguing choose as a result of she was one among uncommon true facilities on this draft; she averaged 16.6 factors and 10.Three rebounds this season for Texas Tech.
Pivec is a fan-favorite with a ton of coronary heart who did the whole lot for Oregon State, however the query is whether or not she has that one talent that is sufficient to earn her a professional roster spot. Thornton averaged 13.1 PPG this yr for Clemson however was a shock choose who wasn’t on many draft boards. The Dream should see potential in her.
Picks: 11. Kitija Laksa, Latvia, SG; 19. Joyner Holmes, Texas; PF; 31. Haley Gorecki, Duke, SG
Laksa performed at South Florida for 3 seasons earlier than an ACL damage early in her senior yr primarily ended her faculty profession. She is an impressive 3-point shooter as a 6-footer; she made 308 for the Bulls regardless of taking part in simply three video games her senior season. The 2018 WNBA champions did not have a lot in the way in which of wants on this draft, and Laksa may not play this season. However she could possibly be a part of the crew’s future.
Holmes was one of many prime recruits within the nation coming into Texas, however accidents and a semester-long suspension her sophomore yr stored her from totally creating. Possibly she’ll have an opportunity to try this on the professional stage.
Gorecki was additionally suffering from accidents in her profession, however she had a stellar senior season at Duke. It will likely be robust for her to make a roster as a rookie, although.
Phoenix Mercury: C-minus
Picks: 18. Te’a Cooper, Baylor, PG; 29. Stella Johnson, Rider, SG
What’s odd is it appeared as if the Mercury acquired one among the issues they wanted — a wing who may rating — once they chosen Virginia’s Jocelyn Willoughby with the No. 10 choose. However then they traded her to New York for the contract of capturing guard Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, who has averaged 5.2 factors as a reserve in three seasons with Washington.
With Skylar Diggins-Smith and Bria Hartley now on the Mercury roster, together with Diana Taurasi, there may not be a lot want for Cooper at level guard. Johnson was the main scorer in Division I this season at 24.Eight PPG, however will her sport translate from a small convention to the WNBA? It has occurred for different gamers, however it’s not simple.
Las Vegas Aces: No grade
Decide: No. 33 Lauren Manis, Holy Cross, SF
With only one choose within the third spherical, there’s not sufficient to judge to present the Aces a grade. The group had the No. 1 choose the final three years and took guard Kelsey Plum, energy ahead A’ja Wilson and guard Jackie Younger. All had been very well-known names to ladies’s faculty basketball followers. That is not the case with Manis, however she averaged a double-double the previous two seasons, together with 18.6 PPG and 11.5 RPG as a senior within the Patriot League. She completed her profession with 2,020 factors and 1,188 rebounds.