The Lead’s 2023 WNBA 1st-Round Mock Draft


The ball is tipped, and— hold up. You’re telling us that ESPN doesn’t have the rights to March Madness’s iconic song?

Who, then, is going to celebrate the top-12 college players in the country, ready for their glorious moment in tonight’s WNBA Draft?

Have no fear, WNBA Lead is here! No one, of course, has a basketball crystal ball. The order of the first round will almost certainly proceed differently than anyone’s imagining. Consider this list, then, to be a projection of the human imagination: how things could be, not necessarily will be.

Here’s one fact fans can bet safely, though. Women’s basketball has never been in a better situation. Regardless of the precise slot these 12 fabulously talented players land in, tonight’s draft is but a prelude to the brilliant harmony upcoming in the WNBA.


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1. Indiana Fever: Aliyah Boston

“With the first pick in the 2023 WNBA draft, the Indiana Fever select, Aliyah Boston, from South Carolina.”

In the aftermath of another abysmal season from the Fever, there was a light at the end of the tunnel in the form of the top draft pick. Although this team hasn’t had a .500 season since 2016, things are about to change. Aliyah Boston will be drafted and will bring her defensive and rebounding prowess, along with team-friendly averages of 13 points, 10 rebounds, and 56% shooting from the field to a team that lacks in every facet.

Well, except offensive rebounding. Infusing her talent alongside NaLyssa Smith and several other players that will have a full year of WNBA experience under them, they will be a team to watch. I anticipate Aliyah will immediately become the leader of this team, raise their floor, and at least triple last season’s win total from five to 15. – Michael Tolliver Jr.

2. Minnesota Lynx: Diamond Miller

Sylvia Fowles’ Minnesota reign has officially come to an end following her retirement.

Now, the Lynx are looking to rebuild around Napheesa Collier. Considering their current roster construction, this is a pick where the Lynx should be taking the best player available. Since Aliyah Boston won’t be available, that player is Diamond Miller.

Miller is long, athletic and explosive. She’s very slippery getting to the rim and does a great job getting to the free-throw line, where she shot just about 80% this season. Miller had her worst three-point shooting season most recently, but in the three prior seasons, she shot over 30% each year.

She can sometimes struggle with foul trouble, but that shouldn’t be of too much concern with the additional foul in the WNBA. – Kayla Dos Santos

3. Dallas Wings: Jordan Horston 

Dallas, a franchise perpetually stuck on the mediocrity treadmill, can smash the defeatist machinery with three first-round picks.

First up, excellent Lady Vol starter (a three-word redundancy) Jordan Horston. Horston started 22 games in her freshman year, with Tennesse in danger of its first-ever missed tournament. Misfortune followed misfortune for the Vols as the NCAA canceled that year’s big dances altogether and Tennessee faced a condensed schedule in the COVID-impacted season.

But Horston refused to let the bug deter her, starting all 23 games she appeared in her junior season and recording an impressive 55 steals in her final campaign. While Horston could have returned for a fifth season, it’s time for a new adventure, one Dallas welcomes for a roster that’s too-frequently changing and could use a pro-ready rookie. – Jeffrey Newholm

4. Washington Mystics: Maddy Siegrest 

With the cream of the crop gone with Boston, Miller and Horston, Mike Thibault has a plethora of options to choose from.

He usually goes with the best player available over team fit, so naturally, that will be Maddy Siegrest. Siegrest led the country in scoring at 29.2 points per game and the Mystics need that kind of scoring with the way their roster is constructed. She is a proven three-level scorer after shooting 36.1% from beyond the arc off of 3.9 attempts per game.

Even though she will be in a deep forward rotation, Siegrest has the potential to be one of the best offensive players in the league, and the coaching staff must recognize that sooner rather than later. – Brenden Potts

5. Dallas Wings: Haley Jones

Numerous competitors to The Lead report that Haley Jones’ draft stock is falling, rather fortuitously for Dallas!

True, a 3-of-32 three-point performance her senior year seems to be a fright for some WNBA teams. Dallas, though, will be the true scare for competitors with another excellent Cardinal joining the W.

Jones has a sixth sense for loose balls, securing 314 boards this season. She also plays smart, only fouling out of one game in her college career. Furthermore, in the WNBA’s first 40-game campaign, Jones provides an indefatigable effort, playing in all 40 minutes in the Cardinal’s tough-luck loss to Ole Miss and all 50 minutes in a marathon effort in Colorado to secure the Pac-12 championship.

Three-point shooting is a concern with so many teams adapting to the make-or-miss new era of 2020’s basketball. But as Liz Cambage proved (0.5 threes made a game average in her career), one needn’t be a downtown assassin to contribute. – Jeffrey Newholm

6. Atlanta Dream: Stephanie Soares

The Dream finished last season as the third-worst team in the league, so naturally they’ll need to make some major improvements.

Soares is the best player available at this pick and could add some much-needed depth to Atlanta’s frontcourt. This year at Iowa State, she averaged 14.4 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 3.0 blocks a game.

She’s a well-rounded player with WNBA skills. The one downside to this pick? Soares tore her left ACL in January, meaning she (likely) won’t be available until next year. Still, the Dream won’t be contending for a championship this season, so they can afford to wait before adding Soares to their lineup. – Jack Levenberg

7. Indiana Fever: Grace Berger 

The Indiana Fever need to get lucky, cross their fingers, and hope that Grace Berger is available at No. 7.

Berger would be the hometown hero and get the Indiana (Fever and Hoosier) fan base very excited about this team. She just recently helped the Hoosiers become the No. 1 team in the Big Ten, just to give you an idea of how valuable she is.

She would fill many voids that plague this team. The Fever ranked 11th in assists last season at 18 per game, and 12th in field goal percentage at 41% per game. She brings averages of 13 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists per game from her time with the Indiana Hoosiers. She also shot an efficient 48.4% from the field as a six-foot guard for the Hoosiers.

I can see her game translating immediately to the W. She plays with pace and control, and Indiana would welcome all of what she brings to the table that would immediately elevate this team alongside Aliyah Boston. – Michael Tolliver Jr.

8. Atlanta Dream: Brea Beal 

Atlanta needs a culture-setter, and Beal is just that.

She understands her role and can be an immediate leader on and off the court. Beal is probably the best perimeter defender in this year’s draft. Her size and speed give her the ability to guard multiple positions, and she’ll fit right in with Tanisha Wright’s defensive system. Her offensive numbers don’t jump off the page, but she’s made real improvements in her three-point shooting since her freshman year.

If Beal is still available here, it’s tough to imagine Atlanta passing on her. – Jack Levenberg

9. Seattle Storm: Dorka Juhasz 

After the loss of Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird, Seattle once again eyes another UConn Husky who fits their squad.

Juhasz finished her senior season averaging 14.2 points, 9.9 rebounds and 3.2 assists. She stands at 6’5″ and would add depth to the center position behind Ezi Magbegor and Mercedes Russell. Juhasz brings her passing ability which is different from the scoring Stewie provided while she was in Seattle.

She is not the best available prospect when the Storm gets on the clock, but Juhasz will help bring winning basketball back to the Emerald City. – Brenden Potts

10. LA Sparks: Lou Lopez Senechal

Uconn fans, in the pre-COVID long ago, adored Katie Lou Samuelson, serenading her with chants of Loooooou!

It’s strange how a basketball turns, and life too. Fairfield transfer Lou Lopez Senechal joins Samuelson in Los Angeles for a Sparks team that — as always — competes for a championship. Senechal, with five years of excellent college ball behind her, can contribute as another shooter immediately.

With numerous injuries bedeviling Connecticut last season, Geno Auriemma requested 31.4 minutes a game from Senechal. No problem for the astute Frenchwoman, who filled her role brilliantly and helped secure the Big East championship with a rainbow shot in a hostile Villanova gym.

While Uconn again faces a frustrating transition offseason, there’s never a transition in the Golden State. The Sparks expect to compete now, and Senechal will be a vital part of that continuous effort. – Jeffrey Newholm

11. Dallas Wings: Taylor Mikesell 

It was a hornets’ nest. A bombardment. An avalanche.

Use whatever terminology you like, but the Buckeyes’ masterful dissection of UConn in the Sweet 16 proved that parity rules again in women’s basketball. And OSU’s stingiest wasp of all? Taylor Mikesell.

True, Mikesell recorded just one of her season’s 50 steals that dazzling Saturday afternoon.

However, she played 38 minutes in helping press the Huskies back to the dog house, adding to her 13 games this season of playing all 40 minutes. Again, along with Jones, Dallas finds a jackhammer ready to smash the Wings’ 11 opponents’ supposed gems (and thank goodness, more foes arriving soon!)

And with a college-career 42% three-point shooting (with a nod to Douglas Adams), Mikesell provides the perfect complement to Jones and the Wings’ Final Answer to life, the universe, and everything in an overdue ascension to WNBA championship contention. – Jeffrey Newholm

12. Minnesota Lynx: Laeticia Amihere 

Amihere has perhaps the greatest upside of any draftee in this class.

At 6-foot-4, she has the ability to guard all five positions. Her size, athleticism and tenacious style of play would make her a valuable asset to a Minnesota organization that’s in the process of rebuilding. Her offense has ebbed and flowed at South Carolina. Under a new system, however, that part of her game may blossom.

In the WNBA’s pre-draft conference call, Cheryl Reeve noted that Amihere can “change games with her ability to be aggressive.” No one is expecting her to be a franchise player, but if her time as a Gamecock has shown anything it’s that she’s willing to embrace any role her team needs her to fulfill. She even played point guard for Dawn Staley at times. – Ethan Arcata 

No GM is Perfect

As the late Casey Kasem would sign off on his radio top-40 countdowns, there you have it! Our projection of how tonight’s draft should (not necessarily will) proceed. Note that even the best GMs make mistakes (see: Anthony Bennett), and even should the excellent WNBA front offices agree with W Lead’s selections, some picks may not work out in the end.

And that’s ok! Life always gives a woman another opportunity to learn, improve and contribute her gifts to society, even if that only includes a short time in the professional basketball world. So don’t let anyone tell you there isn’t any basketball tonight.

In the WNBA Draft world, everyone happily knows better.

About The Lead Staff

Articles by The Lead Staff.

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