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Inside the W with Michelle Smith: Indiana Fever Draft Picks

With seven picks overall and four picks in the first round, including the No. 2 and No. 4 picks, Indiana Fever general manager Lin Dunn said she will have two charts she’s watching on WNBA Draft Day on Monday.


“I’ve got a list of the top 10 players and I have a chart of what we need,” Dunn said Thursday. “We need a lot. We need help inside and outside. It’s a little easier to pinpoint our needs because they are glaring. We are looking for the best players available.”


As was the case when Dunn was the Fever’s head coach – leading them to their only championship in 2012 – Dunn pulls no punches about her plans to rebuild the Fever franchise in lieu of the fact that the Fever haven’t made the playoffs in five seasons and have finished last in the Eastern Conference in three of the last five years.


With just twelve wins in the last two seasons, big changes are in order, and Dunn says that big changes have already been made, including trading young center Teira McCowan to Dallas and waiving veteran post Jantel Lavender.


“When you are last, there needs to be change,” Dunn said. “We’ve made changes in our coaching staff, changes already in our current roster. We are going in a different direction.”


When Dunn looks at seven picks in what is regarded as the deepest draft pool since 2018, she sees opportunity.


“We have four players in the first round to rebuild around, the 2, 4, 6 and 10 picks will have an immediate impact on our team,” Dunn said. “They might not have an immediate impact on another team, but they will for us. I’m excited about four picks in the first round.”


Despite the fact that the Fever have won just twelve games in the past two seasons, ESPN analyst Rebecca Lobo believes drafted players should be excited to be chosen by Indiana.


“If I’m a young player, I hope Indiana takes me,” Lobo said. “There’s room on the roster and an opportunity to play there.”


The Fever have a core group of veteran guards including Danielle Robinson and newly acquired Bria Hartley, and Tiffany and Kelsey Mitchell. And a recent history of missing on lottery picks. The team’s last two lottery picks are no longer on the roster. Dunn admits those are big misses.


She also said she is not in position to package her picks for a veteran talent because she doesn’t have room under the salary cap.


“I’d love to go and get a 26- or 27-year-old star, but I can’t afford her salary,” Dunn said. “It’s a great idea, but it doesn’t fit.”


“If you are going to go with young players then commit to that and just do it,” Dunn said. “And in order to do it, one pick doesn’t help you do it.”


ESPN analyst LaChina Robinson sees Dunn building a team through the draft in the same way that Dallas and New York have done in recent years.


“They need more talent and depth at every position, so I anticipate a “best available” approach,” Robinson said. “We know that Lin Dunn has always favored toughness and the defensive end, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some of that play out in the type of players she selects.”


Dunn confirmed that she is looking to upgrade, particularly on the defensive end, which was the Fever’s identity when she was the head coach.


“We were last in defense last season and that was horrendous to me because we built our reputation on defense and that’s how we won,” Dunn said. “I want players that can defend, that want to defend, but I also need more shooters and some good young posts who can run and play in the pick and roll.”


Dunn joked that her biggest worry on Monday will be how little time she will have between picks.

“We had better be prepared,” Dunn said. “Once the first round is over, we can collapse.”


Longtime WNBA reporter Michelle Smith writes a column on throughout the season. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the WNBA or its clubs.