The 2022 WNBA Draft is just one day away, but the drama has already started with a blockbuster trade that saw the Washington Mystics send the No. 1 overall pick to the Atlanta Dream for the Nos. 3 and 14 selections this year, along with a 2023 first-round pick swap.
Even if we don't get any other moves of that magnitude, this still figures to be an interesting draft. For one, there's a lot of uncertainty. It's still not entirely clear whether Rhyne Howard or NaLyssa Smith go No. 1, and what will happen once we get beyond No. 3 is anyone's guess.
The good news is we only have to wait until April 11 to find out. Ahead of the big night, here are the biggest needs and potential fits for each team. (For teams with picks in multiple rounds, the possible fits focus on the first-round selection.)
- Picks: Nos. 1, 15
- Needs: Everything
Last season was a complete disaster for the Dream, both on and off the court. They had three different head coaches, finished 8-24 and missed the playoffs for a third straight season. Meanwhile, Chennedy Carter was suspended for most of the season due to conduct detrimental to the team, while multiple players, including Courtney Williams and Crystal Bradford, were involved in a brawl outside a club. They responded by overhauling the entire organization, hiring Tanisha Wright as head coach and Dan Padover as general manager. Only a few players from last season's team remain.
This is the beginning of a new era in Atlanta, and with few long-term pieces on the roster outside of Aari McDonald, the front office will have a lot of freedom on draft night, especially after trading for the No. 1 pick. As Padover put it when he was hired, he is building things from the "ground up," and the team needs help in every single department. The only consideration for their picks should be talent and whether they'd fit into the culture they're trying to build.
- Possible fits: Rhyne Howard, NaLyssa Smith
- Picks: None
- Needs: N/A
Chicago's busy offseason – re-signing most of the championship core, signing Emma Meesseman, trading the No. 7 overall pick to the Fever for Julie Allemand as part of a three-team deal – made it clear this team is all-in on defending the title and will worry about the future when it arrives.
- Possible fits: N/A
- Picks: Nos. 12, 24, 36
- Needs: Wing, backcourt depth
The Sun tied a franchise record for wins last season, finished with the best record in the league and had the MVP (Jonquel Jones), Most Improved Player (Brionna Jones) and Coach of the Year (Curt Miller). Once again, however, they fell short in the playoffs, this time to the eventual champion Sky in the semifinals. While it was another disappointing ending, they were so dominant in the regular season, and so close to beating the Sky that they largely ran things back. The only major change was signing Courtney Williams to replace Briann January.
With the rotation largely set, it's going to be pretty difficult for any rookies to earn playing time in Connecticut this season, and that's if they even make the team. Still, they have three picks and could use some extra depth in the backcourt and on the wing. In particular, a more defensive-minded guard would make sense after January's departure.
Possible fits: Destanni Henderson, Christyn Williams, Veronica Burton
- Picks: Nos. 7, 30, 31
- Needs: Wing scoring, defense
The Wings made a number of positive strides last season under new head coach Vickie Johnson, and got back to the playoffs for the first time since 2018. Last month, they tried to accelerate the rebuild a bit by sending the Nos. 4 and 6 picks, as well as a 2023 first-round pick to the Fever for Teaira McCowan, the No. 7 pick and a future first. The deal solidified their frontcourt and made their draft night less interesting.
They already have 16 players entering training camp, which will make life difficult for any of the players they pick, but they should be hoping to find someone who can help at No. 7. With a crowded frontcourt and backcourt, this team could really use some help on the wing. Perhaps a scorer who could help take some of the offensive burden off of Arike Ogunbowale, but defense could also be a focus given their poor play on that side of the ball last season.
- Possible fits: Kierstan Bell, Rae Burrell
- Picks: Nos. 2, 4, 6, 10, 20, 25, 34
- Needs: Everything
If someone had set about sabotaging the Fever over the last few years, it would have been hard for them to leave the team in a worse position than it is now. They haven't made the playoffs since 2016, have won just six games in each of the last two seasons and have cut both of their last two lottery picks after a combined 44 games with the club. This winter, that finally led to some big changes, as Tamika Catchings stepped down from the front office and Lin Dunn was hired as interim general manager. She immediately made some notable moves to the roster, including trading Teaira McCowan, another former lottery pick, to the Wings.
The roster is essentially a blank slate for the future, and the Fever enter draft night with four of the top-10 picks and seven selections overall. All of those players aren't going to make the roster, but they will have a bunch of chances to finally get things right in the draft. Dunn has noted defense as something she's focusing on, but other than that the Fever will be able to go best player available all night long – starting, likely, with NaLyssa Smith at No. 2.
- Possible fits: Rhyne Howard, NaLyssa Smith, Shakira Austin, Kierstan Bell, Nyara Sabally, Emily Engstler, Christyn Williams, Veronica Burton, Nia Clouden, Destanni Henderson
Las Vegas Aces
- Picks: Nos. 8, 11, 13, 23, 35
- Needs: Depth at all positions, 3-point shooting
After yet another playoff failure, the Aces made some big changes this winter, both on and off the court. Bill Laimbeer stepped down as head coach and the team hired franchise legend Becky Hammon, who figures to change how the Aces play, especially on the offensive end. In addition, the team let veterans Liz Cambage and Angel McCoughtry (missed last season due to a torn ACL) walk in free agency and did not make any major additions to replace them.
Despite losing two All-Stars, the Aces still have one of the most talented rosters in the league and are among the contenders heading into next season. They are not super deep, though, and will be looking to add some reinforcements in the draft. After a trade with the Aces on Sunday, they now have two first-round picks and five selections overall. They could use depth at every position group, and if said players can shoot, then even better. The Aces have taken the fewest 3-pointers per game in the league for five straight seasons, and that will change under Hammon.
- Possible fits: Destanni Henderson, Christyn Williams, Elissa Cunane, Naz Hillmon
Los Angeles Sparks
- Picks: Nos. 9, 16, 19, 27
- Needs: Wing depth, perimeter scoring, 3-point shooting
The Sparks missed the playoffs for the first time in a decade last season, and responded by making some major additions this winter. In came Liz Cambage, Chennedy Carter, Jordin Canada and Katie Lou Samuelson. If this team can stay healthy, it should be right back in the playoff mix. Still, though the Sparks are much more talented than they were last season, they could still use some help in the draft.
Through a series of previous trades they do not have a lottery pick, but they do have No. 9 overall and a few second-rounders. Like many teams, the Sparks could really use some help on the wing. And while they won't want to eschew defense, they need someone who can put the ball in the basket after finishing last in the league in offense last season.
- Possible fits: Kierstan Bell, Rae Burrell, Christyn Williams, Evina Westbrook
- Picks: Nos. 22, 28
- Needs: Backcourt, frontcourt depth
Aside from adding Angel McCoughtry, the Lynx didn't make any notable changes this winter, and for good reason after they finished with the fourth-best record and fourt-best net rating last season. There was plenty of big news, however, as Napheesa Collier announced she is pregnant and will miss at least part of the season with her baby due in May. In addition, legendary center Sylvia Fowles plans to retire at the end of this season.
So how will they approach the draft? To that front it's worth noting that their roster looks largely set, they have 15 players coming to training camp and only about $12,000 in cap space and are all-in to win in Fowles' final season. Due to those factors, it was not surprising to see them trade the Nos. 8 and 13 picks to the Aces for Las Vegas' first and second-round picks in 2023. Their remaining two picks are unlikely to make the roster, but it won't hurt to bring a few extra players into camp.
- Possible fits: Mya Hollingshed, Queen Egbo, Kianna Smith, Joanne Allen-Taylor
New York Liberty
- Picks: Nos. 5, 29
- Needs: Frontcourt depth, backcourt depth, defense
While the Liberty ended up backing into the playoffs, last season was fairly disappointing given all of the talent they added. In the winter they fired head coach Walt Hopkins and hired Sandy Brondello, and addressed one of their biggest needs by signing Stefanie Dolson in free agency. There are some good players on this team, but whether they can put it all together remains to be seen.
They head into draft night with just one meaningful pick, but at No. 5 overall it should give them a chance to add an impactful player. Even with the addition of Dolson, they could still use some help in the frontcourt, though backcourt depth could also be an option. In any case, the Liberty will likely look for a defensive-minded player after finishing with one of the worst defenses in the league last season.
- Possible fits: Emily Engstler, Nyara Sabally, Elissa Cunane
- Picks: Nos. 26, 32
- Needs: Frontcourt depth
Phoenix finally got back to the Finals last season, but came up short against Chicago. In an effort to make the most of Diana Taurasi's final few seasons, they reloaded for another run by adding Tina Charles and Diamond DeShields. In addition, they parted ways with head coach Sandy Brondello and replaced her with Vanessa Nygaard. Unfortunately, it's impossible to discuss the Mercury's prospects for the season without mentioning that Brittney Griner has been detained in Russia on suspected drug charges since February, and it's unclear when she'll be released.
The Mercury head into draft night with just two third-round picks, so it's hard to imagine them finding much help. Still, given Griner's situation it's probably worth taking a swing at some frontcourt prospects. They already weren't super deep there, and that's even more true without Griner.
- Possible fits: Queen Egbo, Hannah Sjerven, Jenna Staiti
- Picks: Nos. 17, 18, 21, 33
- Needs: Backcourt depth
Last season was largely going to plan for the Storm until Breanna Stewart suffered a season-ending Achilles injury that eventually required minor surgery, and they crashed out of the playoffs in the second round. But with Stewart healthy, and re-signed alongside Jewell Loyd and Sue Bird, the Storm should jump right back into the contender ranks. They also added Gabby Williams and Briann January this winter in moves that should make their defense even stingier.
The Storm's rotation is pretty much locked in, and they don't have any picks until the middle of the second round, so it should be a rather uneventful draft night. With Sue Bird's impending retirement, and both January and Epiphanny Prince in their mid-30s, trying to find some backcourt depth for the future would make sense.
- Possible fits: Jade Melbourne, Kianna Smith, Joanne Allen-Taylor
- Picks: Nos. 3, 14,
- Needs: Frontcourt depth, backcourt depth
The Mystics were hoping to compete for a title last season, but ended up in the lottery instead because they were cursed with an absolutely horrible injury situation. Their luck turned around in the lottery, though, as they won the No. 1 pick. But before they could add a potential franchise-changing talent, head coach and GM Mike Thibault made a stunning trade to send the first pick to the Dream in exchange for the Nos. 3 and 14 picks and a future pick swap.
As we've just seen once again, Thibault is not afraid to forge his own path, but the most likely scenario now is that the Mystics will take Shakira Austin at No. 3. She is the consensus third-best player in this class, and the Mystics need some frontcourt depth. Whether trading back for Austin (or someone else) will end up being the right call remains to be seen. Regardless of who they take, the Mystics will hope that with better health this season, they can get back into the playoff mix.
- Possible fits: Shakira Austin, Nyara Sabally