Christmas came early in the WNBA and the Indiana Fever got coal – smfh. Once again, the team with the worst record over the last two seasons wasn’t awarded the No. 1 pick at the draft lottery despite 44.2 percent odds. Instead, the Washington Mystics, with a 17.8 percent chance, will draft first. Poor Indy 😭
The Mystics earning the first pick is seismic for the W. Washington may have been a lottery team, but they didn’t — and still don’t — have a lottery roster. Injuries and overseas commitments last season afforded the opportunity for this stacked team to earn another major asset.
I say asset because there is a real chance the team opts to move this pick for a veteran talent. With former MVP Elena Delle Donne, All-Defensive player Natasha Cloud, Olympic gold medalist Ariel Atkins and two-time champion Alysha Clark under contract, this team is going to be a serious contender next year.
For this exercise, let’s say Washington keeps the pick, though. Here’s Gaming Society’s first WNBA mock draft featuring the latest sportsbook odds:
1. Washington Mystics select: Rhyne Howard, guard, Kentucky
Howard is the can’t-miss star in this draft who can create her own shot and score at will. The 6-foot-2 guard is averaging 18.7 points per game on 45.7 percent shooting from the field and 33.3 percent 3-point shooting (shades below her 37.8 percent average.) She’s also dishing a career-best 4.1 assists.
Odds: Rhyne Howard -160 (bet $160 → $100), NaLyssa Smith +250, Field +600
2. Indiana Fever select: NaLyssa Smith, forward, Baylor
Smith may be the best player in college basketball this season scoring 20.5 points per game on 56.8 percent shooting. She’s an elite finisher around the rim and her range is expanding, sinking 4-of-12 3-pointers so far. The 6-foot-4 big’s most impressive stat is her rebounding, averaging 13.3 per night, including 3.6 offensive.
Odds: NaLyssa Smith -140 (bet $140 → $100), Rhyne Howard +220, Field +450
3. Atlanta Dream select: Shakira Austin, center, Ole Miss
Austin’s numbers are slightly down from last season, but there’s no doubt the 6-foot-5 center can make a major impact as a defensive presence. She’s averaging 2.1 blocks and 2.2 steals per game to go along with 14.2 points and 9.0 rebounds.
Odds: Shakira Austin +200 (bet $100 → $200), Ayoka Lee +240, Elissa Cunane +500, Naz Hillmon +800, Kierstan Bell +900, NaLyssa Smith +1000, Field +1000
4. Dallas Wings select: Naz Hillmon, forward, Michigan
The 6-foot-4 standout is a traditional forward averaging 20.2 points per game on 56.3 percent shooting with 8.6 rebounds for a historic Wolverines group that just knocked off a top-5 team for the first time ever. Hillmon is a program-changer.
Odds: Elissa Cunane +400 (bet $100 → $400), Shakira Austin +400, Ashley Joens +600, Ayoka Lee +600, Naz Hillmon +600, Kierstan Bell +800, Field +350
The Takeaway 🎲
The battle for No. 1 pick is almost certainly going to come down to Rhyne Howard or NaLyssa Smith. But whether or not Washington keeps the pick will determine who’s chosen.