2021 WNBA mock draft v1, lottery reactions
Our first mock, plus takeaways from Friday's draft lottery
|Ben Dull||Dec 5, 2020|| 2|
The draft order is set at the top for the 2021 WNBA Draft. The New York Liberty won the lottery and now hold the No. 1 overall pick. Dallas will follow at No. 2. Atlanta and Indiana round out the lottery at No. 3 and No. 4, respectively. Let’s run through some quick thoughts from lottery night and get into our first 2021 WNBA mock draft.
Lotto rapid reaction
The Liberty, holder of the best odds, will pick at No. 1. Dallas leapfrogged Atlanta, and Indiana will follow at No. 4.
We’ll need to see how early entrants (or seniors possibly returning for another season!) affect the top of this draft class. Without even handicapping the chances that Rhyne Howard graduates early and declares, the Liberty are the obvious winner. If she does, they should be downright giddy. If not? You still control your own destiny.
For Dallas, it helps to jump up a spot when they’re already sitting on No. 5 and No. 7. If they feel really good about the possibilities for the top two slots and aren’t as high on the rest of the class, they may feel a little better being aggressive with those other picks as trade chips.
A healthy Atlanta team, assuming they run it back with their best players, is the most playoff-ready of this group. But they have a pretty obvious need for a stretch big. Can you still get Awak Kuier or Charli Collier—if she declares early—at No. 3? They already have Chennedy Carter, who I’d have as the best point guard in this class. And not to get too caught up in fit, but it might be tough for them to take a wing if you re-sign Betnijah Laney and also still have big plans for Courtney Williams and Tiffany Hayes. We’ll see what happens in February.
Indiana gets the short end of the stick. Again. In case you need a refresher: they came in second in the A’ja Wilson lottery, drew third with the best odds in 2019, and missed out on Satou Sabally at No. 2 last year because they were leapfrogged by Dallas.
Let’s get to the mock. No potential early entrants in this edition. I thought it would be interesting to do one just with seniors, and I’ve already made it pretty clear where I stand on some of those non-seniors. Howard is going to be a star. It’s easy to see the appeal of Collier as a lottery pick. Evina Westbrook and UConn haven’t even played a game yet. Others may jump into that mix, too.
Thankfully, this is only a first edition. So if you think this is bad, I’m just sandbagging so the next ones look better. If it’s good, well, I don’t know. That’d be nice. It’s possible to both have some fun with these and learn from the process as a whole.
1. Arella Guirantes, Wing, Rutgers — New York Liberty
Somebody that brings you some toughness with the ability to play in pick and roll with all that space they’re trying to create offensively. Good midrange game and gets to the free throw line. It’s incredibly early to try to game this out with so many wings on the roster or under team control. We’ll see how that sorts itself out in free agency.
2. Rennia Davis, Wing, Tennessee — Dallas Wings
A tall, long, attacking wing to slide between Arike Ogunbowale and Satou Sabally. Like New York, they’re a little crowded at the position. But Davis brings a ton of potential if she can shoot the ball better, and her size and athleticism could fill some gaps for a team that needs more defensively.
3. Awak Kuier, F/C, Finland — Atlanta Dream
Atlanta needs some skilled size. Two questions worth raising at this point: Can she play some 5, and how much does her level of competition need to affect our outlook? We’ve already addressed where they’re at with the other two position groups. With Guirantes and Davis already off the board here, it feels like a good time to bet on Kuier’s skill set and potential.
4. Aari McDonald, PG, Arizona — Indiana Fever
McDonald checks a lot of boxes that the Fever still need to address even after adding lottery picks in each of the last three years. McDonald gives you a bigger presence defensively at the point of attack and away from the ball to create some turnovers. She’ll improve your running game and provide a more consistent downhill presence in the halfcourt. I wouldn’t be upset with an argument that they should favor the potential of one of her Pac-12 peers at this spot …
5. Michaela Onyenwere, Wing, UCLA — Dallas Wings (from New York via Washington)
We’ve already said it. Something’s gotta give with New York and Dallas in particular during free agency. Caveats aside, the Wings can afford to see Onyenwere as more of a project as she makes the leap from college power forward to full-time wing at the next level.
6. Dana Evans, PG, Louisville — Phoenix Mercury (via Connecticut)
Some size on the wing would be nice! Phoenix might be one of the big losers at this spot if non-seniors don’t enter the fold at all. Seeing how the roster is presently constructed, you’d imagine they’ll continue to lean on three-guard lineups. A bigger role might not be there for one of these point guards right away, but the long-term play might be worth it if you really like how somebody like Evans can play in pick and roll with even more space in the pro game.
7. Iliana Rupert, C, France — Dallas Wings (via Chicago)
Maybe Rupert can give you the best of both worlds. If she didn’t want to come over right away anyway, you get at least one more year of evaluating somebody else instead. Rupert becomes a really interesting player in this class if her offensive game can really take off to become a pick and pop threat that can maybe even take a dribble or two and make a play as Ogunbowale commands traps and double teams.
8. Tiana Mangakahia, PG, Syracuse — Chicago Sky (from Dallas via Phoenix)
This class should give Chicago a chance to solidify the backup point guard spot if they wish to do so through the draft. It’s already very easy to see Mangakahia fitting right into Chicago’s system—doing a lot of what she already has been doing at the college level, just playing with much better players.
9. Kiana Williams, PG, Stanford — Minnesota Lynx
This is a tough one. Minnesota already looks like they’ll have solid depth up front and on the wing. Williams would plug in beautifully with what Minnesota did last season offensively. Seattle has played with the idea of playing Jordin Canada and Sue Bird together. Could Minnesota utilize a similar look with Crystal Dangerfield?
10. Lindsey Pulliam, SG, Northwestern — Los Angeles Sparks
We’ve probably already reached the range in this context where you’d start to see some ‘surprises’. Opinions might vary much more on players seen in the 9-12 range and beyond on mock draft, and the gap in talent can also begin to shrink. It’s tough to imagine at this stage that L.A. won’t need to move on from some of their veterans on the perimeter. Pulliam showed us a little more of her 3-point shot last season and could bring some overall scoring punch off the bench.
11. Destiny Slocum, PG, Arkansas — Seattle Storm
We’ve already alluded to the two-guard units. Slocum’s a good shooter that would thrive playing in more space and as a part of Seattle’s devastating running game. Considering it may also be tough to retain Sami Whitcomb in free agency, adding another ball-handler that also shoots it well from distance would make it easier to keep an eye on Sue Bird’s regular season minutes in 2021.
12. Stephanie Watts, Wing, North Carolina — Las Vegas Aces
Let’s really go for it. It was very dramatic trying to choose a name here before picking it back up later with rounds two and three over the weekend. I left Watts off my preseason top 25 just because I had no idea from what was out there what her injury even was last season at USC (or how it would affect her now). If the game she had over the weekend against High Point becomes her norm this season, Watts could check some important boxes for the Aces as a bench shooter that’s also effective in transition and active and long defensively on the wing.
Rounds two and three
The first half of this second round might be a little surprising. I didn’t expect to end up with this many international prospects in one small cluster like this. We don’t even see this many taken in entire drafts. But Dallas, Indiana and Atlanta owning five of these first seven picks made things pretty tricky.
Teams can only bring so many players into camp. Indiana has two seconds and three thirds. Atlanta may want a look in camp at some combination of Mikayla Pivec and Kobi Thornton from last year’s draft, plus a few more of their youngsters (Maite Cazorla, Jaylyn Agnew, Kaela Davis, Brittany Brewer) under contract or under team control. Dallas has two seconds to go with their three firsts. Worth keeping in mind as soon as February: these picks early in the second round could be worth targeting for contenders, especially the two—Connecticut and Washington—without a first.
13. Florencia Chagas, Wing, Argentina — Dallas Wings (via New York)
Talented scorer with nice passing flare seen at the lower levels. Saw limited playing time in last year’s Olympic qualifiers.
14. Jasmine Walker, PF, Alabama — Indiana Fever
On pace for a tremendous senior season if the first four games are any indication: nearly 23 points per contest (up from 11.9) while shooting 40 percent on 10 3-point attempts per game.
15. Shyla Heal, PG, Australia — Atlanta Dream
Good pick and roll player and a big 3-point threat. Could a flier on Heal make some sense if Atlanta wants another look at Maite Cazorla in 2021 before reevaluating that backup point guard spot moving forward?
16. Raquel Carrera, PF/C, Spain — Dallas Wings (from Los Angeles via Dallas)
Good feel for the game passing out of the high post or low block areas and can put it on the floor. Worth a longer look to see if she can up the volume as a spot-up threat.
17. Natalie Kucowski, PF, Lafayette — New York Liberty (via Washington)
Versatile frontcourt player that can fit their style of play. Just don’t expect to see new film of Kucowski for a while yet. Lafayette’s season won’t begin (as of now) until the calendar turns.
18. Selena Lott, Wing, Marquette — Seattle Storm (via Connecticut)
Now feels like a good time to find an Alysha Clark understudy. Lott would be a good one.
19. Kendra Chéry, PF, France — Indiana Fever (via Chicago)
Should be able to punch a tad above her listed 6’1” height defensively: good length, moves well, makes plays. Handle must continue to improve on face-up drives. Can she get there to become a respectable 3-point threat, too?
20. Chelsea Dungee, Wing, Arkansas — Connecticut Sun (via Phoenix)
Would add a nice element getting all the way to the rim and the foul line as a team that loves to run. Connecticut could use some scoring punch on the wing off the bench, especially if there’s a possibility for Kaila Charles to earn a starting spot next season.
21. Vivian Gray, Wing, Texas Tech — Connecticut Sun (via Minnesota)
Adding to the competition for some shooting and scoring punch on the perimeter. Gray is a talented scorer that’s been asked to do an awful lot. A chance to fall back into being more of a No. 4 or No. 5 option would help her efficiency—knocking down open shots and attacking advantages created by others rather than being the go-to option.
22. Marine Fauthoux, PG, France — Los Angeles Sparks
Another good pick and roll guard that can shoot it well from deep off the bounce. Te’a Cooper showed this season that she can fill a role for a team, but this could be more of a long-term flier as the Sparks still have two more picks to make.
23. Natasha Mack, PF/C, Oklahoma State — Seattle Storm
Mack gets a chance to compete for a spot as a fifth big. How much can she add playing in the more wide-open, free-flowing pro game? And what does the future hold for Morgan Tuck and Crystal Langhorne with the champs?
24. Unique Thompson, PF/C, Auburn — Las Vegas Aces
Energy big to add some great depth to the frontcourt. Will make the most of her chances to duck in or offensive rebound. Becomes an even more exciting prospect if the face-up jumper continues to develop.
25. Tiana England, PG, Florida State — New York Liberty
Possibly a third point guard to at least see up close. Sharp passer that would make good reads in their offense.
26. Janelle Bailey, C, North Carolina — Indiana Fever
Might be too crowded for Indiana already after selecting Walker and possibly retaining several of their free agents. If not right away, perhaps Bailey can establish herself as more of a 3-point threat early in her pro career.
27. N’dea Jones, PF, Texas A&M — Atlanta Dream
Good rebounder. And like Walker, Jones may be on her way to a breakout senior season. Might be a year or two away to show a little more as a driver and as a shooter spending more time playing behind the 3-point line.
28. Chelsey Perry, PF, UT Martin — Los Angeles Sparks (via Dallas)
Really productive college player that took a big statistical leap last season. Shot it well from distance. Limited chances against ranked opponents. Could Perry surprise you if she gets a chance to share the floor with pros for a few weeks in a camp setting?
29. Jazz Bond, PF, North Florida — New York Liberty (via Washington)
Long arms, blocks shots, shoots it well from distance. That can get your attention. Can she handle the physicality at the next level at such a demanding position?
30. Aisha Sheppard, SG, Virginia Tech — Connecticut Sun
A high-volume 3-point shooter you can run some plays for, and she can fit in lineups next to either one of Connecticut’s excellent defensive guards.
31. DiDi Richards, Wing, Baylor — Indiana Fever (via Chicago)
The Fever already have a few wings with iffy jumpers. But when you’re in the cellar defensively, it wouldn’t hurt to get a look at how Richards might be able to help a team on that end while also seeing a lot more of her jumper to get a better read on whether you think she can consistently make standstill 3-pointers anytime soon.
32. Kayla Wells, Wing, Texas A&M — Phoenix Mercury
This far down, you’re hoping for a skill set that might have a chance to address a need, right? Wells has been a very efficient spot-up threat and has the size and length you could hope to harness into a full 3-and-D package at the next level.
33. Janelle Salaun, Wing, France — Indiana Fever (via Minnesota)
A whopping four picks in just in these later rounds, time for a flier for Indiana. Listed at 6’2”, maybe Salaun could take another step forward as a wing shooter-type in the coming years.
34. Erin Boley, Wing, Oregon — Los Angeles Sparks
A lights-out 3-point shooter. No question about that. Invokes serious fear filling the lanes in transition or spotting up in the halfcourt. Can she hang defensively, and can she reach the point where you can consistently run some plays for her?
35. DiJonai Carrington, Wing, Baylor — Seattle Storm
Can fill a lot of gaps as a cutter and rebounder. Has been coming off the bench through three games at Baylor. Should we expect that all season, or are they just keeping an eye on her minutes working her back slowly after she had to miss most of last season (knee)?
36. Kai Crutchfield, SG, NC State — Las Vegas Aces
A possible 3-and-D candidate. Can maybe fit with more lineups if she’s playing with a bigger guard or wing initiator. From what we’ve seen early, Crutchfield will be getting a chance this season to show what she can do with more on-ball reps without a traditional point guard in the starting lineup.
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