PHOENIX MERCURY

Wings control 2021 WNBA Draft, Mercury slim with picks

Apr 15, 2021, 7:49 AM
Skylar Diggins-Smith (File photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)...
Skylar Diggins-Smith (File photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
(File photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

The Dallas Wings basically control the WNBA draft on Thursday night with the top two picks and four first-round choices.

It’s the first time in league history that a team will choose both No. 1 and 2. The Wings acquired the top pick in a February trade after being awarded the second choice in the draft lottery.

The Wings also have the fifth pick as well as the first pick in the second round. Dallas traded the seventh pick to Los Angeles on Wednesday for the Sparks’ first-round pick next year. Los Angeles also got a 2022 second-round pick from Dallas.

This draft completes the second half of the team’s long-term strategy after they traded away Liz Cambage and Skylar Diggins-Smith over the past few years.

Time

4 p.m. MST

TV

ESPN

The Diggins-Smith trade last offseason to the Phoenix Mercury saw Phoenix’s No. 8 pick head to Dallas, but the Wings since dealt that pick to the Chicago Sky.

The Mercury also traded away the No. 6 pick, which was originally owned by Connecticut Sun. Phoenix acquired the first-round choice by trading DeWanna Bonner in February 2020 but then flipped it to the New York Liberty to acquire forwards Kia Nurse and Megan Walker this February.

Phoenix does not have a pick in the first or second rounds, though the team has the eighth pick in the third round.

For the Wings, the 2021 draft will complement their young team that includes 2020 draft picks Satou Sabally, Bella Alarie and Tyasha Harris.

Dallas president and general manager Greg Bibb told the Associated Press that the franchise is looking at a number of players for the top two picks and he hasn’t been shy about heaping praise on Finnish player Awak Kuier. The Wings also could draft Texas’ Charli Collier with one of the top picks.

Other players expected to go early in the draft include Arizona’s Aari McDonald, Louisville’s Dana Evans, and Rutgers’ Arella Guirantes.

For the second straight season the draft will be held virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic. Commissioner Cathy Engelbert will be announcing picks from an ESPN studio in New York and players will be at home when they are drafted.

Other tidbits from the draft:

OPT-OUT

For the first time seniors had to declare their intention to enter the draft this year because the NCAA had granted a blanket waiver allowing an extra year of eligibility. While Georgia’s Jenna Staiti and guard Que Morrison, Rice’s Nancy Mulkey, DePaul’s Deja Church and Ohio’s Cece Hooks all originally had declared for the draft, they all have decided to take their names out of the draft. Players who aren’t drafted on Thursday and haven’t done anything to violate their amateur status, like sign with an agent, have 30 days to declare their intent to return to school.

MAKING A ROSTER

With only potentially 144 roster spots in the WNBA and so many players under contract or still on their rookie-scale deals, there are not many spots open for players to make teams. There’s a good chance that less than a dozen draftees will be on opening-day rosters this season.

The Associated Press contributed to this story

2021 WNBA Draft order

First Round

1) Dallas from New York
2) Dallas
3) Atlanta
4) Indiana
5) Dallas from Washington (via New York)
6) New York from Connecticut (via Phoenix)
7) Dallas from Chicago
8) Chicago from Phoenix (via Dallas)
9) Minnesota
10) Los Angeles
11) Seattle
12) Las Vegas

Second Round

1) Dallas from New York
2) Las Vegas from Indiana
3) Atlanta
4) Chicago from Dallas (via Los Angeles and Dallas)
5) New York from Washington
6) Seattle from Connecticut
7) Indiana from Chicago
8) Connecticut from Phoenix
9) Connecticut from Minnesota
10) Los Angeles
11) Seattle
12) Indiana from Las Vegas

Third Round

1) New York
2) Indiana
3) Atlanta
4) Los Angeles from Dallas
5) New York from Washington
6) Connecticut
7) Indiana from Chicago
8) Phoenix
9) Indiana from Minnesota
10) Los Angeles
11) Seattle
12) Las Vegas

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