After trading their first two of four draft picks this year, the Minnesota Lynx selected Kayla Jones (22) and Hannah Sjerven (28) in the 2022 WNBA Draft. Neither of these players were atop any draft boards and I previously discussed ad nauseam about the likelihood of any selections making it to the actual opening day roster in the WNBA thread. Lynx head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve continued that theme by sharing in the post draft presser that both of these players could have long roads ahead of them to make it to the final roster of 11.
That said, let’s take a look at who was picked.
Round 2, Pick 10: Kayla Jones
22 years old; 6’1” Forward
20.7 mins | 8.7 points | 4.9 rebounds | 2.1 assists | 0.7 steals | 0.4 blocks
53.8 FG% | 41.0 3P% | 73.8 FT%
To be completely honest, I was surprised to see Kayla Jones’ name pop up on my screen. I had no notes about Jones heading into the draft, but have since learned that she started for the NC State Wolfpack, who finished in the Elite 8 of the 2022 NCAA tournament before falling to the UConn Huskies 91-87. In that final game, she notched 12 points, nine rebounds, two assists, one steal, three blocks, and four turnovers. Reeve spoke very highly of Jones as a player who she had her eye on since last season.
Cheryl Reeve on Kayla Jones: "I watched a lot of NC State... they've been rly good the past few years... I enjoyed Kayla Jones a lot last year."— Leo S (@Y0Leo) April 12, 2022
"It's hard to find power forwards with her skillset - 2:1 assist-turnover ratio... her willingness to know she's a distributor."
Reeve has spoken at length in the past about the value a versatile 4 has in the WNBA and Jones certainly fits that bill. Jones’ 2.1 assists and 0.9 turnovers rank in the 79th and 81st percentiles, respectively, according to Her Hoop Stats. Her playmaking, combined with an elite 41.0% mark from 3 (95th percentile) on 2.2 attempts per game, form another versatile wing to add to a solid group that includes Aerial Powers, Bridget Carleton and Angel McCoughtry. Jones earned second-team All-ACC honors for her strong play as a key contributor on one of the nation’s top teams.
Round 3, Pick 4: Hannah Sjerven
23 years old; 6’2” Center
25.4 mins | 15.2 points | 7.7 rebounds | 1.0 assists | 1.6 steals | 1.8 blocks
52.2 FG% | 37.0 3P% | 65.9 FT%
Unlike the previous selection, Minnesota native Hannah Sjerven was definitely on my radar. Six picks after Jones, Reeve was able to bring home one of the better scoring 5s in the draft. Though the majority of her scoring came from the painted area and at the free throw line, she drained 17 of 46 3-point attempts (37.0%) in her final season with South Dakota, showing promise as a dynamic threat. According to Her Hoop Stats, Sjerven ranked in the 94th percentile or above in the following categories: Points, field goals made, field goal percentage, free throws made and attempted, offensive and total rebounds, and blocks. She was seventh overall in Win Shares (fourth in Defensive Win Shares) and third in Player Efficiency Rating among draft prospects. Coach Reeve acknowledged Sjerven’s high analytical marks in the post-draft presser as well.
Cheryl Reeve on Hannah Sjerven: "Another player that analytically does very well... a big who shoots the 3 and she's an opportunity to add something a little different... The road is tough, but both of these players will be very comfortable playing their games in training camp."— Leo S (@Y0Leo) April 12, 2022
Hannah is an incredibly decorated college player, as she earned repeat Summit League Defensive Player of the Year and First Team All-Summit League honors. Her NCAA tournament run ended in the Sweet Sixteen in a narrow loss to the Michigan Wolverines 52-49. In that game, Sjerven was the lone player to score double digits in that game, leading the Yotes with 17 points (7/11 shooting) and eight rebounds before fouling out in just 27 minutes.
Cheryl Reeve on Sjerven's NCAA run: "I think it's helpful. We probably arrive here either way, but I like the opportunity that her team has to experience the high level run in the NCAA tournament and show mid-majors what they can do."— Leo S (@Y0Leo) April 12, 2022
While late second and early third-round picks aren’t normally penciled into WNBA teams’ rosters, there is a path for one of Jones or Sjerven makes the Lynx opening day roster. The Lynx will get a good look at each of them when training camp begins on Sunday.
Two-time All-Star wing Napheesa Collier is pregnant with a baby girl, who is due May 31. Collier will occupy a roster spot and be paid in full during her maternity leave, which means she will be eligible to play this season and can return to the team whenever she feels she is ready. However, that does not guarantee she will return.
Additionally, veteran power forward Damiris Dantas is not yet recovered from the Lisfranc injury she suffered in late August and does not have a clear timetable for return, according to Reeve. Because of Dantas’s status, it is plausible to think the Lynx could roster a hardship player, which could very well be one of Jones or Sjerven (if one of the two is left off the roster) depending on their performance in camp.
Reeve and her front office will have some tough decisions to make over the next three weeks. With limited cap space, it is likely that Minnesota’s roster crunch will include returning players. While the potential for the Lynx draftees to make the roster is there, both Kayla Jones and Hannah Sjerven are walking into one of the most competitive training camps in the WNBA. Earning a spot among the team’s final roster won’t come easily, but the competition will exciting to see unfold.