WNBA mock draft: Mystics are on the clock — and we’re projecting a brand new No. 1 choose

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The Washington Mystics have the highest choose, however the Indiana Fever have essentially the most to realize or lose from the primary spherical of the 2022 WNBA draft, which will probably be held in April. There was an enormous shake-up with the Fever this week, as common supervisor Tamika Catchings stepped down and former Indiana coach Lin Dunn was named interim GM.

Through a three-way trade involving the Phoenix Mercury and Chicago Sky earlier this month, the Fever bought veteran guard Bria Hartley from Phoenix and the No. 7 choose on this yr’s draft from the Sky, plus Chicago’s first-round choose in 2023. It provides as much as Indiana having the Nos. 2, 7 and 10 picks in 2022, and a chance for Dunn to help jump-start the Fever again towards the perennial playoff contenders they have been for therefore lengthy.

Is there sufficient expertise on this draft to assist with that aim? Laborious to say that for certain, however there ought to be greater than in final yr’s skinny draft. We can’t have a whole image of the accessible gamers till the complete record of these opting is finalized in April. Due to the NCAA’s blanket eligibility waiver in 2020-21, present seniors can return for a fifth yr of school. And we await which draft-eligible juniors would possibly declare for the draft.

For this up to date mock draft, we aren’t contemplating juniors until they’ve already publicly said they’re getting into the draft. We have now a change on the prime, however extra adjustments are inevitably coming.

First spherical

Baylor | Ahead | 6-foot-4 | senior

Former WNBA coach Nicki Collen, now with Baylor, has mentioned she want to see Smith play for Mystics coach Mike Thibault, and which may occur. Washington star Elena Delle Donne is feeling good after lacking all however three video games final season, and the Mystics are bringing again Myisha Hines-Allen and bringing in Elizabeth Williams. In order that they have already got a robust put up presence, however the 6-foot-4 Smith could be one of the best general participant accessible. She is averaging 21.2 PPG and 11.2 RPG as a senior and has made 7 of 24 3-pointers. Whereas vary is one thing she continues to be making an attempt to enhance, that is progress after going 4 of 27 mixed from lengthy vary her first three seasons. Smith has a excessive motor and will have the ability to contribute so much on each ends of the court docket as a professional.

Kentucky | Guard | 6-foot-2 | senior

Dunn served in an assistant coach after which advisory position with Kentucky the final a number of seasons, so if anybody is aware of all sides of Howard’s sport and what she will obtain on the subsequent degree, it is Dunn. The lottery hasn’t been good for the Fever the final two seasons, as Indiana waived each 2020 No. 3 choose Lauren Cox and 2021 No. 4 choose Kysre Gondrezick. However in Howard, the Fever may get an enormous guard who’s averaging 19.7 factors and seven.9 rebounds and has been a professional prospect since her freshman season.

Nevertheless, Kentucky’s struggles this yr — the Wildcats are 11-11 and unlikely to achieve the NCAA match — and Howard’s passivity at instances in video games have raised sufficient questions to maneuver her out of the No. 1 spot. Nobody doubts Howard’s sheer expertise, however the two-time SEC participant of the yr hasn’t at all times seized the second in video games, or has accomplished so too late. She would possibly flourish extra in a professional atmosphere, however that is one thing Dunn most likely already has a good suggestion about.

Ole Miss | Heart| 6-foot-5 | senior

The Dream are remaking themselves, and Austin may need the sort of energy inside and expandable sport that Atlanta finally can construct round. Her 3-point shoot is not there but — she is 3-of-11 from lengthy vary this season — however she’s averaging 14.6 factors and eight.8 rebounds within the rugged SEC. Austin has the look of a professional; the query is can she develop the wanted consistency.

Michigan | Ahead |6-foot-2 | senior

Hillmon has had an excellent profession for the Wolverines and is averaging 20.6 factors and 9.1 rebounds this season. She is taking pictures 57.3% from the sphere, however the truth that she does not have a 3-point shot is a priority. Nevertheless, Dallas would possibly worth her sturdy motor and relentlessness.

NC State | Heart | 6-foot-5 | senior

Signing veteran heart Stefanie Dolson as a free agent gave the Liberty some wanted dimension and championship expertise. That may make it much less possible that New York seems to a middle with this choose. Nevertheless, the Liberty would possibly see Cunane as being sufficient like Dolson to make them a robust pairing to sub for one another, as Dolson averaged 20 minutes per sport final season. Cunane is averaging 13.2 factors and seven.7 rebounds whereas taking pictures 51.4% from the sphere and 83.7% from the road for the ACC-leading Wolfpack.

Florida Gulf Coast | Guard | 6-foot-1 | junior

Laborious to know the way the Wings can actually cram in any extra younger gamers, however perhaps it’s value them taking a shot at Bell. She’s at present out with a meniscus damage, however the junior already has mentioned she is declaring for the draft. She has been a scoring machine for the Eagles (23.4 PPG this season, 24.3 final season) since transferring from Ohio State, the place she was an all-Large Ten freshman. How Bell’s abilities switch from the ASUN convention to the professionals is a query. Nonetheless, she has good dimension and energy at 6-1.

Georgia Tech | Ahead | 6-foot-4 | senior

The Fever’s roster the previous couple of seasons has appeared like mismatched furnishings because the crew was caught in limbo between full-on rebuilding and counting on veterans to attempt to keep marginally aggressive. The end result has been single-digit victory totals in 4 of their final 5 seasons. Dunn has to determine what this crew is meant to seem like and what it may attempt to be actually good at. Perhaps protection? Cubaj will not blow you away along with her scoring (10.9 PPG), however she’s a key part on the most effective defensive groups in Division I this season and a really sturdy rebounder (11.2 RPG).

UConn | Guard | 5-foot-11 | senior

Will the Lynx go to the UConn effectively as soon as once more? Maya Moore (2011), Napheesa Collier (2019) and Crystal Dangerfield (2020) have been all Huskies who gained the Rookie of the 12 months award after being drafted by Minnesota. Williams has been within the highlight since arriving at UConn as the highest recruit in her class, and generally she has been caught within the glare. However she’s a gifted participant (15.2 PPG) who would possibly thrive on the subsequent degree.

UConn | Ahead | 6-foot-5 | senior

Considerably like UConn teammate Williams, there has most likely been extra emphasis placed on what Nelson-Ododa hasn’t accomplished than what she has completed at UConn. She is averaging 10.0 factors and eight.2 rebounds, and UConn alums’ appreciable success within the WNBA has to work in her favor for groups evaluating her.

Baylor | Heart | 6-foot-3 | senior

The best way that Egbo has performed prior to now three video games — with double-doubles and taking pictures simply lower than 59% from the sphere — is what makes her such an intriguing participant. However the put up’s three video games earlier than that have been the alternative, as she totaled simply 12 factors and 15 rebounds, making 2 of 13 pictures from the sphere. Maybe her potential is value this choose for the Fever.

Northwestern | Guard| 5-foot-9 | senior

The Aces at present have kind of a GM-by-committee strategy as new coach Becky Hammon prepares to take over the crew. Burton, a two-time Large Ten defensive participant of the yr, is averaging 17.9 factors, 5.4 rebounds, 6.4 assists and three.9 steals this season and is the sort of hustle participant Hammon can determine with from her taking part in days.

South Carolina | Guard| 5-foot-7 | senior

If Henderson continues to be accessible, the Solar would possibly see her as addition to their guard corps along with her pace, playmaking capability and defensive prowess. She is averaging 11.1 factors, 3.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists for the top-ranked Gamecocks.

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