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What To Watch For In Friday’s WNBA Draft

The WNBA’s next superstars will be chosen on Friday night during the 2020 WNBA Draft, a three-round, 36-pick event which begins at 7 p.m. EST on ESPN. Instead of the usual in-person affair, this year’s draft will be held remotely, with league commissioner Cathy Engelbert announcing the picks from her home in New Jersey and the draftees included via video conference. Engelbert also plans to honor the late Gigi Bryant, Payton Chester, and Alyssa Altobelli during the broadcast.

Although the draft might look a little bit different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the players will still be able to sport their new team’s hat. Earlier this week, each of the top prospects received a box with league swag, including snapback hats for each team.

This WNBA offseason has been the most memorable in years, with a brand new collective bargaining agreement and an unprecedented amount of star players making the move to different teams. Earlier this week, former MVP and seven-time All-Star Tina Charles was traded to the reigning champion Washington Mystics after spending six seasons with the New York Liberty. Now, the league is ready to welcome its next crop of players.

For the first time in team history, the Liberty hold the first overall pick. If almost everyone on the planet is to be believed, they will select Oregon guard Sabrina Ionescu, one of the most decorated individuals in college basketball history. Liberty fans’ excitement to welcome her to the Barclays Center could not be higher. Along with Ionescu, Oregon forwards Satou Sabally and Ruthy Hebard are also expected to go in the first round.

Several talented juniors will also be featured in this year’s draft, including Oregon’s Sabally, Connecticut guard Megan Walker, and Chennedy Carter of Texas A&M.

While Ionescu is the overwhelming favorite to go No. 1, the rest of the picks could go any which way. Many mock drafts, including ours, expect Sabally to go second to the Dallas Wings and Baylor’s Lauren Cox to follow for the Indiana Fever. Walker and Carter stand out along with Ty Harris and Te’a Cooper as talented guards who can shoot and create for their teammates. And in the frontcourt, Hebard, Beatrice Mompremier, and Mkiah Herbert Harrigan are expected to lead the way.

The draft order has gone through some changes as teams have made splashes in free agency. In the aforementioned Charles trade, New York received the 12th pick from Washington in addition to the ninth and 15th picks from Dallas. Now, New York and Dallas each have three first round picks and the Mystics, L.A. Sparks, Las Vegas Aces, and Connecticut Sun have none. New York does have a rather large number of guards on its roster so their moves on draft night will be particularly interesting.

Earlier in the offseason, the Phoenix Mercury landed star guard Skylar Diggins-Smith, making way for a new big three of Diana Taurasi, Diggins-Smith, and Brittney Griner. Minnesota Lynx mainstay Seimone Augustus reportedly took a pay cut to join the SparksKristi Toliver also headed to sunny L.A. after winning a title with the Mystics. Angel McCoughtry left the Atlanta Dream after 11 years to join the Aces while Connecticut guard Courtney Williams joined the Dream. Following a frenzied free agency, the Mercury and Sparks launched themselves into the title conversation with the Mystics and Storm.

On the flip side, the Wings, Lynx and Fever are continuing to rebuild following the departure and/or retirement of some key players. In the draft, each of these teams will be hoping to find the next young stars that can help lead their squads for years to come.

Here’s the full draft order:

1. New York Liberty
2. Dallas Wings
3. Indiana Fever
4. Atlanta Dream
5. Dallas Wings
6. Minnesota Lynx
7. Dallas Wings
8. Chicago Sky
9. New York Liberty
10. Phoenix Mercury
11. Seattle Storm
12. New York Liberty

13. New York Liberty
14. Indiana Fever
15. New York Liberty
16. Minnesota Lynx
17. Atlanta Dream
18. Phoenix Mercury
19. Seattle Storm
20. Los Angeles Sparks
21. Dallas Wings
22. Los Angeles Sparks
23. Connecticut Sun
24. Washington Mystics

25. Atlanta Dream
26. New York Liberty
27. Atlanta Dream
28. Indiana Fever
29. Phoenix Mercury
30. Chicago Sky
31. Seattle Storm
32. Chicago Sky
33. Las Vegas Aces
34. Los Angeles Sparks
35. Connecticut Sun
36. Washington Mystics