The 2021 WNBA Draft is in the books, and as expected, the Dallas Wings took dominant center Charli Collier with the No. 1 overall pick. Collier provides the Wings with some much-needed depth in the frontcourt, is athletic for her size and is efficient around the basket. Rounding out the lottery, the Wings took Awak Kuier, the Atlanta Dream selected Aari McDonald and the Indiana Fever picked Kysre Gondrezick.
For the second consecutive year, the event was being held virtually due to the pandemic with commissioner Cathy Engelbert revealing the picks live on ESPN's broadcast. Players were incorporated into the event via video conferences from their homes, and while it isn't the same as being there in person the league did a great job of making it special.
Here are some winners and losers from Friday night:
Winner: Dallas Wings
The Wings had three of the top five picks in the first round and came away with some dynamic players at each spot. Collier was the best big coming into the draft, and Dallas had an obvious need in the frontcourt, so taking her No. 1 overall made the most sense. Following that selection with Finland center Awak Kuier at No. 2 overall only punctuated the Collier selection, adding even more depth down in the paint. She averaged 14.3 points, 12.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists playing in her native country of Finland, and standing at 6-4 she'll provide a matchup problem on most nights. She brings great athleticism for someone of her size, an innate feel for the game and hasn't even scratched the surface of her potential at 19 years old.
Dallas then picked up Arkansas guard Chelsea Dungee with the fifth overall pick, which provides Dallas with another dynamic scorer who is a strong outside shooter. Her ability to spread the floor will help star guard Arike Ogunbowale and Satou Sabally, and give the Wings more offensive firepower as well.
All three of those picks were solid choices, but perhaps the biggest shock was Dallas then being able to snatch Louisville guard Dana Evans with the 13th overall pick. Evans was projected to be a lottery pick after entering the draft as a junior, but tumbled out of the first round and was available for the Wings to pick her up with the first pick in the second round. Her quickness and speed make her incredibly dangerous in transition, and her 3-point shooting makes her a serious threat on the outside. Second and third-round picks have a more difficult time making WNBA rosters given the limited number of spots, however, Evans should be incredibly competitive to earn one of those spots on the Wings' roster.
The Evans pick capped off a tremendous night for Dallas, who had the best draft of the night.
Loser: The Fever reaching for Kysre Gondrezick at No. 4
This was the first major surprise of the night when the Indiana Fever took West Virginia guard Kysre Gondrezick with the fourth overall pick. She lit up the scoreboard at West Virginia, averaging 17.4 points and nearly four assists a game, but they definitely didn't need another guard with Kelsey and Tiffany Mitchell already on the roster. Gondrezick was rated as a second or third-round pick, so picking her up this high is incredibly shocking. Especially when someone like Rennia Davis was still available when they were on the clock.
It's also surprising that of the remaining guards on the board at the time, that the Fever would go with Gondrezick over players like Arella Guirantes who gives you a bit more size in the backcourt, was a finalist for the best guard in the nation at Rutgers this past season and is a more efficient scorer.
After taking Gondrezick fourth overall, Indiana made a trade with the Seattle Storm to acquire Aaliyah Wilson, who the Storm selected with the 11th overall pick. The Fever traded second-year guard Kennedy Burke to get Wilson, yet another guard to add to the roster. It was a pretty puzzling night for the Fever, but we'll just have to wait and see what their plan is for this upcoming season.
Winner: Minnesota Lynx nabbing Rennia Davis at No. 9
In another surprising move during the draft, Rennia Davis fell out of the lottery, where many projected her to go, and landed in the laps of the Minnesota Lynx. Good news for the Lynx, bad news for everyone else. The Lynx had the fifth-best defense a season ago, and now add another tough, defensive-minded player to that culture with Davis who can guard multiple positions on defense. Minnesota made this pick knowing that the WNBA is shifting toward a more perimeter-heavy offense, as Davis provides you versatility on that end of the floor, as well as length, standing at 6-2 who can switch between a guard and a forward.
She's an incredibly efficient scorer inside the paint, converting on 73.9 percent of her shots at the rim, and 53.6 percent on shots in the paint overall. Her ability to finish through traffic and control her body to finish a shot is also a major plus. Then there's her rebounding, where she is tenacious on the glass, ranking in the 98th percentile in the nation, per Her Hoop Stats. Oh, and then, there was her 20-rebound game last season against Kentucky, which was the fifth-most in a game in school history. She attacks the game like a big but has the finesse of a guard-forward, which I'm sure coach Cheryl Reeves will love in Minnesota.
There are some legitimate concerns about her 3-point shooting, which she will certainly need to improve upon to elevate her game, but the pros far outweigh the cons with her and it's a huge steal for the Lynx to land her that late in the first round. Pairing her with reigning Rookie of the Year Crystal Dangerfield, 2019 Rookie of the Year Napheesa Collier and of course a two-time champion and former league MVP in Sylvia Fowles will help Davis develop at the next level and give her an opportunity to be surrounded by great players in the league to learn from.
Draft order, results
- Dallas Wings: Charli Collier -- Texas -- 6-5, Junior, Center
- Dallas Wings: Awak Kuier -- Finland -- 6-5, Center
- Atlanta Dream: Aari McDonald -- Arizona -- 5-6, Senior, Guard
- Indiana Fever: Kysre Gondrezick -- West Virginia -- 5-9, Junior, Guard
- Dallas Wings: Chelsea Dungee -- Arkansas -- 5-11, Senior, Guard
- New York Liberty: Michaela Onyenwere -- UCLA -- 6-0, Senior, Forward
- Los Angeles Sparks (via Dallas Wings): Jasmine Walker -- Alabama -- 6-3, Senior, Forward
- Chicago Sky: Shyla Heal -- Australia -- 5-6, Guard
- Minnesota Lynx: Rennia Davis -- Tennessee -- 6-2, Senior, Guard/Forward
- Los Angeles Sparks: Stephanie Watts -- North Carolina -- 5-11, Senior, Guard
- Seattle Storm: Aaliyah Wilson -- Texas A&M -- 5-11, Senior, Guard
- Las Vegas Aces: Iliana Rupert -- France -- 6-3, Forward
13. Dallas Wings: Dana Evans -- Louisville -- 5-6, Senior, Guard
14. Las Vegas Aces: Destiny Slocum -- Arkansas -- 5-7, Senior, Guard
15. Atlanta Dream: Raquel Carrera -- Spain -- 6-3, Forward
16. Chicago Sky: Natasha Mack -- Oklahoma State -- 6-4, Senior, Forward
17. New York Liberty: Didi Richards -- Baylor -- 6-1, Senior, Guard
18. Seattle Storm: Kiana Williams -- Stanford -- 5-8, Senior, Guard
19. Indiana Fever: Unique Thompson -- Auburn -- 6-3, Senior, Forward
20. Connecticut Sun: DiJonai Carrington -- Baylor -- 5-11, Senior, Guard
21. Connecticut Sun: Micaela Kelly -- Central Michigan -- 5-6, Senior, Guard
22. Los Angeles Sparks: Arella Guirantes -- Rutgers -- 5-11, Senior, Guard
23. Seattle Storm: N'dea Jones -- Texas A&M -- 6-2, Senior, Forward
24. Indiana Fever: Trinity Baptiste -- Arizona -- 6-0, Senior, Forward
25. New York Liberty: Valerie Higgins -- Pacific -- 6-1, Senior, Guard
26. Indiana Fever: Chelsey Perry -- UT Martin -- 6-2, Senior, Forward
27. Atlanta Dream: Lindsey Pulliam -- Northwestern -- 5-10, Senior, Guard
28. Los Angeles Sparks: Ivana Raca -- Wake Forest -- 6-3, Senior, Forward
29: New York Liberty: Marine Fauthoux -- France -- 5-9, Guard
30: Connecticut Sun: Aleah Goodman -- Oregon State -- 5-9, Senior, Guard
31: Indiana Fever: Florencia Chagas -- Argentina -- 5-11, Guard
32: Phoenix Mercury: Ciera Johnson -- Texas A&M -- 6-4, Senior, Center
33: Indiana Fever: Maya Caldwell -- Georgia -- 5-11, Senior, Guard
34: Los Angeles Sparks: Aina Ayuso -- Oregon/Spain -- 5-9, Guard
35: Seattle Storm: Natalie Kucowski -- Lafayette -- 6-3, Senior, Forward
36: Las Vegas Aces: Kionna Jeter -- Towson -- 5-8, Senior, Guard
For more in-depth analysis for every first-round pick, click here.