2022 WNBA Draft winners and losers: Dream begin rebuild with Rhyne Howard; Fever proceed pattern of strange drafts

After all of the ready, the movie examine, the interviews and mock drafts, the 2022 WNBA Draft lastly arrived on Monday evening. And for the primary time since earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic, the occasion was in individual, which meant we bought to see the gamers go up on stage, meet with commissioner Cathy Engelbert and have an actual draft evening second.

As anticipated, the Atlanta Dream chosen Rhyne Howard from Kentucky with the No. 1 general decide. The remainder of the lottery largely adopted the projections as nicely, with the Indiana Fever taking NaLyssa Smith at No. 2 and Emily Engstler at No. 4, and the Washington Mystics choosing Shakira Austin at No. 3.

Now that all the motion is full, listed below are some winners and losers from draft evening. For full outcomes and first-round draft grades, go right here.

Winner: Atlanta Dream and Rhyne Howard

Generally there is usually a tendency to not embody the No. 1 general decide as a winner on draft evening as a result of it has been anticipated for thus lengthy that it loses among the novelty and pleasure. That isn’t a great method to take, nevertheless, particularly not this time round.

For one, the Dream pulled off a blockbuster commerce with the Mystics to accumulate the highest decide earlier this month, transferring up from No. 3 general. After a disastrous 2021 each on and off the court docket, the Dream hit the reset button in any respect ranges of the group and transferring as much as get the very best participant within the draft was an ideal approach to begin their rebuild. Everybody knew this decide was coming, sure, however it’s nonetheless a giant win for the Dream to get a participant of Howard’s caliber.

And on a person stage, this can be a great accomplishment for Howard. Over 1,000 gamers have handed by way of the WNBA by way of the years; solely 26 of them have been chosen No. 1 general. Howard is a part of that choose group. All of her arduous work in highschool, school and on the worldwide stage paid off in a significant manner on Monday, and now she has an opportunity to be a star within the professionals.

Loser: Destanni Henderson

Nearly yearly (no less than when the occasion is held in individual) there is a participant invited to the WNBA Draft who’s projected to go within the first spherical that finally ends up falling till abruptly they’re the final invitee left on the board. This yr, that was South Carolina guard Destanni Henderson.

Earlier this month, Henderson helped South Carolina win the NCAA title with a spectacular efficiency within the nationwide championship sport. She confirmed off her 3-point shot en path to a career-high 26 factors, whereas additionally enjoying sturdy protection on UConn star Paige Bueckers. Many noticed her as a possible first-round decide earlier than that evening, and afterward, there was a thought she may go within the top-10.

As a substitute, it seems groups have been scared off by her lack of dimension. Whereas clearly proficient, she is simply 5-foot-7, which makes it tougher to succeed on the subsequent stage. In the long run, she went No. 20 general to the Fever. Interim GM Lin Dunn loves defensive-minded gamers and the Fever are in a rebuild, in order that’s not a foul touchdown spot for her given the circumstances. Nonetheless, this was not how Henderson envisioned draft evening going.

Winner and Loser: Indiana Fever

The Fever had sadly turn into one thing of a laughing inventory over the previous couple of years, particularly when it got here to the draft. None of their lottery picks from 2019, 2020 or 2021 are nonetheless on the group, and the latter two have already been waived after a mixed 45 appearances with the membership.

Ultimately, the poor outcomes on and off the court docket led to some large modifications, and Tamika Catchings stepped down from her all-encompassing position within the entrance workplace. Lin Dunn took over as interim GM, and plenty of hoped she might flip issues in the best path, particularly given the group had two lottery picks and 4 first-round choices on this yr’s draft.

As a substitute, the Fever reasonably rapidly had the largest shocker of the evening once they chosen Lexie Hull out of Stanford with the No. 6 general decide. Hull shoots it nicely from exterior and was a great participant on the school stage, however nobody had her projected to be a first-round decide. A short while later, the Fever doubled down on the unique considering by going with Queen Egbo from Baylor at No. 10. She’s athletic and works arduous defensively, however once more, nobody was score her as a primary rounder.

As soon as once more, the Fever went manner off the board — one thing that has not labored out nicely for them not too long ago. It is too unhealthy, in a manner, since you do not wish to sit right here and criticize Hull and Egbo. It is not their fault they have been picked this excessive, and each of them might find yourself succeeding within the league. They absolutely would have been accessible later, nevertheless, and the Fever had a bunch of picks within the later rounds. While you’re mired in a rebuild just like the Fever you can’t proceed lacking on draft picks, and there is a good likelihood they did so once more with these two choices.

The benefit of having 4 first-round picks and 7 choices general is that it provides you a complete bunch of swings. And regardless of the unusual choices at Nos. 6 and 10, this wasn’t the worst evening general for the Fever. They began out fairly nicely, in truth, taking NaLyssa Smith at No. 2 and Emily Engstler at No. 4. These two play arduous and will kind the idea of a terrific defensive frontcourt. Smith, particularly, has star potential if her offense continues to develop. In a while, they’d Destanni Henderson — who many had graded as a possible first-round decide — fall of their laps late within the second spherical. She’s one other defensive-minded participant who might slot in on this rebuilding Fever group.

While you add gamers like Smith and Engstler, and even Henderson, it is arduous to say that the evening was a whole loss for the Fever. On the identical time, you can’t name them winners once they proceed to have an odd course of and attain for a number of gamers.

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