After an exciting NCAA WBB tournament I took off my fan cap to compare and contrast what players have to offer the 12 WNBA franchises looking to bring in new talent in Monday’s draft.
The 2022 WNBA draft will be the first live in person draft since 2019. There is a buzz of excitement in the air for players, teams, and fans alike.
Mock drafts are always an inexact science, but it’s time to take a stab at it! Check out our full, three-round mock with pick-by-pick analysis in round 1, and tweet at me (@Swaggy_DgB) or HoopSocial (@hoop_social) to let us know your thoughts!
|4||IND||Shakira Austin||F||6’5″||Ole Miss|
|8||MIN||Destanni Henderson||G||5’7||South Carolina|
|10||IND||Elissa Cunane||C||6’5||NC State|
|11||LV||Nia Clouden||G||5’8||Michigan State|
Round 1 Analysis
1. Atlanta Dream: Rhyne Howard, G (Kentucky)
Howard, 6’2, reclaims her spot as the first pick in the 2022 WNBA draft. The Dream acquired the first pick from a trade with the Mystics. Averaging 3.3 assists per game, Howard is a combo guard that will fill Atlanta’s need for a multifaceted player that can make an impact all over the court. She can handle the ball, drive the lane, & shoot from the outside. She averaged 20.5 points during her senior year. Howard will add instant value to the Atlanta Dream. She is a solid player that exudes greatness. Atlanta will be able to build a solid foundation around her for years to come. Rhyne Howard could become the face of the Atlanta Dream franchise.
2. Indiana Fever: NaLyssa Smith, F (Baylor)
Smith moves back into the number two position after the Dream-Mystics trade. She constantly attacks the glass on both ends of the court and averages 11.5 total rebounds per game, with 8.3 of those being defensive boards. When it comes to scoring, Smith is relentless. She averages 22.1 points per game. Scoring a total of 772 points in her senior year. Smith is a big body forward that can go end to end, running the court and pounding the boards. NaLyssa Smith is all gas and will run the court buzzer to buzzer for the Indiana Fever.
3. Washington Mystics: Kierstan Bell, G (FGCU)
Bell is my sleeper pick for the Mystics. She averaged 22.9 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game in her senior year, earning her second conference player of the year award. She can use her power and build to take on the big guard role with the Mystics. Standing at 6’1, Bell has the skillset to join the likes of Natasha Cloud and Ariel Atkins. Kierstan Bell’s addition to the team will create a lethal combination of guards for the Washington Mystics.
4. Indiana Fever: Shakira Austin, C (Ole Miss)
Standing at 6’5, Austin has the height that Indiana needs after waving or trading the majority of their big post players. She achieved 1,500 points and 1,000 rebounds during her collegiate career. Showing that she battles in the paint. She would have the opportunity to make an impact immediately with the Fever. This would allow her to gain the experience in the W that will grow her game. Being drafted to the Fever almost guarantees Shakira Austin a roster spot in the league.
5. New York Liberty: Emily Engstler, F (Louisville)
A small-bodied forward, Engstler is a force to be reckoned with on the court. She lead the ACC with 2.7 steals per game. Despite her smaller frame, she has an aggressive style on offense and defense. She is disruptive. She will go head to head with any opposition. Her Hoops Stats reported that she was the only player in DI to record a steal rate of five percent and a block rate of at least seven percent. No other player, going back to 2009-10, has ever achieved both of these at the same time. New York is a team that forces turnovers, Engstler has the capacity to fit in with this dynamic. Bringing Emily Engstler back to her home state is a win for the New York Liberty.
6. Indiana Fever: Nyara Sabally, F (Oregon)
Sabally could be high risk pick for any W team. This is due to a series of injuries during her collegate career. However, with four first round picks this risk could be worth the reward for the Fever. She is a power forward standing 6’5. She is the first Pac-12 player since Chiney Ogwumike to average at minimum 15 points, 7 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.3 steals and blocks during the 2021-22 season. She is tough. Her experience on the court extends past her time at Oregon, as she has also played for the German national team. If she remains healthy the Indiana Fever get the most bang for their buck with Nyara Sabally.
7. Dallas Wings: Rae Burrell, G/F (Tennessee)
The Dallas Wings roster is stacked full. Their level of skill and talent has a lot to offer the right player. Burrell, 6’1, is a combo guard/forward player that will continue to grow given the right environment and team fit. She lost a bit of her draft stock due to an injury during her senior season. Being that Dallas has a well rounded squad heading into this season they have room to take on a player that will need some time continue to make a come back. During her time at Tennessee she shot 40.2 percent from the field, 34.1 percent from the three point arc, and 70.3 percent from the foul line. Rae Burrell brings the energy and the Dallas Wings are in a unique position to give her a great opportunity.
8. Minnesota Lynx: Elissa Cunane, C (NC State)
Cunane at 6’5 is exactly what the Lynx need heading into this season. Being that it is Sylvia Fowles last season in the WNBA the Lynx are eager to get an athletic center to take lessons from the legend. Cunane could be that player. She is the only center in the Nation that averaged over 50 percent in overall scoring. She isn’t afraid to take a look from outside the arc. Which has to be enticing for the Lynx. Cunane averaged 7.6 total rebounds this season which gave her team opportunities for second chance shots and the chance to get to the line . Where she shot 83.5 percent. She averaged 13.7 points per game. She has apitude and coachabilty to add to this team. Elissa Cunane will add depth to the Minnesota Lynx roster.
9. Los Angeles Sparks: Naz Hillmon, F (Michigan)
Hillman is one of the most accomplished shooters in BIG10 history. She is the first player, man or woman, in Michigan to score 2,000 points and grab 1,000 rebounds. At 6’2 she is a quick forward who has consistently shown that she can control the pace of the game. Her off ball technique can continue to develop under the wings of veteran LA forwards such as the Ogwumike sisters and Lauren Cox. Naz Hillman is a good look for the future of LA Sparks franchise.
10. Indiana Fever: Destanni Henderson, G (South Carolina)
Henderson raised her draft stock and crept into the the first round of the WNBA draft when she achieved a career high of 26 points during the NCAA Championship game against UCONN. She is consistent beyond the arch, shooting 39.9 percent. On defense she will go head to head shutting down players who typically make offensive runs. She never looses steam and keeps her eye on the win. Henderson scores an average of 11.5 points per game, while also handing out 3.9 assists. Destanni Henderson will make a great addition to the guard line up for the Indiana Fever.
11. Las Vegas Aces: Nia Clouden, G (Michigan State)
Clouden, 5’8, would make a great rookie guard addition to the Las Vegas Aces. In her senior year she averaged 20 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game. The Aces have a guard heavy line up full of veteran players. She may not see a ton of minutes in the first season but she still has a lot to gain by being a part of this squad that is now lead by Becky Hammon. Clouden is shooter. She understands the assignment from beyond the arch and at the rim. Nia Clouden very well could be a future all star guard for the Las Vegas Aces line up.
12. Connecticut Sun: Sika Kone, F/C (Mali)
Kone has a drive and passion unlike many others in this WNBA draft. She comes from humble beginnings and is hungry. She averaged 19.7 points, 14.8 rebounds, and 1.5 assists while playing in the 2021 FIBA U19 women’s world cup. Kone knows what it means to be dedicated to the grind. She left home at just 15 years old to chase her dream to become a professional basketball player. Standing at 6’3 she would give the Suns a strong post player that has a great potential to grow her game. Being that she is only 19 years old she has an endless ceiling. Sika Kone would give the Connecticut Sun a solid bench center with very little risk and a high reward.
|16||LA||Lorela Cubaj||F||6’4||Georgia Tech|
|25||IND||Ameshya Williams-Holiday||C||6’4||Jackson State|
|26||PHX||Hannah Sjerven||C||6’2||South Dakota|
|28||MIN||Maya Dodson||F||6’3||Norte Dame|
|34||IND||Aisha Sheppard||G||5’9||Virginia Tech|