The annual WNBA Draft Lottery occurred last Friday, with the Minnesota Lynx one of the four teams taking part for the first time since 2012. Minnesota entered the lottery having the fourth-best chances to land the top pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft, which would have been the first time the Lynx held the first selection since they drafted Maya Moore in 2011.
Entering the lottery alongside the Indiana Fever, Atlanta Dream and Washington Mystics, Minnesota held a 75.15% chance of coming away with the fourth overall pick, a 14.45% chance of obtaining the second selection, and a 10.4% of making the jump to No. 1. In the end, the Lynx didn’t ultimately land that top pick but did make a jump to the second spot to now hold the second and 12th picks in the opening round of the WNBA Draft on April 10.
The complete order for the first round of the 2023 #WNBA Draft on April 10:— Mitchell Hansen (@M_Hansen13) November 11, 2022
6. New York
The jump from No. 4 to No. 2 doesn’t appear to be that large of a leap, but it makes a big difference when trying to fill needs and doing so by grabbing a top-tier talent coming out of the college game. Minnesota ultimately would have liked to be able to select South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston, but she should be the top pick to Indiana in the upcoming draft.
With that said, there is still a good amount of talent that remains at the No. 2 pick, if Minnesota indeed holds onto that second. Either way, the Lynx will see a difference-making player join the team in 2023 regardless of what unfolds with the second pick.
What are some options for Minnesota and what are some names that fans should keep an eye on to potentially join the team this summer? In no particular order, let’s take a look.
Haley Jones | Guard | Stanford
In a guard-heavy draft that will fill out the top half of the first round of the draft following Boston, Stanford guard Haley Jones might end up being viewed as the top option when Minnesota picks second.
Although guard isn’t a huge need for the Lynx, when you have a talent like Jones available you make it work and adjust your roster following her addition. At 6-foot-1 and having shown the ability to improve her distribution game, Jones could move more into a point guard role in Minnesota right away or could slide into more of an off-ball guard in the rotation.
Jones was the Most Outstanding Player in the 2021 NCAA Tournament, taking the tournament over by storm with her playmaking and game-changing ability. A season ago, Jones averaged 13.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.1 blocks in 33 games as a junior and will once again be a key piece to a Cardinal squad that will start the year as a top-three team in the country.
Diamond Miller | Guard | Maryland
Another option at guard is Maryland’s Diamond Miller, who is one of the top two-way players atop the draft prospect list. Although health has been an issue for Miller notably the last few seasons, when she is healthy she is one of the more talented guards in the country. She has showcased the ability to score offensively and lock down offenses defensively with her physicality on that end of the floor. That type of player is one Lynx President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach Cheryl Reeve enjoys featuring to help the team on both ends.
During the 2021-22 season, Miller appeared in 22 games for the Terrapins while averaging 13.1 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.4 steals per game. The 6-foot-3 guard has also shown the ability to hurt opposing defenses from anywhere on the floor, notching marks of 40.8 percent from the field and 31.6 percent from three a season ago. Miller could jump right into the Lynx rotation and provide the team with a two-way player that could help the team in multiple ways — if she is able to remain healthy and on the court.
Charisma Osborne | Guard | UCLA
Another option for Minnesota is UCLA guard Charisma Osborne, who is another two-way player worth keeping an eye on early in the draft. Osborne is solid on the offensive end, but she might be even more talented defensively. If you’re sensing a trend here, players the Lynx will likely be interested in and players who will fill the top of the draft leaderboards are multi-dimensional prospects that can impact a game in more ways than one. That’s exactly the type of player Osborne has shown the ability to be at the college level.
Osborne has said in the past her defense sparks her play offensively, which is a great sign for a prospect entering the pro game that focuses defensively first rather than offensively focused. In her third season with the Bruins in 2021-22, Osborne averaged 16.4 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.5 steals in 28 games. She can also attack from anywhere on the floor, shooting 36.2 percent from the field and 33.1 percent from three a year ago. Osborne has plenty of potential and fits the mold of the type of player the Lynx would like to bring into the organization via the draft.
Rickea Jackson | Forward | Tennessee
If the Lynx are looking for an immediate boost offensively, Tennessee forward Rickea Jackson could be a player worth taking at No. 2. After spending the last three seasons at Mississippi State, Jackson is in her first season at Tennessee in 2022-23 and has picked up right where she left off at Mississippi State while showcasing her ability to provide a boost offensively and on the glass, as well as defensively as a shot-blocker. A player who can impact a game in multiple ways is exactly the type of player that Reeve and company like to add to the team at any position.
During her final season at Mississippi State, the 6-foot-2 forward averaged a career-high 20.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, 1.1 assists and 0.9 steals over 35 minutes a game in 15 appearances. Jackson is a player who could take her game to the next level in the WNBA or at least has high potential in doing that as a pro, which could be an intriguing thing for the Lynx to bring into the organization via the draft.
Elizabeth Kitley | Center | Virginia Tech
A bit of a surprising move at the second pick could be the selection of Virginia Tech center Elizabeth Kitley. With the talented guards that will be available at the top of the draft, some think Minnesota goes with one of those options over addressing an immediate need in the post with a versatile center such as Kitley. The Lynx have a big hole to fill following the retirement of Hall-of-Famer-to-be Sylvia Fowles and Kitley could slide right into that spot in the rotation as a rookie.
The reigning ACC Player of the Year has continued to improve throughout her collegiate career, averaging 18.1 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game a season ago while opening the eyes of many with a school record 42-point outing in Virginia Tech’s lone NCAA Tournament game. The 6-foot-6 center has nearly averaged a double-double her last two years with the Hokies, having also shown the ability to distribute the ball, protect the rim and defend well, and has shot a solid mark from the field as a post.
If Minnesota is looking for a solid and cheaper option to replace Fowles rather than spending money on her replacement in free agency or via the trade market, Kitley is a prime candidate to consider drafting. It would be a bit surprising, but it makes sense.
Bonus: Trade? Swing Big in Free Agency?
Another option for Minnesota in the opening round of the draft is to not draft any of the players mentioned above, or any players at all in the first round. Holding the No. 2 and No. 12 picks in the draft, the Lynx could seriously entertain the idea of making an immediate splash in packaging one of those picks — or both — and perhaps a player to trade away to bring in a game-changing talent that could help the team win now rather than go through a learning process that a rookie would likely present.
If Minnesota were to look to trade away the pick, there are a few intriguing players that it could try and target to add a star alongside Napheesa Collier and company. Perhaps a player like Connecticut Sun post Jonquel Jones could be available for the right price, immediately filling the void left by Fowles with the Lynx then looking at a guard to add in the draft or doing so in free agency. Or maybe a different-making point guard is available via trade, resulting in the Lynx looking at a post presence either in the draft or on the free agent market.
Or, of course, Minnesota could not trade the pick at all and select a solid prospect or two in the draft while focusing on swinging big in free agency on players such as Seattle Storm star Breanna Stewart or other top-tier talent that will be available.
Regardless of what the Lynx do at No. 2, they have plenty of options at their disposal to try and bring in at least one difference-making talent to the roster in 2023. Whatever ends up happening for Minnesota, one thing is for certain with the organization — it will do everything it can to turn things around quickly to not only return to the playoffs this summer but return as a title contender in 2023 and beyond.