WNBA mock draft Monday, version 5.0

The WNBA offseason has a reputation for inaction, but teams didn't get the memo this year, and another trade last week changes the face of this year's draft. The Dallas Wings (nee Tulsa Shock nee Detroit Shock) traded Riquna Williams and the sixth pick in the 2016 draft for Erin Phillips, the fifth pick in the 2016 draft and the Sparks' first-round pick in 2017. Short summary: the teams exchanged undersized gunners—Williams younger and with the better season last year, Phillips with more accuracy though a down year in 2015. For the right to do so, the Sparks allowed the Wings to move up a slot in 2016 and add a first rounder in 2017, all of which should allow them to build around returning superstar Skylar Diggins. The interesting part of this trade in terms of the upcoming draft is this: just what did Dallas see in the draft that made moving to fifth so significant? Allow me to put forward an Imani Boyette theory. Boyette is the uber-talented center for Texas, a blocked shot and rebounding machine with range out to the three-point line who ranked fourth in the nation in DRating among players with at least 700 minutes played this season. A WNBA coach recently pointed out to me how fundamentally unsound her technique was—straight up and down—which suggests further growth is possible for the game of someone who is already 6'7 and succeeding. This is a strong draft for bigs, but let's be clear: no one has the opportunity to be better among that group than Boyette. (Obviously, Breanna Stewart, for purposes of this conversation, is not a big, she is a hydra-skilled basketball machine about to unleash terror on the rest of the WNBA.) So I will leave you with two thoughts concerning the Wings and the Sparks: Boyette's played at UT just a few hours from Dallas, where the Wings are building a fan base in a new city. And Boyette's childhood home and family can be found in Los Angeles. So both teams had reasons beyond basketball to see Boyette as a fit. Accordingly, despite a late-season fade in her stats, Boyette moves up this week. From this view, it's hard to see many players beyond the generational talents at 1-2 who should be picked before her. Who else moved up and down in a tumultuous conference tournament week? To the draft board! First Round 1) Seattle - Breanna Stewart, C, Connecticut 2) San Antonio - Moriah Jefferson, PG, Connecticut 3) Connecticut - Rachel Banham, G, Minnesota 4) Connecticut (from Atlanta) - Morgan Tuck, F, Connecticut 5) Dallas - Imani Boyette, C, Texas 6) Los Angeles - Aerial Powers, F, Michigan State 7) Washington - Tiffany Mitchell, SG, South Carolina 8) Phoenix - Jonquel Jones, C, George Washington 9) Indiana - Courtney Williams, G, South Florida 10) Chicago - Megan Podkowa, G/F, DePaul 11) Atlanta - (from Minnesota) Adut Bulgak, F/C, Florida State 12) New York - Temi Fagbenle, C, USC Second Round 13. Atlanta (from San Antonio) - Jamie Weisner, G, Oregon State 14. Minnesota (from Seattle) - Lexi Eaton, G, BYU 15. Connecticut - Sheeresha Richards, F, Albany 16. Atlanta - Ruth Hamblin, C, Oregon State 17. Los Angeles - Shacobia Barbee, G, Georgia 18. Dallas - Niya Johnson, PG, Baylor 19. Washington - Katie Hempen, G, Arizona State 20. Phoenix - Bria Holmes, G, West Virginia 21. Indiana - Jillian Alleyne, F, Oregon 22. Minnesota (from Chicago) - Ameryst Alston, G, Ohio State 23. Connecticut (from Minnesota) - Nicole Seekamp, PG, South Dakota 24. New York - Tabitha Richardson-Smith, F, Seton Hall Third Round 25. San Antonio - Bashaara Graves, F, Tennessee 26. Seattle - Brene Mosley, PG, Maryland 27. Connecticut - Rachel Hollivay, C, Rutgers 28. Atlanta - Madison Cable, G, Notre Dame 29. Los Angeles - Kyley Simmons, G, Illinois 30. Dallas - Kahleah Copper, G/F, Rutgers 31. Washington - Zahna Medley, G, TCU 32. Phoenix - Courtney Walker, F, Texas A&M 33. Indiana - Rachel Theriot, PG, Nebraska 34. Chicago - Nicole Bauman, G, Wisconsin 35. Minnesota - Jordan Jones, PG, Texas A&M 36. New York - Tori Jarosz, C, Marist

WNBA mock draft Monday, version 5.0

The WNBA offseason has a reputation for inaction, but teams didn’t get the memo this year, and another trade last week changes the face of this year’s draft.

The Dallas Wings (nee Tulsa Shock nee Detroit Shock) traded Riquna Williams and the sixth pick in the 2016 draft for Erin Phillips, the fifth pick in the 2016 draft and the Sparks’ first-round pick in 2017.

Short summary: the teams exchanged undersized gunners—Williams younger and with the better season last year, Phillips with more accuracy though a down year in 2015. For the right to do so, the Sparks allowed the Wings to move up a slot in 2016 and add a first rounder in 2017, all of which should allow them to build around returning superstar Skylar Diggins.

The interesting part of this trade in terms of the upcoming draft is this: just what did Dallas see in the draft that made moving to fifth so significant?

Allow me to put forward an Imani Boyette theory.

Boyette is the uber-talented center for Texas, a blocked shot and rebounding machine with range out to the three-point line who ranked fourth in the nation in DRating among players with at least 700 minutes played this season. A WNBA coach recently pointed out to me how fundamentally unsound her technique was—straight up and down—which suggests further growth is possible for the game of someone who is already 6’7 and succeeding.

This is a strong draft for bigs, but let’s be clear: no one has the opportunity to be better among that group than Boyette. (Obviously, Breanna Stewart, for purposes of this conversation, is not a big, she is a hydra-skilled basketball machine about to unleash terror on the rest of the WNBA.)

So I will leave you with two thoughts concerning the Wings and the Sparks: Boyette’s played at UT just a few hours from Dallas, where the Wings are building a fan base in a new city. And Boyette’s childhood home and family can be found in Los Angeles. So both teams had reasons beyond basketball to see Boyette as a fit.

Accordingly, despite a late-season fade in her stats, Boyette moves up this week. From this view, it’s hard to see many players beyond the generational talents at 1-2 who should be picked before her.

Who else moved up and down in a tumultuous conference tournament week? To the draft board!

First Round

1) Seattle – Breanna Stewart, C, Connecticut

2) San Antonio – Moriah Jefferson, PG, Connecticut

3) Connecticut – Rachel Banham, G, Minnesota

4) Connecticut (from Atlanta) – Morgan Tuck, F, Connecticut

5) Dallas – Imani Boyette, C, Texas

6) Los Angeles – Aerial Powers, F, Michigan State

7) Washington – Tiffany Mitchell, SG, South Carolina

8) Phoenix – Jonquel Jones, C, George Washington

9) Indiana – Courtney Williams, G, South Florida

10) Chicago – Megan Podkowa, G/F, DePaul

11) Atlanta – (from Minnesota) Adut Bulgak, F/C, Florida State

12) New York – Temi Fagbenle, C, USC

Second Round

13. Atlanta (from San Antonio) – Jamie Weisner, G, Oregon State

14. Minnesota (from Seattle) – Lexi Eaton, G, BYU

15. Connecticut – Sheeresha Richards, F, Albany

16. Atlanta – Ruth Hamblin, C, Oregon State

17. Los Angeles – Shacobia Barbee, G, Georgia

18. Dallas – Niya Johnson, PG, Baylor

19. Washington – Katie Hempen, G, Arizona State

20. Phoenix – Bria Holmes, G, West Virginia

21. Indiana – Jillian Alleyne, F, Oregon

22. Minnesota (from Chicago) – Ameryst Alston, G, Ohio State

23. Connecticut (from Minnesota) – Nicole Seekamp, PG, South Dakota

24. New York – Tabitha Richardson-Smith, F, Seton Hall

Third Round

25. San Antonio – Bashaara Graves, F, Tennessee

26. Seattle – Brene Mosley, PG, Maryland

27. Connecticut – Rachel Hollivay, C, Rutgers

28. Atlanta – Madison Cable, G, Notre Dame

29. Los Angeles – Kyley Simmons, G, Illinois

30. Dallas – Kahleah Copper, G/F, Rutgers

31. Washington – Zahna Medley, G, TCU

32. Phoenix – Courtney Walker, F, Texas A&M

33. Indiana – Rachel Theriot, PG, Nebraska

34. Chicago – Nicole Bauman, G, Wisconsin

35. Minnesota – Jordan Jones, PG, Texas A&M

36. New York – Tori Jarosz, C, Marist

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