For the first time since 2019, the WNBA Draft will be held in-person at Spring Studios in New York. Though just 12 potential draftees will be in attendance, it will likely be a big moment for each of them and their families to see things unfold up close and personal.
What: 2022 WNBA Draft
When: Monday, April 11, 2022 @ 6:00 pm CST
Where: New York, New York
The theme of the entire upcoming season will be all about the greatest center of all-time, Sylvia Fowles. In Syl’s final season in the W, Lynx Head Coach and General Manager Cheryl Reeve has championship expectations to send her off the right way. With star forward Napheesa Collier out for majority of the season (More on that below), Reeve went out and signed 5x all-star, Angel McCoughtry, to help fill the void. Though the 35-year-old vet is coming off a significant injury, she will look to quickly assimilate into this current iteration of the Lynx that features Kayla McBride and Aerial Powers, both heading into their 2nd seasons with Minnesota. The trio of them have/will have an opportunity to build chemistry through the USA basketball program which is also now led by Lynx’s own Cheryl Reeve.
Salary Cap Crunch
The most pressing issue for Minnesota is addressing their salary cap. They are roughly $132K over the limit and will need to shed that by the start of the season. That makes this draft a precarious situation for the Lynx as the last thing they need is additional guaranteed contracts. Coach Reeve already traded their late 1st round and early 2nd round pick in this draft for a pair of Las Vegas Aces 2023 picks. That said, something’s still got to give and based on how things are shaping up, I’m guessing that one of the below players will have to go. It won’t be an easy decision though.
- Natalie Achonwa ($160K): Her hefty salary would be tough to move. She had a rough ‘21 season, though she could be important for frontcourt depth without Collier.
- Bridget Carleton ($72.1K): A key utility player for the Lynx who has earned Reeve’s trust over the years. Her all-around skillset is being displayed overseas with averages of 18.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.9 steals, and 0.8 blocks per game.
- Rachel Banham ($72.1K): The sharpshooting guard offers floor stretching value that is important, but she hasn’t found consistency 6 years into the league. Reeve just re-signed her 2 months ago which makes Banham less likely to be moved.
- Crystal Dangerfield ($67K): A tough sophomore season followed an impressive ROY campaign. She’s an odd fit on the roster with Layshia Clarendon and Rachel Banham already in the picture. She’s currently averaging over 16/5/5 in the Israeli league.
- Rennia Davis ($65.6K): Reeve raved that Davis was 2nd on the Lynx big board last year. She missed all of her rookie season, but playing well overseas with averages of 19.4 points and 12.1 rebounds on .507/.457/.824 splits.
- Jessica Shepard ($60.5K): The injury-plagued forward is putting up video game numbers overseas with 27.4 points & 16.6 rebounds per game. Jess has yet to transfer that success to the WNBA though.
300+ days since her last organized 5-on-5 game action, @Legend_Hooper went off in her 2nd game with the @SydUniFlames— Leo S (@Y0Leo) January 23, 2022
21 pts (9/18 FG)
3 threes (3/4)
.750 eFG%@minnesotalynx | @Lynx_PR | @canishoopus pic.twitter.com/pxhbZJ5hxI
What will be the Lynx most important need?
The budding MVP candidate (5th in the 2020 Wubble season) announced late last year that she was expecting the birth of her first child. Though that is great from a human perspective, losing Napheesa Collier isn’t the best thing from a basketball perspective. Though the recovery and return-to-action timeline ranges vastly depending on the person, it’s expected that Phee will be out for the majority of this season. No lone player can fill her big shoes, but as mentioned earlier, the addition of Angel McCoughtry helps. The return of the Brazilian Bomber, Damiris Dantas, will also be a welcome sight (She missed the end of the regular season and postseason last year due to a Lisfranc injury to her right foot/ankle). Will 29-year-old vet Natalie Achonwa, who was also dealing with injuries last season, be able to contribute more consistently? Are youngsters Jessica Shepard and/or Rennia Davis, who could both be on the trade block, be ready for rotation minutes? Aside from those players, the Lynx don’t have much else set in stone and can certainly use some help to backup 36-year-old Sylvia Fowles in the frontcourt.
Minnesota’s backcourt should be set with a combination of guards in Kayla McBride, Aerial Powers, Layshia Clarendon and whatever combination of Rachel Banham and/or Crystal Dangerfield. It’s also possible for Bridget Carleton to help steer the ship for limited minutes too.
What to expect on draft night
Though the Lynx might end up selecting a player or two with their 2 current picks (22nd and 28th), I doubt those players will sign anything more than a training camp deal given everything that was outlined above. If anything, I’d expect Reeve to use though picks to encourage a team to take on some outgoing salary. There’s still always a chance that things go absolutely haywire and there’s a totally unexpected huge move that completely rearranges the Lynx cap sheet. Keep your eyes peeled!
The @minnesotalynx have unveiled their 2022 season schedule! Our own @Y0Leo breaks down what to expect month-by-month. Click below for detailed look— Canis Hoopus (@canishoopus) December 10, 2021
August: ♀️ https://t.co/wdxZUIhbQ9
The quest for 5 continues!
LIVE updated board:
1) Rhyne Howard (G) - (ATL)
2) NaLyssa Smith (F) - (IND)
3) Shakira Austin (F) - (WAS)
4) Emily Engstler (F) - (IND)
5) Nyara Sabally (F) - (NYL)
6) Lexie Hull (G) - (IND)
7) Veronica Burton (G) - (DAL)
8) Mya Hollingshed (F) - (LVA)
9) Rae Burrell (G) - (LAS)
10) Queen Egbo (C) - (IND)
11) Kiersten Bell (G) - (LVA)
12) Nia Clouden (G) - (CON)
13) Khayla Pointer (G) - (LVA)
14) Christyn Williams (G) - (WAS)
15) Naz Hillmon (F) - (ATL)
16) Kianna Smith (G) - (LAS)
17) Elissa Cunane (C) - (SEA)
18) Lorela Cujab (F) - (NYL)
19) Olivia Nelson-Ododa (F) (LAS)
20) Destanni Henderson (G) - (IND)
21) Evina Westbrook (G) - (SEA)
22) Kayla Jones (F) - (MIN)
23) Aisha Sheppard (G) - (LVA)
24) Jordan Lewis (G) - (CON)
25) Ameshya Williams-Holiday - (IND)
26) Maya Dodson (F) - (PHX)
27) Amy Atwell (F) - (LAS)
28) Hannah Sjerven (C) - (MIN)