The Washington Mystics secured the No. 1 pick in the 2022 WNBA draft after winning the draft lottery. Washington entered the drawing with the third-best odds, with just a 17.8% chance at taking home the top selection.
“We have a window right now that’s been opened up again a little bit,” general manager and coach Mike Thibault told reporters. “I want to win now. I’m not gonna be coaching for the next 10 years. I want to win a championship. Every team if they have the opportunity to win a championship wants to make the most of it.”
However, the Mystics finalized a trade with the Atlanta Dream sending this year’s No. 1 pick to Atlanta in exchange for Atlanta’s No. 3 and No. 14 picks, as well as a 2023 first-round pick swap that benefits Washington. Multiple WNBA sources told The Next they believe Kentucky’s Rhyne Howard will come off the board first when Atlanta makes its selection.
Mike Thibault told The Washington Post‘s Kareem Copeland they’d gotten other offers for more draft picks to move farther down, but he didn’t want to be outside of the top three. They feel good about their top-rated 3 in this draft.
Rhyne Howard goes No. 1 to Dream: Two-time SEC Player of the Year Rhyne Howard of Kentucky tonight was selected by the Atlanta Dream with the first overall pick of WNBA Draft 2022 presented by State Farm®. Rhyne, a three-time AP All-America First Team selection, averaged 20.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists as a senior. In each of the past three seasons, she was a finalist for the Dawn Staley Award as the nation’s top guard and the Cheryl Miller Award as the best small forward. Rhyne led the Wildcats to its first SEC Tournament title since 1982, upsetting No. 1-ranked South Carolina, as she received the MVP award for the tournament. Atlanta acquired Rhyne after acquiring the first pick in the WNBA Draft through a trade with the Washington Mystics for the No. 3 and No. 14 overall picks.
“She can provide scoring, she can provide defense, and I think she can be one of two-to-three key pieces that can be on a contending team,” new Atlanta Dream general manager Dan Padover said. “She’s going to have to grow and get better, but the ceiling is absolutely there for her to be one of those foundational pieces on a championship-level team.”
With the No. 2 overall pick, the Indiana Fever selected Baylor forward NaLyssa Smith. The two-time Big 12 Player of the Year was a finalist for the Naismith Women’s National Player of the Year after averaging 22.1 points and 11.5 rebounds, both of which led the Big 12. The senior won back-to-back Katrina McClain Awards as the nation’s top power forward and set a Baylor record with 25 double-doubles this season, which ranked third in the nation.
With the third pick, the Mystics selected Shakira Austin of Ole Miss. A two-time All-America Honorable Mention, the center was a semifinalist for the Lisa Leslie Award as the nation’s best center each of the last two seasons. Shakira led Ole Miss in scoring, rebounding and blocks per game for the second consecutive season and was on the 2022 John R. Wooden Award ballot for the nation’s top player.
The Fever used the fourth pick to select forward Emily Engstler of Louisville. A transfer from Syracuse, the Queens, NY native was a finalist for the Cheryl Miller Award as the nation’s best small forward and a semifinalist for the Naismith National Defensive Player of the Year award. The senior led the ACC in steals (2.7 spg) and was third in rebounding (6.7 rpg) and was an All-ACC First Team and All-Defensive Team selection.
With the fifth pick, the New York Liberty, selected Nyara Sabally of Oregon. The two-time All-Pac-12 selection was a finalist for the 2021-22 Katrina McClain Award while leading Oregon in scoring (15.4 ppg) and rebounding (7.8 rpg). The German native is the younger sister of Satou Sabally, who was the second-overall selection by the Dallas Wings in the 2020 WNBA Draft.
The Fever used the sixth and 10th picks – its third and fourth selections of the first round – on guard Lexie Hull of Stanford and center Queen Egbo of Baylor, making Indiana the first team in WNBA history to make four picks in the first round. Lexie, a three-time All-Pac-12 Team selection and two-time Pac-12 All-Defensive Team pick, helped lead Stanford to the Final Four while leading the team in steals. A two-time finalist for the Lisa Leslie Award as the nation’s best center (2020, 2021), Queen averaged 11.0 points and 8.4 rebounds per game this season and helped Baylor win the national title as a freshman.
With the seventh pick, the Dallas Wings selected Northwestern guard Veronica Burton. The four-time Big Ten steals leader was an AP All-America Third Team selection this season and a finalist for the Nancy Lieberman Award as the best Division I point guard. Veronica is only the second woman to earn three Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors, along with current Atlanta Dream coach Tanisha Wright.
The Las Vegas Aces used the eighth and 12th picks of the first round on Colorado forward Mya Hollingshed and Florida Gulf Coast guard Kierstan Bell. Mya, a fifth-year senior and three-time All-Pac-12 selection, was All-Pac-12 First Team in 2022 while leading Colorado in scoring and rebounding. Kierstan is a two-time winner of the Becky Hammon Mid-Major Player of the Year Award and was an AP All-America Honorable Mention selection the last two seasons.
At No. 9, the Los Angeles Sparks chose Rae Burrell of Tennessee. The senior from Las Vegas earned 2022 All-Tournament Team honors and was an All-SEC Second Team pick in 2021.
With the 12th pick, the Connecticut Sun selected Nia Clouden of Michigan State. A two-time All-Big Ten First Team selection, the senior guard set a Michigan State single-game record with 50 points this season and was a semifinalist for the Nancy Lieberman Award as the nation’s best point guard.
In the second round, the Mystics selected guard Christyn Williams at No. 14, the first of three Connecticut players selected in the round, alongside guard Evina Westbrook to Seattle and forward Olivia Nelson-Ododa to Los Angeles. The Storm traded the draft rights to No. 18 pick Lorela Cubaj of Georgia Tech to the Liberty for New York’s 2023 second-round pick. The Fever made its fifth overall selection of the draft with the 20th pick, selecting guard Destanni Henderson, who led South Carolina to a national championship win over Connecticut with a game-high 26 points.
The Atlanta Dream now hold the first pick in the 2022 WNBA Draft. The Atlanta Dream, Indiana Fever, Washington Mystics, and Dallas Wings will have the Top 4 picks in the 2022 WNBA Draft.
The last six No. 1 overall draft picks were:
The WNBA Draft 2022 presented by State Farm® will be held on Monday, April 11. It’ll be in-person for the first time since 2019 at Spring Studios in Tribeca, New York. WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert will announce the draft picks live on ESPN with exclusive coverage beginning at 7 p.m. ET. The draft will also be available live on the ESPN App.
In preparation for the WNBA Draft 2022 presented by State Farm, ESPN2 will broadcast the first-ever WNBA Draft Preview Show on Saturday, April 9 (1:30 p.m. ET). LaChina Robinson will host the 30-minute special with analyst Rebecca Lobo. Together they will break down the top draft prospects, discuss team needs and whose stock is on the rise following the NCAA Tournament.
12 top prospects will take part live as the WNBA Draft presented by State Farm returns to an in-person event for the first time since 2019, with the acclaimed Spring Studios, located in the Tribeca section of New York and the home to such iconic events as Fashion Week and The Tribeca Film Festival, serving as the venue for the evening’s events.
“With the continued support of ESPN, our draft presenting partner State Farm and associate partners, Beats by Dre, SAP, and U.S. Bank, we look forward to what will be a truly memorable evening for WNBA teams and fans and, of course, for the elite athletes for whom this night will mark the realization of a dream come true and the launch of the next phase of their basketball journey,” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert.
“Coming off of an incredibly successful 2021 season and in the wake of our recent announcement regarding the largest-ever capital raise for a women’s sports property, the WNBA continues to build momentum for the future of the league. And what better way to ramp up the momentum for the tip-off of our 26th season, than with WNBA Draft 2022 presented by State Farm on April 11th.”
“Draft Central” on the WNBA’s website, will enable fans to access multiple offerings in the days leading up to the draft. Elements will include an interactive Draft Board; Prospect profiles with insights powered by SAP; In-depth features on the top draft prospects; Coverage of all draft events; and more. Fans will also be able to access an array of content across WNBA social channels that will include the unique stories and personalities of the prospects via Instagram and Tik Tok; a Twitter Spaces Mock Draft Debate; cross platform live coverage including the “Orange Carpet;” and more.
The formal tip off of the draft night festivities will take place when the invited draft prospects take their turn on the WNBA’s iconic “Orange Carpet” where they will showcase their personalities and their unique fashion styles while preparing for this life-changing moment.
In 2020, the WNBA drafted in 36 new players to the league on draft night. The WNBA is a hard league to break into because each of the 12 teams can only bring on 12 players during the regular season. Teams can only have 15 players in training camp at one time. And, in 2021, some teams are going with the minimum of 11 players, rather than the maximum of 12, to fit multiple max contracts under the $1.3 million salary cap. Players picked in the bottom half of the draft from 18th and beyond are the most likely to be cut after camps this year unfortunately.
The Washington Mystics.
Draft picks’ base salaries vary depending on how high each player was drafted. The first four picks in the WNBA draft will earn $72,141 in 2022 reports HerHoopStats. The base salary then decreases to $69,224 for the fifth through the eighth picks and $66,306 for the remaining first-round selections. Learn more about WNBA salaries.
American draft entrants must be at least 22 years old during the year in which the draft takes place and have no remaining college eligibility or renounce any future college eligibility. International players must be 20 years to be deemed eligible. Athletes have 48 hours after their last game in the NCAA tournament to make and declare their decision.
Here’s the full first-round order:
The draft lottery features the four teams that did not make the playoffs. Starting with the 2017 Draft, lottery odds are determined by taking into account the team’s two-year cumulative record.
The Fever came in with the best chances after a cumulative 12-42 record in the 2019-20 and ’20-21 seasons. Their chances were 442 out of 1,000 (44%) and they were guaranteed at least the No. 3 pick. The franchise, which played its first season in 2000, has never had a No. 1 pick.
In the drawing, 14 balls numbered 1-14 will be placed in a lottery machine and mixed. Four balls will be drawn to determine a four-digit combination. The team assigned that four-ball combination will receive the No. 1 pick. The four balls will then be placed back into the machine and the process will be repeated to determine the second pick. The team with the lowest cumulative two-year record whose numerical combinations do not come up in the first two four-ball combinations will select third and the remaining team will select fourth.
The order of selection for the remainder of the first round as well as the second and third rounds is determined by inverse order of the teams’ respective regular-season records solely from 2021.
This year’s draft decisions have been influenced by WNBA free agency, as teams look to use their salary cap wisely. Here are a few spots each team might have a need to fill.
“We’re really excited about the opportunity to have the third pick in the 2022 WNBA Draft, we think that we’ll be able to get a quality player that can really help bolster what we’re trying to do here in Atlanta,” head coach Tanisha Wright said. “Somebody who is competitive, somebody who wants to be in Atlanta and wants to do great things with our organization.” The Dream could use a strong post scorer, and a player who is independent enough to thrive under various leadership styles.
The Sky could use another dynamic wing with consistency to complement Kahleah Cooper. They might also seek out post players if they’re looking beyond this year considering when Candace Parker might retire.
With Jonquel Jones as a force in the post, what the Sun most need is a dynamic guard that’s a scoring threat from beyond the arc and on the drive. Courtney Williams was certainly a get here. Another wouldn’t hurt.
Dallas has a stuffed full roster this year, but could be in the market for a dominating post presence and some form of veteran leadership. Their acquisition of Teaira McCowan will certainly help. More depth could be added though.
The Indiana Fever need a dynamic scorer who can take some of the load off Kelsey Mitchell. This is likely to come in the form of a guard, and a hooper who’s used to playing at a speedy pace.
With Napheesa Collier questionable after announcing her pregnancy earlier this year, the Lynx might be looking for a complementary post presence to veteran Sylvia Fowles.
The Aces might need someone to complement A’ja Wilson after Liz Cambage’s departure to LA. They could look to add a shooting guard as well.
The Sparks are in need of offensive threats, likely in the form of a strong shooting guard as Nneka Ogwumike can deliver in the post.
The Liberty also have a pretty full roster, but could look to pick up a guard presence to complement Betnijah Laney and Natasha Howard.
The Mercury could need another strong shooting or point guard to stretch the floor, as Diana could see less time due to injury. Tina Charles and Brianna Turner should be able to hold down the post, while Brittney Griner is unavailable.
Seattle needs a strong post presence to complement Breanna Stewart, and might have some gaps to fill when it comes to their point guard in future years as well.
Head coach Mike Thibault told reporters after the lottery. “…it’s a great opportunity because it gives us so many options going through the next four months. There’s a variety of players to look at. … You always have the option to trade the pick if there’s the right offer. But it puts so many things on the table for us.” And trade the number one pick they did! The Mystics are likely to look for a versatile post or small forward who can complement the depth they have around the perimeter.
The WNBA announced that 108 players from colleges and universities have formally filed for inclusion as candidates for the 2022 WNBA Draft presented by State Farm, scheduled for April 11 at Spring Studios in New York (ESPN, 7 p.m. ET).
Since the NCAA granted, in 2021, every winter sport student-athlete an additional year of NCAA eligibility as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, intercollegiate women’s basketball players – even those who are finishing their senior year or graduate studies – may have remaining NCAA eligibility after the 2021-22 season. Accordingly, the WNBA and the WNBPA previously agreed on an opt-in process for NCAA players who are otherwise eligible for the 2022 WNBA Draft presented by State Farm.
Players whose college teams are still active will have 48 hours following the conclusion of their final game to renounce their remaining NCAA eligibility and declare themselves available for the 2022 WNBA Draft presented by State Farm.
Players who have exhausted all NCAA eligibility, including the additional year granted due to Covid-19, are not required to renounce in order to be available. Eligible international players (as that term is defined in the Collective Bargaining Agreement) also are not required to opt in to the 2022 WNBA Draft in order to be selected.
Following is an initial list of players who have filed for consideration as candidates for the 2022 WNBA Draft presented by State Farm.
The select prospects who will be attending WNBA Draft 2022 presented by State Farm include:
Shakira Austin (Ole Miss): A two-time All-America Honorable Mention selection at Ole Miss, Austin was one of 15 players on the ballot for the 2021-22 John R. Wooden Award as the nation’s top player and a semifinalist for the Lisa Leslie Award as the nation’s best center. The 6-5 Fredericksburg, Va., native earned all-conference honors first in the ACC with Maryland and then in the SEC with Ole Miss, which she helped improve from 7-23 the year before her arrival to 23-7 this season.
Kierstan Bell (Florida Gulf Coast): Bell, a 6-1 guard and the winner of the 2020-21 Becky Hammon Mid-Major Player of the Year Award, was a finalist for the same honor in 2021-22 as well as for the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award as the nation’s best shooting guard. An AP All-America Honorable Mention selection the last two seasons, the native of Alliance, Ohio helped FGCU earn the ASUN Conference regular-season and tournament titles in 2021-22. She averaged 24.3 points in 2020-21 and 22.8 points in 2021-22.
Rae Burrell (Tennessee): A 6-1 guard-forward from Las Vegas, Burrell overcame an early-season leg injury this season to average 12.3 points and 3.9 rebounds in 22 games for the Lady Vols. Burrell capped her final season at Tennessee by earning All-Tournament Team at the NCAA Wichita Regionals.
Veronica Burton (Northwestern): The 5-9 Burton, a finalist for the Naismith National Defensive Player of the Year honor, joined current Atlanta Dream coach Tanisha Wright as the only women to earn three Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors. The four-time Big Ten steals leader also was an AP All-America Third Team selection this season and a finalist for the Nancy Lieberman Award as the best Division I point guard. A native of Newton, Mass., her late grandfather, Ron Burton, was the first-ever draft pick of the New England Patriots.
Nia Clouden (Michigan State): A 5-8 guard, Clouden garnered All-Big Ten First Team honors in 2020-21 and again this season. A starter at Michigan State from the first game of her freshman season, the Baltimore native paced the Spartans in points per game in her final three seasons, lifting her scoring average from 14.5 to 18.7 to 20.0 points in that span. She set a Michigan State single-game record with 50 points against Florida Gulf Coast this season en route to being one of 10 semifinalists for the Nancy Lieberman Award as Division I’s best point guard.
Elissa Cunane (NC State): Nicknamed “Big Smile,” the 6-5 Cunane was a finalist for the Lisa Leslie Award as the nation’s best center the past three seasons and an AP All-America Second Team selection the last two years. She helped the Wolfpack win the ACC Tournament crown in her hometown of Greensboro, N.C., each of the last three seasons, earning tournament MVP honors in 2021 and 2022. Cunane also helped NC State earn four consecutive trips to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.
Emily Engstler (Louisville): A transfer from Syracuse ahead of this season, Engstler excelled for Louisville, becoming one of five finalists for the Cheryl Miller Award as the nation’s best small forward and one of 10 semifinalists for the Naismith National Defensive Player of the Year honor. The 6-1 forward from Queens, N.Y., was an All-ACC First Team and All-Defensive Team pick in 2021-22, a year after being named Co-Sixth Player of Year. She finished this season atop the ACC charts in steals (2.7 spg) and ranked third in rebounding (6.7 rpg).
Destanni Henderson (South Carolina): A 5-7 guard from Fort Myers, Fla., Henderson propelled South Carolina to the 2021-22 national championship with a game-high 26 points in the title game win over Connecticut. In Henderson’s final season with the Gamecocks, she was one of 15 players on the ballot for the John R. Wooden Award as the National Player of the Year. She was also a finalist for the Dawn Staley Award as the best Division I guard and for the Nancy Lieberman Award as the nation’s top point guard.
Naz Hillmon (Michigan): The most decorated player in the history of the Wolverines’ women’s basketball program, Hillmon was an AP All-America First Team selection this season and the 2020-21 Big Ten Player of the Year. The Cleveland native and four-time All-Big Ten First Team honoree was a finalist for both the Katrina McClain Award as the nation’s best power forward and the John R. Wooden Award as the National Player of the Year. A 6-2 forward, Hillmon averaged more than 21.0 points and 9.5 rebounds in each of the past two seasons.
Rhyne Howard (Kentucky): The 6-2 Howard was the SEC Player of the Year in 2020-21 and 2021-22. In each of the past three seasons, the versatile Chattanooga, Tenn., native was a finalist for multiple National Player of the Year honors as well as for the Dawn Staley Award as the nation’s top guard and the Cheryl Miller Award as the best small forward. She is the ninth player ever to be a three-time AP All-America First Team pick, joining Alana Beard, Brittney Griner, Chamique Holdsclaw, Sabrina Ionescu, Maya Moore, Courtney Paris, Breanna Stewart and A’ja Wilson. Howard averaged at least 20 points each of the last three seasons.
Nyara Sabally (Oregon): A native of Berlin, Germany, the 6-5 forward is the younger sister of Satou Sabally, the Dallas Wings forward and No. 2 selection in the 2020 WNBA Draft presented by State Farm. After missing the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons due to injury, the younger Sabally was an All-Pac-12 selection the past two seasons and a finalist for the 2021-22 Katrina McClain Award as the nation’s top power forward. This season, she led Oregon in scoring (15.4 ppg) and rebounding (7.8 rpg).
NaLyssa Smith (Baylor): Smith, a 6-4 forward, won the Wade Trophy as the nation’s best player in 2020-21. In each of the past two seasons, she earned the Katrina McClain Award as Division I’s best power forward, was selected as the Big 12 Conference Player of the Year and was named to the AP All-America First Team. This year, the Converse, Texas native was again a finalist for multiple National Player of the Year honors after pacing the Big 12 in scoring (22.1 ppg) and rebounding (11.5 rpg).
Just Women’s Sports has a full scouting report for the top 50 prospects in the 2022 class.
Travel back in time and check out the full history of the WNBA Draft, including interesting videos, articles and even fun quizzes, from every year the draft has taken place. See great first pick reactions, mock drafts, and stats for every player ever drafted! Plus check out the top 10 WNBA Draft steals of all time, and the greatest WNBA Draft picks ever.
1997 was the first WNBA draft. It had three different types of drafts as the WNBA had to build all of its rosters.
Two expansion teams joined the league so there was also an expansion draft and an allocation draft this year to go along with the traditional draft.
More WNBA expansion took place. So there once again was an expansion draft. Players from the American Basketball League were also added to the WNBA family.
Another year of expansion another year of multiples drafts. The new millennium begun with a third year of WNBA basketball and a third year of growth.
This was the first draft where this only one draft! Just the traditional draft of college players becoming professional WNBA players. No expansion draft whatsoever.
This draft had notable stars such as Sue Bird selected in the first round. It also featured the first time the WNBA implemented a draft lottery to select the teams who would pick at the top of the draft.
The 2003 WNBA Draft had a dispersal draft along with a traditional draft. Due to two teams folding and two teams moving to new cities. The draft was also reduced from four rounds to three.
Another dispersal draft occurred in 2004 for the Cleveland Rockers who no longer existed after the 2003 season.
2005 was a traditional draft with just the selection of college players eligible being selected. The first pick overall was Janel McCarville.
The 2006 draft marked the tenth WNBA draft of all time. A tremendous accomplishment for a new league that has fought and persevered through th years to continue to grow and succeed.
2007 featured another dispersal draft due to the Charlotte Sting folding.
Notable players such as Candace Parker and Sylvia Fowles were drafted in 2008 adding more star power to the WNBA.
There was another dispersal draft due to Houston Rockets folding. This 2008 draft marked the thirteenth WNBA Draft in the league’s history.
This was the first draft of the new decade. Interesting fact: the Sacramento Monarchs folded after the draft was over so their picks were just eliminated.
No teams dissolved this year so it was just a traditional draft. Maya Moore was drafted at number one.
2012 draft featured new stars like Nneka Ogwumike and Devereaux Peters.
The draft was shown on SportsCenter for the first time on April 15th. The draft featured the “three to see” players which were Elena Delle Donne, Brittney Griner, and Skylar Diggins-Smith.
The draft lottery was shown during prime time on SportsCenter on December 10, 2013. At this point the WNBA draft was growing into a bigger and bigger event.
Jewell Lloyd went number one and left school a year early. This was extremely rare at the time and is something we will be seeing more and more of.
2016 marked the twentieth year of the WNBA – a tremendous accomplishment for the W. Another historic thing happened during the draft: Three UCONN players were selected in the first round. An incredible testament to the development and quality of players coming out of UCONN.
The 2017 Draft featured no UCONN players in the first round and had a lot of PAC 12 love with players drafted from Washington, Oregon State, and Stanford.
In 2018 UCONN came back with a vengeance having three players selected in the first round of the draft.
The 2019 WNBA draft took place at the Nike New York Headquarters. Round One was televised on ESPN 2 with round two and three being televised on ESPN U
The 2020 WNBA Draft was unlike any other. Due to the coronavirus pandemic it was held completely virtually. The WNBA and ESPN did a fantastic job working through all the challenges of running an all virtual draft.
The Dallas Wings selected Charli Collier of Texas and Awak Kuier of Finland with the first two picks in the 2021 WNBA Draft presented by State Farm.
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