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WNBA draft: Live tracker and analysis of every pick

Destanni Henderson was selected by the Fever at No. 20. (Evan Yu/Just Women’s Sports)

The WNBA Draft is underway from New York City on Monday night. With each selection, prospects will learn where they’re continuing their professional basketball careers next season.

Just Women’s Sports analyst Rachel Galligan will share her thoughts on each pick as the event unfolds. Check back in throughout the first, second and third rounds for updated analysis on draft night.

For more on the prospects and WNBA teams’ needs, check out Rachel’s full WNBA mock draft and Top 50 big board.

Round 1

1. Atlanta Dream: Rhyne Howard, G, Kentucky

The Atlanta Dream make it official! They had their eyes on one specific player who they felt could be a pillar of their franchise and traded up for that. Howard has pro-ready skill, size and potential and provides the type of impact player Atlanta can build around for the coming years. The 6-foot-2 guard has showcased her versatility and scoring ability at all three levels during her time at Kentucky. Howard averaged 20.1 points, 2.9 assists and 6.9 rebounds this season.

2. Indiana Fever: NaLyssa Smith, F, Baylor

The Fever secured a franchise player who easily could have gone No. 1. At 6-foot-4, Smith has been dominant during her time at Baylor and has yet to hit her ceiling, averaging 15.5 points and 8.3 rebounds. She has continued to expand her game and skill set every year and the sky’s the limit what she can do for the retooling Fever. She can play with her back to the basket, face up and attack off the dribble, knock down the mid range jumper and run the floor in transition.

3. Washington Mystics: Shakira Austin, F, Ole Miss

Shakira Austin’s length, power, strength and potential is scary! She can not only make an immediate impact on a roster, but she has the potential and confidence in herself to continue to be developed. Offensively, has she hasn’t even come close to the type of player she can become with her back-to-the-basket and face-up game. Austin wowed us at the SEC tournament in particular, where she showed out in front of nearly every WNBA GM and head coach.

4. Indiana Fever: Emily Engstler, G/F, Louisville

Fever general manager Lin Dunn wanted defensive tenacity, and that is exactly what she got in this pick. Engstler is a swiss army knife in terms of what she can bring to the floor and her competitiveness goes unmatched. She can score, defend, rebound and possesses phenomenal basketball instincts. The Fever immediately have a vital weapon in Engstler who brings an edge and passion on both ends of the floor. The Fever are off to a phenomenal start for 2022!

5. New York Liberty: Nyara Sabally, F, Oregon

Sabally has the potential to be one of the most impressive picks out of this draft. She has great vision and passing ability at 6-foot-5. She plays very well out of the pick and roll, which is a great asset for the next level. If she can stay healthy, remain consistent and continue to develop, her potential is really fun to think about. She has been efficient during her career at Oregon, shooting 51.9 percent and averaging 14.2 points and 7.5 rebounds this season.

6. Indiana Fever: Lexie Hull, G, Stanford

OKAY!!!!!!! We have our first big-time shocker with Hull going at No. 6. Hull showcased her skill set, length and IQ extremely well during the NCAA tournament, where her stock really rose. The Fever clearly value her poise and shooting ability and what she can bring to a young rebuilding team. Hull might struggle with the physicality but has the IQ and work ethic to face that curve. You have to wonder: Could the Fever have gotten Hull at No. 10? Maybe they didn’t want to risk it.

7. Dallas Wings: Veronica Burton, G, Northwestern

A complete stat stuffer and the type of player who is a tireless worker and brings a tremendous amount of toughness. Burton has the tools and mindset to be the future in terms of top WNBA point guards. Burton led the country in steals this year at 4.0 per game and Wings coach Vickie Johnson feels this team has got to improve on the defensive end of the floor. Burton does just that.

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Northwestern’s Veronica Burton went to the Wings. (Evan Yu/Just Women’s Sports)

8. Las Vegas Aces: Mya Hollingshed, F, Colorado

Big surprise here and probably the biggest in the draft so far. Hollingshed’s potential and length is what is appealing to the Aces. Hollingshed has worked really hard to become a more efficient shooter from beyond the arc, averaging 38.8 percent from 3-point range this season. She has elite athleticism and agility at 6-foot-3. While the physicality is going to be a concern, clearly the Aces do not feel that is as big of a concern given her upside.

9. Los Angeles Sparks: Rae Burrell, G/F, Tennessee

The Sparks look at this draft as a chance to improve depth and shooting ability on the wing. Burrell is a long guard capable of really shooting the basketball and stretching the floor forcing defenses to open up the paint for their dominant post players. A healthy Burrell is exciting to think about and she is versatile, but she struggled with lingering injuries this season. At 6-foot-1, Burrell has the length to play wing and make plays on defense as well. A big wing is always sought after in the WNBA.

10. Indiana Fever: Queen Egbo, F, Baylor

The Fever have certainly loaded up in the paint this draft. Egbo is an elite athlete and brings a level of rebound and rim protection the Fever can utilize in the interior. She has a great amount of mobility and could be used to switch and be disruptive defensively. While her offensive skillet can continue to improve, Egbo has been highlight efficient around the basket shooting 51.5 percent during her collegiate career.

11. Las Vegas Aces: Kierstan Bell, G, FGCU

One of the most prolific scorers in this draft. Bell has an elite scoring mentality and has the tools to play 2-4 in this league. She can come in and backup the guards in Las Vegas, she can expose mismatches on the block with her size and strength and she comes from a pro system out of Florida Gulf Coast. Bell thrives in high pressure situations and showing out when she has the chance. She will need to continue to expand on her defensive presence on the floor, but the Aces added a player with confidence, swag and a willing ability to work to translate her game to the WNBA.

12. Connecticut Sun: Nia Clouden, G, Michigan State

Connecticut adds a combo guard here with ability to shoot the three, which is an area the Sun desperately needed shooting 40% this season. Clouden feels a bit overlooked in this draft but can completely stuff the stat sheet. She has a scoring mentality, ability to play in the pick and roll and be a versatile guard who can score at all three levels. The issue lies in the Sun’s cap space and ability to add picks to their already talented roster- who can Clouden beat out to make the team?

Round 2

13. Las Vegas Aces: Khayla Pointer, PG, LSU

It’s just so poetic with Pointer going to play for her aunt Nikki Fargas, who was also her former coach at LSU. Pointer had two triple-doubles this season, and coach Kim Mulkey often mentioned the point guard as an overlooked talent. Pointer is competitive and she does not shy away from big moments. She has a shot to really compete for a backup point guard spot for the Aces — especially since they just waived Destiny Slocum.

14. Washington Mystics: Christyn Williams, G, UConn

Williams has played at a high level for UConn the last four years. When Williams is knocking down shots, she can have a significant impact on the game. With her speed, she’s difficult to stop when getting to the rim in the open court and is tenacious on defense. Williams is a flashy and exciting player to watch who adds a highly skilled option for Washington at the guard spot.

15. Atlanta Dream: Naz Hillmon, F, Michigan

I just love Naz Hillmon and the toughness she has. Naz has one of the best motors in this draft class as a scorer and rebounder. Hillmon is highly efficient around the rim, she is consistent and she can rebound. She has averaged a double-double the last two seasons in the Big Ten. Atlanta adds an undersized post who will need to continue to learn to stretch the floor and expand her offensive game beyond the paint. Hillmon brings the intangibles and toughness anyone would be lucky to coach in this league.

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Naz Hillmon heads from Michigan to the Atlanta Dream. (Evan Yu/Just Women’s Sports)

16. Los Angeles Sparks: Kianna Smith, G, Louisville

I love this pick for the Sparks as they add a solid guard who comes from a great program in Louisville. When we talk about long guards who can shoot, Kianna Smith could very easily be a steal in this draft for Los Angeles as one of the best pure shooters in the class.

17. Seattle Storm: Elissa Cunane, C, NC State

Seattle needs depth in the paint and the fact Cunane fell this far is a shock to me. At 6-foot-5, Cunane has gone against some of the best posts in the country during her career and is one of the most consistent players in the draft. Cunane can stretch the floor and shoot the three; she went 40 percent from behind the arc for her collegiate career.

18. Seattle Storm: Lorela Cubaj, F, Georgia Tech

After being selected by the Storm, Cubaj was dealt to the Liberty in exchange for the New York’s 2023 second-round pick. Cubaj is a great defender and veteran forward who can come to New York and compete as a pro because of her work ethic and passion. At 6-foot-4, Cubaj is a high-post threat whose vision and IQ make her an effective passer. She can face up, take defenders off the bounce and create separation with her shot. She needs to continue to expand her offensive game.

19. Los Angeles Sparks: Olivia Nelson-Ododa, F, UConn

The Sparks got themselves a long, versatile forward who has potential to thrive in the WNBA down the road. She comes from a phenomenal program and at 6-foot-5, she runs the floor, rebounds and brings a young forward who will challenge this team in training camp.

20. Indiana Fever: Destanni Henderson, PG, South Carolina

I’m shocked Henderson fell this far down the draft board, but it is a phenomenal pick up for the Fever. Henderson showed out in the national championship game and has the poise and speed to be effective at the next level. As the floor general for the No. 1 team in the country, Henderson does a great job of controlling the pace and setting up the offense with strong decision-making. She has the quickness and agility to get to the rim with ease, fitting the mold of a pick-and-roll player at the next level.

21. Seattle Storm: Evina Westbrook, G, UConn

Westbrook has good size at guard and a well-rounded skill set that should make her a versatile option at the next level. She has a good amount of experience and would be a viable option for any team looking for depth and competition at the guard spot in camp.

22. Minnesota Lynx: Kayla Jones, F, NC State

A good late option at the forward spot for the Lynx, who face similar cap space situations as Connecticut. Jones averaged 7.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and shot 48 percent from the field for NC State.

23. Las Vegas Aces: Aisha Sheppard, G, Virginia Tech

Las Vegas gets sharpshooting and an efficient 3-point threat in Sheppard. Her game evolved and she showcased her versatility this year at Virginia Tech.

24. Connecticut Sun: Jordan Lewis, G, Baylor

Lewis is a veteran guard who will compete in training camp. She can facilitate, makes sound decisions and has really strong vision. But again, it will be very, very difficult to make the Suns roster for any of these picks.

Round 3

25. Indiana Fever: Ameshya Williams-Holliday, C, Jackson State

26. Phoenix Mercury: Maya Dodson, F, Notre Dame

Dodson played some of the best basketball of her career for the Irish this season. The 6-foot-3 forward is another solid late-round pickup for the Mercury, and she has yet to hit her ceiling with her frame, strength and athleticism.

27. Los Angeles Sparks: Amy Atwell, F, Hawai’i

A long forward with wing potential at the next level, which is exactly what the Sparks have been looking for, Atwell averaged 17.8 points, 6.9 rebounds and shot 38 percent from beyond the 3-point line for Hawai’i this season.

28. Minnesota Lynx: Hannah Sjerven, F, South Dakota

Sjerven and her South Dakota squad wowed us during the NCAA tournament with their Sweet 16 run. Sjerven averaged 12.8 points and 6.9 rebounds and shot 55 percent from the field. While cracking the Lynx roster will be tough, she is a nice post option in camp as Minnesota looks to the future.

29. New York Liberty: Sika Kone, F, Mali

Many had Kone going in the first round, so it is a bit surprising she fell this far down, but there are so many question marks sometimes surrounding international players.  The late selection will spur questions on Kone’s availability and health in the coming months.

30. Dallas Wings: Jasmine Dickey, G, Delaware

Dickey is an elite scoring guard who can go into Dallas and challenge the Wings’ young and highly talented roster. Given a shot, Dickey could surprise some people.

31. Dallas Wings: Jazz Bond, F, North Florida

32. Phoenix Mercury: Macee Williams, C, IUPUI

I’m so happy for IUPUI and the dominant career Williams has had. With so much uncertainty swirling around Phoenix’s post players, Williams could be a pleasant surprise in camp. The four-time Horizon League player of the year had one of the most dominant collegiate careers in the country during her five years at IUPUI. The 6-foot-2 forward averaged a double-double this year at 18.7 points and 10.7 rebounds and is one of the most efficient players on the board, shooting 64-percent from the field, which ranked fifth in the country.

33. Seattle Storm: Jade Melbourne, G, Australia

A young, promising guard, the 5-foot-10 Melbourne is a member of the Australian national team and an impressive scorer. Keep your eye on her.

34. Indiana Fever: Ali Patberg, G, Indiana

Patberg stays home in Indiana, which makes me so happy. The veteran guard has been deeply rooted in the state of Indiana her entire career, so it’s just perfect that she will get a shot to make the Fever’s roster. Patberg is poised, smart, experienced and has a phenomenal work ethic.

35. Las Vegas Aces: Faustine Aifuwa, C, LSU

Nikki Fargas loves her people! For the second time this draft, an LSU product reunites with her former coach. Aifuwa has size, rim protection and a powerful body that should allow her to compete in camp.

36. Connecticut Sun: Kiki Smith, G, Florida

Smith is an elite guard who has shown time and time again her ability to elevate her play in big moments. This is a steal for the Sun. I can only imagine her late selection is due to her knee injury, which leaves her unable to play in the upcoming WNBA season. But that is a plus for the Sun, who are in a cap bind.

Rachel Galligan is a basketball analyst at Just Women’s Sports. A former professional basketball player and collegiate coach, she also contributes to Winsidr. Follow Rachel on Twitter @RachGall.

PWHL Draft Spurs Controversy for League Champs Minnesota

pwhl draft first pick Sarah Fillier
PWHL New York kicked off the 2024 PWHL Draft by selecting Princeton's Sarah Fillier No. 1 overall. (PWHL)

The 2024 PWHL Draft took place on Tuesday, with Princeton and Canadian national team forward Sarah Fillier going first overall to PWHL New York. 

New York also added two defenders and a goaltender, as well as three forwards to make seven solid additions to next season's roster. 

But it was first-ever PWHL champions Minnesota that created the most buzz, with the draft happening just three days after they announced the abrupt departure of general manager Natalie Darwitz following a league review. 

With the 10th overall pick, PWHL Minnesota took Team USA forward Britta Curl. Fans immediately took to the internet to voice their concerns, citing Curl's social media activity. In the past, Curl had "liked" posts on X that targeted the LGBTQIA+ community, particularly transgender individuals. Her activity also showed support for Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old Wisconsin man who fatally shot three unarmed people, two fatally, during a 2020 Black Lives Matter protest.

When asked about the pick — and whether or not he had consulted with any members of the LGBTQIA+ community prior to making the pick — PWHL Minnesota coach Ken Klee opted to defend Curl.

"Did I speak to anyone from the community? I talk with players, with coaches. That’s tough to answer for me," Klee said. "I spoke with a lot of different people. I mean, at the end of the day, I was told she’s a great teammate, a great person. She’s obviously a great player."

The team also had PWHL Minnesota assistant coach Mira Jalosuo, who is married to a woman, announce the pick.

"We have people in that community and obviously Mira making that selection for us, I think that speaks volumes for us," Klee added. "We were just trying to pick the best players available. I wouldn’t want anything to take away from any of those players' experience. It’s unfortunate a little bit at the beginning, but again, it’s okay. People are entitled to their opinion."

Washington Mystics Snap 12-Game Losing Streak

Brittney Sykes #20 of the Washington Mystics shoots the ball during the game against the Atlanta Dream during the 2024 WNBA Commissioner's Cup game on June 11, 2024
Washington guard Brittney Sykes returned from injury Tuesday night to post a game-high 18 points. (Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Washington Mystics snapped a team-record 12-game losing streak on Tuesday, taking home their first win of the season over the Atlanta Dream. 

Brittney Sykes returned from injury and made an immediate impact with game-high 18 points, four assists, and three rebounds. As a team, Washington shot over 50% from behind the arc.

"The feel is it's been coming," coach Eric Thibault said after the game. "I said the other night that we're turning into a good basketball team and we just haven't had the wins to show for it yet. We've been playing better basketball now for a while.

"We're obviously shooting well, but I think the quality of the shots we're getting is really good."

Still, the team’s slow start isn't exactly in the rearview mirror. With star forward Elena Delle Donne sitting this season out, the Mystics were always predicted to face an uphill climb in what has been described as a rebuilding year. 

But with a franchise-worst 0-12 record to kick off the 2024 season, the Mystics are likely on track for a lottery pick. However, Washington can point to positive performances from star draft pick Aaliyah Edwards and league newcomer Julie Vanloo.

Elsewhere in the WNBA, the Las Vegas Aces continued their skid with a surprising 100-86 upset courtesy of the Minnesota Lynx. The reigning WNBA champions were shorthanded this week, falling to 5-5 on the season despite MVP-level play from A'ja Wilson, who scored 28 points in Tuesday's loss.

Minnesota shot over 55% as a team, with Alanna Smith leading the team with 18 points. The game marked the Aces' first three-game losing streak since 2019.

"This is a long, long, long season," Wilson said in her postgame remarks. "I'm not going to press the panic button. I'm still going to bet on us. I know exactly what's in that locker room."

Aces stalwart Chelsea Gray has been out with injury since last year's WNBA Finals run. And while she told reporters on Tuesday that she's set to return before the Olympic break, the team can’t get her back soon enough as they continue to struggle with depth. 

"I don't want them thinking too much; then you get paralysis [by] analysis," coach Becky Hammon said. "We're just not being solid in our base. Just be solid defensively. We're not a very good team right now, that's just reality. But we know we can get better. I still have a lot of belief in this ball club."

USA Women’s Basketball Releases Olympic Roster, Explains Clark’s Omission

USA Women's Basketball's Diana Taurasi #12, Brittney Griner #15 and Sabrina Ionescu #6 at April's National Team Training Camp
All the players tapped for this year's Olympic roster have senior national team experience. (Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)

USA Women's Basketball announced its official Olympic roster on Tuesday, with officials noting that Caitlin Clark’s lack of national team experience played a key role in her omission.

Selection committee chair Jen Rizzotti said that the committee evaluated players according to a set of on-court criteria they were given.

"When you base your decision on criteria, there were other players that were harder to cut because they checked a lot more boxes," she told reporters on Tuesday. "Then sometimes it comes down to position, style of play for [coach Cheryl Reeve] and then sometimes a vote."

Three first-time Olympians made the squad: Alyssa Thomas, Sabrina Ionescu, and Kahleah Copper. Additionally, Jackie Young and Kelsey Plum will make the switch to the national 5-on-5 team after winning gold in the inaugural 3×3 competition at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. 

Age, Rizzotti said, was "never brought up" in player selection discussions. It’s the first time in Olympic history that a USA Women’s Basketball 5-on-5 team will travel to the Games without a single player under 26 years old.

Rizzotti commented that all the players tapped for this year's Olympic roster have senior national team experience, something that Clark does not have.

"She's certainly going to continue to get better and better," USA Basketball CEO Jim Tooley added. "Really hope that she's a big part of our future going forward."

Rizzotti said it would have been "irresponsible" to base roster decisions on anything outside of a basketball context. Marketing and popularity were not on the selection committee’s list of criteria. 

"It would be irresponsible for us to talk about her in a way other than how she would impact the play of the team," Rizzotti said. "Because it wasn't the purview of our committee to decide how many people would watch or how many people would root for the US. It was our purview to create the best team we could for Cheryl."

Clark expressed that she'll be using what some consider a snub as fuel for a run at the 2028 Olympic team. 

"I think it just gives you something to work for," Clark told media after practice Sunday. "It's a dream. Hopefully one day I can be there. I think it's just a little more motivation. You remember that. Hopefully when four years comes back around, I can be there."

Watch more: "Were Caitlin Clark and Arike Ogunbowale snubbed?" on Expert Adjacent

Arsenal Women Confirm US Tour, Preseason Friendlies

Arsenal's Lotte Wubben-Moy battles with Mayra Ramirez of Chelsea at the 2023/24 FA Women's Continental Tyres League Cup Final
The last time Chelsea and Arsenal faced off, the Gunners took home the FA Women's League Cup. (Copa/Getty Images)

Arsenal announced on Monday that it will join Chelsea for a series of preseason friendlies in the US in August. 

Arsenal will be based in Washington, DC from August 15th through August 26th. The Gunners are scheduled to play the Washington Spirit on August 18th, followed by a match with fellow WSL team Chelsea on August 25th. It’s the first time that the two London clubs will meet each other on this side of the Atlantic. 

Chelsea had previously announced their game against Gotham FC, confirming reports from ESPN that surfaced last month.

"We always want to create the best conditions for our teams to prepare and perform at their best in pre-season," said Arsenal sporting director Edu Gaspar in a statement. "This gives our players an opportunity to play and train in a new environment, in front of our supporters around the world."

Both Arsenal and Chelsea tout rosters full of international talent — formidable opponents for two equally stacked NWSL teams gearing up for postseason action. Arsenal is home to accomplished England nationals Leah Williamson, Beth Mead, and backheel goal-scorer Alessia Russo alongside Ireland captain Katie McCabe and USWNT defender Emily Fox.

The games are set to be streamed live for free on DAZN.

Arsenal's US tour builds off of a trip to Melbourne, Australia at the tail end of the 2023/24 season, where they beat A-League All Stars women 1-0 in front of 42,120 fans.

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