Previewing The 2023 WNBA Draft Lottery

A look at which teams are competing for the No. 1 pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft.

By Elisha Gunaratnam

The WNBA Draft Lottery is set to take place this Friday, and while the odds for the lottery are calculated based on teams’ cumulative records of the past two seasons, one team in this year’s draft lottery is different from the rest. The Indiana Fever, Atlanta Dream, and Minnesota Lynx all missed out on this year’s playoffs, but the fourth contender for the No. 1 pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft, the Washington Mystics, had quite an impressive season. The Mystics finished the year with a 22–14 record, and qualified for the playoffs where they had the misfortune of meeting and being sent home by the Seattle Storm

With superstar Aliyah Boston being the projected first pick of the 2023 Draft, there’s a lot on the line for Indiana, Atlanta, Washington, and Minnesota on Friday. Will the Indiana Fever finally come away with the No. 1 pick? Can the Washington Mystics repeat their luck from last year? Or will it be Minnesota that finds their next franchise player? Here’s a look ahead at some of the questions surrounding the 2023 WNBA Draft Lottery. 

South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston cuts the net after a college basketball game in the final round of the Women’s Final Four NCAA tournament against UConn Sunday, April 3, 2022, in Minneapolis. South Carolina won 64-49 to win the championship. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Will The Indiana Fever Finally Come Away With A Win?

The Fever can really use a win. The franchise has only won a cumulative 11 games over the course of the past two seasons, and while they drafted a talented group of players in this year’s draft, it still looks like they are missing something on the court. 

Headed into the lottery, the Indiana Fever have the highest odds (44.20%), followed by the Atlanta Dream (27.60%), Washington Mystics (17.80%), and the Minnesota Lynx (10.40%). However, Indiana had the same odds in last year’s lottery and ended up with the second overall pick. As they prepare for a sixth consecutive lottery appearance, they will be hoping to get the No. 1 pick for the first time in franchise history. 

Given that they managed to trade for four first-round picks during the 2022 Draft (NaLyssa Smith, Emily Engstler, Lexie Hull, Queen Egbo), it will be interesting to see what the Fever do with their two first-round picks this year. The 2023 draft class looks pretty unbelievable, but the Fever could choose to bet on the talent that they have and bundle some of their picks to trade for some veteran talent.

Can The Dream Find Another Star?

Rhyne Howard had the best rookie season that the WNBA had seen in a long time. That’s why it’s hard to believe that some of this year’s potential draft picks have even more impressive college resumes. With the likes of Aliyah Boston, Haley Jones, Cameron Brink, and Caitlin Clark being eligible for the 2023 Draft, the Atlanta Dream could land themselves another star to play alongside Howard.

The league is just starting to notice how fun it is to play in Atlanta, and with $942,000 in cap room and the chance to play alongside some young talent, there’s a good chance that the Dream will attract some free agents this off-season. If Friday’s lottery goes their way, this team could be a contender next season.

Will Natasha Cloud Represent Washington On Friday?

Natasha Cloud was the Mystics’ lucky charm at the 2022 Draft Lottery. Despite the fact that Washington entered the lottery with just the third-best odds (17.8%) to receive the No. 1 overall pick, the organization managed to walk away with the top pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft. Thanks to some big trades, the Mystics acquired the right to swap 2023 firsts with Atlanta this past April after Atlanta obtained the Los Angeles Spark’s first-round pick in the Chennedy Carter/Erica Wheeler trade. 

Again, the Mystics are in a very different situation than the other teams that are in the draft lottery. They don’t need a player to come in and turn their franchise around. However, Washington did struggle to score at times when Elena Delle Donne wasn’t available, so it’s likely that they will be looking to add some scorers to their roster during the off-season. They could choose to do this through the draft, or they could trade away their pick for a veteran player that they think will be a better fit for their organization.

Either way, the Mystics managed to win the 2022 Draft Lottery with the same odds that they have this year, and if they send Natasha Cloud to the event again, they might just find themselves with the No. 1 pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft.

Will The Lynx Find Themselves Another Franchise Player?

Despite retiring legend Sylvia Fowles’ best efforts to make the playoffs, the Minnesota Lynx are in the lottery for the first time since 2010. That year, they won the No. 1 overall pick and selected Maya Moore, who helped the franchise win four titles and who undoubtedly will go down as one of the best players in the league’s history.

No one can replace these legends, but it’s hard to deny the similarities between Aliyah Boston and Sylvia Fowles’ style of play. Boston is a dominant rebounder who is unstoppable in the paint, and like Fowles, seems to be an incredible teammate. However, landing Boston will take some real luck as the Lynx have the worst odds of the four teams in the lottery.

Even if the Lynx don’t win the No. 1 pick in the draft, with Napheesa Collier rounding back into form, Jessica Shepard having her best season to date, and role players like Bridget Carleton having stellar off-seasons, there’s room for optimism in Minnesota. 

The 2023 WNBA Draft Lottery is set to take place on November 11 on ESPN2, right before the defending National Champion South Carolina Gamecocks take on Maryland at 6:00 p.m. E.T.

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