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2023 WNBA Draft Lottery: Indiana Fever experience moment of hope

The Indiana Fever were awarded the No. 1 pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft. The Minnesota Lynx, Atlanta Dream and Washington Mystics followed.

WNBA: Indiana Fever at New York Liberty
Kelsey Mitchell represented the Fever at the 2023 WNBA Draft Lottery.
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Indiana Fever are finally going to pick first in the WNBA Draft, and if Aliyah Boston does indeed enter the pros in 2023, they will have the opportunity to get a highly-anticipated prospect.

Last year, the Fever had the best odds to win the lottery but the No. 1 pick went to the much-less-needy Washington Mystics who were returning Elena Delle Donne from injury. The Mystics would eventually trade the pick to the Atlanta Dream, who took Rhyne Howard first overall and nearly made the playoffs with nine more wins than Indiana.

The Fever had never gotten the first pick before Friday night’s WNBA Draft Lottery at ESPN’s studio in Bristol, Conn. The team’s best player, Kelsey Mitchell, represented the team and accepted the pick live on ESPN2. Mitchell has played her whole WNBA career, which started in 2018, in Indiana and has never had a winning record. She has handled the losing with the utmost class and displayed the same class when she was snubbed from the 2022 All-Star Game.

The Fever got the No. 2 pick in last year’s lottery and took NaLyssa Smith from Baylor. Smith had a very good rookie season and was on the outskirts of the All-Star conversation herself. WNBA fans will have to see it to believe it when it comes to the Fever making the playoffs, but perhaps with Mitchell, Smith and Boston they will have the pieces in place to move in that direction.

The Minnesota Lynx, who had the worst odds in this year’s lottery, received the No. 2 pick in the draft. So some good fortune for them just two years removed from a No. 3 seed. They will of course be looking to replace legendary center Sylvia Fowles and it would be (still technically possible) storybook if they did that with Boston, who may be the league’s next great center. Napheesa Collier, who missed most of the 2022 season due to her pregnancy but is the team’s best player, represented the Lynx at the lottery.

The Atlanta Dream were a bit unlucky as they had the second-best odds and ended up with the third pick, accepted by head coach Tanisha Wright. The Mystics, who were only in the lottery via a trade with the Los Angeles Sparks, had the third-best odds by virtue of a worse record over the past two years than the Lynx. They heard their name first as the team with the No. 4 pick. Natasha Cloud represented them — she represented them last year as well and was the lucky charm who took home the No. 1 pick.