WNBA Draft 2021: Start Time, Schedule, Round 1 Order and Mock Predictions

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IApril 14, 2021

WNBA Draft 2021: Start Time, Schedule, Round 1 Order and Mock Predictions

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    Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

    The Dallas Wings are going to have a lot of options to consider when the 2021 WNBA draft gets underway Thursday night. They own four of the first seven picks, including the first two selections, and the decisions they make will likely dictate the direction of the franchise for years to come.

    The league's 11 other teams will also be looking to add future stars in the draft, which will start Thursday at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN. Three rounds will take place, and the draft will again be held in a virtual format, just as it was last year, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    It won't be long after the draft that the 2021 WNBA season will begin. Earlier this week, the league announced the schedule, with the first games taking place May 14. After the 2020 season was held in a bubble in Bradenton, Fla., the teams will return to having games on their home courts this season.

    Here's a look at how the first round of this year's draft could unfold.

1st-Round Mock Draft

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    1. Dallas Wings: Charli Collier, C, Texas

    2. Dallas Wings: Awak Kuier, PF, Finland

    3. Atlanta Dream: Arella Guirantes, SG, Rutgers

    4. Indiana Fever: Rennia Davis, SF, Tennessee

    5. Dallas Wings: Aari McDonald, PG, Arizona

    6. New York Liberty: Dana Evans, PG, Louisville

    7. Dallas Wings: Jasmine Walker, PF, Alabama

    8. Chicago Sky: Kiana Williams, PG, Stanford

    9. Minnesota Lynx: Michaela Onyenwere, SF, UCLA

    10. Los Angeles Sparks: Natasha Mack, PF, Oklahoma State

    11. Seattle Storm: Chelsea Dungee, SG, Arkansas

    12. Las Vegas Aces: DiJonai Carrington, SG, Baylor

Who Will Dallas Take After Collier?

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    Chuck Burton/Associated Press

    With the No. 1 overall pick, the Wings are likely going to pick Charli Collier, a 6'5" center who had a successful three-year career at Texas. She's the top prospect in the class after averaging 19 points and 11.3 rebounds in 31 games during her junior season with the Longhorns.

    But what will Dallas do after taking the 21-year-old? It owns the Nos. 2, 5 and 7 picks, so it can add several of the top players in this year's class. It's also possible the Wings could decide to trade one or two of those selections in order to add a top proven player ahead of the 2021 season, especially with 10 players already on their roster.

    According to Michelle Smith of WNBA.com, Dallas general manager Greg Bibb said last week that it's "good to have options." And the Wings surely have plenty of them with all the draft capital that they possess.

    If Dallas keeps the No. 2 pick, then it's possible it will take Awak Kuier, a 19-year-old center from Finland.

    The Wings need to improve on the boards, and by adding the duo of Collier and Kuier with the first two selections, they could quickly address that need and improve in that area for not only 2021 but also for years to follow.

Atlanta Will Have Several Options at No. 3

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    Andy Manis/Associated Press

    The Atlanta Dream will have to wait to see what the Wings do with the first two picks before they're on the clock at No. 3 in the draft. However, once it's their turn, there will be quite a few options to consider.

    Collier and Kuier are likely to be off the board, but that leaves plenty of talented players for the Dream to select from. After going a combined 15-41 over the past two seasons (missing the playoffs both years), they need a top prospect who will help get the team back on course.

    Arella Guirantes could be the best option, as she has a ton of college experience. The 5'11" guard started at Texas Tech in 2016-17, then sat out the following season while transferring to Rutgers. She then played the past three seasons for the Scarlet Knights, averaging 17.2 points in 80 games over that stretch.

    "Guirantes would give the Dream another scorer who can create her own opportunities and stretch the defense," Mechelle Voepel of ESPN wrote.

    That's why Guirantes will likely be Atlanta's best option with its first pick of the draft.

McDonald's Stock Has Been on the Rise

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    Eric Gay/Associated Press

    Aari McDonald couldn't lead Arizona to its first national championship in program history, but she nearly powered the Wildcats that far.

    The program had never made it past the Sweet 16 round of the women's NCAA tournament, but it reached the national championship game this year, where it lost to Pac-12 rival Stanford.

    During that tournament run, McDonald was impressive, scoring at least 20 points in five of Arizona's six games (including 33 in an Elite Eight win over Indiana). The 5'6" guard was already a top WNBA draft prospect, but she further improved her stock with a strong finish to her college career.

    And LaChina Robinson believes McDonald helped quell some of the concerns that WNBA teams may have had.

    "She is just fantastic," the ESPN analyst said on a recent conference call with the media. "Though there were some questions about her size coming in, and there still may be, as she would probably say, she proved a lot of people wrong around what she was capable of."

    With Dallas owning so many early picks, there's a solid chance that McDonald could end up getting selected by the Wings. But wherever she ends up, she could develop into a top scorer, especially if she carries over the momentum from the end of her senior season at Arizona and quickly adjusts to the next level.