2022 WNBA Draft Preview

Here’s where all 12 teams stand ahead of Monday’s draft.

By Will Lewis

The WNBA draft is upon us, and teams are now counting on the strength of their offseason decisions to give them an edge leading up to tip off. With the 2022 WNBA draft set for Monday, April 11, let’s take a look at key offseason moves for all twelve teams to get a feel for where the teams are at and what they might be looking to do come Monday night.

Atlanta Dream

Offseason Recap – Things will look different for the Dream this season. The addition of new GM Dan Padover and HC Tanisha Wright, as well as notable offseason departures, signal the franchise is committed to a rebuild for the future. With Chennedy Carter, Courtney Williams, and Crystal Bradford all in new places, the team will need recently acquired Erica Wheeler—a product of the Carter trade to LA—to be even more of a playmaker than she has in her seven-year WNBA career. Likewise, Tiffany Hayes is back in Atlanta and will be the favorite to lead the team in scoring, as she looks to bounce back from an injury-riddled 2021 season. With Elizabeth Williams now in Washington, Monique Billings, Cheyenne Parker, and newly signed Nia Coffey will be expected to head up the frontcourt.

Draft Analysis – Picks 1 and 15. All eyes suddenly turned to the Dream on Thursday afternoon, after they obtained the #1 overall pick from the Mystics. The question now is what Atlanta plans to do with the pick, with Baylor’s NaLyssa Smith (F) and Kentucky’s Rhyne Howard (G) considered the consensus top-two players in the 2022 draft. The departure of Williams and Carter has left the Dream with a lack of guard talent, and so they might be inclined to take Rhyne Howard at #1 to fill this hole. Regardless, either Howard or Smith, both dynamic players, will have the chance to make an immediate impact in Atlanta.

Chicago Sky

Offseason Recap – The reigning champions seemingly only got better during the offseason, with Belgium teammates Emma Meesseman and Julie Allemand set to join the Sky this summer. With Courtney Vandersloot and Allie Quigley expected to return alongside Candace Parker and Kahleah Copper, the Sky are understandably favorites to make another deep run. Chicago lost Diamond DeShields to Phoenix and Stefanie Dolson to New York in free agency, both moves that were largely expected. Seemingly the only question surrounding the Sky will be the timetable for overseas arrivals, and the status for Allemand and Meesseman’s introduction to the team.

Draft Analysis – No picks.

Connecticut Sun

Offseason Recap – The Sun will look largely the same as last season, and this is probably a good thing. Jonquel Jones, the 2021 MVP, is back in Connecticut, and will again be a favorite for the league’s most valuable player. Connecticut fans are excited about the return of Courtney Williams, who spent the first four years of her WNBA career with the Sun, before a short stint with the Dream in 2020 and 2021. The team was willing to forgo re-signing Briann January, as Williams will immediately step in alongside her old backcourt partner, Jasmine Thomas. If last year’s playoffs are any indication, 2x All-Star Alyssa Thomas seems fully recovered from her Achilles injury and could be the key in head coach Curt Miller’s hopeful championship run.

Draft Analysis – Picks 12, 24 and 36. While the Sun have three picks in the 2022 draft, it’s hard to envision any player drafted making an impact this season, and it’s more likely that no players drafted make the roster. The Sun’s bench is already looking likely to consist of either Alyssa Thomas/Brionna Jones, Natisha Hiedeman, and DiJonai Carrington, making it one of the deepest teams in the entire league. However, with the last pick in the 1st round, looking to add potential guard depth would probably make sense for Connecticut.

Dallas Wings

Offseason Recap – The Wings were having a very quiet offseason due to little cap space, until out of nowhere they traded for Indiana center and Texas native, Teaira McCowan. The deal sent the Wings’ two first-round picks in this year’s draft (#4 and #6) in exchange for the #7 pick in this year’s draft and McCowan, with 2023 draft picks swapped as well. It will be interesting to see how McCowan, a dominating interior presence, fits with her new team after becoming a liability at times with Indiana. Dallas will look largely the same as last season with Arike Ogunbowale, Allisha Gray, and Satou Sabally all expected to be key contributors in 2022. 

Draft Analysis – Picks 7, 30 and 31. The Wings should be looking to take a guard or wing with the #7 overall pick. After taking two centers, Charli Collier and Awak Kuier, with the #1 and #2 pick in last year’s draft, and adding Teaira McCowan, the Wings will not be short on interior depth, with Bella Alarie and Isabelle Harrison also in the fold. Northwestern’s Veronica Burton or FGCU’s Kierstan Bell are two guards that could make sense with this pick, but either would have their work cut out for her in order to make a young, deep Dallas Wings roster.

Indiana Fever

Offseason Recap – Indiana remains in the midst of a rebuild, with no immediate end in sight. The team won just six games last season and is arguably worse on paper this season with three key frontcourt players, McCowan, Breland, and Lavender, no longer on the roster. Additions this season include Bria Hartley and Alanna Smith—both players leaving Phoenix—as well as Jazmine Jones from New York. Indiana has continued to have trouble signing prominent free agents and the case will likely remain the same in coming years. The Fever must continue to rely on young players like Kelsey Mitchell and Victoria Vivians, as the least talented team in the league looks to best their win total from a season ago.

Draft Analysis – Picks 2, 4, 6, 10, 20, 25 and 34. With seven picks in this year’s draft, including four in the first round, Indiana should be looking to add talent that can both contribute now and be developed for the future. However, the Fever have largely whiffed in the draft recently, with lottery picks Lauren Cox (2020) and Kysre Gondrezick (2021) both released by the team already. Unquestionably rostering the least talented frontcourt in the league, Indiana will be hoping NaLyssa Smith is available at #2, but the Dream could make things really interesting if they decide to take Smith over Howard. However, if Smith is off the board, the Fever should look to take the next best available player in Rhyne Howard, and then look to fill frontcourt holes with their following first-round picks. Nyara Sabally and Naz Hillmon would be names to consider in the first round.

Las Vegas Aces

Offseason Recap – All eyes will be on Becky Hammon during her first season with the Aces after replacing Bill Laimbeer as head coach. With Liz Cambage now in Los Angeles, the Aces will rely even more on superstar A’ja Wilson, who could very well surpass her previous season high PPG (20.7 in 2018) in 2022. Riquna Williams is back after exceeding expectations last year, and will rejoin a talented backcourt of Chelsea Gray and Kelsey Plum. Angel McCoughtry, who missed all of last season with a knee injury, is now in Minnesota, and so the likes of Jackie Young and Dearica Hamby will play pivotal roles once again this season.

Draft Analysis – Picks 11, 23 and 35. The Aces don’t have any obvious draft needs but could probably look to add more guard/wing depth this season. With Kiah Stokes, Theresa Plaisance, and Kalani Brown all on the roster behind Wilson and Hamby, it’s unlikely Las Vegas will be drafting a post player at pick #11, so look for the Aces to add insurance behind Jackie Young.

Los Angeles Sparks

Offseason Recap – It’s been quite the offseason for the Sparks with Liz Cambage the headline signing for newly dubbed “Liz Angeles.” Cambage, a four-time All-star and the WNBA single-game scoring record holder (53), always had her sights set on L.A. after leaving Las Vegas behind after a disappointing season. The Sparks also made splashes elsewhere, trading for Chennedy Carter and Katie Lou Samuelson, as well as signing Jordin Canada. The Ogwumike sisters are expected to be healthy, looking to rebound from an injury-riddled and lackluster 2021 season. With Brittney Sykes, Amanda Zahui B, and Te’a Cooper all in the mix as well, the Sparks will certainly not lack personality. While questions regarding chemistry are justified, Los Angeles has the talent to make a playoff run if head coach Derek Fisher can put it all together.

Draft Analysis – Picks 9, 16, 19 and 27. I would be shocked if the Sparks don’t prioritize their backcourt in this year’s draft. As mentioned, Los Angeles has put together a strong frontcourt, and can look to add guard depth behind Toliver, Carter, and Canada. One of UConn’s standout guards, Christyn Williams, or Evina Westbrook would be a great pick at #9.

Minnesota Lynx

Offseason Recap – This Lynx team is largely intact from last season. One of the biggest storylines of the year will be Sylvia Fowles, who has already announced this will be her final season. Minnesota is hoping they can win one more title with her as the anchor. With childbirth likely keeping Napheesa Collier out for most, if not all, the 2022 season, veteran signee Angel McCoughtry will look to be a scoring spark as she has been for the entirety of her career. Aerial Powers, Kayla McBride, and Layshia Clarendon are all back from last season as well.

Draft Analysis – Picks 8, 13, 22 and 28. With Fowles set to retire at the end of this season, Minnesota should start looking for a future frontcourt star who could develop behind the most dominant WNBA center of all time for a season. Sika Kone and Elissa Cunane could be strong targets for the Lynx to consider. However, Minnesota remains one of the deepest teams in the league and so roster spots will be hard to come by for all draftees.

New York Liberty

Offseason Recap – Sandi Brondello takes over the Liberty this season, after New York parted ways with Walt Hopkins after a 12–20 season in 2021. Expect Sabrina Ionescu to be the focal point for all the Liberty do, much like Diana Taurasi in Phoenix under Brondello. The team signed Stefanie Dolson, a stretch center who should find success playing in the pick and roll with Ionescu. With Rebecca Allen re-signed as well, the Liberty will look to improve on their win total from a season ago, with Natasha Howard, Betnijah Laney, and Sami Whitcomb all playing pivotal roles again this season.

Draft Analysis – Picks 5 and 29. New York will likely look to add more size in their frontcourt with the #5 pick and will be largely dependent on who Washington and Indiana pick at #3 and #4 respectively.

Phoenix Mercury

Offseason Recap – Somehow, new head coach Vanessa Nygaard has a more talented Mercury roster than the team Sandy Brondello took to the WNBA finals a season ago. The most notable free agent move of the offseason was Tina Charles taking less than market value in order to chase a championship with Phoenix. Charles, the league’s leading scorer in 2021 will team up with all-time leading scorer, Diana Taurasi, Skylar Diggins-Smith, and Brittney Griner, in what could be one of the greatest “super teams” the league has seen. However, details surrounding Brittney Griner’s availability this season are largely unknown. The Mercury also traded for Diamond DeShields, an important piece in Chicago’s title run a year ago. With Brianna Turner, Kia Nurse, and Sophie Cunningham all back as well, Phoenix could be title favorites at full strength.

Draft Analysis – Picks 26 and 32. Phoenix will not be counting on anyone drafted to make an impact this season.

Seattle Storm

Offseason Recap – Questions surrounding the Storm were largely put to rest when notable free agents Breanna Stewart, Jewell Loyd, and Mercedes Russell all resigned with Seattle, and Sue Bird announced she’d be returning for at least one more season. Seattle brought over Briann January from Connecticut to fill the hole left behind by Jordin Canada, and also acquired Gabby Williams from Los Angeles and Jantel Lavender from Indiana. With Bird, Loyd, and Stewart all together for at least one more season, the Storm have the ability to compete with anyone at their best. 

Draft Analysis – Picks 17, 18, 21 and 33. Seattle doesn’t have any glaring team needs and likely won’t be looking for anyone to contribute right away. Now could be the time to start looking at point guard depth behind veterans Bird, January, and Epiphanny Prince. 

Washington Mystics

Offseason Recap – Elena Delle Donne is back after missing most of the previous two seasons due to health problems. Also expected back is Alysha Clark, who has yet to make her Mystics debut after missing all of the 2021 season with injury. Washington committed to Myisha Hines-Allen and signed Dream center Elizabeth Williams, both of whom will be counted on to fill holes left by the departures of Charles and Meesseman. Natasha Cloud and Ariel Atkins will play large roles once again this season, with little depth behind them. The play of Delle Donne will largely determine how successful this Mystics team can be.

Draft Analysis – Picks 3 and 14. The Mystics traded back to #3, with head coach Mike Thibault saying the team was comfortable with any of the top three players in the draft. With Howard and Smith likely to go off the board early, expect the Mystics to draft Shakira Austin, the center from Ole Miss, to replace the frontcourt departures. 

The WNBA 2022 Draft will be Monday, April 11 on ESPN and TSN at 7 P.M. EST.

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