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WNBA draft lottery: What each team needs from its pick

Destanni Henderson and the Indiana Fever have secured the No. 1 overall pick. (Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Indiana Fever, Minnesota Lynx, Atlanta Dream and Washington Mystics will have the top four picks in the 2023 draft, in that order.

Aliyah Boston is likely to be the No. 1 pick, but each team has very different personnel needs. Here’s what the teams should look for come draft night.

Indiana Fever

The Fever have the No. 1 pick, and they also have the most holes to fill.

The team finished last season in last place in the league, with a 5-31 record, and parted ways with coach Marianne Stanley just nine games into the year.

Christie Sides was named the new head coach on Nov. 4. But a new coach doesn’t change the overall outlook of this team. Indiana did well in last season’s draft, picking up NaLyssa Smith, Emily Engslter, Destanni Henderson, Queen Egbo and Lexie Hull. In total, the Fever had seven rookies on their 12-player roster.

This team has solid young players, but what they need more than anything is experience. Right now, the best strategy for the Fever is to draft the best available player rather than trying to decide what gaps to fill, since there are so many. In the next couple of seasons, a clearer picture of their identity will emerge, but for now, they can’t afford to pass on the best player on the board.

Minnesota Lynx

There can’t be a discussion about what the Lynx need without talking about what they lost. After 15 seasons, two WNBA titles, two Finals MVPs and plenty of other accolades, Sylvia Fowles retired from the league at the end of the 2022 campaign.

The Lynx will be hard-pressed to replace her, and there isn’t a one-for-one replacement for a player as talented as Fowles. But the Lynx will need some kind of post presence, whether they get that in the draft or through free agency. The Lynx were an excellent rebounding team last year, but a lot of that was because of Fowles and her 9.8 boards per game.

Napheesa Collier will be back next season, so she will serve as the team’s centerpiece. But after that, they need a little bit of everything. Collier is an excellent playmaker that can benefit from having shooters around her, and the Lynx also need to step up their defense – Minnesota gave up 102.5 points per 100 possessions, ranking 10th in the league.

In other words, the Lynx have a lot of issues to work out besides simply finding someone to try and replace Fowles. Because of that, they should choose the best available player.

Shakira Austin and Rhyne Howard were selected with the No. 3 and No. 1 overall picks in 2022, respectively. (Adam Hagy/NBAE via Getty Images)

Atlanta Dream

The Dream had the top pick last season, and they were blessed with a draft class that had Rhyne Howard, the kind of player to build a franchise around. Howard led her team with 16.2 points per game, but overall, the Dream were 11th in the league in points scored and shooting percentage.

The Dream needs scorers, and more importantly, scorers that aren’t guards. Cheyenne Parker averaged 11.8 points per game at center, but after that, nearly all Atlanta’s production came from guards. The Dream need an inside presence to balance their attack and to provide an efficient option from close range.

Washington Mystics

Washington is the rare team up for the top pick that actually made the playoffs. The Mystics’ position in the lottery comes via a trade last offseason.

The Mystics, who went 22-14 and earned the No. 5 seed in the 2022 playoffs, are in a much different position than a team like the Fever. Washington already features Elena Delle Donne, Ariel Atkins, Natasha Cloud and last season’s No. 3 pick, Shakira Austin.

While the team likely wouldn’t want to pass on an elite talent like Boston if they were in position to take her, the Mystics should also be on the hunt for a shooter. They shot just 33.8% from 3-point range last season, a number that ranked 10th in the WNBA. Bonus points if they can get a shooter who can also defend, adding to the already lethal defensive combo of Cloud and Atkins.