Sunday night we saw the Baylor Lady Bears win the NCAA National Championship over Notre Dame. Anddd fast forward four days and it’s suddenly the WNBA Draft.
I won’t lie to you, this completely snuck up on me. But as a WNBA stan, it wouldn’t feel right for me to not give an extensive draft guide for you beautiful people.
Biggest Storylines heading into the 2019 WNBA Draft:
- Liz Cambage trade request
Last season, Liz Cambage established herself as the biggest star in the league. She led the league with 23 points per game. She also snatched up 10 rebounds a game and 35% shooting from behind the 3-point arc.
Oh, she’s also 6’8 and is the most recognizable player in the league. She wants out of Dallas and a team could put some pieces together to trade for an instant franchise cornerstone.
2. Sabrina Ionescu returns to Oregon
Sabrina Ionescu was the clear cut No. 1 prospect prior to her announcement earlier this week that she’s returning to Oregon. Baylor beating the Ducks brakes off might have inadvertantly re-shaped the landscape of the league.
With the triple-double machine staying in college, there is a new shuffle at the top of the draft and the Las Vegas Aces have some re-evaulating to do prior to Thursday night.
3. Are there enough guards?
Most teams in the WNBA already have their front courts established. Seattle has Breanna Stewart and Natasha Howard. Minnesota has Sylvia Fowles and Maya Moore. Even the Aces with the No. 1 pick already have A’ja Wilson as their star center.
This year’s draft will be a race to the backcourt (which makes Sabrina Ionescu’s decision to stay in Oregon even more impactful). Will there be enough guards to fill all of these team’s needs?
4. Where does Ezi Magbegor land?
Ezi Magbegor is a 19-year old 6’4 Australian phenom who used to backup Liz Cambage on the Australian National Team. I think she has a lot more learning to do and she might not crack the first round with so many talented players in the college ranks but don’t be shocked if Magbegor sneaks into the bottom of round one.
Yes, that’s right *beats chest* ya boy is out here scouting international ball players. How soon until a WNBA front office hires me? *refreshes phone* not yet, surprisingly.
Deadseriousness Mock Draft
1. Las Vegas Aces – Tierra McCowan
With Ionescu off the board, a lot of people are predicting that automatically makes Asia Durr the No. 1 pick but the biggest problem here is that the Aces already drafted a point guard in 2017. Kelsey Plum is a shoot-first point guard who prefers the ball in her hands. Sorry, Asia.
Enter Tierra McCowan, the monster defensive anchor that Aces need to establish an identity. Yes, they already have A’Ja Wilson on the roster but A’Ja has a far superior offensive game to McCowan and pairing those two together is going to give the rest of the WNBA nightmares.
2. New York Liberty – Asia Durr
Is this biased because I live in New York and I found a way to give the Liberty the best player in the draft? Yes,
Pairing her with the veteran Tina Charles and the Liberty could be BACK at the top of the standings where they belong.
3. Indiana Fever – Kristine Anigwe
This was a coin flip between Anigwe and the next player I’m about to bring up but as far as team fit goes, Kristine Anigwe is a great match for the Fever who desperately need an interior pressence to compete.
Anigwe led the nation with 16.2 rebounds per game. Do not sleep on the value of maintaining posesseions. Rebounds might be the most underrated stat in basketball but that’s another rant for another day.
Oh, she also scored 22.5 points per game and is an all-around BEAST.
4. Chicago Sky – Napheesa Collier
Napheesa lost the
Collier was held back a bit this season at UConn which is to be expected when you’re surrounded with the type of talent that Geno Auriemma recruits every year. But her combination of size, smoothness in the paint and overall basketball IQ will make the Sky forget that Elena Delle Donne ever played there.
5. Dallas Wings – Jackie Young
Liz Cambage is forcing her way out of Dallas. Skyler Diggins will miss the season due to pregnancy. The Wings need stability and Jackie Young is the most consistent point guard in this draft.
She’s an excellent perimeter defender and she’s big enough to control rebounds and lead the fast break.
6. Minnesota Lynx – Arike Ogunbowale
Maya Moore is taking a break from the WNBA this season and no one’s earned time off more than her. Enter Arike Ogunbowale, the most clutch scorer in college basketball the last couple of seasons.
Personally, I’m not a huge fan of her ‘mamba mentality’ which players use as an excuse to take contested mid-range jumpers at any point in the shot clock but if anyone can coach that out of her, it’s Cheryl Reeve.
7. Los Angeles Sparks – Alanna Smith
It’s moments like these that remind me why I hate making mock drafts as opposed to just listing off these players based off overall talent instead of team needs.
Katie Lou Samuelson should be drafted here but all signs are pointing to Allan Smith. And by the way, that’s still a great pickup by the Sparks. She will fit in perfectly with her ability to pick and pop behind the perimeter and splash 3’s.
The Alanna Smith/Candace Parker fast break *heart eyes emoji*
8. Phoenix Mercury – Katie Lou Sameulson
I know how this movie goes. Diana Taurasi takes Katie Lou Samuelson under her wing and the dog that we saw Samuelson transform into during this year’s tournament becomes a nightly must-see feature in the WNBA.
Combine those two with DeWanna Bonner who stepped up and became a bucket-getter last year and these three might slam players through tables at midcourt like The Dudley Boys. No one is safe.
9. Connecticut Sun – Kalani Brown
Kalani Brown at No. 9 should be illegal. Brown just led the Lady Bears to a National Title. She was the most important part of their top-ranked defense as she completely controlled the pain.
She suffers the same problem as most big-women in basketball suffer. She gets triple teamed and fouled every single time she touches the ball. It’s kind of tough to watch her get hacked all game long but she quickly makes up for it on the other side of the ball swatting away weak ass shots left and right.
10. Washington Mystics – Sophie Cunningham
Do I think Sophie Cunningham is the 10th best player in this draft? No. Stop asking me questions. But do I think she fits excellently in the Washington Mystics perimeter-focused offense? Absolutely.
Sophie Cunningham shot 40% from behind the arc this season and she carried Missouri on her back. There are a lot of pit bulls like Asia Durr and Jackie Young but Cunningham is right up there with them in intensity and defensive focus.
11. Atlanta Dream -Jessica Shepard
Before I get into Shepard’s scouting report, I want to quickly give shout outs to Ezi Magbegor, Bridget Carlton of Iowa State and Brianna Turner who’s also from Notre Dame as they could all potentially sneak into the first round tanks to Sabrina Ionescu being a coward.
But fuck them, let’s get back to Jessica Shepard who developed into one of the most versatile players in the country as well as one of the top playmakers for Notre Dame’s top-ranked offense. She personifies 2019’s ‘positionless basketball’.
12. Seattle Storm – Megan Gustafson
Megan Gustafson isn’t the most athletic player in this draft. She’s not the quickest or strongest. But my god, she can get buckets on buckets on buckets.
Gustafson won the National Player of the Year and led the country in scoring. She shot 70% from the field. 70%. From the field. When she shoots, that shit is going in. She also led the nation in double-doubles.
She is far and away the most skilled offensive player in this draft. Her post proficiency is unmatched. Sure, she’s an undersized center standing at only 6’4 but pair her with Sue Bird who will set up her perfectly in the post and Gustafson might outscore Breanna Stewart next season. #PrayForTheWNBA