For the third year in a row, the Las Vegas Aces get the No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA Draft.
Which elite player from the dynamic 2018-19 college season will be joining the reigning WNBA Rookie of the Year and No. 1 draft pick in 2018, A’ja Wilson, and the 2017 No. 1 selection, Kelsey Plum? Could Aces head coach and general manager Bill Laimbeer trade away the team’s selection?
Even more, what trends might the early selections expose?
In WNBA seasons past, teams focused on acquiring skilled guards and versatile forwards because few true centers were in the league. And, at least to Liz Cambage’s thinking (whose 2019 WNBA status remains in flux), these “undersized” players competing in the center position can be problematic.
In May 2018, Cambage stated in an interview with ESPN’s Mechelle Voepel that she relishes the opportunity to match up against true centers like Brittney Griner, and finds it disadvantageous to match up against smaller power forwards:
I love Brittney; I’ve watched her develop since her rookie year. It’s good for us going against bigger bodies more games, rather than chasing around those undersized [power forwards]. They get away with everything.
In other words, the league is no longer treating the center position like an afterthought. With more big women emerging through the ranks of college basketball programs and entering the league from abroad, WNBA teams will have an easier time than ever filling the five position.
According to Swish Appeal’s Eric Nemchock, bigs worth considering in in the 2019 WNBA Draft include:
- Teaira McCowan (Mississippi State), SEC Player of the Year, SEC Defensive Player of the Year, certified double-double queen
- Kalani Brown (Baylor), NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament national champion
- Han Xu (China), experience with the Chinese national team, 6-foot-9
- Eziyoda Magbegor (Australia), experience on the Australian national team
- Li Yueru (China), experience with the Chinese national team, 6-foot-7
With A’ja Wilson dominating the paint for the Aces, it is hard to imagine Laimbeer will bring in a big to get in her way. But if at least three centers are selected in the top five to seven picks, perhaps it can be concluded that the time for bigs in the WNBA is now, with teams currently lacking true centers hoping to shore up the position against the existing bigs.
The only way to find out is to watch tonight’s draft show! The 2019 WNBA Draft takes place on Wednesday, April 10, at 7 p.m. ET. The first round will air live on ESPN and the second and third rounds will air live on ESPNU.
This story will be updated as the selections are made, so follow along here!
And be sure to catch up on all of our draft coverage:
The WNBA Draft through the years
From A’ja Wilson in 2018 to Tina Thompson in 1997, here are all of the No. 1 picks in the history of the WNBA Draft:
- A’ja Wilson (2018) Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images
- Kelsey Plum (2017) Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images
- Breanna Stewart (2016) Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images
- Jewell Loyd (2015) Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images
- Chiney Ogwumike (2014) Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
- Brittney Griner (2013) Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
- Nneka Ogwumike (2012) Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
- Maya Moore (2011) Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
- Tina Charles (2010) David E. Klutho-USA TODAY Sports
- Angel McCoughtry (2009) Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
- Candace Parker (2008) Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
- Lindsey Harding (2007) Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
- Seimone Augustus (2006) Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images
- Janel McCarville (2005) Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
- Diana Taurasi (2004) Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
- LaToya Thomas (2003) Photo by D. Lippitt/Einstein/NBAE via Getty Images
- Sue Bird (2002) Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images
- Lauren Jackson (2001) Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
- Ann Wauters (2000) Photo by Domenic Centofanti/Getty Images
- Chamique Holdsclaw (1999) Photo by Getty Images
- Margot Dydek (1998) (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images
- Tina Thompson (1997) Photo by Getty Images
Elsewhere in the world of women’s basketball
Jerseys for the 2019 WNBA season are here!
When the 2019 WNBA preseason tips off on May 9, the rookies being drafted tonight can look forward to wearing the Nike Women’s Aeroswift uniform, powered by what the league is calling a “marquee” sponsorship deal with AT&T. For current players, this newly-designed, player-favored apparel debuted in 2018.
Check out the 2019 WNBA “Icon” jerseys for all 12 teams:
Best news of all? According to the WNBA, “[j]erseys will be available at WNBAStore.com beginning May 24 for the start of the regular season.”
WNBA Draft prospects who are taking a bite out of the Big Apple
We know Teaira McCowan (Mississippi State) is in New York. Other players expected to be in attendance at the 2019 WNBA Draft include:
- Kristine Anigwe (California)
- Kalani Brown (Baylor)
- Napheesa Collier (Connecticut)
- Sophie Cunningham (Missouri)
- Asia Durr (Louisville)
- Megan Gustafson (Iowa)
- Arike Ogunbowale (Notre Dame)
- Katie Lou Samuelson (Connecticut)
- Alanna Smith (Stanford)
- Han Xu (China)
- Jackie Young (Notre Dame)
What the players are saying (and other news)
- Megan Gustafson is doing a WNBA Draft video diary. Here, she talks about WNBA orientation. And she shared some words about chasing dreams and meeting goals.
- Teaira McCowan may have been sad about not advancing in the NCAAW Tournament. But her adoring fans probably lifted her spirits: See here and here and here.
- It’s WNBA Draft day and someone is all smiles. That someone would be Arike Ogunbowale.
- A fan asked and Katie Lou Samuelson answered: Her spirit animal is an ostrich.
- With the best social media handle since Gabby Williams’ now-deceased MochaTrapuccino, PheesesPieces — sometimes known as Napheesa Collier — got a reminder from her BFF, Katie Lou, about it being draft day.
- If allowed to pick a teammate from the draft class, an unwavering and decisive Kristine Anigwe chooses Arike O.
- Asia Durr is projected to become a WNBA superstar.
- Wondering how Asia Durr gets hyped before a game? Check out her pregame playlist. Hint: Kodak Black and Meek Mill are on it.
- And even more Asia Durr news: She’s hosting a basketball camp in early May with Louisville standout and No. 1 overall draft pick (2009) Angel McCoughtry.
- Jackie Young, meanwhile, is out here pursuing her lifetime dream, which is pretty cool considering the young age of the WNBA.
- Relevant because she once was a WNBA draftee and this story got lost in the mayhem of March Madness: Teresa Weatherspoon is Naismith Hall of Fame-bound, y’all! Congrats to a great player who thrived during the early years of league and showed the world that women can hoop too.