2024 WNBA Draft Lottery preview, Mercury’s odds in Caitlin Clark sweepstakes

Dec 9, 2023, 12:31 PM | Updated: Dec 10, 2023, 1:55 pm

(Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)...

(Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

(Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

The Phoenix Mercury aren’t accustomed to being in the draft lottery, having made the playoffs for 10 straight years prior to last season’s last-place finish. However, there’s arguably no better time to be in the lottery as a group of generational talent, including Iowa guard Caitlin Clark and UConn guard Paige Bueckers, are expected to declare for next year’s draft.

The last time the Mercury were in the lottery was 2013 when Brittney Griner was selected with the first overall selection. The Mercury also had the No. 1 overall pick in 2004 when Diana Taurasi was selected with the top pick.

In 2006, the Mercury were awarded the No. 2 overall pick and selected Cappie Pondexter. In 2009, the Mercury picked DeWanna Bonner at fifth overall.

Since some Phoenix fans may be unfamiliar with the lottery and the draft process, here’s a guide to Sunday’s 2024 WNBA Draft Lottery.

When is the 2024 WNBA Draft Lottery?

The 2024 WNBA Draft Lottery will be held Sunday at 2:30 p.m. and will be broadcast live on ESPN.

Who is in the 2024 WNBA Draft Lottery?

The Indiana Fever, Phoenix Mercury, Los Angeles Sparks and Seattle Storm are all partaking in the 2024 WNBA Draft Lottery.

How does the 2024 WNBA Draft Lottery work?

Each of the four teams (the Fever, Mercury, Sparks and Storm) are matched with four-digit number combinations before the drawing which determines the order of the draft. Then, 14 balls that are numbered 1-14 are placed in a lottery machine and mixed. Of the 14 balls, four balls are drawn to determine a four-digit combination.

The team that owns the first four-digit combination that is drawn is awarded the first overall pick.

The four balls are then placed back in the lottery machine and mixed and another four-digit combination is drawn to determine the second overall pick.

The third overall pick is then awarded to the team who has the lowest cumulative record of the two most recent regular seasons (2022 and 2023) whose four-digit combinations did not come up in the first two drawings.

The fourth pick is then awarded to the remaining team.

The rest of the draft is determined by the inverse order of each team’s regular season record from only 2023. 

What are the Mercury’s odds to be awarded the first pick in the 2024 WNBA Draft?

The Mercury have the second-best chance at the No. 1 pick. Lottery odds are based on the cumulative records of the two most recent regular seasons (2022 and 2023). The Mercury’s combined record over that stretch was 24-52.

The Mercury will have 27.6% odds or 276 chances out of 1,000 to land the first pick.

Only Indiana has better odds at being awarded the first pick. The Fever, who posted a 18-58 record over the past two years, will have 44.2% odds or 442 chances out of 1,000 to land the top pick. Indiana, unlike Phoenix, is guaranteed to not fall out of the top three.

Indiana, who currently own’s the league’s longest playoff drought, last making the postseason in 2016, was awarded the No. 1 overall pick last year and selected Aliyah Boston who went on to be named WNBA Rookie of the Year.

Phoenix finished the 2023 season last in the WNBA at 9-31 and failed to reach the postseason for the first time since 2012. Head coach Nate Tibbetts took over for Nikki Blue, who led the Mercury to a 7-21 record after taking over for Vanessa Nygaard. Nygaard was let go in late June after the team started 2-10. Both Griner and Taurasi missed plenty of time in 2023, as Griner only played 31 games, while Taurasi played 26.

This will also be the first draft for new general manager Nick U’Ren, who was hired in July, and Tibbetts who was hired in October.

When is the 2024 WNBA Draft?

The 2024 WNBA Draft is scheduled to take place on Monday, April 15.

Is Caitlin Clark the top prospect in the 2024 WNBA Draft?

Clark is widely expected to be the first overall selection. The point guard from Iowa is averaging 29.6 points per game which leads the nation. She is also averaging 7.6 assists per game which is the fourth-most in the country. Clark, who has NIL deals with Nike, Bose and State Farm, may return to Iowa City for a fifth season with the Hawkeyes, however.

Bueckers, who is projected to go second in many mock drafts, is averaging 19.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.9 steals per game on 49% shooting after missing all of last season due to an ACL tear she suffered in August 2022.

Bueckers, who has NIL deals with Nike, Gatorade, Crocs and StockX, could stay at UConn through 2025.

The Huskies are 5-3 on the season, but the team’s three losses have all come to teams that are currently ranked in the top 5 of the latest AP poll.

If the Mercury slide down the draft, there is still plenty of talent that will help the team’s need for size. Phoenix finished last in the league in rebounding in 2023.

South Carolina center Kamilla Cardoso is a possible fit for the Mercury. The 6-foot-7 senior is averaging 14.4 points, 11.5 rebounds and 3.3 blocks this season.

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