Indiana Fever interim general manager Lin Dunn said earlier Friday that she’d be watching the 2023 WNBA draft lottery later that evening with a rabbit foot, her fingers crossed and “some other charms I can’t mention in public.”
Whatever Dunn did to get luck on her side worked: For the first time in franchise history, the Fever earned the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming 2023 WNBA draft, as announced at the lottery Friday evening prior to the start of the No. 1 South Carolina-No. 17 Maryland game.
The reigning national player of the year, Aliyah Boston from South Carolina, is the presumptive No. 1 overall pick, considered by many to be a potentially franchise-changing figure.
The Fever had the best chance of any team (44.2%) to get the No. 1 pick. Lottery odds are based on teams’ cumulative record over the past two regular seasons.
The Minnesota Lynx — the four-time WNBA champions who missed the playoffs in 2022 for the first time since 2010 — earned the No. 2 pick despite only having a 14.5% chance.
“We are excited to land the second overall pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft,” said Lynx coach and president of basketball operations Cheryl Reeve. “This selection will no doubt be an important part of our future as we shape the next era of Lynx basketball.”
The Atlanta Dream will select third overall, followed by the Washington Mystics at No. 4. The rest of the first round will be Chicago, New York, Indiana, Atlanta, Seattle, Connecticut, Dallas and Minnesota.
The Mystics made the postseason but via a trade obtained the right to swap their first-round pick for Los Angeles’ 2023 first-round pick acquired by the Dream in an earlier trade.
“Last year, we beat the odds in the lottery, and unfortunately, didn’t this year,” said Washington general manager and coach Mike Thibault. “However, as a result of the trade, we have moved up four spots in the draft. We will get an excellent player with the fourth pick, and I look forward to continuing to improve our roster this offseason.”
Indiana franchise stalwart Kelsey Mitchell — a former No. 2 pick herself — was live at ESPN studios in Bristol, Connecticut, for the draft lottery show representing the Fever.
Earlier in the day, the franchise introduced its new coach, Christie Sides, kickstarting a new era for the storied organization after a lengthy stretch of underperforming. The Fever made the postseason each season from 2005 to 2016, clinching the WNBA title in 2012, but have failed to make the playoffs ever since the retirement of legend Tamika Catchings.
“This is a very strong draft,” Dunn said in a statement. “We will get a great player picking at No. 1.”
The Fever have five players drafted last year still on their roster, including No. 2 overall pick NaLyssa Smith and Destanni Henderson, Boston’s point guard at South Carolina. The pair led the Gamecocks to the 2022 national championship.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Indiana Fever earn No. 1 pick in 2023 WNBA draft for first time
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