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Draft Lottery: Indiana Fever Preview

The 2022 WNBA Draft Lottery will be held Sunday (3 p.m. ET, ESPN) to determine which team will secure the top pick in the 2022 WNBA Draft presented by State Farm. The rest of the draft order and the actual draft will take place in April.

The Indiana Fever, Atlanta Dream, Washington Mystics, and Dallas Wings (via Los Angeles) – are vying for the No. 1 overall pick with the lottery odds based on the cumulative records of the past two regular seasons.

The importance of landing the No. 1 pick in the WNBA Draft can’t be overstated. From the 25 championship teams in league history, 16 of those teams featured at least one No. 1 overall pick drafted by the championship-winning team. Three other No. 1 picks have won titles with teams that did not draft them – including Candace Parker of the Chicago Sky.

No. 1 picks on championship teams

  • 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 – Houston Comets – Tina Thompson (1997)
  • 2004, 2010 – Seattle Storm – Lauren Jackson (2001), Sue Bird (2002)
  • 2007, 2009 – Phoenix Mercury – Diana Taurasi (2004)
  • 2011, 2015, 2017 – Minnesota Lynx – Maya Moore (2011), Seimone Augustus (2006)
  • 2013 – Minnesota Lynx – Maya Moore (2011), Seimone Augustus (2006), Janel McCarville (2005 by Charlotte)*
  • 2014 – Phoenix Mercury – Diana Taurasi (2004), Brittney Griner (2013)
  • 2016 – Los Angeles Sparks – Candace Parker (2008), Nneka Ogwumike (2012), Ann Wauters (2000 by Cleveland)*
  • 2018, 2020 – Seattle Storm – Sue Bird (2002), Breanna Stewart (2016), Jewell Loyd (2015)
  • 2021 – Chicago Sky – Candace Parker (2008 by Los Angeles)*

* player drafted No. 1 by a different team than they won the championship

We begin our team-by-team look at the 2022 WNBA Draft Lottery with the team with the best odds of securing that all-important No. 1 pick – the Indiana Fever.

Team Combined 2020-2021 Record Chances (out of 1,000)

  1. Indiana 12-42 (442)
  2. Atlanta 15-39 (276)
  3. Washington 21-33 (178)
  4. Dallas *27-27 (104)

Here are five things to know about the Fever headed into the Draft Lottery.

  1. The Fever have never owned the No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA Draft. Indiana joined the WNBA in 2000 and struck draft gold in 2001 when they selected Tamika Catchings with the No. 3 overall pick. The Fever had to wait a year for Catchings to suit up due to an ACL tear suffered during her senior season at Tennessee, but Catchings proved to be worth the wait as she was the team’s franchise player for more than a decade and led the Fever to their only WNBA title in 2012.

With Catchings on the court, the Fever made a WNBA-record 12 straight playoff appearances, which kept them out of the lottery for the No. 1 pick. Now, Catchings leads the Fever’s front office and hopes to land the team’s first lottery win.

  1. The Fever are coming off their third six-win season of the past four years. After going 9-23 in their inaugural season, the Fever won double-digit games for 16 consecutive seasons (2001-2016). Since that run, the Fever have finished with single-digit wins in four of the past five seasons, posting a cumulative record of 40-116 (0.256).

In 2021, the Fever had some individual player success – Kelsey Mitchell finished eighth in scoring (17.8 PPG), and Teaira McCowan finished third in rebounding (9.6 RPG) and fifth in blocks (1.6 BPG) – but that did not translate into wins.

  1. The Fever have needs on both sides of the court as they finished 11th in the WNBA in offense (95.3 points per 100 possessions) and 12th in defense (107.8 points allowed per 100 possessions), for a league-low net rating of minus-12.5. One key area that the Fever need to improve is their perimeter shooting. Indiana finished last in 3-pointers made (4.9 per game) and 3-point percentage (28.4%) during the 2021 season.

While 3-point shooting is not a must for team success in the WNBA (see Las Vegas, which finished at 24-8 on the season while attempting a league-low 14.1 3-pointers per game), having a consistent shooting threat on the outside to force teams to respect their perimeter game and open up the court, could go a long way toward improving Indiana’s overall offense.

  1. With a five-time Defensive Player of the Year running the franchise, Indiana finishing last in defense, 10th in steals (6.3 per game), 10th in opponent 3-point percentage allowed (37.2%) and 11th in opponent field goal percentage allowed (45.9%) cannot sit well with Catchings. While Teaira McCowan finished fifth in the league in blocked shots last season (1.6 per game), most of the Fever failed to put up the necessary defensive resistance on a nightly basis. If McCowan can anchor the interior defense, can the Fever find a perimeter defender that can prove to be a game changer?

 

  1. The Fever finished the 2021 season ranked ninth in assist percentage (58.7% of their made field goals were assisted), 10th in turnover percentage (19.0% of their possessions ended in a turnover), and tied for last in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.11), all while allowing the second-most points off turnovers (17.8 per game). The Fever must take better care of the ball and limit their turnovers. While Indiana finished 10th in field goal percentage (41.6%) and averaged the fourth-most missed shots per game (39.8), they were one of the league’s top offensive rebounding teams, finishing second in offensive rebound percentage (33.4%) and converted those boards into the third-most second-chance points (11.4 per game).