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WNBA 2023 mock draft 3.0: Every pick of the first round

Aliyah Boston remains at No. 1 after officially declaring for the WNBA Draft following the Final Four. (Jacob Kupferman/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

Fresh off an action-packed and historic NCAA Tournament, the WNBA will welcome its next class of rookies at the 2023 draft in New York City on Monday night.

Now that the WNBA has released the official list of players who have declared for the WNBA Draft, it’s time for our final mock draft. Barring any trades, here is my projection for every team’s first-round pick heading into the 2023 season.

1. Indiana Fever

Aliyah Boston, F, South Carolina

Boston has been our projected No. 1 pick since we started our 2023 mock draft in November, so it’s no surprise she remains at the top now. The Fever could use a dominant post presence to add to their repertoire of young, promising talent, and Boston is exactly that player.

The 6-foot-5 South Carolina center officially declared for the draft after the Gamecocks lost in the Final Four, putting to rest the rumors she might use an additional year of NCAA eligibility. Boston bore the brunt of double and triple teams the last two years, closing out her senior season averaging 13 points, 9.8 rebounds and two blocks on 54.8 percent shooting from the field. Boston makes an impact as much on the defensive end as she does on offense, winning the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award for the second consecutive season.

2. Minnesota Lynx

Diamond Miller, G, Maryland

Beyond specific positional needs, the Lynx are searching for sheer talent and a franchise player with this No. 2 pick.

Miller arguably has the most upside of any player on the draft board. The 6-3 guard has a pro-ready build, is a high-level competitor and was dominant all season long, leading Maryland in scoring with 19.7 points per game. She can do a little bit of everything, but the most impressive aspect of Miller’s game is her ability to grab a rebound, advance the ball and make decisions in the open floor. She is a major threat when going downhill. Miller’s production was consistent throughout her senior season, and she took her game to another level against top-ranked opponents and on the biggest stages.

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(Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

3. Dallas Wings

Maddy Siegrist, F, Villanova

Siegrist steadily worked her way up our draft board this season as she showcased her length, efficiency and sheer dominance on the offensive end of the floor. The nation’s leading scorer at 29.2 points per game in 2023, Siegrist would fill a lot of scoring holes for the Wings. She is the most dominant and prolific scorer in this class and, at 6-2, is anything but one-dimensional. She can stretch the floor, as evidenced by her career 34.9 percent 3-point shooting, and she is highly efficient from the floor, averaging a 48.3 field-goal percentage for her career.

4. Washington Mystics

Stephanie Soares, F/C, Iowa State

The 6-6 center is officially draft eligible after she tore her ACL 13 games into the college season and was denied a waiver for an additional year of NCAA eligibility. Soares joined the Cyclones in 2022 after being named two-time NAIA Player of the Year. Even though her first season at the Power 5 level was cut short, her impact and potential were felt immediately.

Players with Soares’ skill set and size don’t come around very often. She can protect the rim with her length and athleticism, and she can also stretch the floor with a strong 3-point shot. In 13 games this season, Soares averaged 14.4 points and 9.9 rebounds while shooting 54.4 percent from the field and 30.6 percent from the perimeter. While she needs to get healthy and rehab her knee, which will force her to miss the upcoming WNBA season, Soares brings a unique package of size, length and skill that teams would be crazy not to consider. With the right development, her best basketball is ahead of her.

5. Dallas Wings

Jordan Horston, G, Tennessee

If Horston is available here, Dallas has the opportunity to lock up an elite wing with next-level potential. When Horston is at her best, she is one of the most elite players in the country. That potential was on full display in the postseason, with Horston averaging 19 points during Tennessee’s run to the SEC tournament championship game and 16 points in the NCAA Tournament.

At 6-2, Horston has length and athleticism that should translate well to the next level on both ends of the floor. She can score, rebound the ball and elevate over opponents, and her passing ability is underrated. The guard had her most efficient scoring season for Tennessee in 2022-23, shooting 43.8 percent from the field.

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(Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

6. Atlanta Dream

Haley Jones, G, Stanford

Atlanta will have the chance to add versatility, shot creation and defense with this pick. Jones has long been touted as a lottery selection, so if she were to drop to this point, the Dream could be getting a steal.

Jones is a cerebral player with a proven ability to make those around her better. The 6-1 guard is in a category of her own in this draft class. She can initiate offense as a point-forward, averaging a career-best four assists per game this season, and when she gets downhill in the open floor, her decision-making is elite. On defense, she can handle any matchup handed to her and would fit right into head coach Tanisha Wright’s defensive system.

Jones’ downside is her perimeter shooting: She made only three 3-pointers this past season under 10 percent from deep. She will need to continue to develop her range to stretch defenses at the next level.

7. Indiana Fever

Grace Berger, G, Indiana

The Fever could go in a number of different directions with this pick. In Berger, Indiana would not only be getting an in-state college product but also one of the most experienced and composed players in the draft class. The 6-0 guard has the “it” factor as a tough and disciplined competitor.

While Indiana’s roster looks guard-heavy at first glance, Berger would bring a unique skill set with her mid-range efficiency and her ability to play on or off the ball and rebound from the guard spot. Berger averaged a career-best 5.8 assists per game for Indiana this season, and while she’s not known for her 3-point shot, she averaged 40.7 percent from range this season. Her on-court leadership would be a welcome addition to the Fever’s young, rebuilding roster.

8. Atlanta Dream

Dorka Juhász, F, UConn

Atlanta needs to address interior depth, and with many of the top post prospects returning to the NCAA, this class is slim at the position. Within that group, Juhász stands out as one of the most consistent forwards from her time playing professionally in Hungary and at top collegiate programs in Ohio State and UConn.

At 6-5, Juhász has an elite combination of skill and size, with the mobility and versatility to score and defend. What flies under the radar are her overall basketball IQ and playmaking ability. She averaged a double-double this season for UConn, with 14.5 points and 10 rebounds per game, while also averaging 3.2 assists. Juhász impacts nearly every statistical category and has done so at the highest levels.

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(C. Morgan Engel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

9. Seattle Storm

Zia Cooke, G, South Carolina

More than any other team in the league, the Storm need depth in the backcourt. Cooke is coming off one her best and most consistent seasons at South Carolina, having averaged 15.4 points per game while shooting a career-best 40.5 percent from the field. In addition to her scoring, she improved in nearly every area of her game this past season, and her draft stock rose with it. With the ball in her hands more often, she registered the fewest turnovers of her career. If Cooke falls to No. 9, Seattle cannot miss out on the opportunity to select her.

Coming off of playing under Dawn Staley and in three straight Final Fours, Cooke will enter the WNBA with a pro-ready mentality. In South Carolina’s loss to Iowa in the national semifinal, the 5-9 guard stepped up with a team-high 24 points as other players faltered on offense. In Cooke, Seattle would be getting a dynamic scorer and a player capable of initiating the offense, something they desperately need.

10. Los Angeles Sparks

Lou Lopez Sénéchal, G/F, UConn

The Sparks are in dire need of a scoring wing who can stretch the floor as a perimeter threat, and there are several promising prospects who fit that profile.

Lopez Sénéchal made the jump from Fairfield to UConn this past season and thrived in the high-pressure atmosphere as one of the best shotmakers in the country. She increased her efficiency while taking fewer shots per game, shooting a career-best 47.6 percent from the floor and 44 percent from the 3-point line. The 6-1 grad student was forced to step up as UConn dealt with injuries to several key players throughout the season, and she responded, helping the Huskies reach the Sweet 16. Lopez Sénéchal is just the type of wing who could be thrown into the fire her rookie season and produce right away.

11. Dallas Wings

Taylor Mikesell, G, Ohio State

Like the Sparks, the Wings need to add perimeter shooting and should be able to address it with their three first-round picks. Mikesell has a pro-ready frame, skill set and understanding of the game that should translate well to the next level. She is at her best when she can play alongside other aggressive, shot-creating guards. And when she can run off actions and get to her spots, she is one of the most efficient shooters in the country.

Mikesell has proven extremely durable over her career, especially this past season as she helped carry an injury-ridden Ohio State team that was without guard Jacy Sheldon for most of the year. Despite being the focal point of opposing scouting reports every night, the 5-11 guard shot 41.4 percent from deep and showed she can score in other ways. Mikesell has the tools to thrive as a pro when defenses aren’t honed in on her specifically.

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(Rebecca Gratz/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

12. Minnesota Lynx

Ashley Joens, G/F, Iowa State

Minnesota has a lot of holes to fill, but at this point in the draft, it comes down to the best player still remaining on the board. Joens fits the mold as a tough player with a unique skill set and five years of high-level experience. She has a nonstop motor and a strong work ethic, and when faced with adversity, she finds ways to impact games and manufacture points.

The 6-1 guard averaged 21.6 points per game and 35.3 percent shooting from beyond the arc for the Cyclones this season. She is a career 35.7-percent 3-point shooter with over 950 attempts from the perimeter during her last five seasons in Ames. She makes the right reads, exposes mismatches and creates offense when she needs to. She is also a strong rebounder from the guard spot and can play with her back to the basket. Joens is rarely rattled on the court, but she’ll need to be able to transition from being the go-to player to being efficient while taking way fewer shots in the WNBA.

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.

2023 MVP Breanna Stewart Drops 31 Points in Liberty’s Huge Win Over Fever

breanna stewart and jonquel jones of the new york liberty celebrate win over indiana fever
Stewie and the Liberty dominated the court throughout Thursday's Fever home opener. (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

The New York Liberty dominated Indiana on Thursday night, winning by a whopping 36 points in the Fever's home opener. 

A sold-out crowd of 17,274 was in attendance to watch as star rookie Caitlin Clark finished the 102-66 defeat with nine points, seven rebounds, and six assists. It’s the first time since January 2021 — her freshman season at Iowa — that Clark's been held to single-digit scoring. 

"The physicality is definitely up there... I'm easily pushed off screens," she told reporters after the loss. "The game seems a little fast for me right now. The more I play and the more comfortable I get, it's going to slow down a little bit. It will be easier for me to make reads, see things develop."

The Fever were outscored by a combined margin of 57 points in their first two games — the largest two-game point deficit in WNBA season-opening history, according to @ESPNStatsInfo.

"We've got to get to a level of toughness," Fever coach Christie Sides in her own postgame remarks. "When things are going south on us, we're not stopping the bleeding."

"I have great perspective on everything that happens," Clark added. "It was the same in my college career. There were some moments that were absolutely amazing. And there were some moments I was not happy with how I played and how my team performed. That's just life, that's just basketball."

Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu, who herself experienced a rocky rookie season following a much-hyped college career, offered up some insight on the matter.

"In this league, there are tough defenses all centered around not letting you get the ball, trapping, not letting you score," Ionescu said. "There were many factors that played into what was a tough first season for me in the league, but it helps you be able to figure it out. You have to have those experiences."

But it was reigning league MVP Breanna Stewart that truly stole the show, racking up 31 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, three steals, and two blocks on the night.

"In general, I just wanted to come out more aggressive coming off of last game," Stewart said after putting up the 24th 30-point game in her career.

Stewart she also commended the fans inside Indianapolis's packed Gainbridge Fieldhouse, noting that she hopes that level of support to continue across the WNBA.

"This is how you want every game to be and when it's a sell-out crowd, it gives you a similar playoff atmosphere feel," she said. "People want to be a part of this and the thing now is to continue to sustain it, continue to take the momentum that we have and turn it into something more."

WNBA Commissioner Admits to ‘Faulty’ Charter Rollout

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert at 2024 wnba draft
Cathy Engelbert at the 2024 WNBA Draft in New York. (Cora Veltman/Sportico via Getty Images)

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert admitted to a "faulty rollout" of the new charter travel initiative on Thursday, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Ahead of Tuesday's season opener, it was announced that the only teams flying private this week would be Indiana and Minnesota. The announcement came mere days after the league made a new charter flight program for all WNBA teams public. At the time, they said it would be implemented "as soon as we have the planes."

But as two teams out of 12 chartered to their first games of the season, others like the Atlanta Dream and Chicago Sky were forced to fly commercial.

A town hall meeting between Engelbert and the players was held in response to the confusion. Everything from the league's new media rights deal to private travel was covered in the meeting, with players submitting their questions ahead of time. Sky center Elizabeth Williams told Sun-Times reporter Annie Costabile afterwards that cross-country flights were prioritized.

"Flights that are across the country like [the Lynx] going to Seattle, crossing multiple time zones, or flights that usually require a connection, those were the priorities," Williams said. "That’s why New York didn’t go to DC with a charter, but Minny goes to Seattle."

What’s unclear under that metric is that the Atlanta Dream played the Los Angeles Sparks on Wednesday, which could technically be classified as a cross-country flight. 

On Tuesday, rookie forward Angel Reese shared a photo on her Instagram story lamenting the league's use of commercial flights.

"Just praying that this is one of the last commercial flights the Sky has to fly," Reese posted. The team still has at least three commercial flights awaiting them in the near future.

"Obviously, I think all teams should be able to get chartered," Reese told the Sun-Times. "But I know moving forward... going in the right direction, being able to have some teams [chartering] is cool. Within the next weeks, everybody will be flying charter, which will be really good."

On Thursday, Lindsay Schnell of USAToday Sports confirmed that the league intends to have all teams on charter flights by May 21st.

Brazil Wins Bid for 2027 Women’s World Cup Host

fifa womens world cup trophy on display
The FIFA Women's World Cup trophy on display in Bangkok after Brazil was announced as the 2027 host country. (Thananuwat Srirasant - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Brazil has been named the host for the 2027 Women’s World Cup, with FIFA announced early Friday. 

The decision came after a vote at the 74th FIFA Congress in Bangkok, with Brazil earning 119 votes to the joint European bid’s 78. 

This will be Brazil’s first time hosting the Women’s World Cup, with the country having hosted the men’s World Cup twice before in 1950 and 2014. It will also be the first Women’s World Cup held in South America. The tournament will follow the same 32-team format as the 2023 WWC in Australia and New Zealand.

Brazil winning the bid was not entirely surprising after FIFA issued a report just last week, stating that the Brazilian bid had pulled ahead as host following technical inspection. After evaluation, Brazil was given a score of 4.0 out of 5, compared to the 3.7 awarded to the Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

Brazil ranked higher in a number of key areas, including stadiums, accommodations, fan zones, and transport infrastructure. Though considered to be a frontrunner, the US and Mexico withdrew their joint bid prior to the technical inspection period, saying they would instead focus their efforts on 2031.

On Friday, Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) president Ednaldo Rodrigues called it a "victory." 

"We knew we would be celebrating a victory for South American women's soccer and for women," he told reporters. "You can be sure, with no vanity, we will accomplish the best World Cup for women."

"We are working on a transformation, not only for the country but for the continent," added bid team operational manager Valesca Araujo.

Brazil intends to use 10 of the venues utilized at the 2014 men’s World Cup, including holding the final in Rio de Janeiro on July 25th. The CBF's proposal outlines that the 2027 tournament run from June 24th through the end of July. Last summer’s World Cup began at the end of July and concluded on August 19th.

Another notable element of Brazil's newly unveiled plan to grow of the women’s game is that "all [men’s] clubs wishing to take part in high-level national and continental competitions must now provide a structure for a women’s team." While the definition of "structure" was not specifically identified, the country has set targets with CONMEBOL to help increase the number of women’s club teams in the country.

In last week's inspection findings, FIFA noted that selecting Brazil as the next WWC host could "have a tremendous impact on women's football in the region."

Chelsea Eyes Weekend Finale With WSL Title in Sight

chelsea players celebrate win against tottenham in the wsl
Chelsea beat Tottenham on Wednesday, moving to the top of the table in an effort to win departing coach Emma Hayes some silverware. (John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images)

Chelsea did what they needed to do on Wednesday in order to make Saturday's slate of season-ending WSL fixtures interesting: Beat Tottenham.

The Blues are now number one in the league, with an edge over Manchester City on goal differential thanks to an eight-goal outing against Bristol City last week. 

Yesterday's result tees up a league finale for the books as Chelsea looks to send coach Emma Hayes off with another trophy to add to her cabinet. The Blues will play FA Cup winner Manchester City at Old Trafford on Saturday, while City is away at Aston Villa.

"We will be leaving nothing on the pitch, we will be giving everything and no matter what the result is," Chelsea midfielder Erin Cuthbert said after Wednesday's win. "At least we can look each other in the eye and say we gave everything."

It makes for a thrilling end to Chelsea's Emma Hayes era, as the decorated WSL coach will take over the USWNT in June. And it comes after Hayes all but conceded the title race early this month after Chelsea fell to Liverpool 4-3.

"I think the title is done," Hayes said at the time. "Of course, mathematically, it's not, but I think the title is done. Our job between now and the end of the season is to keep pushing until the end, but I think it will be very difficult.

"We will never give up. But the title is far from us; it's not in our hands. I think City are deserving, their consistency has put them in that position. Of course, we will go to the end, but I don't think the title will be going to us this year."

Be it mind games or Hayes truly thinking her team was that far off, her words lit something in Chelsea. Their following two performances showed the team’s determination to have a shot at some silverware.

As for Saturday's schedule, Hayes believes her team is facing the "tougher of the two games."

"It's a fitting finale for me, being my final game," she told BBC Sport. "As I said to the players if someone gives you a second chance in life, make sure you don't need a third one. We're in the position we want to be in, and we'll give it everything on Saturday no matter what."

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