Despite the continued spread of COVID-19 across the country, the WNBA will continue on with the 2020 draft as originally scheduled on Friday. instead of players, family, team representatives and media members being present in New York City for the event, it will be done virtually. League commissioner Cathy Engelbert will announce the selections virtually, while top picks will be available via conference call to react to their names being called.
The New York Liberty have the top pick in this year's draft for the first time in franchise history, and all signs point to them taking Oregon senior point guard Sabrina Ionescu. That's exactly where our, and I am inclined to think the top four lottery picks are set in stone for Friday. Although based on team needs, we're still expecting to see players in the bottom half of the first round get mixed around. The following 12 players all seem highly likely to get drafted in the first round, regardless of where they land:
- New York Liberty: Sabrina Ionescu -- G, Oregon
There is no world in which Ionescu doesn't go No. 1 in this draft. There is also no way the Liberty trade out of the top spot for someone else to have the opportunity to draft a generational talent. She would serve as the centerpiece to the Liberty's offense, surrounded by young talented players like last year's No. 2 pick Asia Durr, and 2019 All-Star starter Kia Nurse. After a disappointing season a year ago, Ionescu could help the Liberty do a complete 180 in 2020.
2. Dallas Wings: Satou Sabally -- F, Oregon
The Wings will try to rebuild through the draft after losing Skylar Diggins-Smith, Glory Johnson and Azura Stevens in the offseason. This will be their first of four selections in the first round, and this one will be the easiest choice to make. Standing at 6-4, Sabally is athletically gifted for someone of her size, and is an ideal floor spacer for a team that desperately needs to improve it's last-place pace in the WNBA in 2019. Sabally will be a would pair perfectly as a frontcourt teammate with Arike Ogunbowale, now the next thing the Wings need to address is their point guard issue.
3. Indiana Fever: Lauren Cox -- F/C, Baylor
As enticing as it could be for Dallas to select Cox as the native Texan, ultimately she falls to the Fever at No. 3 who will pair her with another defensive big in Teaira McCowan, who Indiana took in last season's draft. Cox's game doesn't extend far outside the post, but she ranked in the 87th percentile in the nation in post-up plays, making her the top big in this draft.
4. Atlanta Dream: Chennedy Carter -- G, Texas A&M
After losing franchise centerpiece Angel McCoughtry to the Las Vegas Aces in the offseason, Carter is the exact type of player to fill that role. In three seasons at Texas A&M, Carter made a reputation for being one of the most dominant one-on-one scorers in women's basketball, and while an ankle injury hampered her last season, it didn't stop her from averaging 20 points a game. She's an elite rebounder for someone of her size, and she's the perfect person to begin the Dream's rebuild in Atlanta.
5. Dallas Wings: Crystal Dangerfield -- G, UConn
After securing Sabally with the No. 2 pick, the Wings need to fill the point guard position, because as admirable of a job that Agunbowale did last season, she's a natural shooting guard. That's where Dangerfield comes in. She's incredibly undersized at just 5-5, but she makes up for it with her scoring and ridiculous speed. Dangerfield averaged 14.9 points in her senior season, while shooting 46.3 percent from the field and 41 percent from 3-point range. It's a bit of a risk to take Dangerfield, the undersized guard as opposed to her teammate Megan Walker, but Dallas has some room to take chances with its four draft picks in the first round.
6. Minnesota Lynx: Megan Walker -- F, UConn
Back-to-back UConn picks, and for the Lynx they'll be getting someone who averaged just south of 20 points a game last season, to go along with 8.4 rebounds and nearly two steals a game. Many were surprised that Walker left a year of eligibility at UConn on the table, but she's leaving at the right time with her stock at its highest. The Lynx lost quite a bit of talent in the offseason, not to mention they'll be missing Maya Moore for at least another season, so Walker could pair nicely with 2019 Rookie of the Year Napheesa Collier.
7. Dallas Wings: Bella Alarie -- F, Princeton
A floor-spacing big to go along with Sabally and Dangerfield is a huge get for the Wings at No. 7. She shot 35.6 percent from 3-point range, averaged 17.5 points and 8.6 boards per game and scored 1.067 points per possession in post-up situations at Princeton, which put her in the 91st percentile in the nation.
8. Chicago Sky: Tyasha Harris -- G, South Carolina
The Sky have a playoff-caliber roster with some wiggle room here. Having Tyasha Harris fall to a team that doesn't need to knock it out of the park is a plus. Harris ranked in the top 20 in the nation in assists per game (5.7), which will benefit the Sky greatly with weapons like Diamond DeShields and Allie Quigley to dish the ball to. Since Chicago has a pretty deep team, Harris won't be asked to do too much in her rookie season, but her playmaking can make her a quality reserve for the Sky.
9. Dallas Wings: Te'a Cooper -- G, Baylor
Rounding out their fourth pick in the first round, the Wings get Cooper, who shot 43.8 percent from the field and 41.5 percent from 3-point range. She doesn't need the ball in her hands to be effective, and with the multiple ball-handlers Dallas could potentially have, knowing Cooper can be used as an off-ball threat will make sure everyone on the roster gets their touches.
10. Phoenix Mercury: Beatrice Mompremier -- F/C, Miami
Mompremier is a traditional center through and through, and while the Mercury don't immediately need her with Brittney Griner filling that role, the 6-4 center will have the opportunity to learn from one of the most offensively-gifted bigs in the league. She averaged 16.8 points at Miami, most of which came in post-up situations. She'll need to improve her finishing rate around the rim, but luckily she'll be joining a team where she'll have time to grow and develop that, and other facets of her game.
11. Seattle Storm: Ruthy Hebard -- F, Oregon
Hebard likely wouldn't see a lot of action if she made the roster on a Storm team that is returning both Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart from season-long injuries, and should immediately be title contenders. Still, though, she was a force at Oregon where she created a formidable pick-and-roll pairing with Ionescu. Hebard averaged 17.3 points per game and 9.6 rebounds, while shooting 68.5 percent from the field. If Hebard makes it into the rotation in Seattle, she has proven to be an effective scorer and incredibly active on the offensive glass, which would only benefit the Storm.
12. Washington Mystics: Mikiah Herbert Harrigan -- F, South Carolina
The defending champions don't have many glaring needs, but Harrigan's likely wouldn't need Harrigan's impressive shooting percentages at South Carolina are reason to taker her on. Harrigan shot a ridiculous 50.6 percent from the field and 43.5 percent from 3-point range, making her a versatile wing threat on the No. 1 team in the nation. At 6-2, she can post up players and finish through contact around the rim, but she can also pull a defender out and force them to guard her at the 3-point line. Her versatility will make her worthwhile to develop for the Mystics.