A long and interesting winter is finally behind us, and a new WNBA season is just a month away. But before we get to the games, there's still one major item on the agenda: the 2022 WNBA Draft, which is set for Monday, April 11.
After the last two drafts were held virtually due to COVID-19, this year's edition will once again be an in-person affair in New York. There will be an "Orange Carpet" for the prospects in attendance to show off their fashion styles, and those players will later get to walk up on stage and meet commissioner Cathy Engelbert when their name is called.
The big question, for most players, is when will that be? Kentucky guard Rhyne Howard and Baylor forward NaLyssa Smith will almost certainly go 1-2 in some order, while Ole Miss big Shakira Austin seems to have solidified herself as the No. 3 pick. Beyond that, though, there is almost no certainly. After a big pre-draft trade, the Atlanta Dream have the top overall selection, followed by the Indiana Fever, who have four first round picks.
Here's everything you need to know about the 2022 WNBA Draft:
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2022 WNBA Draft
- When: Monday, April 11, 7 p.m. ET
- Where: Spring Studios, New York City
- Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free) | TV: ESPN
First-round draft order
1. Atlanta Dream
2. Indiana Fever
3. Washington Mystics
4. Indiana Fever (via Los Angeles)
5. New York Liberty
6. Indiana Fever (via Dallas)
7. Dallas Wings (via Chicago)
8. Las Vegas Aces (via Phoenix)
9. Los Angeles Sparks (via Seattle)
10. Indiana Fever (via Minnesota)
11. Las Vegas Aces
12. Connecticut Sun
Who goes No. 1?
Some years, this is settled months in advance. Others, it goes right down to the wire. The 2022 draft leans more toward the latter. Rhyne Howard, a wing out of Kentucky who is an elite scorer and multi-position defender, was long considered the top prospect, and is still the favorite to go first. It's not a guarantee, however, as extremely athletic Baylor forward NaLyssa Smith put together a terrific senior season to establish herself as the top frontcourt player in this class. Adding more intrigue to the situation, the Dream pulled off a blockbuster trade with the Mystics to jump up from No. 3 overall and grab the top pick.
Fever control the night
The Fever have been a mess for a few years now, and one of the biggest reasons they haven't been able to turn things around is their poor draft record. Since missing the playoffs for the first time in 2016, they have had five first-round picks. None of them have made an All-Star Game, only two remain on the team and they have waived each of their last two lottery picks after a combined 44 appearances. New interim GM Lin Dunn will have a chance to turn that trend around as the Fever have the No. 2 overall pick, and four of the top-10 selections.
Back in person
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the WNBA had to make some adjustments to the draft over the last few years. It became a virtual event, with commissioner Cathy Engelbert announcing picks and congratulating prospects over video calls. That was the safe thing to do, but it certainly wasn't ideal for anyone involved. This year, though, the event will be back in person, which should make for a better experience for everyone. In particular, it will be great for the prospects invited to the draft to get to walk up on stage and have their moment.