Three Winners and a Loser from the WNBA Draft

From No. 1 picks to steals of the draft, who came away with the best haul on Monday?

By Laura Fay

Just as quick as it snuck up on us, the WNBA draft has come and gone. While the 2023 edition saw multiple projected first-round picks stay an extra year (think Virginia Tech’s Elizabeth Kitley and Tennessee’s Rickea Jackson), there was no shortage of talent on display up and down the draft board. 

So, who made out the best? 

Winner: Indiana Fever

Picks: Aliyah Boston, Grace Berger, Taylor Mikesell, LaDazhia Williams, Victaria Saxton

For a team known for their questionable draft picks, the Fever made out incredibly well on Monday night. First off is the big one: they got Aliyah Boston. 

Boston, 2022’s Player of the Year and 2x Defensive Player of the Year, checks all the boxes for Indiana. She was among the nation’s leaders in every defensive measure, and will surely become even more deadly offensively once she’s not facing triple teams on the regular. Arguably more importantly, Boston is a future cornerstone the Fever can rally around, someone to anchor a franchise searching for identity. Her chemistry with fellow South Carolina grad Destanni Henderson could prove a deadly tag team, especially when complimented by offense from last year’s No. 2 pick, NaLyssa Smith.

South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston, right, poses for a photo with commissioner Cathy Engelbert after the Indiana Fever selected her first overall at the WNBA basketball draft Monday, April 10, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

All Indiana needed to do for a successful draft day was take Boston, but they did that and then some. Grace Berger, who played for University of Indiana, will add guard depth and a nice midrange jumper. Taylor Mikesell is a brilliant sharpshooter with a good shot at making the roster. Both LaDazhia Williams and Victaria Saxton come from premier programs, and Williams especially made a splash in this year’s NCAA tournament. 

It’s unclear which of the down-ballot rookies will make the roster, but however it shakes out, Linn Dunn will have a lot of raw talent to work with this season. 

Winner: Washington Mystics

Picks: Stephanie Soares (traded to Dallas), Elena Tsineke, Txell Alarcón

The general reaction to the Mystics’ first pick in this year’s draft was confusion. Why would a team with an incredibly promising young center in Shakira Austin draft Stephanie Soares, who plays the same position, especially given that Soares will miss the entire 2023 season with an ACL tear? 

Well, turns out Mike Thibault had an ace up his sleeve. Just minutes later he traded Soares to the Dallas Wings in return for a second-round 2024 pick and first-rounder in 2025. That 2025 pick could turn out to be crucial. With NIL tempting more players than ever to use their extra Covid year, the 2025 draft could include,among others, Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese, Paige Bueckers, and Cameron Brink. That’s not even mentioning the original 2025 class, headlined by UConn’s Azzi Fudd. 

While this draft gamble won’t pay dividends for at least two years, it’s exactly the kind of risk a playoff team like the Mystics should be taking. With two stacked draft classes coming up, teams want to have as many picks as possible at their disposal. 

Winner: Minnesota Lynx

Picks: Diamond Miller, Maïa Hirsch, Dorka Juhász, Brea Beal, Taylor Soule

If Sylvia Fowles’ retirement last season signaled the true end of the Lynx dynasty, Monday night was the franchise’s rebirth. Miller, the consensus No. 2 pick, is an athletic player with All-Star potential. Playing alongside Napheesa Collier could be a brilliant learning experience for the Maryland star. 

But not only did Minnesota take Miller, they also brought in two rookie centers to try and fill the void left by Fowles. At only 19, Hirsch isn’t expected to play this season but has enormous potential for the future. In the meantime, Juhász can slip into that spot nicely. The Hungarian international proved her game was WNBA-caliber this past season, stepping up for an injury-depleted UConn side to carry them to the Big East title. She’ll be crucial for a team in need of some size in the post. 

Further down the draft board, Brea Beal and Taylor Soule are both steals for their pick numbers. Beal’s defensive presence and Soule’s athleticism make them both genuine WNBA prospects, despite having less clearly designed positions at the next level than Miller or Juhász. Still, the rebuilding Lynx have a lot of opportunity for roster spots and there’s a genuine chance all the 2023 prospects (minus Hirsch) could suit up this season. 

Loser: Dallas Wings

Picks: Maddy Siegrist, Stephanie Soares (from Mystics), Lou Lopez Sénéchal, Abby Meyers, Ashley Joens, Paige Robinson

If the Stephanie Soares trade was a carefully calculated move by the Mystics, it was the cherry on top of a questionable-at-best night for Dallas.

It was no secret that the Wings wanted a good shooter—their two best three-point shooters departed this offseason. So it wasn’t a shock when they took Siegrist, who led DI scoring this season, with the No. 3 pick. It was slightly more surprising when they took Lopez Sénéchal, a 44% three-point shooter and projected late first-round pick, at No. 5. And it was even more shocking when they selected yet another sharpshooter, Maryland’s Abby Meyers, at No. 11. 

That’s not a knock on any of those players. Siegrist deserved to be a lottery pick, and both Lopez Sénéchal and Meyers have huge upsides if developed in the right system. But as it stands, the Wings used all their first round picks on three players who, along with No. 19 pick Ashley Joens, play very similar roles. There’s no way all of them make the roster.

That’s not even to mention giving up a first-round pick in a potentially historic 2025 draft for Soares, who won’t play this year. While her talent (and, once again, three-point shot) is unquestionable, the Wings could have just passed on a franchise-defining star. 

Only time will tell how the gamble pays off for Dallas, but as the league currently stands, nobody except the Liberty or Aces have the starpower to give away 2024 and 2025 picks right now

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