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FutureStarrWNBA Draft Grades - The Fever Lynx Score Top Marks in the First Round
On Monday night, the Fever Lynx earned top grades in their WNBA draft grades. They dominated the first round with four picks and added some impressive prospects to their second-round selections.
All the selections made are expected to contribute to the team's current mission of winning a 2022 title, but they will need time to develop. According to interim general manager Erin Stanley, they are trying to keep expectations low.
Stanford's Hull is an impressive 3-point shooter and fierce defender, making her a perfect fit for the Fever Lynx's defensive scheme. Plus, her athleticism will allow her to adapt quickly on court - an essential trait in becoming successful as a WNBA player.
Her shooting percentage from long distance may not be the highest it could be at the WNBA level, but her athleticism and versatility make her a desirable pick. She can contribute immediately to an offense, while her speed allows her to defend multiple positions with ease.
She's one of the most gifted prospects in this class, and many teams will struggle to pass her up. Her slashing ability will come in handy against bigger wings on her team, plus she has enough range to hit mid-range shots from the corner. She could easily become one of the top scorers for any team this season.
She's the ideal player for the Dream, who need an elite scorer to complement their wing stars and help them compete for titles. She can make an impact both on and off the floor and could be a key asset in their rebuild.
On Monday night's WNBA draft, The Fever Lynx made a major statement by adding four top players to their rebuilding roster. They used two of their first-round picks on Baylor teammates NaLyssa Smith and Queen Egbo as well as Louisville's Emily Engstler and Stanford's Lexie Hull.
As the Fever attempt to rebuild after their 40-116 record since Tamika Catchings left for her own coaching career, they recruited one of the top forwards in the league in Smith from Baylor. Smith earned her spot on ESPN's first women's college basketball player rankings for 2021-22 and led Baylor to both regular season and tournament titles this year. She also recorded 25 double-doubles this season - ranking third behind DePaul's Aneesah Morrow and South Carolina's Aliyah Boston for most in college basketball.
Smith is an impressive shooter (averaging 38.5 percent from 3-point range this year), but she also has five years of experience and the skill set needed for different scoring options. Additionally, Smith is highly competitive and can contribute on both ends of the court - in the paint or transition as well as defensively - making her a perfect fit for the Fever who need someone capable of scoring off the dribble and providing rim protection.
On Monday night, the Fever made a strong case for their four first-round picks with an impressive performance against the Sky. Despite fielding a young roster, many of their top players played well - led by 6-3 center Queen Egbo and her Baylor teammate Destanni Henderson.
Egbo, who averaged 11.0 points and 8.4 rebounds during her junior season at Houston, is one of the most versatile and dynamic players in this year's draft. She can guard the rim, shoot threes with ease and be a formidable rebounder on either wing.
Given that the Lynx are likely to be short on front line talent after trading Brittney Griner, they may want to add some experience to their 2022 roster. Acquiring a big post player with potential could greatly enhance their defensive depth.
Smith is a versatile player with the size to play either at the wing or in the paint and an impressive finisher on both ends of the court. After her stellar freshman season at Baylor, she continued to improve her scoring and rebounding numbers each year after that (8.1, 14.4, 18.0 and 22.1). Smith boasts excellent shooting touch as well as the ability to run the point, making her a solid backup option for Minnesota should any injuries arise on their future rosters.
Destanni Henderson is an American basketball player born on February 2, 1999 in Fort Myers, Florida to parents Derrick and Joyel James. She plays for the Fort Myers Lightning basketball team.
She began playing basketball as a youngster, and her parents have always encouraged her in every endeavor of her career. As a junior, she earned a place on Team USA at the Under-17 World Cup and will represent their country at the 2021 FIBA AmeriCup.
As a senior at Stanford, Hull became the first guard in WNBA history to score over 100 points and lead her team in steals as she averaged 18.3 points per game to help the Cardinal win a national championship. A big, physical wing who can play multiple positions, Hull adds versatility and scoring prowess to the Fever rotation.
Lin Dunn sought out young, energetic players that can provide defense and she found exactly what she was searching for with Hull. Hull plays with her back to the basket and attacks off of dribbles to make an efficient three-point shot.
The Fever selected Baylor forward NaLyssa Smith with their second pick in the first round. She brings chemistry with former Baylor teammate Queen Egbo and is an impressive defensive presence that can move up and down the court like Lin Dunn was made for her.
On Monday night, Oregon forward Nyara Sabally earned top marks in the WNBA draft when she was selected by the New York Liberty in the fifth round. The 6'5" forward from Germany has the size and strength to play both inside and outside. Her slashing game is strong, she scores easily and she has an eye for getting to the free throw line with ease.
She is tall enough to protect the rim in the paint and shoot from long range. She previously played for Germany's National Women's Basketball Association and was selected for the FIBA U20 World Cup team last year.
She averaged 15.4 points and 7.8 rebounds per game during her tenure with Oregon, earning her two All-Pac-12 selections.
Sabally has endured multiple knee injuries throughout her career, yet remains one of the best players in America and could be an early first-round pick if she stays healthy. While she will likely sit out this season to focus on health, Sabally could return for 2023 if she can overcome these setbacks.
On Monday night, the WNBA draft concluded and we're here to assess each team's performance on its first round. This can be a highly subjective process as some picks may seem like duds on draft night but ultimately prove beneficial for their teams down the line.
Georgia Tech's Cubaj earned top marks for her strong defensive presence and ability to play off the ball. Additionally, she's an impressive scorer, while her athleticism gives her great potential for long-term success.
She's already been noticed by GMs, yet she remains an untapped talent. Her strength and size make her a formidable defender on the wing, potentially positioning herself to become an important contributor for any WNBA team in the near future.
Her range and shooting are impressive, as she shot 40% from 3-point range during her college career. Additionally, she's one of the most consistent low-block post players in the league; thus, WNBA teams can gain an experienced big and strong player to anchor their interior defense.
On Monday, the New York Liberty turned to a familiar source for their first pick in the 2022 WNBA Draft: former Oregon star Nyara Sabally. With Ionescu and Satou Sabally out due to injuries last season, Sabally will need to stay healthy in order to utilize her range as both a shooter and defender.
One of the most intriguing prospects to enter the WNBA Draft is Kone, a 19-year-old Mali native who played for Spar Gran Canaria in Spain and her country's national team. Her impressive international resume combined with impressive raw skills make Kone an attractive prospect for any WNBA team looking for long-term value.
General managers (GMs) will be looking at her athleticism, explosiveness on the block and ability to outwork defenders. She may not have enough size or strength for a traditional forward role at the next level, but she has shown an eagerness to stretch the floor and hit 3-pointers.
She has also been a standout performer on defense, recording 3.0 steals per game and grabbing 1.93 blocks this season. Given her size and defensive prowess, she could be an excellent pick in the later rounds of the draft.
Cunane is an elite rim protector and perfect for the low-block post position in the WNBA. She is reliable, has enough size to take defenders one on one and can shoot 40% from beyond the arc. Cunane boasts impressive consistency and power on offense as well as great range from outside the arc. She provides a formidable presence at this position.
For the Fever, this was a high-risk pick that made sense since they needed an athletic center. Unfortunately, they paid a premium for this pick and it appears likely she will need to wait until the 2020 draft for her first significant action.