2023 WNBA Mock Draft 1.0

Welcome to the 2023 WNBA Mock Draft! With the Women’s College Basketball season set to tip off this week, it’s the perfect time to explore some way-too-early predictions for what the first round of next season’s draft might look like. 

After researching each team’s needs heading into next season, I pored through stats and charts to find their best possible fits. Beyond South Carolina’s  Aliyah Boston, it’s anyone’s guess! Remember, this is only the inaugural mock draft—with several revisions likely to come as the NCAAW season progresses and the calendar brings us into the depths of freezing temperatures—so if a player isn’t in my first round prediction now, that doesn’t mean they won’t find their way here in subsequent mocks.

Enjoy!

 

1. Indiana Fever – Aliyah Boston

School: South Carolina Position: Forward

Career Accolades: Honda Cup Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year (2022), SEC Female Athlete of the Year (2022), 2x National Player of the Year (2022 unanimous; 2021 The Athletic), 2x First-Team All-America (2021 unanimous; 2022 unanimous), Second-Team All-America (2020 AP, USBWA), 3x Lisa Leslie Center of the Year (2020, 2021, 2022), Naismith Defensive Player of the Year (2022), National Freshman of the Year (2020 ESPN, USBWA, WBCA), SEC Player of the Year (2022), 3x SEC Defensive Player of the Year (2020, 2021 (co), 2022), 3x All-SEC First Team (2020, 2021, 2022), SEC Freshman of the Year (2020), 3x SEC All-Defensive Team (2020, 2021, 2022), NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player (2022), NCAA Regional Most Outstanding Player (2022 Greensboro), NCAA Regional All-Tournament Team (2022 Greensboro, 2021 Hemisfair)

SEC Tournament MVP (2021), SEC All-Tournament Team (2021, 2022), CoSIDA Academic, All-America Team Member of the Year (2022), 2x CoSIDA Women’s Basketball Academic All-American of the Year (2021, 2022), 2x CoSIDA Women’s Basketball All-America First Team (2021, 2022), NCAA Champion (2022), 2022 Unanimous Preseason All-American.

 

WNBA Team Needs: Best Player Available

You know the name. You know her game. Aliyah Boston is hands down the best player in the nation, and, therefore, is the best player in this draft. Boston continues to add to her game each year, culminating in a 2021-2022 season that saw her finish with the most defensive and total rebounds, and the best offensive and defensive win shares in the country. Plain and simple, the 6’5” dynamo is a franchise-altering talent, and what better place to see her land than a fanbase that could use some extra stardom (no offense to Kelsey Mitchell or NaLyssa Smith). Boston can do everything: 16.8 points per game last season, fourth in the nation in total rebounds per game, 19th in blocks per game, first in defensive rating, win shares, offensive and defensive win shares, and win shares per 40 minutes. She was second and third in defensive and offensive win shares per 40 minutes, respectively. Her basketball IQ is second to none in this draft, and her expanding range makes her all that more dangerous of a player.  Boston would immediately make this young team into a very intriguing (albeit still playoff-less) one.

 

 

2. Minnesota Lynx – Elizabeth Kitley

School: Virginia Tech Position: Center

 

Career Accolades: 2022-2023 Preseason All-American, 2022-2023 Lisa Leslie Award Watch List, 2022-2023 Preseason ACC Player of the Year, 2022-2023 Preseason All-ACC, 2022-2023 Naismith Trophy Women’s Watch List, 2022 ACC Player of the Year, Two-time First Team All-ACC (2021, 2022), Two-time Lisa Leslie Award Finalist, 2021 VaSID Player of the Year, 2021 ACC All-Tournament Team Second Team, 2020 ACC Freshman of the Year, Three-time ACC All-Academic Team (2020, 2021, 2022), Three-time ACC Academic Honor Roll, Seven-time ACC Player of the Week, Three-time ACC Freshman of the Week. 

 

WNBA Team Needs: Front Court Presence/Scoring

The Sylvia Fowles era is no more, as she retired at the end of the 2022 season, capping what will inevitably be a hall-of-fame career. Now, the Lynx are in need of a big, one who can help them on the defensive end (10th in opponents’ points per 100 possessions and ninth in opponents’ three-point percentage, according to Her Hoops Stats). Enter Kitley, who may be the most skilled big in this draft. Kitley can score (she’ll surely help the Lynx’s fifth rated points per game from the center position last season, according to Her Hoop Stats), rebound, block, and defend, all things the Lynx need from their anchor on defense. Kitley finished in the 97th percentile for rebounding and block rate last season, and had offensive and defensive win shares, total win shares, and win share per 40, offensive rating, and defensive rating that were all in the 96th percentile or better. Put simply: she is exactly what the Lynx need to take the crown as the next franchise center for the Lynx.

 

 

 

3. Atlanta Dream – Haley Jones

School: Stanford Position: Guard

 

Career Accolades: 2022-2023 Naismith Trophy Women’s Watch List, 2022-2023 Preseason Associated Press All-America, 2022-2023 Cheryl Miller Award Watch List, 2022-2023 Preseason All-Pac-12, 2022 Preseason All-American, NCAA champion (2021), Two-time Pac-12 champion (2021-22), Two-time Pac-12 Tournament champion (2021-22), WBCA All-America (2022), Two-time Associated Press All-America (2021-22), Two-time USBWA All-America (2021-22), Naismith Trophy Finalist (2022), Two-time Cheryl Miller Award Finalist (2021-22), Pac-12 Player of the Year – Coaches (2022), Two-time All-Pac-12 – Coaches and Media (2021-22), Two-time NCAA Tournament Final Four All-Tournament Team (2021-22), NCAA Tournament Spokane Region Most Outstanding Player (2022), Pac-12 Tournament Most Outstanding Player (2022), NCAA Tournament Final Four Most Outstanding Player (2021), Three-time Pac-12 Player of the Week (Dec. 7, 2020; Dec. 20, 2021; Jan. 3, 2022), Three-time Pac-12 Freshman of the Week (Dec. 2, 2019; Dec. 16, 2019; Jan. 13, 2020), Greater Victoria Invitational All-Tournament Team (2019).

 

WNBA Team Needs: Veteran Leadership/Facilitator

Now, don’t get upset I didn’t pick Jones second; this is as good a spot as any for her to be in come 2023. Another can’t-miss prospect, the 6’1” Jones is a phenomenal get for Atlanta. Jones is one of the best facilitators in college basketball, finishing no lower than the 83rd percentile in assists per game (APG) since she started playing college ball. Now, Jones gets the chance to join 2022 Rookie of the Year Rhyne Howard in developing the vision head coach Tanisha Wright crafted when she joined this team before the 2022 season. Jones is a consummate pro and will provide some net positives no matter where she slots in the lineup. The Dream struggled mightily in the helpers department, finishing last in assists, so a player with Jones’ facilitating prowess will be massively welcomed. Just don’t ask her to help Atlanta’s turnover problem (second highest per game in 2022), as her 3.8 turnovers per 40 minutes last season ranked in the 21st percentile in the nation. Overall, Jones should be a bonafide star in this league in no time, especially when she gets to play alongside the budding and dynamic Howard.

 

 

 

4. Washington Mystics (Pick Swap with ATL via LA) – Ashley Joens

School: Iowa State Position: Guard

 

Career Accolades: Cheryl Miller Award Winner (2020-21, 2021-22), WBCA All-American (2021-22), AP Second Team All-American (2021-22), USBWA Second Team All-American (2021-22), Unanimous All-Big 12 First Team (2019-20, 2020-21, 2021-22), Celia Barquin Arozamena Iowa State Female Athlete of the Year (2021-22), Wooden Award National Ballot (2021-22), Sports Illustrated Second-Team All-American (2020-21), Honorable Mention AP All-American (2019-20, 2020-21), Honorable Mention USBWA All-American (2019-20), WBCA Regional Finalist & Honorable Mention All-American (2019-20, 2020-21), Cheryl Miller Award Top-5 Finalist (2019-20, 2020-21, 2021-22), Naismith Midseason Top-30 Member (2019-20, 2020-21, 2021-22), Wade Watch List (2019-20, 2020-21, 2021-22), Big 12 Player of the Week (2019-20: Nov. 25, Dec. 16, Jan. 20, Jan. 27, Feb. 10, March 9; 2020-21: Dec. 7, Dec. 14, Jan. 19; 2021-22: Nov. 22), Academic All-Big 12 First Team (2020-21, 2021-22), Academic All-Big 12 Second Team (2019-20), Big 12 Freshman of the Week (2018-19: Jan. 21, Jan. 28, Feb. 4), Big 12 All-Freshman Team (2018-19), Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll (Fall 2018, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022).

 

WNBA Team Needs: Three-Point Shooting/Shot Creator

The Washington Mystics need a shooter and someone who can create a shot. That player is Joens, who is one of the premier offensive talents in college basketball. Joens has an incredible ability to find the basket, evidenced by her 28.7 percent usage rate, which accounts for a player’s shooting and free throws, easily in the 95 percentile last season. With an elite 10 percent turnover rate, coupled with her career 37.6 percent from distance,  it’s clear Joens is exactly the kind of player the Mystics are needing. 

 

 

 

5. Chicago Sky (from PHX) – Rickea Jackson

School: Tennessee Position: Forward

 

Career Accolades: Media Preseason All-SEC First Team — 2022-23, Coaches Preseason All-SEC Second Team — 2022-23, USA TODAY Sports Network Preseason All-SEC Second — 2022-23, Jersey Mike’s Naismith Trophy Women’s Watch List — 2022-23, Cheryl Miller Award Preseason Watch List — 2022-2023, 2022 Preseason All-SEC First Team, 2021 WBCA All-America Team Honorable Mention, 2021 WBCA All-Region II Team, 2020 Second Team All-SEC (Coaches), 2020 SEC All-Freshman Team (Coaches), 2020 SEC All-Tournament Team, 2020 Gillom Trophy Winner, 2020 WBCA All-America Team Honorable Mention, 2020 WBCA All-Region II Team, 3x SEC Freshman of the Week (1/7, 2/4, 2/25), 2019 Duel in the Desert MVP and All-Tournament Team.

 

WNBA Team Needs: Figure out who’s retiring and who’s leaving

That three-team deal last offseason continues to pay dividends for the Sky, as they now have a mid-tier first-round pick to fill one of their ample roster spots with a high-quality player. A loss to the Connecticut Sun in the semis left a bad taste in the mouths of the 2021 Champions, but potentially losing a big chunk of their core this offseason could be way more unpalatable. The Sky need answers as to who is staying and who is leaving, so knowing who they will select with the fifth overall pick will prove challenging until the tea leaves are fully read. In the meantime, Jackson is my pick, as the 6’2” Mississippi State transfer joins a strong Tennessee Lady Volunteers program that is ready to challenge for a national championship. Jackson is a volume shooter, scoring at a 16.2 PPG clip for her career while averaging the sixth-most field goal attempts per game in the country last season. Jackson also knows how to use her size, finishing in the 97th percentile in blocks per game. Jackson’s game is only getting better, and playing under head coach Kellie Harper’s tutelage and alongside one of the top talents in the nation in Jordan Horston means Jackson will take her game to the next level and fill plenty of holes on this Sky team no matter who returns for the 2023 season.

 

 

6. New York Liberty – Diamond Miller

School: Maryland Position: Guard

 

Career Accolades:  Preseason All-Big Ten Team,  Ann Meyers Drysdale Award Watch List (2022), Jersey Mike’s Naismith Trophy Watch List (2022), All-Big Ten First Team (2021), All-Big Ten Second Team (2022), WBCA All-Region Team (2021), Big Ten Tournament Co-MOP (2021), Preseason All-Big Ten Team (2021, 2022), Ann Meyers Drysdale Award Watch List (2021, 2022), Wooden Award Top 50 (2021), Wade Watch List (2021), Wade Watch Midseason List (2022), Naismith Watch List (2021), Big Ten Player of the Week Honor Roll (12/7/20; 3/1/21), Academic All-Big Ten (2021).

 

WNBA Team Needs: Size, defenders, shot creators

The Liberty head into the offseason looking to build on a successful season. How? By beefing up. The Liberty struggled to score (ninth in PPG, field goal percentage and two-point percentage), and, according to PBP Stats, they had the fourth lowest two-point field goal percentage in the league last season, with the fourth shortest average shot distance on two-point shots. Additionally, the team had the fifth-lowest at-the-rim field goal percentage; the fourth-lowest at-the-rim frequency, which accounts for how often their shots were taken at the rim; and the second-fewest makes inside of four to 14 feet from the rim, according to PBP Stats. All of this, plus their eighth- and ninth-rated defensive and offensive rebounding rate, respectively, proves one thing—this team needs size. 

Enter Miller, a 6’3” scorer who, while hurt last season, did come on of late, scoring in double figures in 12 of her final 13 games. When healthy, she’s a menace to guard, as she placed in the 90th percentile or better in total points, field goal percentage, two-point percentage, effective field goal percentage, total rebounding, steals, and blocks during her sophomore campaign. She can score; she can defend (85th percentile in defensive win shares during her sophomore season); and, she can score at the rim or use dribble penetration to finish at the rim. She is everything this Liberty team needs and will be a problem for the W for years to come.

 

 

 

7. Indiana Fever (from DAL) – Madi Williams

School: Oklahoma Position: Forward

 

Career Accolades: 2022 WBCA All-America Honorable Mention, 2022 Big 12 All-Tournament Team, 2022 Unanimous All-Big 12 First Team, 2022 Cheryl Miller Award Finalist, 2021 Unanimous All-Big 12 Preseason Selection, 2021 Unanimous First Team All-Big 12 Selection, Big 12 Player of the Week (three times), 2020 Preseason All-Big 12 Team.

 

WNBA Team Needs: Best player available

With Boston in the fold, where do the Fever go next? The Fever were last in just about every statistical category last season—PPG, field goal percentage, free throw percentage, turnovers, offensive and defensive rating, effective shooting percentage, and true shooting percentage. Boston will help with that; however, the Fever were notoriously good at one thing: playing with pace. The Fever finished second in the league in pace last season, so why not grab a downhill athlete who played in the second-fastest paced offense in the country last season? Williams explodes down the court, finishing first in the Big 12 in total transition possessions last season.  While her rim finishing could certainly use some polish, her increased range from distance (from 10 to 41 makes from three between her sophomore and junior seasons) proves just how athletic and versatile this developing scorer is. She’s also not afraid to have the ball in her hands to facilitate offense, ranking 93rd in the country in usage percentage, a metric calculating the percentage of a team’s plays the player was a part of when on the floor. For a team that tied for the fourth-lowest percentage of fast break points, getting a player like Williams to pair with Boston will go a long way to improving a historically awful transition game last season. 

 

8. Atlanta Dream (Pick Swap with WSH) – Maddy Siegrist

School: Villanova Position: Forward

 

Career Accolades: BIG EAST Player of the Year (2021-2022) USBWA third team All America (2021-2022), Philadelphia Big 5 Player of the Year (2021-2022) Led the BIG EAST and ranked second in the country in scoring (2021-2022), Garnered first team All-BIG EAST honors (2020-2021), Named first team All-Philadelphia Big 5 and the Big 5 Player of the Year (2020-2021), Earned USBWA Honorable Mention All-American accolades (2020-2021), Was one of five finalists for the Katrina McClain Award given to the top power forward in the country (2020-2021).

 

WNBA Team Needs: Veteran Leadership/Scoring

If your team needs scoring, Siegrist is your player. The second-leading scorer per game last year with over 25 PPG, Siegrist is not shy when it comes to putting ball in bucket. She had the most field goals made per game in the country and was clearly a major focal point for Nova last season. Between Jones and the 6’1” Siegrist, the two can score from anywhere on the court, meaning this Dream team will have no shortage of new blood who can space the floor and create better looks for Howard. The other area Siegrist can contribute to is not turning the ball over. Siegrist was 23rd in the country in turnover rate last season, so for a team with the second-worst turnover rate in the league last season, Siegrist will be a breath of fresh air in the taking-care-of-the-ball department.

See Also

 

 

9. Seattle Storm – Dyaisha Fair

School: Syracuse Position: Guard

 

Career Accolades: Named MAC Freshman of the Year (2019-2020), Earned MAC East Player of the Week honors four times (2019-2020), Watch list for the Dawn Staley Award for the top guard in the country (2019-2020), First Team All-MAC and defensive team honors (2020-2021), Finalists for the Nancy Lieberman Award (2020-2021 and 2021-2022), late season watch list for the Dawn Staley Award and semifinalists for the Becky Hammon Mid-Major Player of the Year Award (2020-2021).

 

WNBA Team Needs: Point Guard/Rebounding

Perhaps no team in the league has a greater hole to fill on their team than the Seattle Storm. With Sue Bird’s retirement, the team is looking for its next floor general for the first time in two decades. Enter Fair, who might be the best point guard to come out of this draft. The 5’5” Buffalo transfer follows her coach Felisha Legette-Jack to Syracuse to close out her college career. Fair can flat-out score, finishing fifth in the nation last season in PPG. She can hit the three, nailing 36.8 percent of her three-pointers last season. She can facilitate, finishing 40th in total assists and 80th in APG last season. For someone her size, she also rebounds quite a bit, averaging nearly five per game in her junior season. Defensively, she’s just as tough, finishing in the 99th percentile for steals. She also plays under control, finishing seventh in fouls/40 last season and fifth in foul rate. All told, Fair was seventh in win shares in the nation and third in offensive win shares. It’s fair to say this point guard can give you a little bit of everything. Point guard of the future? Check. Rebounding from an unlikely source for a team ninth in defensive rebounding last season? Check. Can’t see how the Storm pass on Fair.

 

10. Connecticut Sun – Dre’Una Edwards

School: Baylor Position: Forward

 

Career Accolades: 2022-2023 Katrina McClain Award Watch List, 2019 Pac-12 Player of the Year, 2020-2021, Preseason All-Big 12 honorable mention. 

 

WNBA Team Needs: Three-Point Shooting Guards

The Sun finished last season with a surprising run to the finals, only to lose to the Aces in four games. Following the season, general manager/head coach Curt Miller saw greener pastures and left the team to fill the Los Angeles Sparks’ head coaching vacancy. Now, the team needs to find a new head coach and possible new direction, as they were so good defensively but often lacked offensive creativity and ability to score with consistency.

Edwards addresses one of their biggest needs, as “Dree” is a tough, physical guard who can score, and score from long range. A career 36.5 percent three-point shooter should be a blessing for this team that finished 11th in three-point rate . Edwards is also a menace defensively, averaging strong numbers in STOCKS (steals + blocks) last season, so she will come in and add depth to an already punishing defensive front. She is a scrappy player, perfect for this Sun roster.

 

11. Dallas Wings (from IND via CHI) – Ashley Owusu

School: Virginia Tech Position: Guard

 

Career Accolades: 2022-2023 Ann Meyers Drysdale Award Watch List, 2022-2023 Preseason All-ACC, 2022-2023 ACC Newcomer Watch List, 2022-2023 Naismith Trophy Women’s Watch List, Ann Meyers Drysdale Award Winner (2021), AP Third Team All-American (2021), AP All-American Honorable Mention (2022), USBWA All-America (2021), WBCA All-Region Team (2021), Big Ten Freshman of the Year (2020), All-Big Ten First Team (2021), All-Big Ten Second Team (2020 – Media; 2022), All-Big Ten Honorable Mention (2020 – Coaches), All-Big Ten Freshman Team (2020), Big Ten Tournament MVP (2020, 2021), All Big Ten Preseason Team (2020, 2021), Ann Meyers Drysdale Watch List (2020, 2021), Nancy Lieberman Award Watch List (2021), Wade Watch List (2020, 2021), Wooden Award Watch List (2021), Naismith Watch List (2020, 2021), Big Ten Freshman of the Week (11/18/19; 11/25/19; 2/10/20), Big Ten Player of the Week (11/22/21), Big Ten Player of the Week Honor Roll (1/4/21; 1/11/21; 2/1/21; 2/15/21; 3/7/21; 1/10/22), Naismith Trophy Player of the Week (1/11/21).

 

WNBA Team Needs: Veteran Leadership/Point Guard

The Wings need leadership and a firm direction in the worst way, but that’s not something they can find in the draft. What they can find is a franchise point guard, someone who can help bring some stability to the floor and keep Arike Ogunbowale scoring off the ball (an area where she shines brightest).

It’s why I believe this team will draft Owusu. Transferring 480 miles southwest from Maryland to Virginia Tech, Owusu is looking for a fresh start for her final season in college. While at times she can be somewhat turnover-prone, Owusu collectively is a steadying presence and a nightmare to guard. Owusu can hit the three and take you off the dribble in a blink of an eye. Her driving and finishing prowess are notable, but she can also facilitate the ball with aplomb, finishing in the 95th percentile in the nation in APG. At 6’0”, Owusu is slightly taller than your average point guard, and her big frame and powerful movement leave opposing teams with many headaches. Owusu will serve at worst as a playable and contributory backup to incumbent and second-year player Veronica Burton, who I love defensively but not certain she’ll pan out offensively. Owusu is no defensive specialist, so some sort of platoon role with Burton might make sense right away, but her dual-threat scoring ability from the paint and from the perimeter is sure to help this team improve on its ninth-best effective field goal percentage and second-worst two-point percentage. 

 

 

12. Minnesota Lynx (from LV) – Aijha Blackwell

School: Baylor Position: Guard

Career Accolades: 2020-21 Second Team All-SEC, 2019-20 All-SEC Freshman Team, 2019-20 SEC Freshman of the Week, 2019 WBCA High School All-America Honorable Mention honoree, 2019 USA Women’s U19 World Cup Team Trials invitee, 2018 USA U18 National Team Member, 2018 FIBA Americans U18 Gold Medalist.

 

WNBA Team Needs: Front Court Presence/Scoring

Much in the way Seattle has big shoes to fill with Bird leaving, so too do the Lynx with Sylvia Fowles’ retirement. Now, there’s a gaping hole in the paint next to Napheesa Collier that must be addressed. Who better to fit that role than Blackwell, who is an incredible athlete and rebounder. 

Another prominent transfer staying in conference, Blackwell makes the move from Missouri to Baylor to finish out her playing career. Last season, all she did was rebound, leading the country in defensive rebounds per game, defensive rebounding percentage, and second in total rebounds per game. For a team that finished fifth in opponents’ points on second chances, adding a player of Blackwell’s ilk would be especially poignant to keep them near the top of the league. Blackwell can also score at the rim, finishing with an impressive 66.4 percent field goal percentage at the rim last season. In all, a team like the Lynx that is desperate for some quality size and frontcourt scoring should be all in on drafting Blackwell.

 

 

All stats and accolades as of 11/6. Unless otherwise noted, all accolades, player stats, and team stats are from university websites, ESPN.com, and WNBA.com, respectively.

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