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Inside The W with Michelle Smith: Post-Draft Rankings

With just 10 days between the WNBA Draft and the start of training camps for the league’s 25th season, the time to assess how the teams did in bringing new players to the league to fill needs and help their teams is short. The proof will be in the proverbial pudding soon enough.

But on paper, because that is what we have to go on at this point, all teams added talent and youthful energy to their training camp rosters. It remains to be seen how many of those players will be able to hang on to a roster spot in a highly competitive environment, with just a handful of spots likely to be available.

Here’s a ranking of how the WNBA teams fared in last week’s WNBA Draft 2021 presented by State Farm.

1. Dallas: The team with the best chance to improve itself made the moves it needed to make with the addition of Charli Collier and Awak Kuier at No. 1 and No. 2 overall respectively, and suddenly the Wings have balance. Then they added two of the collegiate game’s biggest names in Arkansas’ Chelsea Dungee and Louisville’s Dana Evans. With that, in a draft viewed as a little light, the Wings were the undisputed heavy hitters. Head coach Vickie Johnson is going to have some difficult choices to make by the end of training camp to assemble a roster worthy of the postseason.

2. Atlanta: Grabbing Arizona star Aari McDonald with the third pick was the first surprise of the draft and it gives the Dream a dynamic and potentially explosive group of guards including Chennedy Carter, Courtney Williams, Odyssey Sims and McDonald. It also gives head coach Nicki Collen lots of different potential combinations.

3. Minnesota: Snagging Rennia Davis at No. 9 when Davis, the Tennessee standout, was considered a top 3 pick heading into the draft means that the Lynx’s get a big wing and go into training camp without a lot of holes to fill.

4. Los Angeles: The Sparks made a trade to get the No. 7 pick and then took power forward Jasmine Walker from Alabama to fill a position of need (size and scoring from the wing) and then turned out to be the beneficiary of a surprising fall for Rutgers guard Arella Guirantes, who they were able to grab at No. 22. Guirantes, projected to be a top five pick, is going to be a player with a lot to prove. It will be interesting to see how that plays out in training camp.

5. Connecticut: Picking up Baylor’s DiJonai Carrington with a second-round pick ends up being a smart pick because Carrington has the mettle to win a roster spot and could add at least a little of the offense, defense (and toughness) that the Sun will be missing with Alyssa Thomas out this season.

6. Chicago: The Sky surprised a bit by taking Australian Shyla Heal as their point guard heir apparent to Courtney Vandersloot in the first round, given the big collegiate names that were available. But James Wade clearly valued Heal’s international experience. And picking up Natasha Mack of Oklahoma State, the NCAA blocked shots leader this season, in the second round was a bonus. Both could make the final roster.

7. Seattle: Taking Aaliyah Wilson of Texas A&M with a first-round pick and then trading her to Indiana for Kennedy Burke – who will reunite with former Bruin teammate Jordin Canada – means the Storm leaned toward a player with some WNBA experience. But picking up Stanford’s Kiana Williams with the No. 18 pick also looks smart as Williams is a proven leader who makes good decisions on the floor and will learn a lot from Sue Bird and Canada if she can stick around.

8. New York: The Liberty’s first two picks were players who will bring a shot in the arm to training camp and potentially to the roster this season in UCLA’s Michaela Onyenwere and Baylor’s DiDi Richards. Onyenwere wants to prove that even as a “tweener” in terms of size, her athleticism will carry the day and Richards is long, rangy, a strong defender and a proven winner.

9. Indiana: The Fever opened the draft with a truly surprising pick in West Virginia’s Kysre Gondrezick at No. 4 and traded with Seattle to get Aaliyah Wilson of Texas A&M. Neither of these players had been particularly high on draft boards, so it will remain to be seen whether Marianne Stanley and Tamika Catchings knew something a lot of other people didn’t. Gondrezick averaged a career-best 19.5 points and 4.5 assists per game this season.

10. Las Vegas: The Aces must like where they are right now to take 19-year-old Iliana Rupert of France with a first-round pick considering the possibility that Rupert won’t play in the league this season.

11. Phoenix: With just one pick at No. 32, the Mercury picked center Ciera Johnson of Texas A&M, but the numbers in this draft don’t suggest that Johnson will be able to earn a spot on a roster that will likely only include 11 players coming opening day.

12. Washington: With no picks in this draft, the Mystics earn this spot by default.


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