The WNBA draft lottery has come and gone, and the team with the best odds, the New York Liberty, landed the No. 1 overall pick. While New York has yet to announce how they plan to use their pick, this is probably the easiest decision since Breanna Stewart going 1st overall in 2016. Led by two of the brightest stars in college basketball, the rest of the picks for next year’s draft are almost wide open. Let’s take a look at my predictions for how things will go:
1.) New York – Sabrina Ionescu
Oregon, 5’11” guard, 2018-19 stats: 19.9 points per game (PPG), 7.4 rebounds per game (RPG), 8.2 assists per game (APG).
She’s known as “Miss Triple-Double” in the basketball world. An athlete of this magnitude is deserving of the big stage. New York City’s team securing the top pick just seems like fate, right? With the possibility of playing in Barclays Arena full-time next season, Katie Smith & Co. will look for Ionescu to help turn around a team that has missed the playoffs for the past two seasons. She’s not only their point guard of the future, but also of the present as her game is ready for the pros. Bringing back the excitement of Liberty basketball sounds like a huge task for a rookie. But judging by the media surrounding the Oregon Ducks, Ionescu seems like she can handle the attention and feeds off it. This is an easy call for the Liberty.
2.) Dallas – Lauren Cox
Baylor, 6-4 forward, 2018-19 stats: 13.0 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 2.5 BPG
Mobility? Yes. Can knock down the long ball? Yes. Can defend? Yes. Can find the open teammate? Yes. Lauren Cox can do just about anything on the court, and there’s still a tremendous upside. It also helps that she’s from just over 30 minutes outside of Arlington (where the Wings play). Adding Cox would mean Coach Agler brings in another player to the Wings roster with a winning pedigree. There is only one issue that I can think of. The Wings will have a logjam at the post position, which isn’t necessarily a big (no pun intended) problem to have.
3.) Indiana – Beatrice Mompremier
Miami, 6-4 forward, 2018-19 stats: 16.7 PPG, 12.2 RPG
Here’s where the draft becomes unpredictable. With a new coach and GM to be announced soon, is this a pick that will remain or will it be traded away? If the Fever make the pick, Beatrice Mompremier from the U would be a great selection. If there’s a loose ball, she hustles and knows how to get it. Mompremier presents agility and strength in the post along with the length to defend. Pairing her with McCowan could improve the Fever’s rebounding even more for a team that just narrowly missed the playoffs.
4.) Atlanta – Chennedy Carter
Texas A&M, 5-7 guard, 2018-19 stats: 23.3 PPG, 4.8 APG
See a shot. Take a shot. Make a shot. That’s what Chennedy Carter does. She’s a “bucket” (to quote Courtney Williams). Carter is also no stranger to big moments. In fact, she welcomes those moments. As one of the most fiery players and top scorers in the country, she can provide an aggressive offense for the Dream as they were last in the league in points per game and from behind the arc in 2019. Carter is still just a junior. But, the possibility of being a lottery pick and contributing right away could lure her to take those talents to the next level a year early.
5.) Phoenix – Crystal Dangerfield
UConn, 5-5 guard, 2018-19 stats: 13.4 PPG, 5.9 APG
Dangerfield has led UConn to three straight trips to the Final Four. Last year, she connected on over 35% of her shots from deep. She can dish the ball, attack the paint, and get to the charity stripe. While not the biggest player, she brings a grit and understands how to command the floor. With the Phoenix point guards all in their 30s and with over 10 years of professional experience, Dangerfield would bring some much needed youth to the Mercury’s backcourt.
6.) Minnesota – Mikayla Pivec
Oregon State, 5-10 guard, 2018-19 stats: 15.2 PPG, 9.2 RPG
Pivec can provide some size at the guard position for Minnesota. She may not be the point guard that Minnesota needs from a primary ball-handler standpoint, however she does bring offense and can rebound at a freakishly impressive level for her size. Averaging nearly a double-double last season, this will be an excellent addition for the Lynx as they head into what’s said to be Seimone Augustus’ final season. Could Coach Cheryl Reeve have another steal at the 6th spot? Seems possible, especially if Pivec is available.
7.) Seattle – Tynice Martin
West Virginia, 5-11 guard, 2018-19 stats: 17.4 PPG, 5.9 RPG
While her 2018 stats are impressive, some labeled it as a down year for Martin. She first caught my attention in 2017 during West Virginia’s run to the Big XII Tournament championship. She then suffered a foot injury and was forced to missed the 2017-2018 season. Martin brings aggressive defense paired with athletic scoring ability. This could help the Storm which looks to be at full-strength next season with the return of Breanna Stewart and veteran point-guard Sue Bird.
8.) Chicago – Ruthy Hebard
Oregon, 6-4 forward, 2018-19 stats: 16.1 PPG, 9.1 RPG
Hebard’s scoring is nearly automatic. As a junior, she was one of the country’s leaders in field goal percentage at 67%. One could only imagine that type of efficiency has to be quite exciting to Courtney Vandersloot, one of the best passers in the world. Hebard does most of her work in the paint, which would allows the other capable Sky bigs to stretch out and shoot from the perimeter. She brings a different skill set to Chicago while adding more size to an already sizable roster.
9.) Dallas – Kitija Laksa
South Florida, 6-0 forward, 2017-18 stats: 21.1 PPG, 3.4 RPG
Laksa won’t play collegiately this season. After missing the majority of last season due to a knee-injury, she initially decided to enter the transfer portal. She then opted to go pro instead in her native Latvia for TTT Riga. During her junior year, Laksa was one of the most exciting scorers in the country. Dallas already has quite a few big guards and Laksa’s ability to knock down the long-range shot will fit right in. Having a jumpstart, by way of of a season of professional play under her belt before the draft, could potentially increase her stock.
10.) Connecticut – Bella Alarie
Princeton, 6-4 forward, 2018-19 stats: 22.8 PPG, 10.6, 3.4 APG
In the latest WNBA episode of “my dad was a pro athlete,” we have Bella Alarie. Her dad, Mark Alarie, played collegiately at Duke then in the NBA. Bella decided to carve her own path and opted for the Ivy League. It seems like a great choice since she has dominated from day one. She sits atop many record books in Princeton and conference history. She provides size and often finds the ball in her hands controlling the offense (think Elena Delle Donne or Candace Parker). On a defensive-minded Sun team, Alarie will add more size inside along with offense.
11.) Connecticut – Kaila Charles
Maryland, 6-1 guard, 2018-19 stats: 17.0 PPG, 6.7 RPG
Charles will give the Sun another larger guard who can handle the ball. She’s only attempted seven shots from deep in her college career. But her ability to attack the paint, pull up for shots, and grab rebounds will help Connecticut’s back court. She shot 80% on free throws in 2018, which is also beneficial to a Sun team that was last in free throw shooting percentage. Her play could eat up some of the time when the Sun starters are on the court.
12.) Washington – Mikiah Herbert-Harrigan
South Carolina, 6-2 forward, 2018-19 stats: 10.4 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 2.2 BPG
Out of all the players, Herbert-Harrigan probably has the greatest opportunity to improve her stock in the draft with the upcoming college season. Playing behind A’ja Wilson in her first two years helped propel her to her best season so far during her junior year. She maybe undersized for the traditional post player, but she makes up for size with aggressive shot blocking and has incorporated the three-ball into her arsenal. She hit over 40% of her shots from deep. You can expect even better numbers with greater responsibility this season. Coach Thibault is known for taking unexpected or sleeper picks and developing them into consistent professionals. Herbert-Harrigan could be his latest project.
Other potential first-round picks: Erica Ogwumike (Rice), Japreece Dean (UCLA), Tyasha Harris (South Carolina), Te’a Cooper (Baylor), and Joyner Holmes (Texas). All are players expected to be taken in the draft and could build their case to be taken in the first round with impressive seasons.