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WNBA Draft Lottery: No. 1 pick goes to New York Liberty for first time in franchise history

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Atlanta Dream, Dallas Wings, Indiana Fever and New York Liberty — the four teams that did not make the 2019 WNBA Playoffs — participated in the lottery. Oregon Ducks guard Sabrina Ionescu is expected to be the player in demand at the 2020 WNBA Draft.

Western Conference Finals - Golden State Warriors v Portland Trail Blazers
Sabrina Ionescu wowed the world of women’s college basketball in 2018 by leading the Oregon Ducks to their first-ever Final Four. She is expected to be the most sought after player in the 2020 WNBA Draft.
Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

The WNBA Semifinals tipped off tonight but that wasn’t the biggest news of the night. During halftime of the Connecticut Sun-Los Angeles Sparks series, the WNBA Draft Lottery, presented by State Farm, revealed the order in which teams will select players at the 2020 WNBA Draft. For the first time in franchise history, the New York Liberty were given the No. 1 pick.

2020 WNBA Draft order

No. 1: New York Liberty

No. 2: Dallas Wings

No. 3: Indiana Fever

No. 4: Atlanta Dream

The top pick comes as welcome relief to the Liberty who, despite finishing below the Las Vegas Aces in the 2018 regular season, were granted the second pick, with the No. 1 pick going to the Aces for the third year in a row. With 2017 No. 1 pick Kelsey Plum and 2018 No. 1 pick A’ja Wilson, the Aces came up one loss shy of making the playoffs last season. In 2019, the selected Jackie Young at No. 1 and acquired Liz Cambage in the offseason.

On Sunday, the Aces advanced out of the stomach-dropping win-or-go-home Round 2 of the playoffs. They begin their best-of-five semifinals series against the No. 1 Washington Mystics on Tuesday, Sept. 17, at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2, proving that draft picks can build or stifle the building of a franchise.

After a second uninspired season for the Liberty, many wondered whether coach Katie Smith will keep her job. Owner Joseph Tsai recently purchased the Brooklyn Nets and their Barclays home court outright, triggering speculation that he could move the Liberty to Brooklyn.

Would a No. 1 pick — perhaps Oregon Duck Sabrina Ionescu — plus new Brooklyn digs transform the Liberty from pretender to contender?