WNBA

2024 WNBA Mock Draft 1.0

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As the 2024 WNBA Draft approaches, the basketball world buzzes with anticipation, poised for a transformative event set to introduce a new wave of elite talent.

This mock draft delves into the potential picks, spotlighting the players who could shape the future of women’s professional basketball.

Due to the COVID exemption, numerous players are simultaneously eligible for both the WNBA and NCAA, leaving it uncertain who will opt for the league and who will remain with their college teams. For the purposes of this activity, let’s assume that all players eligible for the draft will declare.

Here are our first-round predictions.

1. Indiana Fever

Caitlin Clark | 6’0” guard | Iowa

Possibly the greatest draft prospect ever, Clark is a no-brainer for the Fever.

She’s simply otherworldly, showcasing exceptional athleticism that permeates every facet of her offensive game. Arguably the greatest all-around shooter in draft history, Clark has unlimited range and is adept at drawing fouls. Her ability to absorb contact in the paint and her steady improvement in midrange shooting further underscore her offensive prowess. 

Clark’s unique combination of shooting skills and size enables her to efficiently drive downhill and finish, while also creating opportunities for her teammates as a playmaker. Defensively, she’s a competent backline help defender and has shown an aptitude for defending drives.

However, questions remain regarding the translation of Clark’s defensive skills against better offenses. A key area of development will be expanding her backline help instincts to include nail help and stunts from the slot. Additionally, improving her footwork at the point of attack and her ability to defend fluidly downhill are crucial.

2. Los Angeles Sparks

Paige Bueckers | 5’11” guard | UConn

L.A. needs a young, dynamic playmaker. Bueckers perfectly fits that description.

She possesses extraordinary live-ball processing abilities, and her spatial awareness is off the charts, enabling her to map the court and make plays with a level of insight and precision rarely seen in the sport. Moreover, Bueckers stands out as the best midrange shot-creator in the game.

Her scoring prowess isn’t limited to just shot creation— she’s also an elite off-ball scorer. This versatility is evident in her ability to pose a constant threat in movement catch-and-shoot situations, coupled with her excellence in driving and finishing against closeouts. In the W, Bueckers would play best in a Sabrina Ionescu role, one where she can work off the ball more and hunt her shots with a more natural facilitator in place.

Defensively, she disrupts passing lanes and generates steals with exceptional timing. She’s tough to outmaneuver in isolation and shows a remarkable ability to navigate screens. However, her tendency to overhelp and freelance in off-ball defense causes concern. Lastly, enhancing her skills in preventing dribble penetration is an area for improvement.

3. Phoenix Mercury

Cameron Brink | 6’4” forward | Stanford

In the midst of a major rebuilding project, the Mercury snag the draft’s best big.

Brink possesses impressive processing speed that manifests across all aspects of the game, enabling her to make quick, effective decisions. Her status as an elite rim protector is one of her standout features, complemented by her tremendously fluid athleticism.

Offensively, Brink showcases remarkable perimeter skills uncommon for a player of her size. Her repertoire includes proficient ball-handling, driving, live-dribble passing, and pull-up shooting. Mirroring her underclassmen years, she is hitting 34.2 percent of her 3-point attempts this season, bouncing back from a down junior campaign.

If all of that isn’t enough, she’s a very capable post scorer with a deep array of finishing moves and is a good cutter. A significant concern is whether she can continue to reduce her foul rate. Additionally, her ability to defend one-on-one in the post against bigger and stronger players is a critical aspect that will determine her effectiveness in more challenging matchups.

4. Seattle Storm

Rickea Jackson | 6’2″ forward | Tennessee

Seattle desperately needs someone not named Jewell Loyd to put the ball in the basket. Enter Jackson.

She’s a super fluid athlete, capable of covering space quickly. She’s a versatile finisher off the dribble and a capable, albeit inconsistent, pull-up shooter, with a strong propensity for drawing fouls and getting to the line.

Jackson possesses supreme defensive tools and is a solid one-on-one post defender. A significant concern is her ability to impact the game as a spot-up 3-point shooter. If she cannot develop greater consistency in this area, it raises questions about her ability to provide offensive value without the ball.

Another area for growth is her defensive play in the paint. While Jackson shows instincts for paint help, there is a need for her to evolve into a consistently impactful rim protector.

5. Dallas Wings (from Chicago Sky)

Aaliyah Edwards | 6’3″ forward | UConn

The Wings need a boost in 3-point shooting. They’ll get that later. Here they go with the best player available in Edwards.

She excels in scoring from post-ups, face-ups, spot-up shots, and a strong straight-line driving game. Her athletic prowess is notable, characterized by elite core strength, lower body flexibility, impressive lateral quickness, and foot speed.

Edwards is a versatile pick-n-roll defender and shines as a weakside help defender. In one-on-one situations, both in space and in the post, her defense is exceptional, and she has a unique ability to chase off the ball, making her very switchable. Offensively, she is an effective screen-and-roller and a hub for dribble handoffs, in addition to having good off-ball movement.

Her potential to evolve as a floor-spacer out of pick-n-pops and the ability to improve her footwork in space, particularly for better closeouts and point of attack defense, are areas that need refinement.

6. Washington Mystics

Jacy Sheldon | 5’10” guard | Ohio State

Sheldon’s 3-and-D capabilities make her an ideal fit for the Mystics here.

She’s blessed with great lower-body strength and excellent athleticism. She applies pressure at the rim and finishes drives with the best of them. Offensively, Sheldon possesses a good catch-and-shoot jumper, which is further enhanced by great off-ball movement on the perimeter.

Sheldon is a consistent 3-point shooter, holding a career average of 34.5 percent. This season, she is connecting on 36.5 percent of her attempts from long range. As a pick-and-roll ball-handler, she demonstrates a very good mid-range pull-up shot, coupled with an ability to create shots for rollers and poppers, as well as to find cutters.

Sheldon is a hyper-aggressive defender, active in full-court pressure, and displays elite off-ball skills in the half court. A critical question is whether she can develop into an effective help defender at the professional level, away from Ohio State’s press scheme.

7. Minnesota Lynx

Charlisse Leger-Walker | 5’10” guard | Washington State

This one’s pretty cut and dry. Minnesota needs a floor general. Cheryl Reeve gets her girl with the versatile Leger-Walker.

She’s an outstanding playmaker, known for her skill in manipulating defenses to create scoring opportunities for herself and her teammates. She possesses fantastic passing skills, opens up opportunities for her teammates as an improvised screener, and excels in scoring through both drives to the basket and midrange shots.

Leger-Walker seamlessly transitions between on-ball and off-ball play, enhanced by her proficient catch-and-shoot skills and movement without the ball. She confidently defends bigger opponents and is a consistent backside help defender. Additionally, she has the strength and technique to post up smaller or weaker defenders with ease.

To improve her inconsistent 3-point shooting, she needs to simplify her form, removing a left-foot-toe-tap timing mechanism that tends to rush her release. This refinement might compel defenses take her perimeter game more seriously, particularly in pick-and-roll situations. Defensively, the key questions are what position she will guard at the professional level, and her ability to adapt to a scheme that doesn’t automatically switch on ball screens, requiring the guard to actively fight over them.

8. Atlanta Dream

Kamilla Cardoso | 6’7″ center | South Carolina

The Dream bolster their smaller frontcourt with the towering Cardoso— someone who could backup All-Star Cheyenne Parker, or possibly, play alongside her given Parker’s perimeter skills.

She’s an elite rebounder at both ends of the court. Her movement skills and athleticism are extraordinary for a player standing at 6’7″, highlighted by her impressive stride length. Cardoso exhibits intriguing big-to-big interior passing skills, executing passes from above her head, creating unique angles that are difficult for defenses to anticipate.

She excels as a lob-catcher and poses a unique vertical threat. A significant concern is how she’ll adapt defensively when required to guard outside the restricted area, especially against the more versatile and dynamic offenses in the league.

The effectiveness of her scoring beyond three feet is uncertain, as is her ability to diversify her post scoring with additional counters when her initial actions are thwarted by WNBA bigs.

9. Dallas Wings

Georgia Amoore | 5’6″ guard | Virginia Tech

The dynamic Amoore gives the Wings the boost they need from 3-point range, and much more.

She possesses excellent lateral athleticism, and her standout mental processing is evident in both her astute playmaking, and her ability to dissect defenses, making quick decisions on whether to pull up, drive, or relocate. The Australian ranked second in Division I with 118 3-pointers a year ago, and is currently averaging 17.0 points and 7.4 assists. Amoore’s ability to drain shots from the perimeter, either off the dribble or catch, is second to none. Her pure shooting stroke, combined with a quick release and skillful spot selection, truly sets her apart as a shooter.

Amoore has been enhancing her scoring versatility, developing a midrange game, a floater, and improving her left-handed finishing, all of which complement her ability to create space for pull-up shots. Additionally, she demonstrates good defensive instincts off the ball, effectively occupying passing lanes and executing help rotations, though improving her point-of-attack footwork is essential to avoid becoming a liability on that end.

Finally, her playmaking ability may be limited due to her limited passing velocity off the dribble.

10. Connecticut Sun

Angel Reese | 6’3″ forward | LSU

Stephanie White‘s team adds some needed post depth in the form of Reese.

She’s an elite driver within 15 feet of the basket, utilizing an arsenal of rip-through and spin moves, combined with her explosive burst, strong finishing skills, and an aptitude for drawing fouls. She’s also a good rim protector, capable of effectively guarding the basket from various angles and approaches, complemented by her strong awareness in help defense.

Offensively, Reese is noted for her screening abilities and for exploiting mismatches in the post. Additionally, she is a great passer, particularly out of post-ups and face-ups. However, Reese’s game does present some challenges. It’s uncertain how she will counter defenses that adapt to check her driving lanes—whether improving her jumper could be the solution or if she needs to develop better post moves.

Defensively, her ability to guard in space remains a question, which is critical for transition defense at the next level.

11. New York Liberty

Charisma Osborne | 5’9″ guard | UCLA

The Libs need a two-way guard who can defend the perimeter. Osborne is it.

Her skill set includes a good handle and an adept change of pace, which she effectively uses to maintain control on drives. Her ability to maneuver off the ball makes her an asset in creating scoring opportunities without needing to dominate possession. Osborne is a great team defender who rotates and switches efficiently.

Her high motor and unwavering effort level are consistent at both ends of the court, and as a pick-n-roll operator, she excels with her passing acumen and maintains a low turnover rate. Her 3-point efficiency declined a year ago, but this season, she’s hitting on all cylinders, knocking down a career-high 39.3 percent of her attempts from beyond the arc.

There’s room for improvement in her ability to drive to the rim. Additionally, her potential at the next level may be challenged by her lack of elite burst and shooting versatility.

12. Los Angeles Sparks (from Las Vegas Aces)

Alissa Pili | 6’2″ forward | Utah

The Sparks take the versatile Pili to complete the first round.

She possesses the skill to score efficiently from the perimeter, mid-range, and close to the basket. Standing at 6’2″, her adaptable frame allows her to play as a small forward in bigger lineups, and as a power forward or even center in smaller configurations.

She’s proficient in driving to the basket, whether it’s on the catch or off cuts. Her all-encompassing skill set is exactly what L.A. needs to energize their offense. Despite her shorter stature, the way she lit up a tough South Carolina defense in December suggests that Pili can compete against WNBA-level defenses.

Although her defensive game requires refinement, her offensive upside is enough to justify her selection in the first round.

About Hamilton Neill

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