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WNBA Draft Preview: The Indiana Fever look to continue rebuilding with the second and eighth picks

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Stewart W. Small

Throughout the 2017 season, the Indiana Fever struggled with an overall record of just 9-25. After the retirement of all-star player Tamika Catchings and departure of head coach Stephanie White to Vanderbilt in 2016, the Fever knew that they had to rebuild in 2017.

With Pokey Chatman now leading the ship and veteran forward Candice Dupree on board, the outcome of the 2017 season came with an unexpected shock. The Fever completed the season with the lowest win percentage in the franchise’s history, and not to mention suffered three-season ending injuries throughout the year. However, the temperature will begin to rise again on the court as Indiana now has several high picks amongst a very talented variety of WNBA draft candidates.

Team Stats

Offensive Rating: 97.6 (11th)

Defensive Rating: 109.5 (12h)

Pace: 91.6 (12th)

The good - Candice Dupree had a strong season all around for Indiana, averaging a team-high 15 points per game last season. She also made 88.2 percent for her free throws (67 of 76 attempts).

The bad - A 9-25 team certainly has plenty of “bad” statistics. But one that particularly sticks out is rebounding. Indiana averaged a WNBA low 28.2 rebounds last season while giving up 35.2, third most in the league. Since the Fever also had the slowest pace in the WNBA last season, this is one area that Coach Chatman must address this season.

What have the Fever done this offseason?

A few instrumental moves in the offseason for the Fever were re-signing Candice Dupree, Shenise Johnson, Erica Wheeler, Jeanette Pohlen-Mavunga, Jennifer Hamson and Jennie Simms. Standout forward, Dupree led the team in both total rebounds and points on the season.

Amongst Indiana’s off-season endeavors was a trade for the No. 8 pick in the 2018 draft from Phoenix in exchange for Briann January. January has been a part of the Fever roster since her career began in 2009. Throughout her nine-year career with Indiana she led the team to three trips to the WNBA Finals (2009, 2012, 2015). In 2012 she was victorious in acquiring a WNBA championship.

A primary focus in this year’s draft will be on the defensive end of the spectrum. Losing January (six-time All-Defensive Team Selection) in addition to Catchings (five-time Defensive Player of the Year) the year prior will continue to dampen the defense if those positions are not filled.

Other exchanges include Kayla Alexander from Las Vegas in exchange for a 2019 draft pick. With 6-4 Alexander at center the Fever should be able to produce on the boards in comparison to the 2017 dead-last rankings (rebound percentage 44.5%, and rebounds per game 28.2.) as mentioned above.

Indiana recently signed free agent point guard Hind Ben-Abdelkader in February. Ben-Abdelkader, a native of Brussels, Belgium, currently ranks ninth in scoring for Hatay in the Turkish League, fourth among European players and should be a force to be reckoned with from beyond the arc. Ben-Abdelkader also has experience playing in the United States, where she spent a season playing for the California Golden Bears in the 2013-14 season.

The Fever’s Draft Picks

The Fever will have an early bid in the 2018 WNBA draft with a 1st round/No. 2 overall pick. This is followed by 1st Round/No. 8 overall (from Phoenix), and 2nd round/No. 14 overall picks.

The Fever’s main goal moving forward is to find a potential player that the franchise can rebuild their program around to ensure and re-establish their position amongst the top in the WNBA. And again, Indiana must address the rebounding issues that plagued them last season.