This year’s class of WNBA prospects is among the best in the league’s brief history, and teams selecting at the top of the first round will have a legitimate chance of adding a prospect who can be a dominant player in her formative years.
Baylor’s Brittney Griner headlines a trio of immensely talented players destined for a top selection on April 15. Notre Dame guard Skylar Diggins and Delaware forward Elena Delle Donne shouldn’t be far behind when the first round commences.
Plenty of high-quality players will follow the trio in the opening round, but there’s no denying the elite level of play each prospect brings to the table. The Phoenix Mercury, Chicago Sky and Tulsa Shock should be extremely happy with their draft positioning.
Let’s take a look at each team’s draft prospects and break down which player is most likely to join them next season.
Tulsa’s first-round selection will be an easy decision. Griner is practically a lock to be chosen No. 1 overall, and Chicago will likely choose between Delle Donne and Diggins. One of the two will fall into Tulsa’s lap.
Diggins would be a better fit with Chicago, and the Shock can’t be unhappy with the alternative. Temeka Johnson is the team’s only forward scoring better than 10 points per game (12.2), and Delle Donne has tremendous scoring ability, especially as a perimeter shooter.
The 6’5” forward has terrific length for an outside scorer and long-range shooter at the WNBA level. Averaging 26 points per game on 45.2-percent shooting from behind the arc last season with Delaware, Delle Donne is sure to be a fantastic scorer at the next level. The Shock could certainly use one after averaging just 77.23 points in 2012.
Were Griner not a member of this draft class, Diggins would be in line to be the first player taken on April 15. The 5’9” guard is truly an elite talent who contributes in every facet of the game at both ends of the floor.
Diggins averaged 17.1 points per game last season at Notre Dame, boosting the Fighting Irish to a Final Four appearance. The 22-year-old also added 6.1 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 3.1 steals in 32 minutes per game with the Irish.
Chicago finished eighth in the league in points per game last season (75.23), ahead of only Phoenix, New York, Seattle and Washington. If the Sky hope to boost their offensive production, they will need to add a strong perimeter scorer at the top of this draft.
Epiphanny Prince is Chicago’s only guard who scored better than 10 points per game last season, and while she led the team in scoring (18.1 PPG), there will certainly be room for another strong scorer and offensive facilitator.
Griner’s season ended short of a national title, but she won’t have to dwell on that fact for very long. The 6’8” center is almost guaranteed a No. 1 overall selection on April 15.
One of the most dominant players in women’s college basketball history, Griner is easily the most coveted frontcourt player in this draft. With the size and strength to outmuscle nearly anyone at the WNBA level, her potential is limitless.
Griner averaged 23.8 points, 9.4 rebounds and 4.1 blocks last season with Baylor, topping off an extremely impressive career that included 736 blocks.
Phoenix was the worst defensive team in the league last season, allowing opponents an average of 86.73 points per game. Given Griner’s defensive prowess, the Mercury should be a much stronger squad at the defensive end next season.