all scores

WNBA rosters: Which rookies made the cut?

Rookie center Shakira Austin joins the Washington Mystics for the 2022 season. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

The WNBA season begins Friday, and teams have finalized their rosters ahead of the opening tipoff.

Of the 36 rookies selected in this year’s draft, 17 have made opening day rosters – including 10 of the players drafted in the first round. Two undrafted rookies in Maryland’s Katie Benzan and Arizona’s Sam Thomas also made the cut.

Several draftees have had their contracts suspended for the season – including Nyara Sabally, who was drafted No. 5 overall by the Liberty but will miss the season due to injury. Mya Hollingshed, who was picked No. 8 overall by the Aces, is the only first-round draftee to be cut by a team.

Atlanta Dream

Both of the Dream’s draftees – No. 1 overall pick Rhyne Howard and No. 15 pick Naz Hillmon – have made the final roster for the upcoming season.

Kristy Wallace also has made the roster as a rookie. The 2018 draftee has been playing in Australia’s WNBL after recovering from two injuries over the past four years.

Chicago Sky

Rebekah Gardner is the lone rookie to make the Sky roster. After playing at UCLA from 2009-2012, Gardner went undrafted. She made her way overseas, where she most recently has been playing for Spar Citylift Girona in Spain’s Liga Femenina.

Li Yueru was also picked up by the team and is listed on the roster, although she is still in China and may not be able to play this season. Li has yet to receive approval from the Chinese Basketball Federation to play in the United States.

Connecticut Sun

Yvonne Anderson is another older rookie to make a WNBA roster. After going undrafted out of Texas in 2012, she has played overseas, most recently for Reyer Venezia in Italy.

Nia Clouden is the lone draftee for Connecticut to earn a spot on the regular-season roster. Kiara Smith, meanwhile, remains under team control but will sit out the season as she continues to rehab a knee injury suffered during the SEC tournament.

Dallas Wings

Two of the Wings’ three draftees have made the final roster, with Veronica Burton and Jasmine Dickey making their stamp during the team’s training camp.

Indiana Fever

Of Indiana’s plethora of draft picks, five remain on the final roster, making the Fever the team with the most rookies heading into the season. Queen Egbo, Lexie Hull, NaLyssa Smith, Emily Engstler and Destanni Henderson will all look to make an impact this season as the Fever continue to rebuild.

Las Vegas Aces

Two of the Aces’ six draftees – Kierstan Bell and Aisha Sheppard – made the final roster in Becky Hammon’s first season as head coach.

Los Angeles Sparks

Three rookies made the Sparks roster: Olivia Nelson-Ododa, Rae Burrell and Amy Atwell. All will look to make their mark alongside some big-name stars.

Minnesota Lynx

Minnesota is one of just two teams that will not carry a rookie into the 2022 season.

Draftees Kayla Jones and Hannah Sjerven did not make the cut, while undrafted rookies Chloe Bibby, Cece Hooks and Moon Ursin also were waived during training camp.

With two seasons under her belt, Jessica Shepard is the Lynx player with the least WNBA experience. She was drafted by the team in the 2019 draft before missing the 2020 season with a knee injury.

New York Liberty

Second-round pick Lorela Cubaj is the only rookie who will be active for the Liberty this season.

Fellow rookies Nyara Sabally and Sika Kone will miss the upcoming season. Kone has opted to continue rehabbing an injury in Spain while Sabally recently underwent knee surgery. Both players’ rights remain with the Liberty.

Phoenix Mercury

Sam Thomas is the lone rookie on a stacked Mercury roster that is expected to compete for a WNBA championship this season. Undrafted out of Arizona, she scored nine points in one preseason game for the Mercury.

Seattle Storm

Seattle is the other team that will not bring a rookie into the new season.

Jade Melbourne, who was drafted by the team in April, opted to remain in Australia and play in the WBNL this season. She told Basketball Australia that she intends to take a stab at the WNBA next year after gaining more experience.

“I think for me personally, I want to go over there giving training camp a red-hot crack, obviously I’m only 19 and a lot of the girls over there who are coming out of college are 22-24, so doing another year here in the NBL1 and WNBL, I’ll gain a lot,” she said. “My game is still developing and I want to add to my strengths as well, give myself a proper offseason so hopefully when I go there next year I’ll be in good shape and hopefully secure a roster spot.”

Washington Mystics

The Washington Mystics will carry three rookies – Shakira Austin, Katie Benzan and Rui Machida – on their 2022 roster.

Austin was the No. 3 overall pick in this year’s draft. Benzan went undrafted but was signed to a training camp contract on April 20. Machida joins the team from Japan.