is rapidly approaching, and with the sports world largely on hold due to the coronavirus, the event will take center stage in a way it usually doesn't get to. At the same time, it will definitely be impacted by the pandemic.
Due the necessity of social distancing measures, the draft will be held virtually. Commissioner Cathy Engelbert will read the names live on the broadcast as always, but the players will be not be in attendance, and will instead be included in the process via video conferencing.
For the first time in franchise history, the New York Liberty have the No. 1 overall pick, and thus the chance to pick Oregon guard Sabrina Ionescu, who is the clear choice to go first. After that, however, it is anyone's guess how things might go. Ahead of the the draft, here is a look at the 2020 prospects broken down into tiers,.
- Sabrina Ionescu -- G, Oregon
There are no guarantees when it comes to making the jump to the WNBA, but Ionescu is about as close as you can get. She's an elite playmaker and shooter, rebounds extremely well for her position, is a proven leader and has Diana Taurasi levels of competitive spirit. At the University of Oregon, she became the NCAA's all-time leader in triple-doubles, and the only player ever -- man or woman -- to record 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists. She's too skilled, too smart and too determined not to have a long, productive career in the WNBA, and the Liberty will be thrilled to take her No. 1 overall.
- Satou Sabally -- F, Oregon
- Lauren Cox -- F/C, Baylor
- Chennedy Carter -- G, Texas A&M
Because of her shooting and versatility as a big, you could make a solid case that Sabally is a bit ahead of Cox or Carter, and deserves her own tier, but this trio is likely to round out the lottery so we'll just keep them all together.
While it was once a toss-up as to who the Wings would select at No. 2 between Sabally and Cox -- who grew up just outside of Dallas and brings the home-grown factor -- all the momentum is pointing towards the Ducks forward. That isn't a knock on Cox, but rather an acknowledgement that Sabally's skills and athleticism are a better fit for the Wings, and where the league is trending in general.
As for Carter, there's no question she can score, and the Dream need help in that department -- their offense was historically bad last season -- so this seems like a perfect match. However, Carter will need to improve her decision making and efficiency, especially from 3-point land.
Tremendous upside potential:
- Megan Walker -- G, UConn
- Bella Alarie -- F, Princeton
- Beatrice Mompremier -- F/C, Miami
As we move out of the lottery this year, things get murky pretty fast. It's hard to predict what teams are going to do, especially considering the Wings control one-third of the first round.
There are some interesting players out there, though, including this trio. You don't have to look hard to see the potential, and it wouldn't be a shock if someone in this tier ended up being one of the best players in this draft class. Walker is an elite shooter on the wing, Alarie is quite skilled for a big and Mompremier has size and athleticism you can't teach.
At the same time, there are question marks for each. Walker leaving early was a bit of a surprise, and there's a belief she could have used another year of development, Alarie needs to prove she can succeed outside the Ivy League and Mompremier is coming off a foot injury and has to refine her offensive game.
- Tyasha Harris -- G, South Carolina
- Ruthy Hebard -- F, Baylor
- Crystal Dangerfield -- G, UConn
- Te'a Cooper -- G, Baylor
Heading toward the end of the first round, the objective isn't so much to find a star -- after all, there are only so many out there each year -- as it is to add a productive player. The ceiling for these players might not be as high as it is for those earlier in the draft, but the hope is that the floor is also lower.
Harris knows how to run a team and will get others involved, Hebard was one of the most efficient scorers in college basketball this season, Dangerfield is quick and can really shoot it and Cooper is an athlete who can play both guard spots.
Could make a roster:
- Mikiah Herbert Harrigan -- F, South Carolina
- Joyner Holmes -- F, Texas
- Kaila Charles -- G, Maryland
- Tynice Martin -- G, West Virginia
- Kiah Gillespie -- F, Florida State
- Mikayla Pivec -- G, Oregon State
With only 12 teams, and a talented rookie class entering the league every season, it is extremely difficult to make a roster in the WNBA. In fact, being a first-round pick isn't even always a guarantee. That being said, this is a group of players -- a number of whom are going to fall out of the first round -- who have a chance to earn a roster spot.
Herbert Harrigan's stock has soared after a strong season at South Carolina, and looks like the best bet of this group. Between a suspension and a broken ankle at Texas, Holmes never really put it together but is definitely talented. Charles would be a lot more interesting if she had an outside shot. One interesting situation to watch is Gillespie, as opinions on her seem to be all over the board; she could go in the first round, or fall deep into the second.
Keep an eye on:
- Brittany Brewer -- F, Texas Tech
- Kitija Laksa -- G/F, South Florida
- Jocelyn Willoughby -- G/F, Virginia
Lastly, here are a few more names just to keep an eye on. They'll face an uphill battle to make a roster, but are going to be in the mix if they can get in the right situation.