The WNBA season tips off on Friday, May 19 and there’s still time to draft your fantasy women’s basketball team!
Our experts got together on Tuesday for the final mock draft of the preseason and again we used the ESPN default settings — a six-team league with nine players per team and the following scoring system:
Point = 1 Fantasy Point
Rebound = 1 FP
Assist = 1 FP
Made 3-pointer = 1 FP
Steal = 2 FP
Block = 2 FP
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The participants of this mock draft, in order of draft position, were: Liz Loza, André Snellings, Jennifer LaCroix, Kyle Soppe, Eric Moody and Terrika Foster-Brasby. Here is the way the draft unfolded, with some thoughts from the experts on certain selections from each round.
Note: The position rank in parentheses indicates where the player was taken in relation to the others at their position.
1. Breanna Stewart, NY (F1) — Loza
2. A’ja Wilson, LV (F2) — Snellings
3. Napheesa Collier, Min (F3) — LaCroix
4. Rhyne Howard, Atl (G1) — Soppe
5. Sabrina Ionescu, NY (G2) — Moody
6. Alyssa Thomas, Conn (F4) — Foster-Brasby
Snellings: There were five guards that I considered worthy of a top-12 draft pick. My hope when I took A’ja Wilson in the first round was that I’d be able to get one of those guards in the second round, but Kelsey Plum was the last of those five guards and she was taken with the pick before mine. So, I found myself having to take two more frontcourt players with my second and third round picks for draft value’s sake. This left my team feeling unbalanced. I ended up drafting four guards between the fourth and eight rounds, but I still feel like my team is not as strong in the backcourt as I’d like it to be. This exact scenario is why I’ve typically taken guards with my first pick in mock drafts even if it means passing on a higher ranked frontcourt player.
Soppe: There are two parts to why I took Howard over Ionescu as the first guard off the board: believing in Howard and passing on Ionescu. The Howard case is simple: across the board production despite efficiency issues, thus giving her plenty of room to grow an already elite fantasy skill set. For Ionescu, it’s a risk aversion thing. She’s great, but with all of the turnover on New York, there’s more projection guess work than I am comfortable with in my first rounder.
7. Jewell Loyd, Sea (G3) — Foster-Brasby
8. Arike Ogunbowale, Dal (G4) — Moody
9. Jonquel Jones, NY (F5) — Soppe
10. Kelsey Plum, LV (G5) — LaCroix
11. Elena Delle Donne, Wsh (F6) — Snellings
12. Marina Mabrey, Chi (G6) — Loza
Loza: As André has outlined in numerous articles, guard gets thin quick. After taking Breanna Stewart with the No. 1 overall pick I wanted to ensure I had a backcourt baller leading my squad. Marina Mabrey is one of my fave breakout candidates for the season so she fit the bill.
13. Ezi Magbegor, Sea (C1) — Loza
14. Brittney Griner, Phx (C2) — Snellings
15. Kelsey Mitchell, Ind (G7) — LaCroix
16. Nneka Ogwumike, LA (F7) — Soppe
17. Teaira McCowan, Dal (C3) — Moody
18. NaLyssa Smith, Ind (F8) — Foster-Brasby
Foster-Brasby: NaLyssa Smith has improved her game, even from watching her play in Athletes Unlimited this offseason. With the roster moves in Indiana, it seems clear her role will increase this season and I believe the fantasy numbers will reflect that.
19. Chelsea Gray, LV (G8) — Foster-Brasby
20. Natasha Howard, Dal (F9) — Moody
21. Allisha Gray, Atl (G9) — Soppe
22. Brionna Jones, Conn (C4) — LaCroix
23. Jackie Young, LV (G10) — Snellings
24. Diana Taurasi, Phx (G11) — Loza
Moody: Acquiring Howard was a major boost for my fantasy team, especially considering my initial roster already boasted talents like Sabrina Ionescu, Arike Ogunbowale and Teaira McCowan. Howard ranked in the top 15 last season on a fantasy points per-game basis and should claim a significant usage rate in Dallas. I’m so confident in the Wings’ offensive potential that I’m not hesitating to load up my fantasy roster with their players if available. Last season, only the Las Vegas Aces, Chicago Sky and Connecticut Sun scored more points per game than the Wings.
25. Aerial Powers, Min (F10) — Loza
26. Kahleah Copper, Chi (G12) — Snellings
27. Cheyenne Parker, Atl (F11) — LaCroix
28. Ariel Atkins, Wsh (G13) — Soppe
29. DeWanna Bonner, Conn (F12) — Moody
30. Candace Parker, LV (F13) — Foster-Brasby
Snellings: I was happy to be able to get Jackie Young and Kahleah Copper with my fourth and fifth round picks, and even Tiffany Hayes in the sixth round (which you can see below). The draft did go my way in that respect, because Copper in particular would typically have been gone before my pick (Team Loza passed on her because she had taken Marina Mabrey, another Sky player, earlier in the draft and didn’t want to be too beholden to that particular backcourt). I still felt my team was a bit imbalanced with my three best players in the frontcourt, but by going so guard heavy in the later part of the draft I tried to mitigate that. It did limit my options in the later rounds, though, as I passed on other players I wanted to draft (such as DeWanna Bonner, Candace Parker and Aliyah Boston) because I absolutely had to draft backcourt.
LaCroix: I knew that I wanted a forward because that was the last starting spot I had open on my roster. I was considering DeWanna Bonner, but I already had selected Brionna Jones from the Sun the round before and felt that selecting two forwards from the same squad wouldn’t be ideal. I chose Cheyenne Parker over other forwards because in her two seasons with the young Dream team she has filled up the box score, averaging 11.4 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 1.8 APG and 1.1 SPG. Also, the Dream is a team that is really guard heavy which means as one of the only productive forwards she will get a lot more opportunities scoring and rebounding.
31. Shakira Austin, Wsh (C5) — Foster-Brasby
32. Aliyah Boston, Ind (F14) — Moody
33. Courtney Williams, Chi (G14) — Soppe
34. Sophie Cunningham, Phx (G15) — LaCroix
35. Tiffany Hayes, Conn (G16) — Snellings
36. Natasha Cloud, Wsh (G17) — Loza
Foster-Brasby: Shakira Austin secured her place last season as a solid performer in the league. Early on she had the task of guarding Candace Parker and Sylvia Fowles. To me, she’s proven. That was the difference between her and Boston in this round.
Moody: Surprisingly, Boston was still available, and it was an unexpected gift this late in the draft. With my earlier picks focusing on top-tier guards, I had hoped for some quality forwards/centers to fall into my lap, and that’s precisely what happened. Boston is a WNBA-ready player who I believe will log significant minutes, forming a dynamic frontcourt duo alongside NaLyssa Smith. The stars aligned in the draft, and I was thrilled to see this fantasy roster come together.
LaCroix: I was debating Sophie Cunningham or Tiffany Hayes in this spot before opting for the Mercury guard. Cunningham is a lights out 3-point shooter and if Skylar Diggins-Smith isn’t playing to start the season she could really make and impact. In the three games following Diggins-Smith announcing she would sit the remainder of the regular season in 2022, Cunningham averaged 19.3 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.3 SPG and 4.0 3-pointers per game.
37. Azura Stevens, LA (F15) — Loza
38. Isabelle Harrison, Chi (F16) — Snellings
39. Diamond DeShields, Dal (G18) — LaCroix
40. Satou Sabally, Dal (F17) — Soppe
41. Moriah Jefferson, Phx (G19) — Moody
42. Brittney Sykes, Wsh (G20) — Foster-Brasby
Loza: Azura Stevens was a consistent producer for the Sky, averaging double-digit fantasy points in two of her last three years in Chicago. She figures to see a boost in playing time in Los Angeles with Katie Lou Samuelson and Stephanie Talbot out for 2023. I’m confident an increase in minutes will result in an increase in production.
Editor’s note: Following the mock draft on Tuesday, it was announced Wednesday morning that Diamond DeShields will miss most of the season due to a knee injury.
43. Dana Evans, Chi (G21) — Foster-Brasby
44. Sami Whitcomb, Sea (G22) — Moody
45. Elizabeth Williams, Chi (C6) — Soppe
46. Brianna Turner, Phx (F18) — LaCroix
47. Diamond Miller, Min (G23) — Snellings
48. Natisha Hiedeman, Conn (G24) — Loza
49. Aari McDonald, Atl (G25) — Loza
50. Tina Charles, FA (C7) — Snellings
51. Jessica Shepard, Min (F19) — LaCroix
52. Dearica Hamby, LA (F20) — Soppe
53. Myisha Hines-Allen, Wsh (F21) — Moody
54. Olivia Nelson-Ododa, Conn (F22) — Foster-Brasby
Soppe: I feel like I got a steal here. Hamby’s fantasy baseline is favorable given her per minute rebounding numbers and I love her interior efficiency (past two seasons: 58.4% shooting inside the arc). In my opinion, her current draft price doesn’t account for her potential to earn a bump in minutes and that’s the only thing separating her from returning elite value.
Team rosters are presented in first-round pick order. Picks indicated in parentheses in this manner: (Round.Pick)
F1 Breanna Stewart, NY (Pick: 1.1)
F2 Aerial Powers, Min (Pick: 5.1)
F3 Azura Stevens, LA (Pick: 7.1)
G1 Marina Mabrey, Chi (Pick: 2.6)
G2 Diana Taurasi, Phx (Pick: 4.6)
G3 Natasha Cloud, Wsh (Pick: 6.6)
G4 Natisha Hiedeman, Conn (Pick: 8.6)
G5 Aari McDonald, Atl (Pick: 9.1)
C1 Ezi Magbegor, Sea (Pick: 3.1)
F1 A’ja Wilson, LV (Pick: 1.2)
F2 Elena Delle Donne, Wsh (Pick: 2.5)
F3 Isabelle Harrison, Chi (Pick: 7.2)
G1 Jackie Young, LV (Pick: 4.5)
G2 Kahleah Copper, Chi (Pick: 5.2)
G3 Tiffany Hayes, Conn (Pick: 6.5)
G4 Diamond Miller, Min (Pick: 8.5)
C1 Brittney Griner, Phx (Pick: 3.2)
C2 Tina Charles, FA (Pick: 9.2)
F1 Napheesa Collier, Min (Pick: 1.3)
F2 Cheyenne Parker, Atl (Pick: 5.3)
F3 Brianna Turner, Phx (Pick: 8.4)
F4 Jessica Shepard, Min (Pick: 9.3)
G1 Kelsey Plum, LV (Pick: 2.4)
G2 Kelsey Mitchell, Ind (Pick: 3.3)
G3 Sophie Cunningham, Phx (Pick: 6.4)
G4 Diamond DeShields, Dal (Pick: 7.3)
C1 Brionna Jones, Conn (Pick: 4.4)
F1 Jonquel Jones, NY (Pick: 2.3)
F2 Nneka Ogwumike, LA (Pick: 3.4)
F3 Satou Sabally, Dal (Pick: 7.4)
F4 Dearica Hamby, LA (Pick: 9.4)
G1 Rhyne Howard, Atl (Pick: 1.4)
G2 Allisha Gray, Atl (Pick: 4.3)
G3 Ariel Atkins, Wsh (Pick: 5.4)
G4 Courtney Williams, Chi (Pick: 6.3)
C1 Elizabeth Williams, Chi (Pick: 8.3)
F1 Natasha Howard, Dal (Pick: 4.2)
F2 DeWanna Bonner, Conn (Pick: 5.5)
F3 Aliyah Boston, Ind (Pick: 6.2)
F4 Myisha Hines-Allen, Wsh (Pick: 9.5)
G1 Sabrina Ionescu, NY (Pick: 1.5)
G2 Arike Ogunbowale, Dal (Pick: 2.2)
G3 Moriah Jefferson, Phx (Pick: 7.5)
G4 Sami Whitcomb, Sea (Pick: 8.2)
C1 Teaira McCowan, Dal (Pick: 3.5)
F1 Alyssa Thomas, Conn (Pick: 1.6)
F2 NaLyssa Smith, Ind (Pick: 3.6)
F3 Candace Parker, LV (Pick: 5.6)
F4 Olivia Nelson-Ododa, Conn (Pick: 9.6)
G1 Jewell Loyd, Sea (Pick: 2.1)
G2 Chelsea Gray, LV (Pick: 4.1)
G3 Brittney Sykes, Wsh (Pick: 7.6)
G4 Dana Evans, Chi (Pick: 8.1)
C1 Shakira Austin, Wsh (Pick: 6.1)
Fantasy women’s basketball 2023: 6-team mock draft #2