The number 1 of the WNBA draft for 2021 has changed hands, but Charli Collier, junior of Texas Longhorns, remains the first choice in ESPN’s second WNBA draft for 2021 after much activity since the beginning of the free agency.
In some ways the league is many signings and deals made the design a little clearer while in others it is just as uncertain. What do the wings – which are numbered 1, 2, 5, 7, and 13 – do with all of these picks? Is there at least one other major WNBA deal on the way?
How many seniors might decide they want another year of school since the NCAA has given athletes a blanket eligibility waiver for the 2020-21 college basketball season? Which juniors with drafting authorization decide to participate early? For this sample design, we are including all seniors and those juniors who we think might be selected. (Note: * Designates a junior authorized to design)
On a busy February 10, the top poll traded twice: from New York to Seattle, then from Storm to Wings. Dallas needs more aftermath, and 6-foot-5-Collier – a draft-ready junior – will fit the bill if she leaves Texas early. It averages at 21.3 points and 12.4 rebounds. She is strong inside and has open abilities. She has had a couple of dud games this season, most recently with two points against Baylor on February 14 when she showed frustration with the defense she faced and for not getting the ball. However, given their capabilities, these bumps on the road are not really a cause for concern.
2. Dallas Wings: Awak Kuier, PF, Finland
Would the wings really take two 6-5 players with the first two picks? It’s possible because both of them have the ability to play the middle and power forward spots. Kuier will only be 20 years old in August. At least early on, she would feel more comfortable as a forward in the WNBA as she wants to get stronger. She has great athleticism and a high ceiling. Kuier, who plays for Ragusa, averages 9.6 points and 7.2 rebounds in the Italian league game. He shoots 50.5 percent from the field and 36.1 percent from the 3-point range (13 of 36).
The Dream put Chennedy Carter in 4th place in 2020 and she’s had a strong rookie season with only one injury slowing her down. Atlanta could add another quick perimeter player to Evans who is able to get the point, score (21.2 PPG) and defend. She’s short at 5-6, but she’s a fearless, confident offensive player who never hesitates to take – and usually do – clutch shots. Louisville has been a strong defensive program and she will bring that attitude to the WNBA.
Aside from Jantel Lavender and Jessica Breland, the Fever are pretty young. Davis could be part of the team the fever is hoping for. At 6-2, she’s a multi-purpose writer, although you’d like her 3-point percentage to improve (23.1). She’s a good rebounder, leading Tennessee at 8.8 per game, and should have the physical ability to protect inside and around the edge. Davis was most effective in her second half with 24 points in beating South Carolina # 2 on Thursday.
Mack, a former junior college star, quickly made an impact on Division I. She is already the Oklahoma State career leader in blocked shots and number 1 in Division I in that category (4.2 BPG). At 6-4, Mack has a 6-11 range that she uses defensively to her advantage without just blocking shots. Mack has an average of 19.9 PPG and 12.1 RPG, and maybe it can add even more strength to the wings’ inner play.
The fifth-year senior who began her career at Texas Tech could have gone to the WNBA draft last year but opted for another season at Rutgers – and has become a better player. With Rutgers on a COVID-19 break of more than a month, Guirantes was limited to 13 games. But she’s made the most of it, averaging career highs in points (22.2 PPG) and assists (5.5) while slumping her sales. She has proven herself to be a solid 3 point shooter which would help her blend in with the Liberty.
Given the talent they already have, it’s uncertain that the Wings can put all of their first-round picks on the 2021 squad. But when Onyenwere is still available, it is difficult to bypass their athleticism and potential. The question is whether she will make the transition to a stronger watch orientation in the WNBA and whether her 3-point shot can get better. So-called “tweeners” sometimes take longer to find the right path in the league, and some never find it. Onyenwere averages 17.4 points and 8.1 rebounds for the Bruins.
McDonald is another player who qualified for the draft last year but chose to return. She and trainer Adia Barnes think this has made her a better leader. If she got the chance to play with Courtney Vandersloot in Chicago, it could be a great learning experience with one of the WNBA’s top point guards. McDonald averages 18.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.6 assists and is also one of the best defenders in Pac-12.
Walker blossomed as a senior, averaging 20.9 points and 9.9 rebounds. Her 3-point shooting is characterized by a 6-3 player: she scored 64 out of 154 (41.6%) from a long distance. With ranked teams still to play and a chance to lead Alabama to its first NCAA tournament appearance since 1999, Walker could move up the draft board. If available, it could be a good addition to the Sparks.
If you are looking for a marksman, this is what Dungee does best. This season it averages 22.6 points; She scored 37 points against UConn and 38 against Ole Miss. Dungee is used to a lot of goal responsibility and she can do it from anywhere on the pitch. She shoots 39.1 percent out of the 3-point range (45 of 115) and averages 4.1 rebounds per game.
11. Seattle Storm: Shyla Heal, PG, Australia
The Storm has a legend in Sue Bird and another talented point guard in Jordin Canada. But could the storm with Bird at 40 opt for point guard potential? Heal turns 20 in September; She was born in 2001 when another Australian, Lauren Jackson, was a rookie in the Storm. Heal first played in the Australian Pro League, the WNBL, when she was 14 years old. So she already has a lot of pro experience. Her father, Shane Heal, was a longtime professional point guard, including brief stints in the NBA.
Westbrook spent her first two years in Tennessee, then had to sit out for a year during her transfer and is playing for UConn in her first season. With 6-0, she is a good size for a point guard and averages 9.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.7 assists. Freshman Paige Bueckers dominates UConn history, but Westbrook was a good addition for the Huskies. The Aces could see she add more depth to their guard corps if Westbrook chooses to leave early.
13. Dallas Wings: Destiny Slocum, PG, Arkansas
14. Las Vegas Aces: Iliana Rupert, C, France
15. Atlanta Dream: One of a kind Thompson, PF, Auburn
16. Chicago Sky: Lindsey Pulliam, SG, Northwest
17. New York Liberty: Kiana Williams, PG, Stanford
18. Seattle Storm: N’dea Jones, PF, Texas A & M.
19. Indiana Fever: Mya Hollingshed, PF, Colorado
20. Connecticut Sun: DiJonai Carrington, SG, Baylor
21. Connecticut Sun: Kayla Jones, SF, State of NC
22. Los Angeles Sparks: Chelsey Perry, PF, UT Martin
23.Seattle Storm: Aisha Sheppard, SG, Virginia Tech
24. Indiana Fever: Janelle Bailey, C, North Carolina
25. New York Liberty: Ciera Johnson, C, Texas A & M.
26. Indiana Fever: Ivana Raca, SF, Wake Forest
27.Atlanta Dream: Erin Boley, SF, Oregon
28. Los Angeles Sparks: Vivian Gray, SF, Texas Tech
29. New York Liberty: Tiana Mangakahia, PG, Syracuse
30. Connecticut Sun: Nancy Mulkey, C, rice
31. Indiana Fever: DiDi Richards, PG, Baylor
32. Phoenix Mercury: Selena Lott, PG, Marquette
33rd Indiana Fever: Anastasia Hayes *, PG, Middle Tennessee
34. Los Angeles Sparks: Kysre Gondrezick, PG, West Virginia
35.Seattle Storm: Jenn Wirth, PF, Gonzaga
36. Las Vegas Aces: Cece Hooks, SG, Ohio