WNBA Draft Lottery Primer 2023
WNBA Draft Curt Miller became head coach of the Los Angeles Sparks this week, leaving Connecticut after two Finals trips in four seasons. The 2023 WNBA Draft Lottery presented by State Farm takes place on November 11 before South Carolina vs. Maryland.
The lottery will be shown on ESPN2 at 5:30 pm EST, with a half-hour program building up to Maryland’s 6 pm tip-off against the reigning National Champion South Carolina Gamecocks.
Indiana Fever, Atlanta Dream, Washington Mystics, and Minnesota Lynx have the best lottery chances. Odds are based on two-season totals. Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Phoenix have no 2023 first-round selections. Who benefits more from lottery wins? Who should companies prioritize? What’s the draft’s top?
Aliyah Boston of South Carolina and Haley Jones of Stanford are the draft’s top two prospects. Boston is a formidable inside force and face-up player. She can shoot threes. She sees the floor well and plays effectively at the five. Boston is a great glass cleaner and rim protector with opportunity to improve as a space defender. She was National Player of the Year and a lock to be the first choice barring an outlier draft growth.
Jones is a unique large wing playmaker and ball handler. She has outstanding defensive instincts and the stature to play four in the W. How her jump shooting develops next year intrigues me. Last season, she shot 24.4% from deep and her jumper needs improvement. Her playmaking will benefit from closeouts on jump shots. Her skills and all-around play make her a top prospect this season.
The Washington Mystics are the greatest wild card in the lottery.
Atlanta got the Los Angeles Sparks’ first-round selection in the Chennedy Carter/Erica Wheeler exchange. Due to the selection they obtained from the Dream in last year’s deal, the Mystics have a modest chance (178 out of 1000) to earn the first choice in this year’s draft. If you’re dizzy from the WNBA Draft, welcome!
The Mystics were 22-14 despite Elena Delle Donne only participating in 25 games due to load management and injuries. Shakira Austin, the third overall selection, was impressive as a rookie. She performed well for Team USA in the FIBA WorldCup and might be a strong frontcourt player in the NBA.
In 2022, Natasha Cloud and Ariel Atkins earned First Squad All-Defense accolades for this team. With four free agents in 2023, the depth chart might look quite different. The squad lacked offensive oomph without Delle Donne last season. Adding top-end skill, secondary shot creation on the wings, and connective playmaking is doable for the Mystics.
They may not regard a rookie as the guy who propels them into contention, as they have financial room and flexibility to make free agency fascinating. I’m curious to see how Mike Thibault handles the draft and team’s offseason.
Rickea Jackson (transferred from Mississippi State), Ashley Owusu (transferred from Maryland), and Diamond Miller (transferred from Maryland) may all make sense at Washington if their senior seasons go well at theWNBA Draft.
Minnesota Lynx enter offseason looking to replace Sylvia Fowles. Those are big shoes.
Napheesa Collier is back in form after missing most of 2022 due to the birth of her kid. Aerial Powers and Kayla McBride provide a strong basis on the wings. Jessica Shepard’s frontcourt talents impressed in her greatest season. Moriah Jefferson, Rachel Banham, and Damiris Dantas are all unrestricted free agents after WNBA Draft 2023.
Collier is an All-W player at her best, but the Lynx need more talent to develop around her in a new era.
Indiana has a youthful core, but skill can rewrite things fast. They’ll only have 3-4 available roster slots depending on how they handle their restricted free agents, but they have a ton of cap room considering how many guys are on rookie scale deals, just shy of $530,000.
I still don’t know what Lin Dunn plans to do in the near future, but I expect her to acquire seasoned players to support the development of their young wave and raise their competitive floor. In the draft, no guard jumps out as a high pick at the WNBA Draft. So the Fever may double down on their frontcourt by selecting the greatest player (the lowest they can is 3rd).
The Dream may retain most of their free-agent talent while developing around Rhyne Howard, a first-time All-Star. Tiffany Hayes, Erica Wheeler, Monique Billings, and Nia Coffey are all unrestricted free agents at the WNBA Draft. Kia Vaughn announced her retirement after the season finished.
After being traded to the Dream from New York, AD Durr found his attacking confidence again. They offer shot creation and scoring to Howard and seem like a shoo-in as a reserved free agent.
Cheyenne Parker was great at center last season, but her squad lacked size in the frontcourt. Parker can thrive at the four or five, and because the greatest players in the draft are frontcourt players, her flexibility and skill make Atlanta a more tempting match.
With $942,000 in cap space, Atlanta can be a big free agent player. Again, most of money will go to keeping their own free agents, but they’re seen as high-stakes players. Based on talks in and around Atlanta at the WNBA Draft, I doubt the Dream goes all out to be a contender this season, but don’t be shocked if one of the top free agents joins with them.
This organization doesn’t skip phases, but the next step is a talent inflow and competitiveness boost via free agency and the draft. Atlanta’s off-season influence is intriguing.
Expect more draft coverage and profiles from me over the next month. While it’s early, the lottery will determine how the off-season plays out and sets up 2023.