Here is the pool of players the Minnesota Lynx will be considering for their 2023 roster:
- Napheesa Collier, starting PF ($202,154)
- Kayla McBride, starting SG ($201,984)
- Aerial Powers, starting SF ($201,984)
- No. 2 pick ($74,305)
- Jessica Shepard, starting C ($120,000)
- Tiffany Mitchell, second SG ($135,000)
- No. 12 pick ($68,295)
- Natalie Achonwa, second C ($155,100)
- Bridget Carleton, third SF ($91,000)
- Nikolina Milić, second PF ($90,000)
- Rachel Banham, starting PG ($74,305)
- Lindsay Allen, second PG ($74,305)
- Damiris Dantas, third PF ($74,305)
- Stephanie Watts, third SG ($62,285)
- No. 16 pick ($65,290)
- Kiana Williams, third PG ($62,285)
- No. 24 pick ($65,290)
- Maya Dodson, third C ($62,285)
- No. 28 pick ($62,285)
Diamond Miller (Maryland) seems to be the consensus No. 2 pick at this point, and what a player the Lynx would be getting. She’s the best athlete in the 2023 draft class, with a WNBA-ready body. It starts on the defensive end for her with her length and love of getting into passing lanes or poking the ball away from the player she’s guarding. She can then get out in transition with long strides and wreak havoc.
Miller’s ball-handling has improved and the sky is the limit for her is she can watch film of Kevin Durant and basically do exactly what he does. Because she has the size at 6-foot-3 and the athleticism to have the impact on the perimeter that Durant has in the NBA. Right now she’s more of a spin to the basket and finish with a scoop layup type of offensive player. But if she can continue to improve her ball-handling and turn into a three-level jump shooter, she could be like Durant. Her 3-point shooting was good during her sophomore year (38 makes at a 35.5 percent clip) and decent for her career (30.3 percent), but was not so hot during her senior year (22 percent).
Aye Diamond Miller, u a killer for that Dirk fade at the buzzer, good win Terps— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) December 2, 2022
It is likely that the Lynx will take Miller at No. 2 instead of addressing replacing center Sylvia Fowles (retired) or point guard Moriah Jefferson (signed with Mercury in free agency). This means they will need to address the center and point guard positions later in the draft. Right now it appears that Jessica Shepard, a true power forward, may be their starting center, and that Rachel Banham, someone you might want off-ball to shoot threes, may be their starting point guard.
To get to a true center in the Lynx’s pool of players, you have to go all the way down to Maya Dodson, a No. 26 pick with no WNBA experience who would only make the team to fill that positional need. To get to a true point guard, you have to go down to Lindsay Allen, who is a solid WNBA contributor, but Minnesota may want to do better than that. 2021 national champion from the Stanford Cardinal, Kiana Williams has more upside as a scorer than Allen and is a true point guard. But she was a No. 18 pick and hasn’t had much success in the WNBA thus far.
Since the Lynx need BOTH a center and a point guard, they may want to keep both the No. 12 and No. 16 picks. In order to do that, they’d need to let go of Shepard, Nikolina Milić or Banham since everyone else is either the team’s best player in Napheesa Collier or on a guaranteed contract. That is unless they trade Natalie Achonwa’s expensive contract to move up in the draft and get an even better center or point guard prospect, which is probably what they should do.
But let’s say they don’t trade Achonwa. I personally think Shepard and Banham are move valuable than Milić, who is the only one of those three I’d be willing to give up. But let’s say they don’t get rid of Milić either and only keep picks No. 2 and No. 12. At No. 12, I think the needs for center and point guard are equally great. So who are come centers and point guards they might take?
ESPN has center Aliyah Boston (South Carolina) going at No. 1 and center Stephanie Soares (Iowa State) going at No. 4. They have Maia Hirsch (France) and Monika Czinano (Iowa) as the best available centers at No. 12.
Hirsch wouldn’t be a bad consolation to Soares. At 6-foot-5, she is just an inch shorter than Soares, and she shares Soares’ 3-point shooting ability.
Highlights: Maia Hirsch
Czinano is the famed partner-in-crime of NCAA National Player of the Year Caitlin Clark. She is known for getting great position in the paint and rarely dribbling on her way to layups. She is incredibly efficient (67 percent career field goal percentage), but is a bit undersized for a 5 in the WNBA at 6-foot-3. Czinano is from Watertown, Minnesota, which is about 40 minutes west of Minneapolis.
If Indiana point guard Grace Berger (No. 9 pick in ESPN’s mock draft) falls to No. 12, she would be a good option. ESPN has LSU point guard Alexis Morris available at No. 12 and Morris is an electric scorer who also averaged a career-best 4.1 assists per game as a senior.