At long last, the WNBA season is once again upon us. Many fans whose obsessions will not let them sit idly during the all-too-long offseason comb the collegiate landscape for potential WNBA draftees, evaluating and sorting them in the excitement of watching them play at the next level.
Here is the proud product of such an obsession: the 2017 FanRag WNBA Mock Draft.
1. San Antonio Stars: G Kelsey Plum (Washington)
There aren’t many ways to improve a struggling offense like adding the NCAA’s all-time leading scorer. Plum, who broke the record this past season and finished her career averaging 25.3 points per game, isn’t just a volume scorer. She very nearly recorded a 50/40/90 campaign in 2016-17 while facing more defensive attention than almost any other individual player. Plum’s sweeping of the NCAA’s end-of-season awards was well-deserved. San Antonio will be happy to have her.
2. Chicago Sky (from Washington): G/F Allisha Gray (South Carolina)
Received as a part of the Elena Delle Donne trade, this pick is one the Sky need to get right. After Plum, there aren’t many candidates who could be argued as the “best player available” and also make a dent in the Sky’s balanced roster. Gray fulfills both of these criteria. She’s a big, strong wing who can shoot the ball, and her versatility would allow her to make an immediate impact in Chicago.
3. Dallas Wings: G/F Kaela Davis (South Carolina)
Like Connecticut last season, Dallas has the luxury of owning both the third and fourth picks in the draft, giving them both flexibility and room for error. While Davis had an up-and-down collegiate career, she left on a high note, playing a crucial role down the stretch for the eventual champion Gamecocks. At 6’2”, Davis has the physical tools to excel at the next level, which is her big advantage over every other wing in the class, and one that WNBA GMs will seriously consider.
4. Dallas Wings (from Los Angeles): C Alaina Coates (South Carolina)
The Wings’ defense was extremely vulnerable last season, and it doesn’t project to be much better heading into the draft. They’ve had issues occupying space on the interior, and if they take a guard at No. 3, it would make sense for them to turn to a center at No. 4. Coates is a legitimate 6’4” who can eat up space, rebound the ball, score efficiently around the rim, and run the floor unlike most players her size.
5. San Antonio Stars (from Phoenix): G Sydney Wiese (Oregon State)
This may be an eyebrow-raiser to some, but the amount of post players that San Antonio has brought in this offseason suggests it won’t be drafting another this high. The Stars were the second-worst 3-point shooting team in the league last year, which Wiese would be able to help. She sank well over 40 percent of her shots from deep (on seven attempts per 36 minutes!), and her size at 6’1” would ideally enable the Stars to play her at any position on the perimeter.
6. Washington Mystics (from Seattle): C Brionna Jones (Maryland)
How does Washington further beef up a roster that has already added Elena Delle Donne and Kristi Toliver? By getting them someone who can do the dirty work. Jones was arguably the most dominant low-post presence in the country last season, averaging close to 20 points and 11 rebounds per game while converting on nearly 70 percent of her attempts from the field. She may not be able to throw defenders around as easily in the WNBA, but it would still be a good pick for a team that has enough shooting and handling.
7. Atlanta Dream: G Shatori Walker-Kimbrough (Maryland)
Angel McCoughtry is sitting out the season, which means the Dream are going to be missing a lot of scoring. Walker-Kimbrough would be a good candidate to help fellow wing players Tiffany Hayes and Bria Holmes pick up the slack. She shot 46 percent from deep in her collegiate career and would add that critical dimension to a team full of slashers and dribble penetrators.
8. Connecticut Sun (from Indiana): G Alexis Peterson (Syracuse)
The Sun have a lot of scorers, but outside of Jasmine Thomas, not many ballhandlers. Peterson would fit like a glove on this roster. The well-rounded point guard led the Orange in both scoring (23.2 points per game) and distributing (42.5 AST%), and she’s no stranger to playing in a system that emphasizes the 3-point shot.
9. Chicago Sky: F Nia Coffey (Northwestern)
It’s difficult to predict who the Sky could use at this draft position, but this strong tweener would be a good choice. Coffey wreaked havoc on the Big 10 for years with her relentlessness on the glass and off the bounce. She’s a player whose body type makes her an intriguing long-term prospect, and one that would be of good value to Chicago at No. 9.
10. Dallas Wings (from New York): G Alexis Jones (Baylor)
Jones is a player whose stock may have fallen due to her injury history, but if she drops this far, the Wings would be wise to take her. If she stays healthy, Jones could be for Dallas what previous guards couldn’t: a backcourt mate for Skylar Diggins whose roles on and off the ball are interchangeable. Her body type and shifty skill set make this a high-reward pick.
11. Los Angeles Sparks (from Dallas): F Alexis Prince (Baylor)
If there’s one team that doesn’t need any more star talent, it’s Los Angeles. The addition of Odyssey Sims alongside Riquna Williams coupled with the dominance of their post play means that the Sparks should be looking for a complementary player: someone who can shoot the 3 and defend. At 6’2”, Prince fits this bill, and by 2018, she’d be able to fill the void left by Alana Beard’s retirement.
12. Minnesota Lynx: G Leticia Romero (Florida State)
The bad news for Lynx fans is that Lindsay Whalen isn’t getting any younger. The good news is that this class is deep at point guard, and that a player like Romero could still be on the board at No. 12 and be drafted as Whalen’s eventual replacement. She’s already shown she can run a team, improving steadily as a floor general while leading Florida State to its loftiest heights, making the Elite Eight in two of her three seasons there.
13. Connecticut Sun (from San Antonio): G Tori Jankoska (Michigan State)
Sun head coach/GM Curt Miller likes shooting, and there aren’t many players in this draft class who do that better than Jankoska. She’s a threat to pull up from well beyond the 3-point line, draining over 300 triples in her career at Michigan State, and has become more adept as a distributor as well.
14. New York Liberty (from Dallas): G Brittney Sykes (Syracuse)
With Swin Cash retiring and Tanisha Wright taking the season off, the Liberty could use some added depth on the perimeter. With No. 14 being their only draft pick in the first two rounds, it would make sense for them to use it to address this need. Sykes is a smooth athlete who shoots the 3 at an efficient clip and plays the type of aggressive defense that Bill Laimbeer is looking for.
15. Seattle Storm (from Washington): G Makayla Epps (Kentucky)
Like New York, the Storm only have one draft pick in the first two rounds, so they need to use it wisely. Though they have an impressive starting lineup, their bench production could use a boost, and Epps is the type of player who can enter the game and get hot in a hurry. She’d be a good choice as a scorer to back up Jewell Loyd.
16. Connecticut Sun: F Erica McCall (Stanford)
The lengthy McCall would be a decent fit just about anywhere, and if she’s still on the board at No. 16, Connecticut could use her talents. The long, athletic Stanford product excels in the face-up game, and has shown hints of developing a 3-point shot in the future. If that comes to fruition, it will add a pick-and-pop dimension to an offense that already uses plenty of ball screens.
17. Indiana Fever (from Phoenix): F Evelyn Akhator (Kentucky)
The Fever have plenty of forward/centers in camp already, but none of them are quite like Akhator. She came to Kentucky somewhat raw, but matured quickly, averaging close to 17 and 10 in SEC play while frequently battling against larger front lines. Her activity and motor should be well-suited here.
18. Washington Mystics (from Seattle): G Feyonda Fitzgerald (Temple)
The Mystics are loaded on the perimeter and in the post. They’ll probably be shooting plenty of 3s this season, so they should consider bringing in another point guard to get those players the ball. Fitzgerald is a low-risk pick who sported a 7.2/2.5 assist-to-turnover ratio her senior season, and she’s no stranger to pushing the envelope on offense.
19. Atlanta Dream: F Nina Davis (Baylor)
At this point in the draft, pickings will be getting slim, and teams will be looking for diamonds in the rough who have fallen for some reason but are worth the risk. Davis is one of those such players. Despite having a magnificent career at Baylor, she’d be woefully undersized as a WNBA power forward, but if Atlanta can develop her skills, she’d be more than worthy of a late second-round selection.
20. Indiana Fever: F Ronni Williams (Florida)
Similarly, Williams is the type of athlete who doesn’t have a clear WNBA position, but is worth a look in the second round based on raw potential. What she lacks in shooting, she makes up for in slashing and getting to the foul line, which was good enough to earn the SEC’s scoring title. There’s a chance she turns into something special, given patience.
21. Chicago Sky: F Shayla Cooper (Ohio State)
Unfortunately, Chicago is going to have a hard time finding space for whomever it picks here. Cooper might have a better chance than most remaining prospects. Her unique blend of athleticism and skill with the basketball make her a tough cover for opposing power forwards. But the WNBA is a whole different level of competition than the Big 10, and Cooper will need to show a consistent 3-point shot as well to have a chance.
22. Indiana Fever (from New York): G Seanna Johnson (Iowa State)
Johnson is one of those players who will give you consistent production in spite of her game being somewhat quiet. The Cyclones preach system, so Johnson perhaps didn’t get to shine as much as she would have elsewhere, but she picks her spots well and has a nose for the basketball (career 8.6 rebounds per game). This is a safe pick for Indy at No. 22.
23. Dallas Wings (from Los Angeles): C Lanay Montgomery (West Virginia)
Why not another post player for Dallas? The Wings have some height, but not much of it was particularly useful last season (least of all defensively), so there’s certainly a position or two up for grabs. The 6’5” Montgomery could appeal to Dallas; she recorded 3.0, 2.8, and 2.8 blocks per game in her sophomore, junior, and senior seasons, respectively.
24. Minnesota Lynx: C Chantel Osahor (Washington)
In a draft full of question marks, Osahor is perhaps the most enigmatic of all. She led the nation in rebounding her senior season and is an unparalleled passer for a center. Osahor’s conditioning and long-term health have been called into question, though, making it hard to judge where she’ll be picked. If she’s somehow still available this late in the draft, the Lynx should jump at the opportunity.