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WNBA Draft 2018 Preview: Indiana Fever

2017 Record: 9-25, did not qualify for Playoffs

Key Offseason Moves:

  • Re-signed Candice Dupree, Shenise Johnson, Erica Wheeler, Jeanette Pohlen-Mavunga, Jennifer Hamson and Jennie Simms
  • Acquired No. 8 pick in the 2018 Draft from Phoenix in exchange for Briann January
  • Acquired Kayla Alexander from Las Vegas in exchange for a 2019 draft pick
  • Signed free agent Hind Ben-Abdelkader

Last Year’s Draft Picks:

  • 2nd Round/No. 17 Overall – Erica McCall (from Phoenix)
  • 2nd Round/No. 20 Overall – Feyonda Fitzgerald
  • 2nd Round/No. 22 Overall – Ronni Williams (from New York via Atlanta)
  • 3rd Round/No. 32 Overall – Adrienne Motley

This Year’s Draft Picks:

  • 1st Round/No. 2 Overall
  • 1st Round/No. 8 Overall (from Phoenix)
  • 2nd Round/No. 14 Overall

2017 Season Highlights

Indiana Fever Top 5 Plays from 2017 Season

Team Needs/Draft Strategy:

The Indiana Fever are in unfamiliar territory. After making the playoffs for a WNBA-record 12 straight seasons, the Fever find themselves with a lottery pick in the draft for the first time since 2005. The departures of legendary player Tamika Catchings and head coach Stephanie White brought a new look to the Fever in 2017. With Pokey Chatman hired to coach and veteran All-Star forward Candice Dupree brought in, Indiana tried to reload and maintain its model of consistency.

Things did not go as planned. The Fever were hit with three season-ending injuries and struggled during the first year of the transition. The end result was 9-25 record and the lowest win percentage in the franchise’s 18-year history. The silver lining, however, is a high draft pick with plenty of talented players to choose from. In addition to securing the No. 2 pick via the lottery, the Fever acquired the No. 8 pick from Phoenix in a trade that saw point guard Briann January exit after nine seasons in Indianapolis.

The departure of January means an increased role for young point guard Erica Wheeler, who re-signed with Indiana during the offseason. Wheeler is part of a group of returning players that includes Dupree, Shenise Johnson and Jeanette Pohlen-Mavunga. In addition to bringing back core players, the Fever also acquired 6-4 center Kayla Alexander from Las Vegas and signed free agent guard Hind Ben-Abdelkader from Belgium. Alexander should help the Fever on the boards, where they ranked last in rebound percentage (44.5%) and rebounds per game (28.2). Ben-Abdelkader should help the Fever from beyond the arc, where they ranked second-to-last in 3-pointers made and 3-point percentage.

The Fever had the lowest-rated defense in the league last season (107.8 points allowed per 100 possessions) and have now lost a five-time Defensive Player of the Year (Catchings) and six-time All-Defensive Team selection (January) in back-to-back seasons. Opponents shot a league-high 39.1% from beyond the arc against the Fever last season, 5.3% higher than league average.

Adding players through the draft that can help fill those needs will be beneficial, and with two of the top eight picks in the draft, the Fever should be able to do so. But aside from filling specific needs, the Fever will look to find someone with franchise-player potential. Replacing a legend like Catchings is virtually impossible, but finding a player that this franchise can build around for the next decade-plus – like they did with Catchings nearly two decades ago – should be the ultimate goal.