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2022 WNBA Draft: Our reactions to the Mystics trading their No. 1 draft pick away

The reactions aren’t bad.

2022 WNBA Draft Lottery
Natasha Cloud and the Washington Mystics aren’t sweating too much about trading down.
Photo by Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE via Getty Images

The Washington Mystics have traded the No. 1 pick to the Atlanta Dream for the No. 13 and No. 14 picks in this year’s draft. We had a quick roundtable, which is below.

Albert: Now that the trade is done, I have two questions:

1. Is this trade worth it? It didn’t seem like Rhyne Howard or NaLyssa Smith were going to be starters on this year’s roster, assuming the Mystics don’t have a bunch of injuries again like last season.

2. The Mystics have the right to swap picks with Atlanta’s acquired pick from the Sparks in a separate trade. What do you think about that move? This is what I feel is the most shrewd part of the deal, esp if L.A. doesn’t play well this season or at least worse than the Mystics.

Ian Decker: While I might not have made the pick myself — Smith and Howard are the clear-cut 1-2 options in this year’s draft — it makes sense if the team thinks it could get an equally talented player at three, which seems like the case. On that note, I like picking up an additional draft pick this year — one that’s in the top 15. This move helps preserve the present without compromising the future.

The pick swap with Atlanta, from LA, could also be useful, mainly because it’s a first-rounder. L.A. has a solid roster, headlined by the Ogwumike sisters and the newly-added Liz Cambage. But whether the pick falls first overall (unlikely) or at 12, getting an additional first-round pick gives the Mystics options; they can either use the pick or flip it down the line. Pretty good business from the execs.

Lyndie Wood: I don’t understand it, but I generally trust Mike Thibault and his team when it comes to the draft. Ariel Atkins wasn’t even in the studio on the night of her draft, and Thubault selected her with the 7th pick.

All of that said, trading all the way down is #3 is really curious, because it means they’re either completely fine passing on Smith and Howard - the players literally everyone seems to agree are the top two - or they are very sure that either Atlanta or Indiana are taking someone else. Either way it’s definitely added some draft night intrigue for me.

Albert: I can definitely attest to Atkins’ surprise selection, because the only people not surprised were the Mystics’ front office. The player whom the Mystics select should have a chip on her shoulder in training camp. Given the reports, the expectation is that she isn’t going to be cracking the Top-7 of the rotation assuming they remain healthy. Regardless of whether she is a limited player or a sixth woman, it will be interesting to she if she is able to get more time in the rotation by outworking others in camp and games.

To your point Ian, the Sparks are indeed a playoff contender, so it will be difficult to see Washington be gifted the No. 1 pick in 2023. But it’s a good hedge to give the Mystics more opportunities to replenish their young talent.