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WNBA 2024 Draft Predictions – April 15, 2024

WNBA 2024 Draft Predictions – April 15, 2024

WNBA 2024 DRAFT PREDICTIONS – APRIL 15, 2024 – Greetings basketball fans. Welcome to our WNBA coverage here at Godzilla Wins. This year’s NCAA women’s tournament drew tons of viewers. Based on that increased popularity, and the number of players opting to take their talents to the professional level, the upcoming WNBA season should also be fun to watch.

With that in mind, here are a few predictions as to where some of the top-tier players may end up.

1. Indiana Fever: Caitlin Clark, Guard, Iowa

The Indiana Fever have not been to the playoffs since the 2016 season. That year they finished with a 17-17 record. Care to guess how many times they have won that many games since? Never mind, I will save you the trouble. They have yet to match that total.

And while they finished with a somewhat respectable 13-27 last season, even that total was two more victories than their last two seasons combined. Indiana selected Aliyah Boston with the top overall pick last season and she played a significant role in the team notching double-digit wins for the first time since 2019.

Sitting at the No. 1 spot for the second straight year, all odds indicate that the team will take Iowa Hawkeyes guard Caitlin Clark with the top pick. A couple of things Indiana needs are long-distance shooting and defense. During her collegiate career, Clark proved to be an above-average scorer and she averaged a career-best 31.6 points per contest last season.

As impressive as that stat is, the narrative doesn’t end there. Clark also tallied 7.4 rebounds and 8.9 assists per game as well. Just as important, she finished with a 37.7 percent conversion rate from beyond the arc, en route to breaking numerous records during her final season at Iowa. This will be a huge boost for a team that finished in the middle of the pack at 34 percent from distance last season.

But if you still feel that Clark has not helped elevate the women’s game to new heights, here is a bit more proof. In 2023, the Fever played 22 games on national television. Next season, that number will jump to 36.

While it is too early to predict whether Indiana will snap its current playoff drought. What is a fact is that they are taking yet another step in the right direction.

2. Los Angeles Sparks: Cameron Brink, Forward, Stanford

The Sparks failed to qualify for the playoffs for the third straight season. Additionally, Los Angeles lost Nneka Ogwumike in free agency and traded Jordin Canada. Given those facts, the Sparks are in full rebuild mode. From a positive standpoint, the franchise has two picks in the top five, which should be beneficial, to say the least. It is being reported that the Sparks have been linked to Stanford forward Cameron Brink and South Carolina center Kamilla Cardoso. While either player would be a good fit here, the Sparks will go with Brink for a couple of reasons.

From an offensive standpoint, LA finished ninth in scoring (78.9 PPG) and 11th in rebounding (31.5). Brink finished her final season at Stanford with averages of 17.5 points and 11.9 rebounds per contest. Although the Sparks allowed the third-fewest points in the league in 2023, their opponents shot 47.5 percent from the floor, which was dead last in the league.

Fortunately, for LA, Brink excels at the end of the floor as well. She led the nations in blocks last season with 3.6 per outing. She also won the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award three consecutive times. Furthermore, during her last two collegiate seasons,  South Carolina’s opponents shot 10 percent worse in the paint when she was on the floor. Taking those numbers into consideration, Brink and the Sparks look like a match made in heaven.

3. Chicago Sky: Kamilla Cardoso, Center, South Carolina

The Chicago Sky won it all back in 2021. But to the fan base, that seems like an eternity. Chicago was eliminated in the semifinal round in 2022 and was bounced in the first round of the playoffs last season after finishing with a losing record for the first time since the 2018 campaign.

Fortunately, the Sky have three picks in the top 13. One player they should consider is Kamilla Cardoso. She averaged 14.2 points and 9.6 rebounds per game during the regular season.

However, those numbers jumped to 16.6 points and 10.8 boards per outing during South Carolina’s run to their third national championship. This includes a 22-point, 11-rebound effort against NC State in the Final Four round and a 15-point, 17-rebound performance in the title game against Iowa.

While Cardoso is a difficult matchup around the rim, she attempted just 10 shots beyond 11 feet last season, which could potentially be a problematic trend at the next level.

4. Los Angeles Sparks: Rickea Jackson, Forward Tennessee

A couple of mock drafts have Rickea Jackson falling to the Dallas Wings at No. 5. However, I do not see that happening, and here is why. Remember, the Sparks finished in the bottom third of the WNBA in scoring last season. Jackson averaged 20.2 points per outing, which was the second-highest average of collegiate career.

In her two tournament games, she compiled averages of 29.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per contest while shooting an extremely efficient 63.9 percent from the floor. Overall, the Tennessee forward shot the ball at a respectable clip converting 48.5 percent of her overall attempts and 33.8 percent of her attempts from 3-point range.

Should the Sparks select Brink and Jackson, these are moves that should pay dividends as the team looks to reclaim its status as a perennial playoff contender.

5. Dallas Wings: Jacy Sheldon, Guard, Ohio State

The good news is the Wings have five postseason berths in their last seven seasons. Unfortunately, they suffered four first-round exits during that stretch. That trend changed a bit last year when they advanced to the semifinals against the defending champion Las Vegas Aces.

After dropping the first two contests of that series, the Wings hung with the Aces in Game 3. But a 0-for-11 effort down the stretch resulted in a 64-61 loss, thus ending their playoff run. For the fourth time in five seasons, the Wings have multiple first-round selections, which could be a positive or negative, depending upon your perspective.

Dallas had the third-best scoring average in the league, and it posted the fifth-best overall shooting percentage (44.3 percent). One of the areas where this club fell short was 3-point accuracy, connecting on just 31.7 percent of its attempts from distance. This was the worst mark in the WNBA.

One player who could help address this need is Ohio State Buckeyes guard Jacy Sheldon. She averaged 17.8 points per contest last season while knocking down 37.3 percent of her attempts from long range.

Having a capable guard that can play at both ends of the floor could help the Wings close the gap between themselves and the two squads that battled it out in the Finals – The Aces and New York Liberty.

6. Washington Mystics: Aliyah Edwards, Forward, UConn

The Mystics are just five years removed from winning the WNBA title back in 2019. Since that time, though, things have not been pretty by any means. Not only have they been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs three times over the past four years, but they have also posted losing seasons three times during that stretch as well.

But wait, it gets worse. The team lost Natasha Cloud in free agency and Elena Delle Donne is stepping away from the sport indefinitely with no timetable being provided for her return. “When it rains, it pours”, as the saying goes. With that in mind, the Mystics need an impact player badly.

At 6’3 with a 6’5” wingspan, Aliyah Edwards can play in various defensive schemes, including drop coverages, and one-on-one situations. She plays effectively around the rim as well. These are the reasons why she is heralded as one of the most versatile defenders in this draft.

She also averaged 17.6 points and 9.2 rebounds per outing while shooting 59 percent from the field. If Edwards is still available at No. 6, the Mystics would be wise to take her.

7.  Minnesota Lynx: Angel Reese, Forward, LSU

The Minnesota Lynx have been a consistent playoff team over the past 13 years. During that span, they have reached the postseason 12 times. Not only that, but they have also won four titles during that stretch (2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017). Last season, they finished with a 19-21 record and pushed the Sun to a third-and-deciding game in the first round of last year’s playoffs.

The Lynx had the eighth-best offense in the association but finished 11th in scoring (85 PPG) and 10th in defensive efficiency (107.5 points per 100 possessions). Another area where the team hopes to improve is rebounding, as it finished in the middle of the pack in this category in 2023.

Reese’s skill set would be a solid addition to Minnesota. With regards to rebounding, she averaged 13.4 boards per contest last season, including 5.5 on the offensive glass. Most people will look at her 7-for-21 shooting from the field in LSU’s 94-87 loss to Iowa in the Elite Eight round. What some of us may have overlooked is the fact that she suffered an ankle injury but still managed to haul in 20 rebounds and block three shots.

Despite averaging 18.4  points per outing last season, Reese is viewed as a player with limited range. While there is certainly room to improve that aspect of her game, along with free-throw shooting as well (72.6 percent), the Lynx do not need her to be a superstar right away. What they do need is a player that can be a force at both ends of the court. Given her stats and the fact she is regarded as a player with a high motor, she should be able to carve out playing time under head coach Cheryl Reeve.

8. Chicago Sky: Alissa Pili, Forward Utah

Some mock drafts have Reese still available at No. 8. Full disclosure, as someone who has followed this franchise over the last several seasons, I would love to see Chicago grab both Cardoso and Reese with its first two selections. But given Reese’s skill set, it is highly unlikely that she will fall below the No. 7 spot in the draft.

After trading Kahleah Copper – the team’s leading scorer last season – Chicago should consider Utah forward Alissa Pili. She posted career-highs in scoring (21.6 PPG) and rebounding (6.6). Considering the Sky have established scoring at the guard and wing positions, Pili’s ability to score at different spots on the floor from the forward spot will add another dimension to Chicago’s offense.

Another notable stat is she shot 55 percent shooting from the floor and 40.4 percent from 3-point range. In two tournament appearances, the Utes forward averaged 30.5 points and seven rebounds per contest on shooting splits of .575/.500/.889. Adding a player that can score at all three levels is just what the doctor ordered for Chicago.

9. Dallas Wings: Carla Leite, Guard, Tarbes (France)

The Wings are in a unique situation with their second-round pick. Due to the team’s salary cap situation and a fully-loaded roster, the team may not be able to keep both of its first-round picks.

If that is the case, one such option that fits the draft-and-stash scenario is Carla Leite. Although she is just 19 years of age, Leite is considered a guard who possesses athleticism and playmaking ability. In addition to averaging 15.6 points per contest with the Tarbes last season, she also tallied 5.5 assists per contest.

The one area of concern with Leite is her three-point shooting. She converted just 19.7 percent of her attempts in 2023-24. But again, being that she is just 19, there is plenty of time for her to improve on her deficiencies and become a solid addition for Dallas in the next year or two.

10.  Connecticut Sun: Dyaisha Fair, Guard Syracuse

The Sun have been to the playoffs every year since 2017, including two finals appearances in 2019 and 2022. Last season, Connecticut finished with a 27-13 record, which was the third-best record in the association behind the Aces and New York Liberty.

It was also the sixth time they have posted a 20-plus win season over the past seven years. From a number’s standpoint, there is not much Connecticut does not do well. The team boasted the fourth-best offense in the WNBA in 2023. They also finished first in scoring defense and second in defensive efficiency.

But the one glaring concern is the team’s three-point shooting. They ranked eighth in attempts last season, and they lost three of their top long-range snipers. One choice to help fill that void is Syracuse guard Dyaisha Fair.

Let’s get one of the obvious facts out of the way first. Fair is just 5’5” tall, meaning that she will give up size at the next level. But despite her stature, she averaged a career-best 22.2 points in her final collegiate season. Just as important she shot a 37.7 from beyond the arc, which was also a career high.

Simply put, if she is able to crack the rotation, her outside shooting will be a perfect complement to Alyssa Thomas’s inside game this season.

11. New York Liberty: Nika Muhl, Guard, UConn

After failing to qualify for the playoffs from 2018-2020, the Liberty have turned that trend around for the better. In addition to earning playoff berths in each of the last three seasons, they also advanced to the finals for the first time since 2002. For those of you who slept on the WNBA Finals matchup between the Aces and Liberty, you missed a memorable series, to say the least.

Like Connecticut, New York ranked well in several metrics last season. Along with having the second-best record behind Las Vegas, they had the second-best offense in the league and placed fourth and third in scoring defense, and efficiency. Furthermore, the Liberty had the best overall shooting percentage (48.6) and three-point conversion rate (37.4 percent).

Because perimeter defense is a point of emphasis for New York coming into the draft, two names come to mind at the No.11 spot. UCLA Bruins guard Charisma Osborne and UConn guard Nika Muhl. Both players have earned a reputation for being solid defenders.

Osborne is the better scorer of the two players as she averaged 13.9 points per contest, while Muhl averaged just 6.9 PPG. However, Muhl is the better shooter of the two as she shot 46.2 percent from the floor and 40.2 percent from 3, while Osborne converted just 41 percent of her attempts and 32 percent from beyond the arc.

Muhl Has Moved Up On The Draft Board Thanks To Defensive Effort In NCAA Tournament

Another factor that Muhl has going for her is that she put together a couple of noteworthy performances in the tournament. She held Dyaisha Fair to two first-half points in the second round. And she really turned a few heads with her defensive effort against Caitlin Clark in the Final Four round. Although Iowa escaped with a 71-69 victory, Muhl picked up Clark at full court in some instances and held the talented Iowa guard to just 3-for-11 shooting from 3-point range (27.3 percent).

Because of these performances, Muhl’s draft stock has risen considerably. Given her experience with guarding the opposing team’s top players, her outside touch, and her ability to be an effective facilitator (6.5 assists per game), I like Muhl at the No. 11 spot.

12. Atlanta Dream: Elizabeth Kitley, Center, Virginia Tech

Finally, the Atlanta Dream will round out the first 12 selections of the WNBA Draft. Atlanta is coming off a season in which they made the playoffs for the first time since 2018. And thanks to the offseason additions of Jordin Canada and Tina Charles, the Dream are in a good spot heading into the 2024 season.

One area the team will be looking to address is frontcourt depth. One of the players that should be available at No. 12 is Virginia Tech center Elizabeth Kitley. Last season, all she did was average a double-double that included 22.8 points and 11.4 rebounds per contest. Both were career highs.

Additionally, she shot an efficient 55.6 percent from the field and tallied 2.1 blocks per game. The caveat here is that Kitley tore her ACL at the end of the regular season, which will force her to miss the 2024 campaign. On the positive side, the Dream will need more size up front to compete with the elite teams in the association going forward.

Kitley’s scoring and rebounding ability, along with standing at 6’6” checks every box for Atlanta. Although some drafts have her going in the second round, as low as 21 or 22, her versatility at both ends of the floor makes her a good fit with the Dream, even if she cannot suit up until 2025.


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