The 2022 WNBA Draft took place Monday, April 11th. It was a historic night for many reasons. We had the Indiana Fever with four of the first 10 picks, the most in WNBA Draft history. We also had the first player drafted from a HBCU in 20 years.
Today we’ll focus on primarily the first round selections. And down the road will look into the second and third round selections that will be fighting for a roster spot.
Let’s take a look at the 2022 WNBA Draft.
And With the First Pick
With the first pick in the 2022 WNBA Draft, the Atlanta Dream selected Rhyne Howard of Kentucky. Howard is a skilled guard/wing with good size at 6’2 and she is an excellent three-level scorer. Averaging more than 20ppg each of the last three seasons, she will certainly help the Dream who finished in the bottom three in most major offensive categories last season.
The Dream’s new management and coaching staff have a lot of confidence in Howard. Prior to the draft they traded their third and 14th picks in this draft to get the first pick.
Other Traded Picks
Seven of the remaining 11 picks in the first round were also traded prior to draft night. The first of those being the third overall picks for the Washington Mystics. Washington held the first overall pick originally, but made the above trade with the confidence they’d get a great pick at three.
They hope that was the case with Forward Shakira Austin from Ole Miss. After two years at Maryland Austin exploded after her transfer. In two seasons at Ole Miss she averaged 16.9 points, 9.1 rebounds and 1.9 blocks-per-game. Her interior presence should really help the Mystics who were 11th in rebounds and last in blocks last season.
The Dallas Wings had the seventh overall pick in this draft after the trade with Indiana (who we’ll talk about later). With that pick they selected Guard Veronica Burton of Northwestern. Burton will bring a strong defensive presence at the point of attack for the Wings. The three-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year should help an average team in terms of forced opponents turnovers shoot up the standings.
Las Vegas Aces
The Las Vegas Aces traded their first and second round picks next year for the eighth and 13th picks this year. With the eighth pick they took Forward Mya Hollingshed from Colorado. Hollingshed was a bit of a surprise going this early, but as a skilled and smooth shooting post player she should be a good fit for new Head Coach Becky Hammon. With their second first round pick the Aces took scoring forward Kierstan Bell of Florida Gulf Coast – a faller in the first round. If you swap the two in your head in terms of selection order it all works out.
Los Angeles Sparks
The ninth overall pick in the WNBA Draft belonged to the Los Angeles Sparks. The Sparks traded Gabby Williams in order to make the selection. With the pick they took Guard Rae Burrell of Tennessee. Burrell had an excellent junior year two seasons ago. She averaged 14.6 ppg and shot 46% from the field and 40% from three. But last year, while dealing with a knee injury, that production slipped. She averaged just 10.3ppg and shot 40% from the field and 34% from three.
The remaining traded picks were made by one team…
Indiana’s First Round Fever
As mentioned, the Indiana Fever had four first round selections in the top 10. The most of any team in the top 10 in WNBA Draft History. They received the fourth and sixth overall picks from the Dallas Wings for Center Teaira McCowan and the seventh overall pick. Defense was definitely their goal in this draft selecting NaLyssa Smith (Baylor), Emily Engstler (Louisville), Lexie Hull (Stanford) and Queen Egbo (Baylor).
Smith was considered the top post player in this draft. Her length, strength and athleticism should make her a top defensive player at the pro level. Engstler is also a great defender out on the wing, but also has great size for the league.
Sixth pick Hull was where the draft got a little wonky. But she fits the mold that this team is looking for. Playing major minutes at Stanford for the legendary Tara Ann VanDerveer, Hull brings a lot of experience, toughness, and hustle on the defensive end. She also had her best offensive stretch in this year’s tournament.
Egbo is another strong, defensive-minded post player. Plus her experience with Smith at Baylor could make them a strong duo. The question will be can she do enough on the offensive end to stick.
The Fever also made two other notable picks. Destanni Henderson of South Carolina was their second round pick. Henderson won the National Championship with South Carolina this year and scored a career-high 26 in the championship game. And with the first pick of the third round, they selected Ameshya Williams-Holliday of Jackson State. The first selection from a HBCU in the WNBA in 20 years.
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