Here’s the latest news from the WNBA and wider women’s hoops world:
Get ready for WNBA Draft Lottery 2024
On Sunday, Dec. 10, the Indiana Fever, Phoenix Mercury, Los Angeles Sparks and Seattle Storm will learn if the basketball gods bless them with the No. 1 pick in the 2024 WNBA Draft, as the WNBA Draft Lottery 2024 will be broadcast at 4:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. The lottery will be held before Utah takes on South Carolina and North Carolina meet UConn in the final two games of the Basketball Hall of Fame Women’s Showcase triple header.
In short, it should be a celebratory Sunday for women’s hoops, where we’ll gain insight into the future of the WNBA before enjoying some excellent NCAA action.
The Fever have the best odds of landing the No. 1 pick for a second-straight season, as they own 442 of the 1,000 chances. Next is the Mercury with 276-in-1,000 odds, followed by the Sparks with 178-in-1,000 odds. The Storm round out the lottery with 104 of the 1,000 chances. As recently as 2022, the Washington Mystics, owners of the third-best odds, were awarded the No. 1 pick. In the era of four lottery teams, the only time a franchise with the fourth-best odds received the No. 1 pick was in 2012, when the Sparks won the right to select Nneka Ogumike.
Between now and Dec. 10, Fever, Mercury, Sparks and Storm fans can dream of the likes of Caitlin Clark, Cameron Brink, Rickea Jackson, Paige Bueckers or Angel Reese suiting up for their squad by spinning Across the Timeline’s draft lottery simulator.
The 2024 WNBA Draft Lottery is set for December 10.— Across the Timeline (@WBBTimeline) October 31, 2023
In the meantime, you can simulate the lottery as many times as you want:https://t.co/BoyTuIEgSV
Known 2024 WNBA Draft order:https://t.co/wHgddMsYdG
Current 2025 WNBA Draft picks:https://t.co/SgVT5ocYOI pic.twitter.com/VTgQW6isuP
WNBA’s Portland plans paused
Almost as soon as the WNBA confirmed expansion to the Bay Area with WNBA Golden State, several reports indicated that Portland would be announced as the second expansion city shortly thereafter. Instead, last Wednesday, The Oregonian’s Bill Oram revealed Portland’s expansion bid, led by local millionaire Kirk Brown and supported by Senator Ron Wyden, had fallen through. According to Oram, WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert sent a letter to Wyden detailing the league’s decision to defer expansion due to expected renovations to the Moda Center, home of the NBA’s Trail Blazers and the hoped-for home of a WNBA team, in the coming summers. Oram reported that sources close to Blazers’ owner Jody Allen contested Engelbert’s rationale for deferral, suggesting the franchise did not plan to begin arena renovations until 2027, giving the WNBA team, which would debut in the summer of 2025, two seasons in the Moda Center before having to relocate for one season in the summer of 2027.
BREAKING: Plans to bring a WNBA team to Portland have fallen through, sources say, and it is unclear whether millionaire entrepreneur Kirk Brown remains involved with the city's bid. https://t.co/iuOvsOPttJ— Bill Oram (@billoram) November 1, 2023
Subsequent reporting from Howard Megdal at The Next further muddles the WNBA’s decision, as a league source told Megdal “the renovation issue was common knowledge back in the spring of 2023,” when the league “moved forward with this bid anyway.”
Interesting reporting via @howardmegdal:— Jackie Powell (she/her) (@ClassicJpow) November 2, 2023
“But the plans to renovate Moda Center had been public for some time, in general terms, …that the renovation issue was common knowledge back in the spring of 2023. The league moved forward with this bid anyway.” https://t.co/53CBzjzc4E
Considering facilities were cited as the main reason that Denver and Toronto fell short as WNBA expansion cities, it is not surprising that an arena issue has scuttled the league’s plan to expand to Portland, at least for now. However, the lack of clarity about the renovations to the Moda Center—both when they will occur and when WNBA leadership learned when they will occur—raises questions about the process behind the league’s evaluation of Portland’s expansion bid.
WNBA x Kim K.
In her tenure as WNBA Commissioner, Cathy Engelbert has prioritized expanding the league’s sponsorship portfolio. Well, she’s kashing in again, as the WNBA, along with the NBA, is partnering with Skims, the underwear brand founded by Kim Kardashian.
Of the partnership, Engelbert said:
The athletes of the WNBA are trendsetters and cultural influencers. There is no better time to be joining the league as a partner, and we are excited to work with SKIMS, a brand that has quickly cemented its status as a cultural centerpiece, to elevate each other’s brands and celebrate female athletes and their impact in society.
As reported by Winsidr’s Blake Silverman, Skims will serve as an associate partner of the 2024 WNBA All-Star Game in Phoenix. Let’s also hope the brand chooses to feature WNBA players in advertisements, manifesting the message Kardashian emphasized in the press release announcing the partnership. “We look forward to working together in amplifying our joint values of women empowerment and individual confidence,” Kardashian asserted.
Sky name Jeff Pagliocca GM
After “stir[ring] things up” and hiring Teresa Weatherspoon as head coach, the Chicago Sky have named Jeff Pagliocca the franchise’s general manager. Pagliocca, who has over 20 years of experience training and developing players, has worked for the Sky for the past four seasons, serving as player development coach in addition to assisting the team’s head coaches. In 2023, he was the Sky’s Director of Skill Development.
We got our guy ✅— Chicago Sky (@chicagosky) October 31, 2023
Skytown, introducing your new General Manager: @JeffPagliocca!
On the opportunity, Pagliocca shared:
I am beyond grateful to be named the new General Manager of the Chicago Sky. I’m very proud to partner with Coach Weatherspoon and the Sky front office to shape a championship-caliber roster. With a strong background in strategy, player development, and tenure with this team, I am eager to build upon our tradition of excellence, hard work, and winning, in this energizing new chapter of Sky basketball. Expect us to bring unmatched toughness, grit, and relentless competitive spirit to Chicago.
Team USA 3x3 punches ticket to Paris
On Nov. 1, the United States’ 3x3 Women’s National Team qualified for the 2024 Olympics in Paris. A second-place finish in FIBA’s 3x3 Federation Ranking earned Team USA the trip to Paris, exempting them from the forthcoming Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
Surviving, and thriving, during a summer full of competitions resulted in Team USA securing the opportunity to defend the gold medal won by Allisha Gray, Jackie Young, Kelsey Plum and Stefanie Dolson in 2021. The events that various iterations of Team USA competed in to qualify for the 2024 Games included: 3x3 AmeriCup, FIBA 3x3 Women’s Series, senior/U23/U18 World Cups, U23/U21 Nations Leagues, and the Pan American Games.
While a gold medal victory at the Pan Am Games by Lexie Hull, Azurà Stevens, Cierra Burdick and Blake Dietrick and a World Cup title won by Burdick, Linnae Harper, Hailey Van Lith and Cameron Brink were some of Team USA’s high points, a number of athletes will deserve credit when Team USA 3x3 is, hopefully, atop the medal stand in Paris next summer. Jennifer Rizzotti, president of the Connecticut Sun and chair of the Women’s National Team Committee, praised the sacrifices made by the players who suited up for Team USA:
There are some athletes we asked to play eight to 10 different events for us that ended up with the highest number of points. There were some athletes we asked to play four or five events, but they were college kids that were dealing with summer school and in some cases the start of the fall semester.
Rizzotti added, “It’s been a lot of tough tournaments, travel and less-than-ideal scenarios to have to play basketball in. You just have a real appreciation for the process and the people that you go through with.”
FSU’s Wyckoff undergoes successful surgery
As the women’s basketball world recently has lost Nikki McCray-Penson and Tasha Butts to breast cancer, it is encouraging that Florida State head coach Brooke Wyckoff underwent a successful surgery to, according to Seminoles.com, “remove a mass that has been diagnosed as breast cancer.” The second-year head coach is expected to be on the sidelines for the Seminoles opener against Charleston Southern on Monday, Nov. 6.