The 2022 WNBA Draft is tonight, and it’s time to preview the big day! What is on the line, especially for the Washington Mystics?
When and where: Monday, April 11 in New York City at 7 p.m. ET.
How to watch: ESPN. ESPN2 also has a draft preview show at 1:30 p.m. ET.
Where are the Mystics picking this year? No. 3 and No. 14 as of now. Washington originally had the No. 1 pick in the first round, but they traded down to their current selections last week. The No. 16 and No. 28 picks were originally Washington’s, but are now with the Los Angeles Sparks and Minnesota Lynx, respectively, after other trades in past seasons.
What’s notable about the teams’ draft positions? The Indiana Fever have the No. 2, No. 4, No. 6 and No. 10 selections in the first round. They had the worst record in 2022 and will get a lot of young talent. But given that WNBA rosters can only have 12 players, it’s difficult to see the Fever, even with their previous record, having at least four rookies.
That said, it has been done before and teams can still be postseason bound. The Mystics had four rookies in 2013 in Emma Meesseman, Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, Tayler Hill and Nadira McKenith and finished with a 17-17 record and a playoff appearance.
Also, eight of the 12 first round picks have been traded to teams outside of their original ones. That either indicates that teams are more willing to trade picks in this round than in the past, or that teams may believe this draft class is rather weak. After all, the Mystics reportedly believe that if they kept the No. 1 pick in this draft, that player would not crack the Top-7 of their rotation. Our draft profiles of both Rhyne Howard and NaLyssa Smith, the projected top two picks, were also not optimistic about them starting.
Mock Draft round up: Is Shakira Austin destined for D.C.?
Here is whom various sites predict the Mystics will pick at No. 3, and it seems like Washington is poised to pick up Mississippi center Shakira Austin. In fact, all SIX of these major women’s basketball sites are going with Austin!
On Mar. 31, I wrote a profile on Austin, whose stock was trending upward where I posed the question on whether she could be an option at No. 1. At the time, Washington still had the first pick.
Assuming they don’t pick a different player (which is possible like in 2018 when they selected Ariel Atkins over Victoria Vivians, the mock drafts’ favorite at the time), Washington could end up with a two-for-one deal given the trade. They could make a case that Austin was a player who they coveted all along and they would also get a second round pick in this year’s draft who will have a chance to make an impact during training camp, if not the season as well.