Here we are! It’s almost draft day, and yes, here’s yet another WNBA mock draft.
Why? Well, the WNBA offseason is painfully long, for starters. There’s NCAA basketball, but to many die-hard WNBA fans, it serves only as a placeholder to tide them over while their favorite ballers earn their livings overseas. Naturally, these fans want to see what the next generation of talent looks like and project how it will impact individual teams and the league.
Mock drafts also generate discussion, keeping the interest alive in the community during those long winter months. Who will go where? What if team X picks player Y? What will it mean for that team’s roster or the current class of free agents? It all snowballs together, and in the age of social media, you can never have too much information.
The most sentimental reason, though? It means the WNBA season is back. It’s one final appetizer before the big meal. Professional women’s basketball is once again right around the corner.
Congratulations, WNBA fans: You made it! Now, let’s get set for the 2019 WNBA Draft by taking a swing at all 36 picks.
To the board we go!
1. Las Vegas Aces: Jackie Young (Notre Dame)
The Aces are one of the most exciting up-and-coming teams in the WNBA, and for the third year in a row, they’ll be drafting at No. 1 overall. Young, who recently declared herself draft-eligible as a junior, would fit right in with what Las Vegas is building: She’s a strong, athletic wing player who can create shots for herself and for others. Young’s best days are still ahead of her, and her game would flourish alongside players like A’ja Wilson and Kayla McBride.
2. New York Liberty: Asia Durr (Louisville)
During her tenure at Louisville, Durr became known as a big-time shot-maker, a combo guard with a slick handle and a deadly jump shot. She’s just the type of player the rebuilding Liberty need to help establish a new team identity, and her game would complement Tina Charles’ low post presence nicely. Durr ranked seventh in the nation in Offensive Box Plus/Minus (OBPM), per Fred Morlan of Flagrant Stats. If Katie Smith is looking for a guard, Durr should be her pick.
3. Indiana Fever: Teaira McCowan (Mississippi State)
Maybe the most glaring need of any team in this class is that of Indiana. The Fever’s lack of size is a major issue. Per Lynx Data, the Fever were 2018’s worst team at both attacking and defending the rim (as measured by field goal percentage), and there’s no one on their roster taller than 6-foot-4. McCowan would me a major help in all departments: She’s 6-foot-7, arguably the best rim protector in the class and grabbed 5.7 offensive rebounds per game as a senior.
4. Chicago Sky: Kristine Anigwe (California)
The Sky need defense -- they allowed a league-high 109.4 points per 100 possessions in 2018 -- and their frontcourt rotation isn’t exactly set in stone. With McCowan likely off the board at No. 4, though, Chicago will need to get creative. The lithe Anigwe led the country in total rebounding percentage, per Her Hoop Stats, and she has the physical tools to play either frontcourt position at the pro level.
5. Dallas Wings: Kalani Brown (Baylor)
With Liz Cambage’s time in Dallas all but over, the Wings are once again in need of frontcourt help. The 6-foot-7 Brown would fit that bill. A tough cover on the low block, she’s had to deal with double-teams for most of her collegiate career. But playing alongside WNBA shooters should give her more room to operate and take advantage of the low post skills she’s flashed. Her presence would also allow the Wings to keep Glory Johnson and Azurá Stevens at their natural power forward position.
6. Minnesota Lynx: Napheesa Collier (Connecticut)
Versatile and efficient, Collier is a player who is going to be useful anywhere she goes. She’s played on the perimeter and in the post for UConn during her time there, excelling at both. Collier has put up an effective field goal percentage above 60 in each of her prior three seasons, and this season she’s proven to be a strong rebounder as well. A steady, well-rounded game like hers would be a great fit for a team in limbo — like the Lynx.
7. Los Angeles Sparks: Arike Ogunbowale (Notre Dame)
Famous across the nation for her clutch shot-making, Ogunbowale is sure to be high on the shopping list for teams in need of scoring. The Sparks aren’t in desperate need of such a player, but the Irish’s all-time leading scorer would make an excellent sixth woman for them, and it’s hard to see her falling much further than No. 7 anyway.
8. Phoenix Mercury: Katie Lou Samuelson (Connecticut)
Samuelson finishes her UConn career as one of the program’s most prolific outside shooters, making more threes as a Husky than Diana Taurasi and Maya Moore. At 6-foot-3, Samuelson’s shot is difficult to contest, and UConn had some success at using her in the post against smaller defenders. She’d make an excellent floor spacer alongside Brittney Griner.
9. Connecticut Sun: Alanna Smith (Stanford)
With the game placing more and more emphasis on floor spacing, outside shooting from frontcourt players has become quite sought after. Smith is the closest thing to a “stretch four” in this class; she’s 6-foot-4 and made 39.7 percent of her three-point attempts during her senior season. If that’s going to be her role in the WNBA, she’d be a good fit in Connecticut, because the Sun has good frontcourt depth now but may not be able to keep all of those players long-term.
10. Washington Mystics: Megan Gustafson (Iowa)
While Gustafson doesn’t have the size of McCowan or Brown or the athleticism of Anigwe, the reigning National Player of the Year will still have plenty to offer WNBA teams. Her footwork on the low block is second to none, and she won’t be facing constant double teams like she did at Iowa, which will give her plenty of room to go to work. This has to be appealing to the Mystics, who have plenty of shooters to bring out the best in a low post scorer like Gustafson.
11. Atlanta Dream: Sophie Cunningham (Missouri)
Cunningham finishes her collegiate career as one of the most storied players in Missouri history. She’s earned a reputation as a physical player who gets under opponents’ skin — but that’s underselling her skill level. Cunningham’s outside shooting ability makes her a highly efficient scorer -- she scores 1.28 points per attempt, according to Her Hoop Stats -- and that would benefit the Dream, who could use another shooter.
12. Seattle Storm: Han Xu (China)
What’s the best course of action for a team that already has everything? Defending champion Seattle has a trio of stars in Breanna Stewart, Jewell Loyd and Natasha Howard, with Jordin Canada poised to take over for Sue Bird at point guard as well. Drafting and stashing an international player would be a low-risk, high-reward scenario, especially if it’s Xu. Her massive 6-foot-9 frame makes her a high-ceiling prospect, one that would make Seattle look very smart should she report to the WNBA.
13. Phoenix Mercury: Eziyoda Magbegor (Australia)
One of the top international players in this year’s draft, Magbegor is still somewhat raw, but she played well in last year’s FIBA World Cup, shooting better than 80 percent from the field (albeit on low volume). Phoenix would be a logical fit for her, as she and Sandy Brondello already have player-coach rapport from their time with the Australian National Team. Plus, Magbegor could be brought along slowly playing behind Brittney Griner, just as she did with Liz Cambage and Australia.
14. New York Liberty: Brianna Turner (Notre Dame)
If the Liberty select a guard at No. 2, they’ll likely be thinking frontcourt with their second-round pick. Turner would be a good choice for them. She can run the floor, block shots, and act as the energetic “motor” post player that the team currently lacks. Turner gets off the floor quickly and has completed countless lob passes during her time at Notre Dame, which would give the Liberty an added dimension to their offense.
15. Chicago Sky: Kiara Leslie (NC State)
This graduate transfer from the University of Maryland has seen her draft stock rise significantly this season, mostly due to her strong play as the surprising Wolfpack’s No. 1 option. Leslie has always had a WNBA frame, and she’s become a strong outside shooter as well, making her an attractive option for Chicago.
16. Minnesota Lynx: Bridget Carleton (Iowa State)
It was quite the successful senior campaign for Carleton, who led the Cyclones to their best record in nearly a decade, won the WBCA Cheryl Miller award given to the nation’s top small forward and honored as the Big 12 Player of the Year. Carleton also ranked fifth among all Division I players in Value Over Replacement Player (VORP), per Fred Morlan of Flagrant Stats. She’d bring a little bit of everything to the Lynx.
17. Dallas Wings: Caliya Robinson (Georgia)
The 6-foot-3 Robinson is a little undersized to play consistent minutes at center, but her mobility and wingspan make her a plus defender regardless. During her last three seasons at Georgia, Robinson blocked no fewer than 2.4 shots per game, and she has also shown the occasional three-pointer for good measure. According to Fred Morlan of Flagrant Stats, Robinson recorded the third-best Defensive Box Plus Minus (DBPM) in the SEC.
18. Minnesota Lynx: Jessica Shepard (Notre Dame)
The Lynx have a bunch of picks in the second round, so they can afford to take some chances. Shepard has been an integral part of Notre Dame’s success over the past two seasons. Though her lack of athleticism might be a concern, she can dribble and pass the ball better than most players at her size. She’d be good value for Minnesota at No. 18.
19. Los Angeles Sparks: Kennedy Burke (UCLA)
Rarely is a perimeter player drafted for defensive potential, but when Burke’s name is called, you can bet that’s what will be on that WNBA GM’s mind. At 6-foot-1 with a huge wingspan, Burke has the tools to become an elite perimeter defender. The question for her will be whether she can develop the pro-level offensive game to match. Los Angeles can afford to be patient with her while she grows.
20. Minnesota Lynx: Cierra Dillard (Buffalo)
One of the most storied players in Mid-American Conference history, Dillard defied the odds again and again during her time at Buffalo. The 5-foot-9 lead guard put up incredible stats during her senior season, averaging 25.2 points, 5.7 assists, and 2.9 steals per game while making more trips to the free throw line than anyone else. Dillard’s height and conference will probably hurt her chances of being drafted high, but her skill isn’t in question and she’d make for a great second-round selection for Minnesota.
21. Connecticut Sun: Anriel Howard (Mississippi State)
If there’s a player in this draft class who plays bigger than she is, it’s Howard. Standing at 5-foot-11, Howard’s athleticism and consistent second and third efforts on the boards make her an exceptional rebounder for her size, and the addition of a three-point shot over the past season will help her chances of making a WNBA roster.
22. Dallas Wings: Paris Kea (North Carolina)
Though Kea missed a good chunk of her senior season due to injury, she was one of the better guards in the ACC when healthy. Kea’s scoring (18 points per game) and defense (2 steals per game) buoyed the Tar Heels in one of the nation’s most competitive conferences. She’d be a decent choice for Dallas, considering Skylar Diggins-Smith will be missing at least the first portion of the season as she expects the birth of her first child.
23. Atlanta Dream: Marina Mabrey (Notre Dame)
While her name isn’t mentioned as often as the rest of Notre Dame’s stars, it was Mabrey who kept the Irish’s hopes alive with her three-point barrage in the national championship game. Aside from being a sniper from the outside, the 5-foot-11 combo guard also takes good care of the basketball. Per Her Hoop Stats, Mabrey finished her senior season with a 2.43 assist/turnover ratio.
24. Seattle Storm: Naomi Davenport (West Virginia)
It’s been a solid two-season career at West Virginia for Davenport. The 6-foot-0 junior college transfer has done a little bit of everything for the Mountaineers, most recently racking up 15.8 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game as a senior. Davenport’s weakness in turnovers is a big one, but perhaps she’ll be able to find a WNBA niche as a lower-usage, defensive-minded wing player.
25. Indiana Fever: Allazia Blockton (Marquette)
The athletic Blockton is your typical slasher-type combo guard. At Marquette, she scored in bunches, mostly from midrange: Her Hoop Stats reports that Blockton scored just 9.5 percent of her points from the free-throw line. That’s concerning for a guard with her explosion, but her physical tools are too good to leave her undrafted. She’d make a solid project for Pokey Chatman and the Fever.
26. New York Liberty: Natisha Hiedeman (Marquette)
Blockton’s backcourt mate, Hiedeman, has a scoring ability as a lead guard that was a huge part of what makes the Golden Eagles such a dangerous team. Hiedeman averaged 17.6 points per game on a 53.2 percent effective field goal percentage as a senior. Her height of 5-foot-8 will give teams pause, but she should get a good shot in training camp, at the very least.
27. Chicago Sky: Maite Cazorla (Oregon)
Cazorla might not be the most famous guard on the Oregon Ducks, but that doesn’t mean she’s ineffective. As a senior, she shot 40.4 percent from three-point range, had a sterling assist/turnover ratio of 3.02 and perhaps, most importantly, got plenty of experience playing in a system that emphasizes outside shooting. Such experience could be valuable to a team like Chicago, whose backup point guard situation remains fluid.
28. Indiana Fever: Sam Fuehring (Louisville)
Fuehring has been the glue holding the Louisville machine together. The 6-foot-3 forward’s toughness and leadership is never in question, and her skill around the basket makes her an efficient scorer. Per Her Hoop Stats, Fuehring scored 1.26 points per attempt. While she doesn’t boast outstanding size or athleticism, she did show flashes of a three-point shot as a senior, which will make her more appealing as a prospect.
29. Dallas Wings: Taylor Emery (Virginia Tech)
With Emery, you know what you’re getting: a pure scorer. She thrives coming off screens and in the midrange game, and she’s become a more reliable three-point shooter over time as well. Emery’s distribution numbers are unimpressive, though, which may be a sticking point for some GMs. Look for her to be drafted late in the third round or signed as an undrafted free agent.
30. Minnesota Lynx: Kenisha Bell (Minnesota)
When Bell steps onto the court, she usually has one thing in mind: attack. She possesses great speed with the basketball and thrives at drawing fouls. Per Her Hoop Stats, Bell ranked sixth in the country in free-throw trips. Lack of a consistent outside shot hurts her, but she might get a look from Minnesota, which could use all the point guard options they can handle after Lindsay Whalen’s retirement.
31. Los Angeles Sparks: Megan Huff (Utah)
Utah took a big leap in the Pac-12 this season, and the play of their senior center was a big reason. Huff just missed averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds per game, and while she doesn’t project to be an overwhelming physical presence, she does have a consistent outside shot that will make her a tough cut in training camp.
32. Phoenix Mercury: Regan Magarity (Virginia Tech)
With so many big-name post players in this class, it’s easy to miss the season Magarity put together. She averaged a healthy double-double of 14.1 points and 12.8 rebounds per game, and her 9.9 defensive rebounds per game ranked third in the nation. Magarity is 6-foot-3, so she’s not horribly undersized, but she’ll have to keep working on her three-point shot. She made just 23 of her 77 (29.9 percent) of her attempts from long range.
33. Connecticut Sun: Reyna Frost (Central Michigan)
The reigning MAC Player of the Year, Frost put up quite the stat line in her senior season. She averaged better than 22 points and 13 rebounds per game while shooting above 40 percent from three-point range. At 6-foot-0, it’s anyone’s guess as to what position Frost would play in the WNBA, but she’d definitely be worth a look as the draft winds down.
34. Washington Mystics: Li Yueru (China)
Mike Thibault is no stranger to working with international players, and if Yueru is still on the board at No. 34, don’t be surprised if he takes a chance on her. Yueru stands 6-foot-7 and is just 20 years old. So while she’s a relative unknown compared to most of the players in this class, she still has plenty of room to grow, and perhaps, could be an impact player down the line.
35. Atlanta Dream: Mariya Moore (Southern California)
Once a highly-regarded prospect at Louisville, Moore’s name has become somewhat lost in the shuffle after her transfer to USC. She’s not particularly explosive, but she does possess solid court vision from the wing. She has also been a leading distributor on each team she’s played for. Moore will need to rediscover her three-point shot if she wants to stick in the W, though.
36. Seattle Storm: Maci Morris (Kentucky)
If it’s outside shooting you’re looking for, Morris has to be on your radar. The 6-foot-0 guard has made a killing from long distance during her time at Kentucky, shooting 45.2 percent and 47.5 percent during her senior and junior seasons, respectively. It’s actually her low two-point shooting percentage that’s worrisome. But if teams are looking for someone to space the floor this late in the draft, they could do much worse than Morris.
The 2019 WNBA Draft takes place on Wednesday, April 10, at 7 p.m. ET. The first round will be broadcast live on ESPN, with the second and third rounds airing on ESPNU.