Before we’re hit with the avalanche of 2021 WNBA free agency news and updates, it’s time to update the preseason 2021 WNBA Draft board and conduct another 2021 WNBA mock draft.
A board is meant to serve as more of a raw ranking of prospects. This mock draft aims to make the best pick for that specific team. We have some light movement up top compared to the initial board from November. Several notable risers have reached that late first-round range, and a few more players joined the mix in the teens and twenties. Player stats were pulled on January 24 via Her Hoop Stats.
2021 Draft Board: Top 25
- Awak Kuier, 6’4” Big, Finland
- Charli Collier, 6’5” Center, Texas
Kuier and Collier make for an interesting comparison. 3-point shooting ability is a key strength for both players, but they differ quite a bit in other areas. Kuier brings a pretty special mix of shooting, fluidity and passing. If her thin frame is a major concern, there still shouldn’t be an issue with just playing her as your power forward. Collier is more of a true 5.
As with most international prospects, it might be fair to worry how much of Kuier you’d see in the WNBA over the course of her rookie contract, especially if you’re having that conversation at No. 1. Kuier is not featured in a big role with her current team overseas. Perhaps even more frustrating, Texas’ offense has been downright unwatchable at times. Vic Schaefer seems to randomly oscillate between embracing Collier’s shooting ability and stuffing her into a box moving from block to block as part of his dribble-drive offense.
- Arella Guirantes, 5’11” Wing, Rutgers
Rutgers has played eight games thus far, none since January 3. Guirantes turned in big 30-plus point performances in close losses to Maryland and Iowa but did go cold (3-24 FG) in a loss at Nebraska. The outside shot continues to look good: 17-44 from deep this season after shooting about 39 percent on 96 attempts in 2019-20.
- Aari McDonald, 5’6” Point Guard, Arizona
McDonald’s assists-to-turnover ratio has improved, and she’s just north of 32 percent 3-point shooting through 13 games compared to the 28 percent mark of the prior two seasons. This 2020-21 Arizona roster still struggles to credibly spread teams out and keep them honest with their outside shooting. McDonald does force some drives and pull-up jumpers at times, but Arizona needs big scoring performances from their lead guard to expect to win against some of the elite teams.
- Dana Evans, 5’6” Point Guard, Louisville
Evans continues to shoot the ball very well from distance, including a clutch 3-pointer off the bounce in the closing minutes—before driving in for the eventual game-winner—Sunday against Wake Forest. She’s also taking nearly 22 percent of her shots right at the rim this season according to CBB Analytics, up from about 12 percent last season. Louisville’s four-guard lineups are opening up the floor to make life easier for their best player. Those lineups also serve as a better backdrop for coaches and executives as they ponder Evans’ draft range and pro potential.
- Rennia Davis, 6’2” Wing/Forward, Tennessee
Davis has turned in a few strong performances thus far in SEC play and helped close out a December road win against Indiana. Does a team look at Davis’ size and see somebody they can help turn into a big-time perimeter defender when we haven’t quite seen that level of impact at the college level? The 3-point shooting raises some questions, too. Davis is on pace to shoot it below 30 percent out there for a second consecutive season.
- Michaela Onyenwere, 6’0” Wing, UCLA
- Chelsea Dungee, 5’11” Wing, Arkansas
It might be time for a hard look at Onyenwere and Dungee stacked up side by side. So much of the selling points for the UCLA star require a long-term projection of what she’ll look like two or three years from now moving out to the wing position on a full-time basis. Dungee already has been doing all of that stuff going on three years now in the tougher conference and has taken things up a notch this season.
- Jasmine Walker, 6’3” Power Forward, Alabama
Elsewhere in the SEC, Walker should really be turning some heads with her improvement and overall play thus far. In addition to shooting 39 percent on 7.6 3-point attempts per game, Walker’s turnover percentage has dropped almost two points as her usage rate has risen from 21.1 to 28.5. Teams in the mid-to-late first round will need to take a hard look at Walker.
- Natasha Mack, 6’4” Center, Oklahoma State
Mack is the third name thus far that has moved up more than one or two spots. The initial slot for her was simply too low. However, Mack looks like more of a project; the gaudy counting stats are a tad misleading. Mack gets caught flat-footed with her arms at her side quite often defensively and relies on swatting everything with her right hand. That’s a recipe for constant foul trouble at the next level. Mack lacks fluidity when putting the ball on the floor and feel for when to get into a turnaround jumper, her bread and butter. The latter has been apparent in her matchups with Baylor where she has gotten her shot blocked repeatedly attempting the same shots that work against smaller front lines.
There’s plenty for teams to love in those moments in which Mack is stationed closer to the basket, arms out wide to bother passes and shot attempts. Teams surely will be intrigued by her massive wingspan at 6’4”. Harnessing that defensive potential and adding more offensive polish to finish quickly from various angles around the basket would set the blueprint for a solid WNBA career.
- Lindsey Pulliam, 5’10” Wing, Northwestern
- Tiana Mangakahia, 5’6” Point Guard, Syracuse
- Kiana Williams, 5’8” Point Guard, Stanford
- Destiny Slocum, 5’7” Point Guard, Arkansas
- Iliana Rupert, 6’4” Big, France
Same cluster of players in a similar spot. Take your pick with the three point guards. Williams’ shooting percentages have dipped slightly. Slocum’s numbers are very similar to what she posted at Oregon State, but her usage rate has been scaled back (27 to 22). Mangakahia hasn’t been the same player to date with her first step or overall quickness and has had four games with seven or more turnovers.
Pulliam has struggled from beyond the 3-point line with three 0-for-6 outings and hasn’t gotten to the free throw line quite as frequently (5.3 attempts per game down to 3.4). Rupert, playing for Bourges Basket once again in the EuroLeague, got the start on Sunday and scored 18 points logging a team-high 34 minutes.
- Unique Thompson, 6’3” Power Forward, Auburn
After Mack, Thompson was another clear miss last time. Thompson might be a tad undersized even as a power forward. There are also plenty of positives worth considering. Thompson is a really talented back-to-basket player that doesn’t always get to showcase it, can move her feet and rim run. And even though Thompson hasn’t attempted a single 3-pointer, her form from midrange looks much better than that of some bigs given the benefit of the doubt as potential 3-point shooters down the line.
- Stephanie Watts, 5’11” Wing, North Carolina
Watts was a bit of a mystery coming into the season. She played in just four games at USC last season due to injury and ended up returning to North Carolina. Coming off a tough five-game cold spell, the strengths are still too much to ignore from a potential 3-and-D target at this stage in the game: versatile outside shooting, length, disruptive defensive sequences, passing, and a solid handle.
- Shyla Heal, 5’6” Point Guard, Australia
Heal might have a bit of an “edge” on some of her peers having played this past season in the WNBL. Teams will have access to recent film of the young point guard playing against some familiar faces. The really important part: Heal got to have the ball in her hands quite a bit as both a scorer and playmaker.
- Selena Lott, 5’11” Wing, Marquette
Lott is only shooting 58 percent on 2-pointers this season as a follow up to last season’s 65 percent mark. What a slacker. On a serious note, Lott plays with a ton of energy and is a tough off-ball cover. Her turnovers are also down while shouldering a similar workload. Marquette’s two regular season matchups with UConn loom large as rare chances for Lott to make a statement against some big names.
- Aisha Sheppard, 5’9” Guard, Virginia Tech
There aren’t many volume 3-point shooters in this class that are already doing it at the college level. Don’t worry. Sheppard takes on the workload of two or three of those players. She got up 20 3-point attempts the other day against Notre Dame. 20! Sheppard can parlay some of that shooting ability off the bounce and running off screens to get an angle to the basket or find the open teammate. Will it be enough to land her a spot in training camp to try to make it as a backup 2-guard?
- Vivian Gray, 6’1” Wing, Texas Tech
Gray seems like the wing player you’d bet on, maybe more than anyone else in the class, to benefit from scaling her offensive role way back. As more of a No. 5 option asked to make shots and make good decisions attacking closeouts, can she earn some tick someday as a backup wing?
- Natalie Kucowski, 6’3” Power Forward, Lafayette
The Patriot League is only playing conference games this season, so any Power 5 matchup for Kucowski would have to come in the postseason. Kucowski was a little loose with the ball with 13 turnovers in that opening set of games but otherwise looked like the player we saw last season. That’s understandable. Teams like Lafayatte were going on 10 months without playing a real game.
One overarching point that could apply for most players: between postponements, cancellations, limitations on offseason and even in-season routines and access to facilities, teams may need to lean a little more on evaluations from prior seasons rather than getting too caught up in the numbers we’re seeing this season.
- Chelsey Perry, 6’2” Power Forward, UT Martin
Perry raises some interesting questions. She’s continuing to produce at such a high level and hits her 3-pointers at a solid clip. Would it be nice if she were a little taller and had a little more athleticism? Sure. But what we’ve seen could warrant at least a look from somebody in training camp if any teams have some semblance of an open competition for a frontcourt spot.
- DiDi Richards, 6’1” Guard/Wing, Baylor
It’s been tough to really settle on a range for Richards. Who wouldn’t want to believe an ace defender in college can make enough progress offensively to carve out an established role in the pros? There’s little in-game evidence in support of the spot-up jumper. We can only venture so far from what we’ve seen.
- Khayla Pointer, 5’7” Point Guard, LSU
Pointer might be the No. 1 ‘Doing More With Less’ All-Star in the country. That has to be factored in at least a smidge with her turnover count. Seeing the 3-point and free throw attempts increase this season has been encouraging. The key question over these next few months: How large is that gap for teams between the likes of Mangakahia, Williams and Slocum compared to some of the other point guards?
As mentioned last time, Rhyne Howard would be the clear-cut No. 1 both on the board and in the mock draft if she graduated early. In B. Terrell’s latest mock draft, Howard went No. 1 to New York, followed by Collier, Kuier, and Evans. The goal with these first three or four mock drafts will be to get a different look at multiple scenarios with the prospect pool (while also factoring in what we’re seeing this season and working toward some firmer stances as draft night approaches). Version one from early December did not include any early entrants. This one will include Collier. A third mock could introduce one or two more.
On the subject of early entrants, Shakira Austin would have landed in the mid-first round territory, and Evina Westbrook wouldn’t be far behind. Austin is in more of a featured role and a more wide-open system at Ole Miss. While the flashes have been encouraging, it still feels easy to wonder if Ole Miss would also be the best home for Austin next season to continue to pile up those reps as a No. 1 option, further sharpening and expanding her skill set over competing for minutes and being thrust into a league year that still may be heavily impacted by the coronavirus.
Westbrook has been more difficult to truly gauge coming off multiple knee surgeries. UConn started the season with seven blowout wins, and Westbrook has the fourth-lowest usage rate in the starting lineup thus far. Adding Westbrook to the point guard picture would make things even more interesting. McDonald and Evans are fast, and Evans is also an excellent shooter. The players in that next group also have some distinct strengths. Westbrook is different from all of them because of her size and how it could give you some freedom to try out more combinations.
- New York Liberty: Charli Collier, 6’5” Center, Texas
New York drafts its bookends in back-to-back drafts envisioning hundreds of Sabrina Ionescu-Collier pick and rolls for years to come.
- Dallas Wings: Awak Kuier, 6’4” Big, Finland/Passalacqua Ragusa
Does Dallas want one of the point guards? For one, might that player still be there at No. 5? And are they ready to invest in a wing? There won’t be many minutes to go around if they re-sign Allisha Gray. Kuier’s talent is too much to pass up on here.
- Atlanta Dream: Arella Guirantes, 5’11” Wing, Rutgers
This one might come with a bit of an asterisk. The Dream would be quite crowded on the wing if they re-sign Betnijah Laney with a group of established players that will want to win now. But where else do you turn if Kuier is off the board by this point? We have one idea for that possibility. Stay tuned…
- Indiana Fever: Aari McDonald, 5’6” Point Guard, Arizona
We’ll know by draft time what happens with Erica Wheeler in free agency. McDonald would give them several things in one package that they don’t already have: consistent dribble penetration, a one-person running game, and a guard that will help generate more turnovers.
- Dallas Wings (from New York via Washington): Dana Evans, 5’6” Point Guard, Louisville
Breaking in here with one trade proposal. If the Dream re-sign Betnijah Laney in free agency and Kuier is off the board at No. 3, could they stare really hard at Dallas on draft night hoping their trade market has not materialized at all to that point? How about No. 3 for Nos. 5 and 7? The Wings, in theory, might be able to land someone else they didn’t expect to have any chance at selecting. Atlanta could address a pretty glaring need with Jasmine Walker with one of those two picks and still have several options if they also wanted to select a wing as well. Ditto for Indiana to consider, or at least inquire about, trading No. 4 for Nos. 5 and 7.
- Phoenix Mercury (via Connecticut): Rennia Davis, 6’2” Wing/Forward, Tennessee
This selection might be too rosy on Davis’ 3-point stroke if you aren’t really a believer. There are some good offensive players in this range. Barring some major changes, Phoenix will already have its starting group and top reserves in place; they should feel free to pick whoever they like most regardless of position.
- Dallas Wings (via Chicago): Chelsea Dungee, 5’11” Wing, Arkansas
Make it a big, a point guard and a wing for Dallas now. Nothing’s stopping them from trading a player or two along with one of these picks. Then they wouldn’t have much of a roster crunch to worry about after all.
- Chicago Sky (from Dallas via Phoenix): Jasmine Walker, 6’3” Power Forward, Alabama
No backup point guard this time around. Walker is a really good 3-point shooter. If Chicago were to lose Cheyenne Parker in free agency, Walker panning out could give you another option to really spread teams out and even look to play Azurá Stevens at the 5 occasionally.
- Minnesota Lynx: Natasha Mack, 6’4” Center, Oklahoma State
Having already described Mack as more of a project, Minnesota has to rank atop the list of teams you’d trust most to maximize what Mack can do well right away while helping her to improve her all-around game. Their backup center minutes raise some interesting questions if they don’t bring Temi Fagbenle back. The Lynx could just roll with Damiris Dantas playing some minutes at the 5 as they did last season when Sylvia Fowles went down. Jessica Shepard could maybe get some run at both frontcourt spots, and Mikiah Herbert Harrigan could swing between forward positions. So, in theory, the Lynx wouldn’t hamstring their 2021 team if they kept a young center that might or might not be ready to contribute right away.
- Los Angeles Sparks: Michaela Onyenwere, 6’0” Wing, UCLA
You’d love to add an awesome shooter right here. That may require reaching for a name further down the list. They’ll still have that bench shooter if they have enough room left over to hold onto Sydney Wiese. Onyenwere would give them a different kind of player to bring along slowly off the bench.
- Seattle Storm: Kiana Williams, 5’8” Point Guard, Stanford
Drafting a point guard might seem like a reach at first glance, but it would accomplish a few things. They’d have another ball-handler in the rotation if they keep Sue Bird’s minutes down in the regular season. And as impressive as Jordin Canada has been in some areas, there’s still a lot to prove with the jumper going into a contract year. The two former Pac-12 foes wouldn’t necessarily have to be pitted against one another, either. If the Storm were already considering playing Canada and Bird together some, couldn’t Williams also factor into those dual-point guard units?
- Las Vegas Aces: Lindsey Pulliam, 5’11” Wing, Northwestern
Like with the Sparks, shooting is an easy need to circle in this draft range. It would be a tad worrisome if Pulliam continues to struggle from beyond the arc this season. But it’s easy to see her plugging right into some of the Aces’ most common scoring actions.
- Dallas Wings (via New York): Raquel Carrera, 6’2” Center, Spain/Valencia BC
We’re going with two international prospects in the second for Dallas. It’s already easy to wonder if they’ll even want to keep and use all three firsts. What does that mean for these seconds? Carrera does have an interesting offensive skill set, but there would be some overlap with 2020 draftee Luisa Geiselsöder.
- Indiana Fever: Iliana Rupert, 6’4” Big, France/Bourges Basket
Getting another young player in the mix behind Lauren Cox and Teaira McCowan shouldn’t be some kind of non-starter. Rupert has shown the ability to pass from the top of the floor, score out of the post, occasionally grab and go or knock down a spot-up jumper.
- Atlanta Dream: Tiana Mangakahia, 5’6” Point Guard, Syracuse
Atlanta clearly doesn’t need a point guard in the first round after drafting Chennedy Carter. But maybe a Mangakahia scenario here could work out for both sides. Suppose she wants to focus on training over the summer and playing for Australia at the Olympics. Atlanta could get another look at Maite Cazorla (or somebody else) behind Carter this season, then bring Mangakahia to camp next season to potentially snag that spot herself.
- Dallas Wings (from Los Angeles via Dallas): Florencia Chagas, 5’10” Guard, Argentina/USE Basket Rosa Scotti Empoli
These Dallas picks early in the second could genuinely be appealing to teams. How about Washington or Connecticut? Neither owns a first. Connecticut may like a few players that they don’t think will last late into the second, and Washington doesn’t even own a pick. The return wouldn’t be amazing, but if you’re Dallas, maybe you spin these into a future second? Chagas, currently teammates overseas with Kamiah Smalls, has had some fun flashes as a pick and roll passer.
- New York Liberty (via Washington): Destiny Slocum, 5’7” Point Guard, Arkansas
As you may know, New York already has a long list of names on the perimeter. Slocum could be worth a look if a few of those players get traded and/or aren’t coming over this year. Slocum’s speed and shooting would fit with their system as an on-ball option or as the second ball-handler with some lineups.
- Seattle Storm (via Connecticut): Stephanie Watts, 5’11” Wing, North Carolina
Watts is a really interesting fit with the champs. They already have the pure shooter in Kitija Laksa for the bench. Watts can fill it up from out there, too, but can also put the ball on the floor from the second side and give you more defensively.
- Indiana Fever (via Chicago): Selena Lott, 5’11” Wing, Marquette
The names add up quickly if Indiana is really set on getting another look at Tiffany Mitchell, Kennedy Burke and Victoria Vivians next season. They don’t really have a player like Lott. She doesn’t stop moving, picking up easy baskets with her cutting, while still commanding attention as a 3-point threat.
- Connecticut Sun (via Phoenix): Unique Thompson, 6’2” Power Forward, Auburn
Unfortunately, Connecticut won’t have a chance to get the whole band together this season due to the Alyssa Thomas injury. Without a first-round pick this year, these back-to-back picks still present the Sun with an opportunity to add to their bench. Kaila Charles, for example, wasn’t necessarily seen as a slam dunk to contribute as she did for them last year. Thompson could be an interesting target if the Sun part ways with Brionna Jones in free agency.
- Connecticut Sun (via Minnesota): Aisha Sheppard, 5’9” Guard, Virginia Tech
A serious 3-point threat would be a welcome addition off the bench. The Sun could put solid defenders around Sheppard and tap into her shooting to open things up for DeWanna Bonner and Jonquel Jones.
- Los Angeles Sparks: Vivian Gray, 6’1” Wing, Texas Tech
The Sparks look like they’d be set with their roster if they re-sign their top free agents. The hope for Gray in this kind of situation just has to be that she can show up in camp, make her open shots and generally reap the benefits of playing with better players.
- Seattle Storm: Natalie Kucowski, 6’3” Power Forward, Lafayette
Could Seattle possibly have an opening for a fifth big? Kucowski’s offensive skill set would be a good fit in their system, and both Ezi Magbegor and Mercedes Russell are fully capable of playing the 5 with their bench units.
- Las Vegas Aces: Shyla Heal, 5’6” Point Guard, Australia/Townsville Fire
Heal would give the Aces good reason to open up a competition for a third point guard if they re-sign Danielle Robinson behind Kelsey Plum. Heal is a much better shooter and overall threat to score than Lindsay Allen, who has already accepted her qualifying offer to return earlier this month.
- New York Liberty: Chelsey Perry, 6’2” Power Forward, UT Martin
Perry has been a solid 3-point shooter, which would fit in nicely with what New York is trying to do while also having some ability to occasionally go score inside or drive it from the perimeter. Whether a spot is really up for grabs is the big question for these third-round picks.
- Indiana Fever: DiDi Richards, 6’1” Guard/Wing, Baylor
If someone takes a closer look at Richards, the team with the worst defense in the league last season feels like a reasonable suitor.
- Atlanta Dream: Jazz Bond, 6’4” Power Forward, North Florida
Bond has hit about 38 percent from deep on decent volume for three seasons now and can block some shots. The question she may need to answer in a training camp setting is whether the physicality of the next level will bother her too much and prevent her from contributing enough offensively beyond knocking down the open 3-pointers.
- Los Angeles Sparks (via Dallas): Khayla Pointer, 5’7” Point Guard, LSU
Pointer is playing some of her best basketball as a senior, but it’s still fair to question if she’ll be able to step right in and be enough of a scoring threat to secure a roster spot as part of this point guard-heavy class.
- New York Liberty (via Washington): Janelle Salaun, 6’1” Wing, France/Villeneuve D’Ascq ESB Lille Metropole
A wing with good size, it may be worth it for a team to keep tabs and see how much Salaun can improve over the next two years or so.
- Connecticut Sun: Micaela Kelly, 5’6” Guard, Central Michigan
Kelly’s jumper might look a little funky. But it goes in at a solid clip. She has really worked to become a pick and roll scoring threat and has some shiftiness to her game with the ball in her hands.
- Indiana Fever (via Chicago): Mya Hollingshed, 6’2” Power Forward, Colorado
Hollingshed is perfectly capable of putting together some big games. The 3-point shooting has been a little underwhelming, and you’d hope to consistently see more plays that really wow you defensively for somebody that has all the tools to be a shot-blocking stretch 4.
- Phoenix Mercury: Iggy Allen, 5’11” Wing, FAU
Bothered by injury early in her career, Allen is off to a nice start at FAU scoring 20 per game, getting to the rim and knocking down about 36 percent of her 3-pointers to go with three steals per game. This spot might be too low if Allen continues to produce at this level all season.
- Indiana Fever (via Minnesota): Jenna Staiti, 6’4” Center, Georgia
Staiti clearly has solid touch from the perimeter even though it hasn’t been a massive part of her game. In two and a half seasons at Georgia to date, Staiti has shot a combined 17-for-53 from deep. Her block rate of 11.8 ranks ninth nationally this season.
- Los Angeles Sparks: N’dea Jones, 6’2” Power Forward, Texas A&M
Jones has been a very productive rebounder, and her 2-point percentage is up by about seven points this season. According to CBB Analytics, Jones has been more efficient while taking about 53 percent of her shots right at the rim. But how can she fit at the next level? Glimpses at the jumper have been few and far between. After attempting eight 3-pointers all of last season, she’s 2-for-8 through 15 games.
- Seattle Storm: Shannon Titus, 6’0” Wing, Mercer
Time for a flier? Titus can really move her feet and has been a steals/blocks monster since her sophomore season. She’d be a very interesting late-round option if a team thinks they can help her find some consistency as a spot-up threat.
- Las Vegas Aces: Kayla Wells, 6’0” Wing, Texas A&M
Wells could be a 3-and-D target for the late rounds. Her usage rate has held steady for three seasons; her sophomore campaign was her most efficient one. The 2018-19 season was also a high point for her free throw attempts at 4.3 per game. A&M does already have wins over DePaul, Texas, Kentucky, Arkansas and Mississippi State with plenty of exciting SEC matchups on the horizon. Given the strength of this A&M team, their schedule and likelihood to make a run in the postseason, we’ll get plenty of chances to see Wells in more competitive high-stakes games.