Here is our WNBA Mock Draft for 2017. Multiple individuals from the Swish Appeal Team contributed to this Mock Draft: Managing Editor Mike Robinson, Senior Editor Rene’ Kennedy, Senior Writer Ashley Bastock, Chris Bullock, among others. Penned by Hunter Bishop.
1 - SAN ANTONIO STARS (Seattle is trying to trade for this pick):
A no-brainer. She was the best player in college basketball, period, and capped off a magnificent career with an armful of trophies and the single-season and career records for points scored. Stick her next to rising star Moriah Jefferson and guard/forward extraordinaire Kayla McBride, and you‘ve got something real.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg, too. According to Synergy Sports (brushes off shoulder), she grades out as Excellent in virtually every category you can think of. Halfcourt, transition, less than four seconds on the shot clock; she dominates in every respect.
Her best, most-used skill is working the pick-and-roll (P&R) as the ball handler; it takes up 32% of her possessions, and she scores 1.066 points per possession (PPP), ranking in the 97th percentile.
Want her to shoot jumpers? Dope; she takes jump shots 65% of the time, and scores 1.11 PPP, ranking in the 94th percentile. Guarded, unguarded; catch and shoot, off the dribble; long or short — Kelsey Plum does it all well. The only type of jumper she’s mediocre at is in the mid-range, and the mid-range is a morass of inefficiency anyway. I hate mid-range jump shots. Ban mid-range jump shots.
A N Y W A Y
Her biggest deficiency is on the defensive end, where she grades out as Below Average. The bright spot, though, is guarding the pick and roll ball handler, something that she does most often, and in which Synergy grades her out as Good. At 5’8, they’re not going to ask her to body up Candace Parker, and will most likely have her guard other guards. She can handle them on the pick and roll, and that’s a good sign.
2 - CHICAGO SKY (from Washington Mystics)
Kaela Davis (Note: Northwestern’s Nia Coffey could go here, as Chicago really loves her. The question for the Sky: will Coffey be available at No. 9 if she’s passed here?)
Fresh off a NCAA tournament title win, Kaela Davis has flown up the mock draft boards. For good reason too: she is a skilled player across the board, and, at 6’2 and playing the guard position, she has a massive advantage.
She works best as a spot up shooter, grading out as Excellent, according to Synergy Sports. This is also what she does the most, taking up nearly 32% of her possessions. She’s a Very Good jump shooter, from anywhere on the court, and is only slightly worse when guarded than when unguarded.
She is a Very Good defender, guarding spot up shooters the most and doing it better than she does anything else. She struggles some defending the pick and roll ball handler, which is worrying, given how important that offensive action. But, as she projects and plays as more as off-guard, 2-guard type, her ability to credibly, effectively guard spot up shooters is very encouraging.
This is a good pick for a Chicago team that just traded away Elena Delle Donne. Slotting her in at the 2 alongside Courtney Vandersloot at the point and Stefanie Dolson at the 5 should make for an interesting, competitive roster.
3 - DALLAS WINGS
Another South Carolina standout, and maybe the best player from that championship team. At 6’4, Coates will fit right in the WNBA, and with her ability to play around the paint, she should have an immediate impact.
She is not a stretch five, by any stretch (ayyye lmao) of the imagination. She works in the paint and around the paint, and that is it. She’s a low-post behemoth who shows a rare ability to move without the ball, which is not something you usually see of players of her size and skill set. She’s also wonderful in transition possessions, and at offensive rebound putbacks.
She’s a Very Good defensive player, according to Synergy, working the most often against spot up shooters. She’s Excellent, of course, taking on those in the low post. You’d like to see a tad more defensive performance; she’s a Very Good defender, but there is room for improvement, as there is for all young players.
Putting her on this Dallas Wing team could be good for her, as she’ll see a lot of playing time and get a lot of reps against the highest level of competition.
4 - DALLAS WINGS (from Connecticut Sun via Los Angeles Sparks)
Allisha Gray (Note: Don’t be surprised if Evelyn Akhator is selected here)
What the heck is in the water at South Carolina? How are you going to produce three of the first four picks in the (mock) draft? Unbelievable. This team is stacked. The most nuts part? Gray might be the best player out of all three.
She does everything well, offensively. She ranks in the 95th percentile as a transition scorer, something she does the most often. She’s a Very Good shooter, working best around the basket, but grading out as Good as a three-pointer bomber.
As a defender, she’s an anchor. She guards spot up shooters the most, and does it the best, next is the P&R ball handler and in transition, and she’s great there, too. She struggles some on isolation attacks, but rarely sees those. Her best skill is probably guarding three-pointer shooters; according to Synergy, she grades out as Excellent, giving up makes only 23% of shots.
The Dallas Wings are going to get two of the best players in the draft back to back. What a team that could be.
5 - SAN ANTONIO STARS (from Phoenix Mercury)
Walker-Kimbrough is a tale of two extremes: on one hand, you have one of the most skilled offensive players in the draft. On the other, you have one of the most mediocre defensive players in the draft. It’s really a question of priorities, and for me, Walker-Kimbrough is worth it.
Whether working in transition, or taking a spot up jumper, or handling the P&R or working off screens, Walker-Kimbrough excels. She’s an A-grade jump shooter, getting better the further away she is from the basket, hitting nearly 43% of her threes.
On defense, she is merely Average, and is downright Poor at her most common defensive assignment, guarding spot up shooters. She’ll need to clean that up to really succeed in the league, but with her other abilities, I think she’ll do very well for herself and her team.
6 - WASHINGTON MYSTICS (from Seattle Storm)
Washington is riding high right now with the acquisition of Elena Delle Donne. Combine that with a relatively high draft pick, and you’ve got a recipe for a reload, instead of a rebuild. Wiese could be just the player they need.
As a P&R ball handler, she has few peers. As a spot up shooter, she has virtually none. Her only struggles come in transition, where she ranks out as merely Average. She is an Excellent jump shooter, and a highly skilled one, taking most of her shots from beyond the arc, hitting 42.3% of them.
Synergy grades her out as an Excellent defender, and when it comes to taking on spot up shooters, she is every bit as fearsome as her overall grade. However, guarding the pick and roll ball handler is an area where she really, really struggles, and as a guard, she’ll have to deal with that a lot on the next level.
As for fitting for the Mystics: another shooter, ball-handler type that can defend on the perimeter would take a lot of pressure off Delle Donne, who could be freed up for an even more ludicrous offensive explosion.
7 - ATLANTA DREAM
Nia Coffey (Note: Michael Cooper is known for surprises, so don’t be surprised if he selects Ronni Williams from Florida or Jennie Simms from ODU).
One of my favorite players to watch. Plays hard, carried a big burden for her team, and generally looked up to the task. She reminds me of 80% of Kelsey Plum; not quite as good, but in the same mold, and with loads of potential.
Offensively, Synergy grades her out as Very Good. But the two areas in which she plays the most, in transition and spot up, she is only Average. She is Good when cutting off the ball, an interesting quirk for a player of her type, and, even more interestingly, is at her best when posting up.
Her best value is as a defensive player, though it’s a bit extreme in its skew. Guarding spot up shooters is her specialty, and she does it very, very well; but she also takes on a lot of post up matchups, and she does Poorly, according to Synergy. In the WNBA, and with this Atlanta Dream team, she should be able to overcome her post up defense; her ability to take on spot up shooters would really be valuable.
8 - CONNECTICUT SUN (from Indiana Fever)
Erica McCall works best cutting off the ball and in transition; she is not great at posting up, which she does the most. She is an Average jump shooter, and is best at mid-range jump shots, and is Very Good around the basket.
She is most valuable as a defensive player, taking on spot up shooters, post up possessions, and guarding the P&R roll man with aplomb. She destroys jump shots, the longer, the better, giving up only .571 PPP when guarding jump shots.
9 - CHICAGO SKY
Alexis Jones is splendid as a spot up shooter and working in transition. She is an Excellent jump shooter, at her best from beyond the arc, where she also took the vast majority of her jumpers.
Defensively, she is merely Average. There is not much else to say. She will be a very valuable player for the Sky, rolling around on the perimeter and opening up space for others to drive to the basket.
10 - DALLAS WINGS (from New York Liberty)
Allen is a Very Good offensive player, working the most as the P&R ball handler. She ranks out as Excellent as a transition scorer, and for virtually everything else. She could be a steal this late in the first round.
Defensively, she is Average. She could find her way into a starting rotation as a point guard, though at 5’8 she’ll struggle against bigger players.
11 - LOS ANGELES SPARKS (from Los Angeles Sparks via Dallas Wings)
Another traditional, low-post center. Similar to Alaina Coates offensively; works best as a post up player and offensive putbacks. Around the basket, she scores 1.578 PPP, an absurd number.
On post-ups, a notoriously inefficient shot, she grades out in the 98th percentile, scoring 1.241 PPP. She grabs a lot of offensive rebounds, and their putbacks comprise the second-most scoring for Jones. She’s also Excellent at cutting off the ball, and rolling to the basket in the pick and roll.
Defensively is where she struggles. She’s a Below Average defender, getting roasted by spot up shooting. She’s a Good post defender, but if they can just take her off the faceup, then she loses a lot of her on-court value. She guards around the basket well, which is promising, but struggles on short jumpers.
12 - MINNESOTA LYNX
Leticia Romero (Rumor has it that she might miss season to play for National Team)
Romero, should she fall this far, would be a steal for the Lynx. She grades out as Excellent, both offensively and defensively. She is varied in her skill set, working in transition, spot-up shooting, and as the pick and roll ball handler.
She is a literal sniper from three-point range, hitting 52% of her shots. She should go higher than twelve, but if she doesn’t, it’s only because of lack of name recognition.