On Sunday, the Washington Mystics were awarded the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 WNBA Draft. The team with the worst record last year, the Indiana Fever, will pick second, while the Atlanta Dream will pick third and the Dallas Wings will pick fourth.
The Fever haven’t made the playoffs since 2016 and really could have used the No. 1 pick. They were a unanimous No. 12 in Swish Appeal’s preseason’s power rankings because of the lack of talent they had on paper and they finished in last place at 6-26.
The Mystics finished six games better than the Fever and were in the playoff race until the final day of the season, meaning they barely slipped into the lottery. One could say winning the lottery was good karma for the Mystics after all the injury misfortune they faced in 2021. But the result is they have an opportunity to add an impact piece to a team that could be loaded if back healthy.
Rhyne Howard of the Kentucky Wildcats has been thought of as the projected No. 1 pick for 2022 for a while, but recently NaLyssa Smith of the Baylor Bears has won some analysts over as their No. 1 pick.
Howard is a do-it-all 6-foot-2 guard, while Smith is an explosive power forward who is still developing an outside shot.
Perhaps getting the No. 1 pick will allow the Mystics to convince Tina Charles to stick around. Charles is an unrestricted free agent and said following the 2021 season that her No. 1 priority is winning a championship. She may have been discouraged about the Mystics’ chances at accomplishing that because, even with Elena Delle Donne back healthy, there are a lot of other talented teams out there. But a No. 1 pick with the potential to make an immediate impact could influence Charles’ decision.