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WNBA draft first-round grades: Aliyah Boston, surprises and steals

Aliyah Boston walks on stage at the 2023 WNBA Draft after being selected first overall by the Indiana Fever. (Evan Yu/Just Women's Sports)

Like any draft, the 2023 WNBA Draft on Monday night had both sure things and surprises.

South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston going first overall to the Indiana Fever came as a surprise to no one, while Maryland’s Abby Meyers creeping into the first round caught most people off guard. Some WNBA teams had excellent draft nights, while others left question marks and more to be desired.

We grade the first round of the draft based on the good, the bad and the in between.

No. 1: Indiana Fever

Aliyah Boston, F, South Carolina

Since the moment the 2022 draft wrapped and the 2023 draft came into focus, Boston has been the consensus choice for the No. 1 pick. Indiana didn’t have to think too much about this one, drafting the 2022 National Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, a likely cornerstone for the team for years to come.

Grade: A+

No. 2: Minnesota Lynx

Diamond Miller, G, Maryland

Making another obvious pick, the Lynx got it right with Miller. The Maryland star is WNBA-ready, with an athletic 6-foot-3 frame and the skills to go along with it. Minnesota is in a rebuilding phase after recording a losing season in 2022 and missing the playoffs for the first time in 11 years, and Miller is the perfect foundation. She is versatile, so they have options when it comes to building a roster. Ten years from now, Miller might be considered one of the best players in this draft.

Grade: A+

No. 3: Dallas Wings

Maddy Siegrist, F, Villanova

I don’t love everything the Wings did in this draft, but picking Siegrist at No. 3 was the right move. She’s a dynamic scorer who can complement the pieces Dallas already has. The Wings need point production, and the NCAA’s leading scorer certainly brings that in spades. Siegrist had the ball in her hands a lot at Villanova, a role that will change on a Wings team led by Arike Ogunbowale, but she shouldn’t have an issue adjusting.

Grade: A

The Mystics traded No. 4 pick Stephanie Soares to the Wings for future draft picks. (Evan Yu/Just Women's Sports)

No. 4: Washington Mystics

Stephanie Soares, F/C, Iowa State
(Traded to Dallas for 2024 second-round pick and 2025 first-round pick)

Soares is a player with loads of potential. She’s 6-6 and can shoot from outside, which is an attractive quality in a league that is moving away from traditional bigs. But she’s also had two ACL injuries, so the pick is a gamble. For a team that has the luxury of developing Soares, this is an excellent pick. Dallas is not that team. At this point, the Wings have too many players with promising potential but no sure future, especially on the inside with Kalani Brown, Charli Collier and Awak Kuier.

Meanwhile, the Mystics made a great choice here, because the 2024 and 2025 draft classes are going to be stacked with NCAA talent.

Wings grade: C-

Mystics grade: A

No. 5: Dallas Wings

Lou Lopez Sénéchal, G/F, UConn

Lopez Sénéchal wasn’t at No. 5 on anyone’s draft board, but I understand the pick for the Wings. Already armed with shot creators like Ogunbowale and Diamond DeShields, the Wings need shooters. They especially need 3-point shooters, and the UConn product is one of the best long-range weapons in the draft, averaging 44 percent from deep this past season.

Grade: B

Haley Jones speaks to the media after going to the Atlanta Dream as the sixth pick. (Evan Yu/Just Women's Sports)

No. 6: Atlanta Dream

Haley Jones, G, Stanford

A lot has been made of Jones’ lack of a 3-point shot. And while I understand the criticism, she’s still a pro-ready player who impacts the game positively in every other way and has a high basketball IQ. Getting her at No. 6 is still a steal for Atlanta, and don’t be surprised as she develops her 3-point in the next couple seasons, as she alluded to Monday night.

“I’m just excited to get to the next level and show what I’ve been working on. I think at Stanford it wasn’t really my role to 3-point shoot. It was to playmake, rebound and run, facilitate, run the offense, play out of the high post,” Jones said. “I’m excited to get to the A, bring it there, and just kind of prove people wrong in a way.”

Grade: A

No. 7: Indiana Fever

Grace Berger, G, Indiana

The Indiana product managed to stay underrated for most of her college career, but Berger has WNBA-level skills. Her midrange game is particularly strong, and she is strong enough to hold her own with other guards in the league. The Fever are a young team, but they have great pieces to build around coming off last year’s and this year’s drafts, and Berger only adds to that foundation.

Grade: B

No. 8: Atlanta Dream

Laeticia Amihere, F, South Carolina

Amihere never started for the Gamecocks, but that is more a testament to their depth than a knock on her skills. At 6-4, she gives the Dream much-needed height and athleticism. We never saw her full potential at South Carolina, but the ceiling is high for the forward. Atlanta is able to take a risk on a player like Amihere because they are confident in their other top selections — 2022 No. 1 pick and WNBA Rookie of the Year Rhyne Howard and 2023 No. 6 pick Haley Jones.

Grade: A

No. 9: Seattle Storm

Jordan Horston, G, Tennessee

The Storm organization is in the midst of a transition period after Sue Bird retired and Brenna Stewart left in free agency. Jewell Loyd is now the centerpiece of the team, and Horston is a complementary guard with top-five draft potential who could wind up being a steal. She has size at 6-2 and does a little bit of everything, from passing to rebounding. Together, Loyd and Horston make a backcourt Seattle can build around.

Grade: A

South Carolina guard Zia Cooke heads to Los Angeles as the No. 10 draft pick. (Evan Yu/Just Women's Sports)

No. 10: Los Angeles Sparks

Zia Cooke, G, South Carolina

The Sparks have managed a solid offseason under new head coach Curt Miller, re-signing Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike, signing Azurá Stevens and trading for Dearica Hamby. They also signed veteran guard Jasmine Thomas, but they needed another. Cooke can score at all three levels and, despite being 5-9, knows how to use her body and find angles to get the ball to the rim. She’s a perfect fit for the Sparks.

Grade: A

No. 11: Dallas Wings

Abby Meyers, G, Maryland

Dallas already selected a shooter in Lopez Sénéchal and went for a player with great potential in Soares. With the 11th pick, they selected a player who falls into both categories. I think Meyers could be a good WNBA player, but drafting her in the first round seems like a reach for the Wings.

Grade: D

No. 12: Minnesota Lynx

Maia Hirsch, C, France

The French prospect is 6-5 with guard skills. In the limited game highlights available, it’s clear Hirsch can play both ends of the floor, making her an attractive prospect. Plus, she’s only 19 years old and her ceiling is high. She might not pan out in the WNBA, but it’s a risk worth taking.

Grade: B

Eden Laase is a Staff Writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @eden_laase.