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WNBA Draft Preview: Boston to Catch the Fever

Dallas Owns Three First-Round Picks

This has already been quite the offseason in terms of WNBA news with former MVPs Jonquel Jones and Breanna Stewart joining Sabrina Ionescu in New York.

The Connecticut Sun bid adieu to Jones and longtime point guard Jasmine Thomas, but added former UConn star Tiffany Hayes. There also was a trade involving Marina Mabrey, Diamond DeShields and Michaela Onyenwere while Allisha Gray went from Dallas to Atlanta.

Aliyah Boston #4 of the South Carolina Gamecocks
Aliyah Boston #4 of the South Carolina Gamecocks | Maddie meyer/getty images/afp

When looking at the WNBA odds, defending champion Las Vegas (+125) is just ahead of New York (+135) in the odds to win the WNBA title.

Now comes the WNBA Draft on Monday night. Six of the top eight picks have already been traded and that will make things challenging for those making WNBA picks. It will start off with Indiana and Minnesota having the first two selections before Dallas makes two of the next three picks.

The draft will air live on ESPN beginning at 7 p.m. ET.

Welcome to Indiana

There is little drama about what will happen with the No. 1 overall pick as former South Carolina All-American Aliyah Boston is expected to land in Indiana to join a team with plenty of other former first-round picks.

The Fever had three of the top six picks a year ago and ended up with NaLyssa Smith, Emily Engstler and Lexie Hull.

Although Smith had a solid rookie season, those who bet online will be counting on Boston to have more of an impact than the 2022 rookie class did.

Boston wasn’t asked to be an elite scorer at South Carolina. However, that figures to change when she starts playing for the Fever. The WNBA predictions are certain to list her as the favorite in the Rookie of the Year odds.

When looking at the WNBA betting lines, the Fever are 12th in the 12-team lead with +6500 odds to win the 2023 WNBA title.

Who’s No. 2?

The Minnesota Lynx haven’t picked in the top two in the WNBA Draft since Maya Moore went first overall in 2011. That worked rather well for the Lynx.

Diamond Miller could be the latest addition to a Minnesota team that has some work to do to get back to being a championship contender.

The 6-foot-3 Miller has the size to play multiple positions. She only shot 22% from 3-point range, but has shown the ability to score in other ways.

NCAA scoring champion Maddy Siegrist out of Villanova, Stanford’s Haley Jones and Tennessee’s Jordan Horston are among the other possibilities. This is a pick that will determine how the rest of the first round plays out.

Dallas to Be Busy

Dallas fans might not want to remember the last time the Wings had multiple first-round picks.

Charli Collier, Awak Kuier and Chelsea Dungee were all top-five selections in 2021.

With picks Nos. 3, 5 and 11, it will be interesting to see what happens with the Dallas picks.

Obviously, Minnesota’s selection will determine what Dallas does with the third pick.

The Wings are coming off an 18-18 season. However, the roster will look much different after plenty of moves in the offseason as Dallas builds around Arike Ogunbowale and the 6-foot-7 Teiara McCowan. Keeping Satou Sabally healthy will also be a key to the 2023 season.

Atlanta has the No. 6 and 8 picks and Minnesota is set to select again at No. 12.

South Carolina Presence to Be Felt

Four of the 15 players who accepted invitations to the draft come from South Carolina.

After Boston goes first overall, it will be interesting to see where guards Zia Cooke and Brea Beal and forward Laeticia Amihere land.

UConn has two players invited as well with sweet-shooting Lou Lopez Senechal and versatile forward Dorka Juhasz possibly going in the first round.

Alexis Morris of national champion LSU is another player to keep an eye on.

Iowa’s Caitlin Clark, LSU’s Angel Reese and Indiana’s Mackenzie Holmes were among the five first-team Associated Press All-Americans and none of them are in this draft. Nine of the 15 players on the first-, second- and third-team AP All-American teams are returning to college.

Making the Cut

The 2022 WNBA Draft showed that there is probably a need for more teams to be added.

No. 1 overall pick Rhyne Howard, Smith and No. 3 pick Shakira Austin all made an impact as they were among the top Rookie of the Year candidates according to the sportsbook. The same can’t be said for the rest of the first-round picks.

Only five of the next nine selections averaged more than 10 minutes per game. How many of those who go in the first round will be able to carve out key roles during the 2023 season, even with the retirement of legendary players Sue Bird and Sylvia Fowles?

The preseason gets underway on May 5 when the Chicago Sky plays the Dallas Wings. The regular season starts with four games on May 19 and that includes Indiana playing host to Connecticut in what should be the debut for Boston.

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