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WNBA draft team-by-team grades: Fever, Sparks rating good marks

Michael Voepel, ESPN.comApr 16, 2024, 01:40 AM ET Close Michael Voepel covers the WNBA, women’s college basketball, and other college sports for espnW. Voepel began covering women’s basketball in 1984, and has been with ESPN since 1996. A big part of getting a good grade on WNBA draft night is often in place months before

WNBA draft team-by-team grades: Fever, Sparks rating good marks

  • Michael Voepel, ESPN.comApr 16, 2024, 01:40 AM ET


      Michael Voepel covers the WNBA, ladies’s faculty basketball, and different faculty sports activities for espnW. Voepel started masking ladies’s basketball in 1984, and has been with ESPN since 1996.

A giant a part of getting grade on WNBA draft evening is commonly in place months earlier than, when the lottery order is set. Within the case of the 2024 draft, the Indiana Fever actually could not mess it up after they bought the primary decide: Iowa Hawkeyes guard Caitlin Clark would give them an A-plus.

As was the case final season when the Fever additionally picked No. 1 and bought South Carolina‘s Aliyah Boston, it was all smiles at Indiana headquarters on draft evening. Not simply because Clark was formally within the fold and coach Christie Sides might already envision her passing the ball inside to Boston, final yr’s WNBA Rookie of the Yr, and NaLyssa Smith, the No. 2 decide in 2022, time and again and over.

But additionally as a result of the Fever now have two of the best 3-point shooters in faculty hoops historical past. Clark is the NCAA document holder, having completed with 548 treys. Kelsey Mitchell, the No. 2 decide in 2018, had 497 3-pointers at Ohio State.

Between them, they compiled 7,353 factors in faculty as the highest two scorers in Massive Ten historical past. Clark is the No. 1 scorer all time in males’s and ladies’s Division I.

“My coronary heart is pounding actually exhausting proper now,” Sides stated when speaking about having two perimeter scorers the caliber of Clark and Mitchell on the identical crew together with the younger put up gamers. “It is a coach’s dream.”

However the Fever aren’t ESPN’s solely A-plus crew on draft evening. The Los Angeles Sparks, in want of two influence gamers instantly, bought them in Cameron Brink and Rickea Jackson.

In case you are on the lookout for “unhealthy” grades, we do not have them this yr. In some previous seasons, eyebrows have been raised beginning early within the first spherical. However on Monday, groups appeared to profit from their locations within the draft and the expertise out there. Some groups took larger probabilities, particularly with younger expertise from abroad. Some opted for particular wants and probably bypassed a participant whom they could remorse not taking.

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All that stated, a lot can occur with accidents, crew chemistry and the way gamers alter to the being professionals. However by way of Monday’s draft, listed below are the grades.



Clark after being drafted No. 1 general: ‘I earned it’

Caitlin Clark joins Holly Rowe as she displays on her journey and expresses her feelings after being chosen No. 1 general.

Indiana Fever: A-plus

1. Caitlin Clark, Iowa, PG
15. Celeste Taylor, Ohio State, PG
27. Leilani Correa, Florida, SG

No franchise wanted the thrill Clark brings greater than Indiana, which hasn’t made the WNBA playoffs since 2016. Each Sides and common supervisor Lin Dunn stated they’re looking forward to Clark to fulfill all her teammates and have her character influence the crew and the group. Additionally they stated she is greater than prepared for what’s forward of her on the court docket.

“I hoping she’s going to go residence and get some relaxation for a short time. She’s simply been on the go,” Sides stated. “However I can not wait to get her within the locker room with our gamers. They will get to know her, know she’s a fierce competitor. These guys see all of the articles written and issues on social media. They do not know her but. I am prepared for that day.”

In Taylor, the Fever drafted a participant who is aware of Clark from their matchups within the Massive Ten this season. Taylor performed 5 seasons in faculty, at Texas, Duke and Ohio State. Her protection might assist her stick on this roster.

Correa is one other guard with good measurement and ability. Nevertheless it’s a numbers recreation, and he or she may not make the roster.

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Cameron Brink shouts out godbrother Steph Curry after being drafted

Cameron Brink joins Holly Rowe and shouts out the Curry household for his or her hand in serving to her on her journey to the WNBA.

Los Angeles Sparks: A-plus

2. Cameron Brink, Stanford, PF
4. Rickea Jackson, Tennessee, SF
28. McKenzie Forbes, USC, SF

The Sparks additionally wanted an infusion of expertise and pleasure, and so they went with two gamers who’ve superb professional ability units and may have the ability to complement one another on the court docket.

Los Angeles’ massive choice seemingly got here all the way down to Brink or Kamilla Cardoso at No. 2, and the Sparks could not have gone improper both approach. With Brink, they’ve a participant who can shield the rim, step out to defend on the perimeter when wanted and rating in a wide range of methods.



L.A. Sparks choose Rickea Jackson at No. 4

Rickea Jackson is chosen No. 4 general by the L.A. Sparks within the 2024 WNBA draft.

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Jackson can be a confirmed scorer who would have been a lottery decide final yr too however opted to return for her fifth faculty season.

The Sparks want some pizazz and gamers who’ve the arrogance to consider in a brand new period in L.A. Brink and Jackson can try this.



Chicago Sky choose Kamilla Cardoso at No. 3

Kamilla Cardoso is chosen No. 3 general by the Chicago Sky within the 2024 WNBA draft.

Chicago Sky: A

3. Kamilla Cardoso, South Carolina, C
7. Angel Reese, LSU, PF
13. Brynna Maxwell, Gonzaga, SG

That they had their battles within the SEC, together with some that bought heated, however Cardoso and Reese now will be part of forces as a dominant rebounding duo. Underneath Teresa Weatherspoon, who’s in her first season with the Sky, they each are prone to play rather a lot and assist Chicago kind a brand new id.



Angel Reese hugs Kim Mulkey after being drafted by the Chicago Sky

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Angel Reese joins Holly Rowe and shares a particular second with Kim Mulkey after being chosen No. 7 general.

Cardoso and Reese might want to develop their video games offensively, however contemplating their expertise and measurement, there is no cause to suppose they can not try this.

Maxwell is an attention-grabbing decide too, as a result of she has been such a dependable 3-point shooter. In her profession, which incorporates stops at Utah and Gonzaga, she made 377 of 882 from lengthy vary (42.7%).



Washington Mystics choose Aaliyah Edwards at No. 6

Aaliyah Edwards is chosen No. 6 general by the Washington Mystics within the 2024 WNBA draft.

Washington Mystics: A-minus

6. Aaliyah Edwards, UConn, PF
21. Kaylynne Truong, Gonzaga, PG
30. Nastja Claessens, Belgium, SF

The Mystics get such a excessive grade for a few causes. The most important: getting Edwards, as a result of she tasks to be a confirmed commodity on the actual place the Mystics want. UConn starters usually make clean transitions to the WNBA. Edwards’ toughness and resilience have been constants for a Huskies crew that went by way of the wringer with accidents the previous few seasons.

Just like the Sparks and the Sky, the Mystics are in a brand new period and wish gamers they’ll construct round. Edwards will be such a participant.

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As for Truong and Claessens, Mystics common supervisor Mike Thibault has proven a watch for expertise through the years that others may not have. One instance: He drafted Belgium’s Emma Meesseman within the second spherical (No. 19) in 2013, and he or she was a key issue within the Mystics’ 2019 championship.

Atlanta Dream: B-plus

12. Nyadiew Puoch, Australia, PF
20. Isobel Borlase, Australia, PG
32. Matilde Villa, Italy, SG

We’re clearly going out on a limb with this grade as a result of these gamers aren’t anticipated to make an influence this season for the Dream. They may not even play within the WNBA in 2024.

This draft was all about funding sooner or later for Atlanta, and we would look again on it as a windfall if these gamers develop as hoped. Admittedly, it might additionally not pan out.

However all three are 19-year-olds who have already got skilled expertise and time to develop. Puoch may evaluate to Seattle’s Ezi Magbegor. Some thought Borlase was a possible first-round decide.

Las Vegas Aces: B

16. Dyaisha Fair, Syracuse, PG
18. Kate Martin, Iowa, SG
24. Elizabeth Kitley, Virginia Tech, C
36. Angel Jackson, Jackson State, C

Getting a B grade is not typical when a crew would not actually have a first-round decide. However indulge us, as a result of we type of love what the Aces did right here. The 2-time defending WNBA champions haven’t any apparent wants, and it is doable none of those gamers makes the crew, as a result of it is so exhausting to do.

However in Truthful and Martin, the Aces took two completely different sorts of underdogs: Truthful due to her 5-foot-5 measurement and Martin as a result of she would not actually have an apparent place she matches into as a professional. However they’re each accustomed to being underestimated and proving individuals improper.

Kitley is injured (ACL tear) and will not play this season, however she and Jackson (who performed three seasons at USC earlier than transferring to Jackson State) are each 6-foot-6 and price giving a glance.

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New York Liberty: B

11. Marquesha Davis, Ole Miss, SF
17. Esmery Martinez, Arizona, PF
23. Jessika Carter, Mississippi State, C
35. Kaitlyn Davis, USC, SF

The Liberty wanted protection, and so they did a fairly good job in making an attempt to deal with it with the picks that they had. Individuals may evaluate Marquesha Davis to the Liberty’s Betnijah Laney-Hamilton or Phoenix’s Kahleah Copper.

Martinez began her faculty profession with a defense-oriented West Virginia crew below former coach Mike Carey. Carter may show to be a serviceable professional middle, and that she was nonetheless out there at No. 23 is a bonus for the Liberty, who get to not less than give her a glance.

Connecticut Sun: B-minus

10. Leila Lacan, France, PG
19. Taiyanna Jackson, Kansas, C
22. Helena Pueyo, Arizona, PG
34. Abbey Hsu, Columbia, SG

The Solar needed a guard with their first-round decide and bought that with Lacan, an thrilling prospect who might grow to be an influence participant as she develops.

Jackson was considerably of an enigma at Kansas as a result of she has a lot potential at 6-foot-6 however would disappear at instances on court docket.

Pueyo is thought for her protection and Hsu for her scoring and 3-point capturing.

We could be grading the Solar a bit too excessive primarily based on enthusiasm about Lacan’s future. Nevertheless it might be very vibrant.

Phoenix Mercury: B-minus

25. Charisma Osborne, UCLA, SG
29. Jaz Shelley, Nebraska, SG

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The Mercury get a good grade as a result of they not less than chosen two intriguing gamers, even when they’re each third-rounders. Osborne performed 5 seasons at UCLA, and previous Bruins guards have made an influence within the league. And it looks as if she was extra of a second-round decide than a third-rounder, so that may repay for Phoenix.

Shelley began her profession at Oregon then performed the previous three seasons with Nebraska. The Australian guard is a fairly sharp 3-point shooter who logged plenty of minutes for the Huskers.

If both participant makes Phoenix’s roster, even for depth, the Mercury did OK with this draft.



Dallas Wings choose Jacy Sheldon at No. 5

Jacy Sheldon is chosen No. 5 general by the Dallas Wings within the 2024 WNBA draft.

Dallas Wings: C-plus

5. Jacy Sheldon, Ohio State, SG
9. Carla Leite, France, SG
33. Ashley Owusu, Penn State, PG

This might work out nice for the Wings, who needed to get guard assist from the draft. The difficulty: Was Sheldon worthwhile sufficient to bypass the prospect to take put up participant Aaliyah Edwards with the fifth decide? That might be one thing to observe through the subsequent few seasons.

Additionally, was Leite the fitting French guard to pick out, or was Lacan, who went proper after her at No. 10 to Connecticut? That is one other comparability to regulate.

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As for Owusu, the Wings most likely felt it was price giving her a glance as a third-rounder due to the peaks of her faculty profession at Maryland. Nevertheless it additionally had some valleys after she left the Terps.



Minnesota Lynx choose Alissa Pili at No. 8

Alissa Pili is chosen No. 8 general by the Minnesota Lynx within the 2024 WNBA draft.

Minnesota Lynx: C-plus

8. Alissa Pili, Utah, SF
31. Kiki Jefferson, Louisville, SG

Pili was everywhere in the draft board for us, so it figures that we aren’t certain about this grade. The previous Pac-12 participant of the yr has a various offensive ability set, however not all WNBA evaluators have been offered on her means to defend properly on the professional degree. Clearly, Minnesota thinks she is as much as the duty, and he or she may not have to play a giant position instantly.

But when it would not work out and/or Angel Reese is a giant success, the Lynx may second-guess the draft decide swap they made with Chicago that allowed the Sky to choose up Reese.

As for Jefferson, she did not rating fairly as properly in her closing season at Louisville as she did throughout her first 4 campaigns at James Madison, however she is a giant guard who was well worth the decide.

Seattle Storm: C-plus

14. Nika Muhl, UConn, PG
26. Mackenzie Holmes, Indiana, PF

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Muhl did not leap into our mock draft first spherical till the final version, so realistically, she was chosen the place she was extra persistently projected. Is she a ok defender and playmaker to make up for not being a famous scorer? That would be the key as as to if this grade is near heading in the right direction or too low.

Holmes underwent surgical procedure after battling knee points in her five-season Indiana profession, and he or she is not anticipated to play within the WNBA till 2025. She was very constant and reliable when wholesome in faculty. However like Megan Gustafson, a second-round select of Iowa in 2019 who’s now with the Aces, Holmes most likely must show she will be able to develop her vary to make it within the WNBA.

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