While the fantasy draft won't win you your league (how you manage your team, of course, will), it does set you up on the road to success, and with the Las Vegas Aces fielding an Avengers-esque super team, which of the stars should you take?
Could it be the reigning MVP of the league A'ja Wilson? The Finals MVP Chelsea Gray? Maybe it's the new addition and future first ballot Hall-of-Famer Candace Parker?
If you somehow walk away with any of those players in your fantasy draft then you will be a happy camper, but there is one player that is a must-have for your fantasy roster.
Pre-draft rankings are super important because they show where all the players are projected to land at the end of the season. These projections are done by the experts at ESPN so, surprisingly, there could be some flaws for you to take advantage of.
During your draft, every team owner will have these rankings in front of their face while the clock is running out, acting as a psychological warning - daring them not to stray from the experts' rankings. You can use this to your advantage. Just because the experts rank them one way doesn't make them true.
Here's how the Aces players are currently ranked
2. A'ja Wilson
7. Kelsey Plum
20. Jackie Young
21. Chelsea Gray
31. Candace Parker
Here's how the Aces players finished at the end of 2022
1. A'ja Wilson (1392 pts)
4. Kelsey Plum (1195 pts)
11. Candace Parker (1008 pts)
12. Jackie Young (984 pts)
15. Chelsea Gray (973 pts)
This is the biggest unknown, and we'll try to sort out the many scenarios. Adding Candace Parker to the defending champions makes this team a beast on paper, but stacking five All-Stars together could hurt each individual player's fantasy stock.
Parker averaged 13 points and eight rebounds per game last year, while compiling almost five assists per game. Could head coach Becky Hammon run some of the offense through Parker and let her play point-forward? That would harm the assist totals of other Aces studs like Gray and Plum. Will she live in the post and aid Vegas in dominating the boards? That could lower the rebound totals for Wilson and Young.
Lastly, there is shot distribution. Each of the projected starting five for Vegas averaged over 10 field goal attempts per game and only Kelsey Plum averaged more 3-point attempts per game than the incoming Parker. As we know, there is only one ball.
How Parker fits into the Vegas offense is the biggest question mark for fans of the team and fantasy hoops. We're guessing that it's Parker's numbers that take the biggest dip during the season as she tries to fit in with a team that was running at an elite level last year. Maybe Hammon decides to limit Parker's minute totals to save her for the impending battle with the Liberty. She's an excellent basketball player with a genius-level basketball IQ who will add more than she will take away, but through a fantasy manager's lens, it could come at the expense of her own numbers — and some of her teammate's.
Except maybe one...
Plum averaged 20 points per game last season and led the league in 3-pointers made per game, all while shooting a blistering 42% from beyond the arc. Parker's ability to stretch the floor with her shooting and also find open teammates along the perimeter from inside the paint will undoubtedly lead to more open shots for Plum.
Opposing teams, like last year, will try to stop Wilson's dominance down low, leaving players like Plum and Jackie Young with boundless opportunities. Plum's ability to beat defenders off of the dribble and drive into the lane will also have another benefactor now as Parker becomes a dump-off option on cuts.
Plum's pre-draft ranking has her as the first pick of the second round which frankly, feels ridiculously late. If you miss out on the chance to draft Wilson, pick the Aces player that could lead the WNBA in scoring, and go light up a cigar, for you may have won the draft.