The WNBA 2020 draft is in the books, and as expected, the New York Liberty has made Sabrina Ionescu the No. 1 choice in the general ranking. A standout at the University of Oregon, Ionescu has dynamic shooting and passing skills, and will travel to New York as the new face of his franchise. To complete the lottery, the Dallas Wings took Satou Sabally, the Indiana Fever selected Lauren Cox and the Atlanta Dream chose Chennedy Carter.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the event was held virtually. Curator Cathy Engelbert read the choices live on the ESPN show from her living room, and the players were included in the event via video conferences from their home. It was a unique experience, but at least the show was able to continue.
Here are some Friday night winners and losers:
Winner: New York Liberty
It was a good year for the New York Liberty to have the No. 1 overall choice for the first time in the history of the franchise. As expected, they took on Sabrina Ionescu, who recently completed a college career in Oregon, where she became the all-time NCAA leader in triple-doubles, and the only player to win 2,000 points in career, 1000 rebounds and 1000 assists.
She is a brilliant passer-by and understands play at an extremely high level, but she is more than just a room general. A jump sniper, his ability to consistently make 3 points on the dribble is rare and will help separate him in the league. In addition, she has a unique competitive dynamism and has grown as a leader during her senior season. There will be tremendous pressure on her as the face of the franchise upon her arrival at the Barclays Center, but she has the skills and makeup to thrive in this situation.
The Liberty was not made, however, adding a number of other choices via trade. On Wednesday, they dispatched longtime star Tina Charles to the Washington Mystics as part of a three-team deal, which resulted in two more first-round picks, and on the evening of the draft, they sent Shatori Walker- Kimbrough at the Mercury for another first round.
They used these choices to add Megan Walker to # 9, Jocelyn Willoughby to # 10 and Jazmine Jones to # 12. If that was not enough, they also had first choice in the second round and took college from Jones teammate Kylie Shook. Walker was a bit of a surprise participant at first, but was the best shooter in the project, and will help create space for Ionescu. As for Willoughby, she quickly climbed on the drawing boards thanks to her size and her ability to score on the wing.
Obviously, the main point to remember here is Ionescu, but the Liberty was thin on the wing and added the two best options this project had to offer. The choices of Jones and Shook were unexpected, but even so, it was a great evening for them.
Loser: Crystal Dangerfield, Te’a Cooper, Beatrice Mompremier
The four lottery choices were pretty much locked into the project and went as planned. However, no one really knew what was going to happen after that, and there were certainly a lot of surprises. Some of this news was important to the players – Mikiah Herbert Harrigan went to No. 6 at the Lynx, and Jazmine Jones became a first-round pick – but some was sadly bad news.
Crystal Dangerfield, Te’a Cooper and Beatrice Mompremier definitely fell into the latter category. All three were screened as likely choices in the first round before the draft but ended up falling in the second round. Dangerfield went to No. 16 at the Lynnes of Minnesota, Cooper fell to the Phoenix Mercury at No. 18 and Mompremier fell to No. 20, where she was selected by the Los Angeles Sparks.
Dangerfield found herself on a Lynx team that needs a playmaker, so she’ll have a chance to make the list. Cooper, too, will have a chance to compete for a spot on a Mercury team that is a bit thin in the backcourt – in terms of number of players, not talent. Mompremier, however, will find it difficult to form a Sparks team charged in the first zone. While it was not the end of the road for any of these players, it was certainly a disappointing night.
Winner: Dallas Wings
The Wings did not get the No. 1 choice, but they could end up with the best player in this draft. This is the full potential of Satou Sabally. A 6 foot 4 inch forward from Oregon, Sabally was a little stuck in the shadow of Ionescu, but she has all the skills you could ask for in a modern forward. She is an incredibly gentle athlete, can pull the 3, has a handle and can put the ball on the deck, while breaking the glass and can hold her own inside. She and Arike Ogunbowale should form a dynamic partnership for the years to come.
If getting Sabally was the only thing the Wings did on Friday night, they would still have been a winner, but they also added Bella Alarie and Tyasha Harris. Alarie is another versatile attacker who can space the ground and provide more shots around Ogunbowale. As for Harris, she is a great point guard who can direct the show and allow Ogunbowale to work more on the ball.
Overall, the Wings met all of their needs, got one of the best prospects in the draft and added three players who should have an immediate impact on their team. Dallas has been a bit of a mess for the past few years, but they have nailed this project and are finally headed in the right direction.
Loser: the night experience
Getting drafted is a special achievement and one of the most memorable nights in a player’s career. Unfortunately for the 2020 class, they didn’t have a typical draw night due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Although it is necessary to go ahead with a virtual project, and even better than nothing, it has certainly lessened the experience of prospects. They were unable to attend a major event in person and go on stage to obtain a commissioner’s jersey. Instead, they were contacted by videoconference and had to wrestle with difficult interviews with questions they could barely hear until sometimes.
And these are just the players caught in the first round. After that, the project flew in minutes. The choices were called during the commercial breaks, and in the third round, the show did not even bother to announce the choices, choosing instead to simply put up a graphic. It was a shame for these players. There was nothing else in the sports world on Friday night, and the show could at least have given the third-round picks a moment in the spotlight instead of ignoring them.
1. New York Liberty: Sabrina Ionescu – G, Oregon
2. Dallas Wings: Satou Sabally – F, Oregon
3. Indiana fever: Lauren Cox – F, Baylor
4. Atlanta Dream: Chennedy Carter – G, Texas A&M
5. Dallas Wings: Bella Alarie – F, Princeton
6. Minnesota Lynx: Mikiah Herbert Harrigan – F, South Carolina
7. Dallas Wings: Tyasha Harris – G, South Carolina
8. Chicago Sky: Ruthy Hebard – F, Oregon
9. New York Liberty: Megan Walker – F, UConn
10. New York Liberty (via trade with Phoenix Mercury): Jocelyn Willoughby – F, Virginia
11. Seattle Storm: Kitija Laksa – G, Latvia
12. New York Liberty: Jazmine Jones – G, Louisville
13. New York Liberty: Kylee Shook – F, Louisville
14. Indiana fever: Kathleen Doyle – G, Iowa
15. New York Liberty: Leaonna Odom – F, Duke
16. Minnesota Lynx: Crystal Dangerfield – G, UConn
17. Atlanta Dream: Brittany Brewer – F, Texas A&M
18. Phoenix Mercury: Te’a Cooper – G, Baylor
19. Seattle Storm: Joyner Holmes – F, Texas
20. Los Angeles Sparks: Beatrice Mompremier – F, Miami (FL)
21. Dallas Wings: Luisa Geiselsöder – C, Germany
22. Los Angeles Sparks: Leonie Fiebich – G, Germany
23. Connecticut Sun: Kaila Charles – G / F, Maryland
24. Washington Mystics: Jaylyn Agnew – F, Creighton
25. Atlanta Dream: Mikayla Pivec – G, Oregon State
26. Minnesota Lynx (via trade with New York Liberty): Erica Ogwumike – G, Rice
27. Atlanta Dream: Kobi Thornton – F, Clemson
28. Indiana Fever: Kamiah Smalls – G, James Madison
29. Phoenix Mercury: Stella Johnson – G, rider
30. Chicago Sky: Japreece Dean – G, UCLA
31. Seattle Storm: Haley Gorecki – G, Duke
32. Chicago Sky: Kiah Gillespie – F, State of Florida
33. Las Vegas Aces: Lauren Manis – F, Holy Cross
34. Los Angeles Sparks: Tynice Martin – G, West Virginia
35. Connecticut Sun: Juicy Landrum – G, Baylor
36. Washington Mystics: Sug Sutton – G, Texas