WNBA Draft – The What, When and Who Cares?!

Tonight’s WNBA Draft has been circled over and over on the calendars of anyone keeping a finger on the pulse of women’s basketball. The incoming rookie class is one of the most star-studded we’ve seen in recent years, building up anticipation for the debut of Oregon phenom Sabrina Ionescu. But, stupid COVID-19 had to come and try to rain on our parade. While training camps are delayed, for now, the 2020 WNBA Draft is on, and it has more eyes than ever.

Instead of team reps making pick after pick and breaking the quarantine orders in the meantime, WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert will be announcing each pick as they are made by the teams. Although this class won’t get to walk across a stage and hold up a crispy new jersey for a photo op, this draft day will be one none of us will soon forget.

Why Is It So Big?

Monumental moves were made in the offseason to start really chipping away at the income gap and giving the WNBA athletes more share of their own pie. A new CBA was hashed out that produced a 53 percent cash increase for players, average salaries well over $100k, and well-deserved perks like better travel arrangements, child care, physical and mental health resources brought the league a whole lot closer to the attraction of leaving college to play professional basketball.

TV deals are getting better, too, and more attention is being given to the product. It’s been a steady incline the past few seasons, but injecting some power players into the mix should accelerate the process. Move-makers like Brooklyn Nets minority owner and Alibaba co-founder Joe Tsai getting in on the action, gaining ownership of the New York Liberty, revamping their look, and relocating them to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn is a sign of the bright lights ahead. This Draft marks the dawn of a new WNBA and what it means to be a first round draft pick in women’s basketball.

How to Watch

Another one of those big deals: ESPN. Not ESPN 2, not the U or ESPN News but the mothership. The reality is, for all too many sports fans, it is hard to find legitimacy in any sport or league that isn’t a staple of the mainstream news cycle. Sharing even a section of the spotlight with the W is a huge nod for a women’s sports movement that has been making treads in soccer, hockey and even more so in basketball, as proven with the new CBA.

However you consume media, dial it in to ESPN at primetime 7 p.m. EST to join the Commish for the first pick.

After the event, tune in at 9 p.m. EST to the Winsidr Draft Show on YouTube for analysis and interviews with players, staff and more.

The Tributes

Following the tragic death of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and teammates Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester on the way to their basketball game, the WNBA will be honoring the athletes to open the event. In recent years, Bryant had become a champion for the growth of women’s basketball, inspired by the rising career of his daughter, Gigi. The young ladies were all athletes in Kobe’s Mamba Academy system and exceptional talent for their age.

Draft Order

While you’ll hear from one team a lot, ahem Liberty, you’ll hear from others a whole lot less. Pending any more trades, New York comes in with seven total picks, five of the top 15. Las Vegas, on the other hand, won’t show up until the end of the third round, a pick they aren’t likely banking on beefing up the roster.

First Round

  1. Liberty
  2. Wings
  3. Fever
  4. Dream
  5. Wings
  6. Lynx
  7. Wings
  8. Sky
  9. Liberty
  10. Mercury
  11. Storm
  12. Liberty

Second Round

  1. Liberty
  2. Fever
  3. Liberty
  4. Lynx
  5. Dream
  6. Mercury
  7. Storm
  8. Sparks
  9. Wings
  10. Sparks
  11. Sun
  12. Mystics

Third Round

  1. Dream
  2. Liberty
  3. Dream
  4. Fever
  5. Mercury
  6. Sky
  7. Storm
  8. Sky
  9. Aces
  10. Sun
  11. Sparks
  12. Mystics

Who’s Eligible?

WNPA CBA Module Article XIII: Player Eligibility and WNBA Draft states that a player must be at least 22 years old in 2020, or essentially four years removed from high school, to be eligible for this year’s Draft.

International players, those born and living outside of the U.S. with no NCAA experience, can enter if they turn 20 by the end of the calendar year.

For three athletes, and likely first-rounders, the deal is too good to pass up. Satou Sabally (Oregon), Chennedy Carter (Texas A&M) and Megan Walker (UConn) will forgo their senior seasons of NCAA basketball for a one-year advance on their WNBA careers.

Who else could be picked? We will let the experts like Howard Megdal at High Post Hoops handle that.

Big Moves

The WNBA offseason has been absolute bananas. Instead of writing thousands of words here about my non-stop emotions geared toward the madness, I made a list of some of the bigger points.

New York Liberty: Tina Charles, Layshia Clarendon

Minnesota Lynx: Rachel Banham, Kayla Alexander

Los Angeles Sparks: Seimone Augustus, Marie Gulich, Brittney Sykes, Kristi Toliver

Atlanta Dream: Courtney Williams, Shekinna Stricklen, Glory Johnson, Kalani Brown

Indiana Fever: Briann January

Las Vegas Aces: Angel McCoughtry, Danielle Robinson

Chicago Sky: Azura Stevens, Sydney Colson

Dallas Wings: Katie Lou Samuelson, Astou Ndour

Phoenix Mercury: Bria Hartley, Skylar Diggins-Smith

Connecticut Sun: DeWanna Bonner

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