The WNBA Draft is set for April 15, 2024. It’s more than four months away, but we’ve got your first round of predictions already fired up.
On Dec.10, the Indiana Fever secured the top pick in the WNBA Draft for a second consecutive year. They now have a chance to draft another player that will change their franchise as 2023 Rookie of the Year Aliyah Boston did.
WNBA fans should prepare themselves as nothing is promised with drafts, but based on team needs, it’s reasonable to assume where a player might land. The 2024 draft class is potentially littered with talent, and teams will have no shortage of top-tier talent to shake things up.
Here are For The Win’s 2024 WNBA Draft first-round predictions, along with those team needs:
Round 1, Pick 1 – Indiana Fever
Team Needs/Outlook: With free agency before the draft, the Fever will have multiple decisions they need to make regarding roster holes. Several things should be on their radar, including size, length, passing abilities, and consistent shooting.
If they are able to pick up a solid wing player before April, they likely feel a lot better about who their first-round pick will be. They need someone who can score quickly but also find others — like Aliyah Boston — to facilitate tiered levels of production.
Pick: Caitlin Clark, Iowa
Clark has one year of eligibility remaining. If she declares, she’s without a doubt the best guard in the draft. Clark has a high basketball IQ, is ultra-competitive, a lights-out shooter, a dynamic passer, and has been called a generational talent by nearly every coach worth their salt. The Fever shouldn’t overthink this.
Round 1, Pick 2 – Los Angeles Sparks
Team Needs/Outlook: Injuries plagued the Sparks throughout the year and even impacted one of their best impending free agents, Nneka Ogwumike. Unfortunately, they were just too much for the Sparks to overcome.
Assuming they re-sign Ogwumike and lock in Jordin Canada after a stellar year, they still need more production. The team is also going through an identity shift and needs someone who can create consistent looks from beyond the arc.
Pick: Paige Bueckers, UConn
The Sparks are in a lucky position here, defying the odds and rising to the second selection over the Mercury. Assuming Clark declares and goes first, LA will have several outstanding options to choose from at No. 2. They could take Stanford’s Cameron Brink, a player who fits the bill as to what a modern WNBA big would look like if you built one in a lab. Or, they could take Bueckers, who — despite her injuries — is another generational talent at guard like Clark.
(Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports)
Team Needs/Outlook: The Phoenix Mercury currently have a lot of uncertainty. Do Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner return? Can the team realistically make another run at a title if they re-sign both? If the Mercury sustain another injury-riddled year, where does the production come from?
Truthfully, at some point, owner Mat Ishbia and general manager Nick U’Ren must decide what the current landscape will look like, but also make plans for the future. That starts with securing a floor general.
Pick: Cameron Brink, Stanford
It’s safe to assume that the Mercury will select whoever is left between Clark, Bueckers and Brink. The Stanford forward is listed at 6-foot-4, but has an absurd wingspan that allows her to play bigger than she is. She’s averaging 18.6 points, 11.6 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per game this season and has also shown the ability to knock down an open 3-pointer. Can you imagine driving inside against the Mercury and you’re met by Griner and Cameron Brink at the rim? Scary.
Round 1, Pick 4 – Seattle Storm
Team Needs/Outlook: What a wild year 2023 was for the Storm. Without Courtney Vandersloot and Breanna Stewart, much of the heavy lifting was done by Jewell Loyd.
Loyd obviously had help from Gabby Williams, Sami Whitcomb and Kia Nurse, but when Loyd was out due to injury, things got really dicey in a hurry. The Storm have to find somebody who can create production and be a solid support for Loyd in crunch time.
Pick: Rickea Jackson, Tennessee
This pick hinges on Jackson’s health. She hasn’t played for the Vols in more than a month. But when she’s on the court, Jackson has proven that she is a bonafide bucket-getter who is capable of creating her own shot and scoring at all levels. Now in her fifth-year of college basketball, she’s improved as a 3-point and free throw shooter, and as passer, while maintaining her fearlessness when attacking the rim. If the Storm want someone who is pro-ready and provides instant offense, Jackson fits the bill.
Round 1, Pick 5 – Dallas Wings (from Chicago Sky)
Team Needs/Outlook: It goes without saying that the Dallas Wings must re-sign Satou Sabally. Without her, a lot of the looks Dallas wants offensively go away, and so does the heart and soul of the team.
Re-signing Sabally allows Dallas to keep their big three — Sabally, Teaira McCowan and Arike Ogunbowale — while it continues to get the most out of their younger players like Kalani Brown, Awak Kuiera and Odyssey Sims. It’s also possible the Wings could move on from Natasha Howard, who had an up-and-down year. If so, they’ll need a forward to replace her.
Pick: Georgia Amoore, Virginia Tech
Dallas has been known to take some risky swings in the draft. Just look at last year, when they reached for UConn’s Lou Lopez Sénéchal at No. 6, and then drafted Maryland’s Abby Meyers at No. 11. But picking Amoore this high could be a gamble that pays off. She’s shown the ability to score in bunches and play with the best of the best — last season, she was the MVP of the ACC Tournament and the Most Outstanding Player at the Seattle 3 Regional. There are concerns about Amoore’s size — she’s generously listed at 5-foot-6 — but she’s a superb passer with excellent vision and someone who has a quick trigger from behind the arc. Amoore could return to Virginia Tech for another year, or she could enter the draft alongside teammate Elizabeth Kitley.
Round 1, Pick 6 – Washington Mystics
Team Needs/Outlook: The Washington Mystics might have been the most injured team in the league in 2023, and that was truly disappointing for such a promising core. They made the playoffs, but the injuries were too much to overcome.
The Mystics have six players under contract, including Brittney Sykes, but veterans Elena Delle Donne, Tiana Hawkins and Natasha Cloud are all free agents. It’s hard to imagine that all three will stay (Delle Donne could retire, and Cloud could go elsewhere). That leaves the Mystics leadership with a tough decision for round one: guard or forward?
Pick: Kamilla Cardoso, South Carolina
I (Mitch) keep seeing Mystics’ general manager Mike Thibault at games featuring talented centers. He was at the Gulf Coast Showcase where Kansas State’s Ayoka Lee played three games, and he was at the Hall of Fame Showcase where Cardoso and South Carolina beat a tough Utah team. I’m certain that Thibault is also looking at guards, wings and forwards in these games, but Washington could use some frontcourt help too. Taking someone like Cardoso who has a 6-foot-7 frame and is armed with excellent instincts and skills in the rebounding and rim protection department could be the play here.
Round 1, Pick 7 – Minnesota Lynx
Team Needs/Outlook: The Minnesota Lynx have to feel really good about their 2023 season. Without Sylvia Fowles, Napheesa Collier took over as captain of the ship and others took her lead. The team also got some really solid production out of rookies Diamond Miller and Dorka Juhász.
With six players hitting free agency, the team has plenty of money to re-sign a few and bring in another rookie. Despite having potential options for a point guard on the roster, it would not be shocking to see Minnesota draft one. They haven’t quite nailed down that position and this draft gives ample choices.
Pick: Charlisse Leger-Walker, Washington State
This draft is somewhat loaded with talented guards. Even with Clark, Bueckers and Amoore off the board, the Lynx would be happy to get a player like Leger-Walker, a versatile guard with good vision who can create shots for herself and teammates. Leger-Walker is excellent in the pick-and-roll game, but she’s also a physical and tough player who can get to the basket and knows how to take advantage of smaller guards by posting them up. This season, she’s averaging career-bests in rebounds per game and defensive rating, showing real improvement on that end.
Round 1, Pick 8 – Atlanta Dream
Team Needs/Outlook: The Atlanta Dream are loaded with good talent, and it starts with their three All-Stars: Rhyne Howard, Allisha Gray and Cheyenne Parker. Beyond their core, they do have several others who will likely push for more playing time like Naz Hillmon and Haley Jones.
However, the remaining parts of the roster have questions. Their four free agents could land elsewhere, and Aari McDonald, Iliana Rupert, and Laeticia Amihere still need a lot of growth and learning time. It would benefit the team to draft a rookie who could come in and immediately contribute by adding length, size and production.
Pick: Aaliyah Edwards, UConn
Edwards is a pro-ready frontcourt player and the Dream will likely be delighted if they are in a position to draft her. She’s mobile, strong, and has proven to be an effective rebounder and post scorer. Edwards carried UConn last season as they battled through injuries and turned out an All-American season, shooting 58.8% from the floor and grabbing nine rebounds per game. She defends well too, even when she’s switched on to faster guards near the perimeter.
Round 1, Pick 9 – Dallas Wings
See above for team needs.
Pick: Alissa Pili, Utah
This is a pick that could be a gamble for Dallas, or it could wind up being brilliant. Pili, at 6-foot-2, is a bit undersized for a typical WNBA forward, but she has proven to be an outstanding scorer — as evidenced by the 37 points she dropped on South Carolina and her per-game average of 24.6 points. Pili has excellent footwork, is a solid rebounder, and is a vastly improved 3-point shooter, knocking down 51.6% of her shots from that range this season. Someone will take a chance on her in the first round.
Round 1, Pick 10 – Connecticut Sun
Team Needs/Outlook: The Connecticut Sun are such a tough and gritty bunch who can beat other teams at multiple levels. DeWanna Bonner, Alyssa Thomas, Natisha Hiedeman, Tiffany Hayes, and Rebecca Allen on one squad almost feels unfair, and they played as such into the playoffs. However, many pieces of their stacked team may not return because their contracts are expiring.
There’s also the problem of what to do about Brionna Jones, who was playing well before her injury. It’s a lot to sort out for the Sun’s front office, and decisions likely won’t be made without considering how to get younger.
Pick: Jacy Sheldon, Ohio State
Sheldon is an outstanding and versatile two-way player, one capable of leading an offense and being a game-changer on defense. She’s an active defender who uses her skills, instincts and effort to thrive in Ohio State’s defense. Sheldon is also a good passer and capable 3-point shooter who averaged 4.2 assists per game as a junior, and is shooting a career-best 40.5% from deep this season. She has the potential to be a plus-player on both ends of the floor as a pro.
Round 1, Pick 11 – New York Liberty
Team Needs/Outlook: Although Breanna Stewart and Jonquel Jones are technically free agents, it’s going to be really hard for them to say no to a team that just went to the WNBA Finals. With Sabrina Ionescu, Betnijah Laney and Courtney Vandersloot rounding out their starting five, the Liberty are already poised to make another run.
They’ll need a bit more firepower to get there as their core ran out of steam down the stretch, and they were pushed defensively by Las Vegas. The Liberty need consistent production in the paint and somebody who could also add swarming defense and length.
Pick: Angel Reese, LSU
There seems to be a real chance that a star like Reese could fall out of the first round because of some of her inadequacies on the offensive end and how her skills in that part of the game translate to the WNBA. Simply put: Reese needs to develop more post moves and show off range in her shooting.
However, the Liberty — a team armed with Jones and Stewart — wouldn’t need Reese to be a scorer; they’d need her for defense and rebounding, two things she excels at and two skills that should translate to the pros. The Liberty might sneakily be the best fit for Reese right now as she could immediately contribute on the defensive end — either as depth behind Stewart and Jones, or alongside them in a jumbo package of sorts — while she develops as an offensive player, matures, and learns from two of the best posts in the game.
Round 1, Pick 12 – Los Angeles Sparks (from Las Vegas Aces)
See above for team needs.
Pick: Charisma Osborne, UCLA
The Sparks round out their guard depth by keeping Osborne in Los Angeles. Osborne is a solid defender for her size, a good passer, and this season has shown real improvement as a shooter, knocking down 44.6% of her shots from behind the arc. She’s also averaging six rebounds per game this season and has been an on-court leader for a UCLA team that is currently undefeated and No. 2 in the AP Top 25 Poll.