Fever

Fever on Fire; Nab Lucky Seven in 2022 Draft

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The Indiana Fever were certainly busy on draft night, selecting a record four 1st-round draft choices. This will certainly be a rebuilding year for the Fever as the team has only three players with six years of experience or more. Expect this rookie class to be baptized by fire as they seek to bring WNBA glory back to Indianapolis.

First Round

2. NaLyssa Smith, F, Baylor

With the 2nd pick in the draft, Indiana selected All-American NaLyssa Smith. It was an intelligent, balanced selection for the Fever for a few reasons. One, Smith will be an immediate impact player as her game is WNBA ready. Two, at 6’4″, Smith brings size inside as well as a decent midrange jumper. Thirdly, during her career at Baylor, Smith shot 56% from the field and averaged 22.1 points and 11.5 rebounds per game as a senior. Finally, Smith has a nose for the ball and gets after garbage rebounds and loose balls with a fierce tenacity that elevates her all-around game.

4. Emily Engstler, F, Louisville

At the fourth spot in the draft, the Indiana Fever selected 6’1″ All-ACC First Team and All-Defensive Team, Emily Engstler. This pick was a bit controversial as Engstler lacks WNBA size at the forward spot. In addition, her three-point shooting and free-throw shooting percentage need improvement. Although she tends to have foul issues due to her aggressive play, she is a competitor and has great court awareness. Her anticipation skills are an asset as well. Engstler will provide impact minutes off the bench this season.

6. Lexie Hull, G, Stanford

If Engstler going at the number four spot was a surprise, Lexie Hull at the number six spot raised a lot of eyebrows. It is a bit perplexing to predict Hull’s role on the Fever roster. Her career stats at Stanford, 11.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.7 assists a game, do not necessarily translate into WNBA potential. Hopefully Hull will find her groove as a reserve player for the next couple of seasons while learning from the veteran players and getting up to WNBA speed.

10. Queen Egbo, C, Baylor

Drafting Queen Egbo with the 10th pick was a viable selection for Indiana providing she improves her outside game and stays out of foul trouble. Egbo can help divert defensive attention away from Smith and will also have many opportunities for put backs and rebounds. If Egbo can find her groove as an inside force, there are plenty of minutes available for her to play.

Second Round

20. Destanni Henderson, G, South Carolina

In the second round, the Fever selected Destanni Henderson (Henny) at the 20th spot. It was rather shocking that Henny was still available at this point, so kudos to Indiana for making this an easy pick. There is a lot of upside for this 5’7″ guard who handles the ball well, has great court vision, and can shoot from just about anywhere on the court. Henny needs to improve her three-point shoot accuracy but she can expect to play important minutes and may very well become a starter early in the season.

Third Round

25. Ameshya Williams-Holliday, C, Jackson State

In the 3rd round the Fever selected Ameshya Williams-Holliday, the first HBCU draft pick in 20 years. The 6’4″ center has an outside chance of making the Indiana roster but with 18 players on the roster right now, it may be an uphill battle that Williams-Holliday is not quite ready for. However, her career averages of 15.9 points, 11 rebounds, and 54% field goals made are pretty impressive and the Fever need talent and depth at the forward/center position. Here is to hoping that Williams-Holliday is suiting up for Indiana on opening night.

34. Ali Patberg, G, Indiana

Not surprisingly, most third round picks do not make a WNBA squad. Sadly this was the case for Ali Patberg who was waived on April 21st. Maybe she will find success in an overseas league and continue her playing career, possibly having another shot at the WNBA down the road.

Final Thoughts

This appeared to be a slam dunk draft for the Indiana Fever but there are some lingering questions concerning a few of the selections. Hopefully the front office and head coach Marianne Stanley have a vision for the future that comes to fruition very soon. Expect the Fever to have a lot of growing pains this season, some close wins and losses, and a lot of upside heading into the 2023 WNBA season.

About Sharon Ostrom

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