Rhyne Howard or NaLyssa Smith at No. 1 in the WNBA Mock Draft 2022?

Wnba Mock Draft 2022: Rhyne Howard Or Nalyssa Smith At No. 1?

Our WNBA Mock Selection looks at a great group of prospects and a draft order that has changed a lot after a lot of trades.

The WNBA Draft in 2022 is less than a week away. After a deal with the Mystics on Wednesday, the Atlanta Dream now have the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, while the Indiana Fever have three of the first six picks.

The WNBA Draft has always felt more random than other professional sports drafts, partly because there isn’t nearly as much publicly available data for fans and experts to get a sense of how players rank up as in other leagues.

Using a mix of the eye test and college basketball data from sites like Her Hoop Stats and CBB Analytics, we can still get a solid notion of which players are good. So let’s take a look at a mock draft. (Please keep in mind that this is a predictive mock draft, not a “who would you pick” mock draft.)

I’m not as high on some players as I believe teams will be, but I’m still putting them in the first round because I believe they’ll be selected there.)

first-round picks in the WNBA mock draft.

Rhyne Howard of the Atlanta Dream was the first pick

The Dream has needs on the wing and in the frontcourt, and I tend to assume that in situations like that, positional scarcity will lead to the wing being taken.

Wednesday’s trade makes it much more likely that NaLyssa Smith ends up as the No. 1 overall pick over Rhyne Howard, but I’m going to stick with Howard here because the Dream has needs on the wing and in the frontcourt, and I tend to assume that positional scarcity will lead to the wing being Howard, who has the ability to produce at a level of three.

Some have complained that her numbers haven’t improved in the last two seasons, although part of that is due to her lower usage rate due to a better supporting cast.

Despite the fact that she is not a point guard, she has shot at least 37.3 percent from beyond the arc in each of her seasons and is now in the 92nd percentile in assists per game.Howard is a perfect fit for the White House.

NaLyssa Smith of the Indiana Fever was chosen second

The Fever are in desperate need of everything, so it’s fortunate that they have so many options. Smith was ninth in the country in terms of points per game and eleventh in terms of rebounds per game. In transition, she’s impossible to stop, and she can score at the rim while also shooting from the mid-range and beyond.

Her athleticism really stands out on film. I understand that she isn’t large enough to play much of the 5, but she can be an exceptional four who can provide some small-ball five minutes.

I’m particularly impressed by how she was able to take on a larger role in a more modern offensive system this past season, and how her numbers increased across the board as a result.

Shakira Austin, Washington Mystics, No. 3

To me, this draft has an obvious top two, a clear No. 3, and then things become cloudy after that. Austin is the third city on the list. She didn’t go to the rim as much as a top interior talent should — she attempted only 22.6 percent of her shots at the rim — but she can score in the paint and from the mid-range.

But it’s on defense where Austin really shines. She has a steal rate in the 70th percentile and a block rate in the 97th percentile, according to CBB Analytics.

Her PF efficiency is in the 97th percentile, suggesting she can be active defensively without fouling. Even if the fit isn’t ideal, the Mystics can’t pass up on the clear No. 3 player, even if she won’t do much offensively to begin with.

Pick 4, Kiersten Bell (Indiana Fever)

Now we’ll move on to the “for the rest of the first round, there’s basically only one huge tier of players” portion. I could see the fever moving in a lot of different paths here, with any of the first-round prospects listed below being viable.

But I’m leaning toward Bell here because, after taking Smith, it makes sense to go with a wing. Last season, Bell averaged 23.5 points per game for Florida Gulf Coast, shooting 63.4 percent from three-point range.She also tried 9.4 three-pointers per game but only made 28.8% of them.

This season, there will be lots of opportunities to shoot in Indiana. Will she be able to adjust to the increase in the competition level?

Emily Engstler, New York Liberty Pick 5:

Engstler has risen the most for me in the last month or two. On the basketball court, the 6-foot-1 forward can do a little bit of everything and fits in well as a 3-and-D player for the Liberty.

I don’t believe she has the same ceiling as some of the other players left on the board, but New York desperately needs shooting to aid the Sabrina Ionescu/Betnijah Laney duo.

Nia Clouden (Indiana Fever) is the sixth selection.

Indiana is a large state. They’ve got a wing. Let’s put a guard on them now! Clouden would make a good offensive backcourt partner for Kelsey Mitchell, relieving some of Mitchell’s pressure and allowing both to be more efficient.

She’s little, but we’ve seen diminutive athletes succeed in recent selections, with players like Crystal Dangerfield and Dana Evans carving out niches. Clouden is a little more of a 2-guard than others, but I believe her offensive will translate despite her lack of height.

Nyara Sabally (Dallas Wings) (Pick 7)

Sabally might go as high as fourth, but in a league where every roster spot is valuable, I wonder if Sabally’s injury concerns, as she’s had three ACL tears during her college career, will frighten teams away.

Dallas, on the other hand, would be an excellent landing point, not only since Sabally’s sister, Satou, currently plays for the Wings, but also because they are in desperate need of a big man.

Last year, the team selected Charli Collier and Awak Kuier with the first two picks, but neither is a lock to be a starter on this squad in the future. Why not bring in someone like Sabally, who can play both in the paint and on the floor?

Sika Kone, Minnesota Lynx (Pick 8),

I’ll admit that Kone is the player in this selection who I haven’t seen much of because I don’t get to watch much of the Spanish league where she plays.

However, Kone’s athleticism stands out in the highlights I’ve seen. She’ll need some time to focus on harnessing her agility and honing her talents on the inside.

That makes me really enjoy this match in Minnesota, where she could learn from Sylvia Fowles for a season. Kone is also a good bet for the future, with greater upside than anybody else on the list, with much of this team hitting free agency in 2023.

Destanni Henderson, Los Angeles Sparks (Pick 9)

The lack of a top point guard option has long been a talking point in this draft. That’s definitely still true, but Destanni Henderson’s performance in the national championship game may have caused some to reconsider.

Henderson had a career-high 26 points in the victory over UConn on Sunday. This season, she has shot 39.9% from three-point range and has been aggressive on defense. She’s also a touch short, and her score isn’t always reliable.

Is Henderson capable of starting at point guard for the Warriors? The Sparks could let her learn from Kristi Toliver this season and then try to put together a backcourt with Henderson and Chennedy Carter in 2023, which would be a lot of fun.

Pick 10, Naz Hillmon (Indiana Fever)

There appears to be a significant difference in how some people view Hillmon and how others view Hillmon. If you ask an eye-test person, she’ll tell you she’s a lottery winner. If you ask an analyst, she isn’t a first-round pick.

Hillmon’s problem is that she made 76.6 percent of her shot attempts near the rim, despite the fact that nothing about her collegiate shot profile implies she can shoot outside of the restricted area.

Hillmon has a Megan Gustafson-like quality to her — a highly effective college player but lacking the size to continue doing those things in the W. Gustafson’s draft night performance was far below expectations. Is it possible that Hillmon will face the same fate?

Elissa Cunane, Las Vegas Aces, No. 11

This season, I had great expectations for Cunane. I expected her to come back and dominate for NC State after showing a lot of promise last year.

That, however, did not occur. Cunane’s upside is evident as a large who can play both inside and outside, but will she be able to defend herself at five? Is it possible that her lack of shooting experience as a senior will make it difficult for her to build a range in the W?

It’s also worth mentioning that I believe the NC State system was tailor-made for her. Is there a good landing spot in the W that will give her the interior space she needs?

Veronica Burton, from Connecticut Sun, No. 12

Connecticut has the final pick in the first round. Curt Miller’s club will change guards here, with Courtney Williams and Natisha Hiedeman both leaving free agency after this season.

After Henderson, Burton and Christyn Williams are the best point guard prospects, but I prefer Burton because I believe she will be a better defender and passer, which will be beneficial on a team where she will be asked to defer to the bigs and focus on setting up players like Jonquel Jones and DeWanna Bonner.

Second- and third-round picks in the WNBA mock draft.

I’m not going to give any reasons for these selections, but here’s how I envision the second and third rounds playing out. Note: I’m not as sure about these picks as I am about the first rounders.

Pick 13: Minnesota Lynx – Rae Burrell
Pick 14: Washington Mystics – Christyn Williams
Pick 15: Atlanta Dream – Khayla Pointer
Pick 16: Los Angeles Sparks – Lorela Cubaj
Pick 17: Seattle Storm – Evina Westbrook
Pick 18: Seattle Storm – Mya Hollingshed
Pick 19: Los Angeles Sparks – Aisha Sheppard
Pick 20: Indiana Fever – Jade Mebourne
Pick 21: Seattle Storm – Lexie Hull
Pick 22: Minnesota Lynx – Jasmine Dickey
Pick 23: Las Vegas Aces – Joanne Allen-Taylor
Pick 24: Connecticut Sun – Olivia Nelson-Ododa
Pick 25: Indiana Fever – Jenna Staiti
Pick 26: Phoenix Mercury – Hannah Sjerven
Pick 27: Los Angeles Sparks – Katie Benzan
Pick 28: Minnesota Lynx – Chloe Bibby
Pick 29: New York Liberty – Jordan Lewis
Pick 30: Dallas Wings – Queen Egbo
Pick 31: Dallas Wings – Kianna Smith
Pick 32: Phoenix Mercury – Lotta-Maj Lahtinen
Pick 33: Seattle Storm – Que Morrison
Pick 34: Indiana Fever – Vivian Gray
Pick 35: Las Vegas Aces – Anna Wilson
Pick 36: Connecticut Sun – Bethy Mununga