INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Fever earned the first pick in the WNBA draft for the first time in franchise history on Friday.
The Fever had a 44% chance to get the No. 1 pick after having the worst combined record the past two seasons. The Minnesota Lynx will pick second with the Atlanta Dream having the third pick and the Washington Mystics the fourth. The Lynx had the lowest chance to get the No. 1 pick, but moved up two spots in the draft lottery.
“This is a very strong draft. We will get a great player picking at No. 1,” Indiana interim general manager Lin Dunn said.
South Carolina’s star Aliyah Boston is expected to be the top pick in the draft. With seniors still having the option of coming back for a fifth season because of the coronavirus pandemic, there’s no guarantee they will make themselves eligible for April’s draft.
Boston was getting ready for the No. 1 Gamecocks’ 81-56 win over No. 17 Maryland as the lottery was taking place. After the game when the senior was asked her thoughts, South Carolina coach Dawn Staley asked who won the draft.
Staley then joked when she heard it was Indiana that Boston was “staying another year.”
It’s been a busy offseason for the Fever, who had the the No. 2 pick last season and chose NaLyssa Smith.
Indiana, which hasn’t made the postseason since Tamika Catchings retired in 2016, hired Christie Sides as its new coach last week. The Fever have five players from last year’s draft on their roster, including Smith.
“The talent that is here, this young talent, and they’re going to keep growing,” Sides said at an introductory press conference hours before the lottery. “They’re going to have some structure. We’re going to coach their butts off and just to see the potential with the group of people that are here, but also what’s being built around here, is amazing. That’s just going to draw so many people that are going to want to come to Indiana.
The Lynx had just a 14.5% chance to get the No. 2 pick after missing the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
“We are excited to land the second overall pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft,” said Lynx coach and president of basketball operations Cheryl Reeve. “This selection will no doubt be an important part of our future as we shape the next era of Lynx basketball.”
Atlanta will pick third a year after taking WNBA Rookie of the Year Rhyne Howard with the No. 1 pick.
The Mystics got into the lottery when they acquired the Los Angeles Sparks’ draft pick from Atlanta. Washington had the No. 1 pick last season before trading it to the Dream.
“Last year, we beat the odds in the lottery, and unfortunately, didn’t this year,” said Washington general manager and coach Mike Thibault. “However, as a result of the trade, we have moved up four spots in the draft. We will get an excellent player with the fourth pick, and I look forward to continuing to improve our roster this offseason.”
The rest of the first round will be Chicago, New York, Indiana, Atlanta, Seattle Connecticut, Dallas and Minnesota.
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