2017 WNBA Mock Draft: Analyzing Elite Prospects and Hidden Gems

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistApril 7, 2017

Washington guard Kelsey Plum shoots over Mississippi State guard Dominique Dillingham, left, during the second half of a regional semifinal of the NCAA women's college basketball tournament, Friday, March 24, 2017, in Oklahoma City. Mississippi State won 75-64. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

With the WNBA draft set for Thursday, April 13, it's time to break down a mock draft for the first round of the annual event and highlight a few of the more interesting players available.

WNBA 1st Round Mock Draft
1San Antonio StarsKelsey Plum, G, Washington
2Chicago SkyShatori Walker-Kimbrough, G, Maryland
3Dallas WingsBrionna Jones, C, Maryland
4Dallas WingsAlaina Coates, C, South Carolina
5San Antonio StarsAllisha Gray, G, South Carolina
6Washington MysticsChantel Osahor, F, Washington
7Atlanta DreamAlexis Jones, G, Baylor
8Connecticut SunSydney Wiese, G, Oregon State
9Chicago SkyNia Coffey, F, Northwestern
10Dallas WingsErica McCall, C, Stanford
11Los Angeles SparksAlexis Peterson, G, Syracuse
12Minnesota LynxBrittney Sykes, G, Syracuse

Kelsey Plum seems like a pretty safe bet to be selected with the top overall pick. The 2017 Naismith Trophy and Wade Trophy winner finished her college career as the all-time leading scorer in Division I women's basketball, averaging an impressive 31.7 points per game this past season. 

Given her scoring prowess, it's hard to imagine Plum falling down the board. And her game resembles another star currently employed in Texas: James Harden.

After she went off for 57 points this season, well, the comparison became all the more apt.

After Plum, however, the draft evens out quite a bit, with teams' needs as likely to dictate selections as overall talent. The Chicago Sky need help in the backcourt, so Shatori Walker-Kimbrough is a logical target.

"She's hungry, and she wants to be great at as many things as she can be great at," her head coach at Maryland, Brenda Frese, told Mechelle Voepel of ESPNW.com. "You can be really direct with her, and she's always up for the challenge."

After that, the Dallas Wings could use a rim-protector and an off-guard, so the South Carolina pair of Alaina Coates and Allisha Gray would help fill out the roster.

And then there is the No. 6 pick for the Washington Mystics. The team will have the opportunity to select one of the more unique players in this year's draft: Chantel Osahor, Washington's sidekick for Plum this past season.

She led the nation with 15.3 rebounds per game, supplementing that with 15.7 points per contest. She rocketed up draft boards this season, and her unique ability to dominate on the boards and drain shots from beyond the arc make her one of the most intriguing players in this year's draft.

Fit will obviously be important for a player with Osahor's unique skill set. Michelle Smith of ESPNW.com wrote more about how Washington coach Mike Neighbors was able to get the most out of Osahor for the Huskies:

Neighbors was willing to take a shot on an unconventional player. He was willing to be patient as she worked her way through injuries, altering her workouts, limiting her practice time, and treating her differently than his other players. But Osahor is no longer missing pregame workouts, and Neighbors' quest to get her in good enough physical condition to play nearly 40 minutes a game worked.

"She needs a coach that believes in her and teammates that understand her and get it," Neighbors said. "She doesn't have to practice as much as other people, and that can be hard for people to understand and accept. And it's not because she doesn't want to do it, but because she knows if she is going to be ready to play 40 minutes, she has to do this."

In the wrong system, Osahor could be a bust. In Washington, she can come off the bench behind Elena Delle Donne and Emma Meesseman, also excellent perimeter shooters from their frontcourt positions. She may not have as big of a role as some of her fellow rookies next season, but she should immediately be a valuable option coming off the bench.

As for a sleeper to watch, keep an eye on James Madison's Precious Hall, who finished third in Division I at 24.0 points per game. She likely won't be a first-round selection, but later in the draft could offer a team an infusion of scoring off the bench.


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