The 2022 WNBA Draft is in the books.
Three rounds and 36 picks later, WNBA teams added new faces to their rosters with the new season fast approaching on May 6.
Kentucky guard Rhyne Howard went No. 1 overall to the Atlanta Dream to kick things off while Florida guard Kiara Smith rounded out the draft by going No. 36 overall to the Connecticut Sun.
So which picks are winners and which ones could’ve been better? Let’s sort them out:
Winners: Shakira Austin, Christyn Williams - Washington Mystics
After finishing the 2021 campaign with a 12-20 record, the Mystics made both of their draft picks count. Washington traded the No. 1 overall pick to Atlanta to land the No. 3 and No. 14 pick this year along with a 2023 first-round pick swap, and so far, so good.
At No. 3, Washington selected Ole Miss center Shakira Austin. With Howard and NaLyssa Smith off the board, Austin was the best pick available and should pair nicely with Elizabeth Williams in the frontcourt right out of the gate. The 6-foot-5 center will make life tough for opponents to score down low.
Then at No. 14, the Mystics landed UConn guard Christyn Williams. That’s great value for someone who was widely considered a potential first-round draft pick. The hope is that her shooting percentages will elevate, but that’s a good bet to make in the second round.
Losers: Lexie Hull, Queen Egbo - Indiana Fever
Indiana had seven total selections in the 2022 draft, by far the most of any team. We’ll get into their win later, but let’s start with some question marks. The Fever had four picks in the top 10 alone. Smith at No. 2 was the big fish, while Emily Engstler at No. 4 was so-so because she could’ve been available at No. 6 but ultimately not a damaging pick.
Stanford product Lexie Hull went No. 6 overall, which was a bit surprising considering it could end up as a reach. She was viewed as a second-rounder, so going just outside the top five was shocking. Hull is a strong long-range shooter (39.3% on 4.3 attempts as a senior), but they’ll need her passing and interior scoring to develop to justify her going this early.
Baylor center Queen Egbo (No. 10 overall) wasn’t the best frontcourt option on the board depending on who you ask. Elissa Cunane and Olivia Nelson-Ododa were other possible choices, but the clear line of thinking for Indiana was pairing college teammates Egbo and Smith. Time will tell how these two picks turn out.
Winners: Elissa Cunane, Evina Westbrook - Seattle Storm
Seattle left the draft with three picks: two in the second and one in the third. It likely nailed every single one, but NC State center Elissa Cunane and UConn guard/wing Evina Westbrook, in particular, stood out.
Cunane was arguably a top-10 pick but fell into the second round. The Storm swooped in at No. 17, adding much needed height with Cunane’s 6-foot-5 frame. Her 41.9% clip from 3-point range and 83.5% clip from the charity stripe indicate she can develop into a strong multi-level scorer at the 5 position, which would be phenomenal value.
Westbrook could’ve been picked earlier in the second round but went No. 21 overall. She continues the trend of former Huskies heading to the Pacific Northwest, where she can immediately help defensively on the wing. If the 3-point shooting can improve to her sophomore-season percentage (38.0% on 3.2 attempts), that would certainly bolster Seattle’s offense.
Jade Melbourne of Australia (No. 33 overall, potential late second-rounder) was the other draftee. At 19 years old, she’s still unproven but could pan out into a solid guard option for the Storm.
Losers: Mya Hollingshed, Khayla Pointer - Las Vegas Aces
Las Vegas now has five new players as first-year head coach Becky Hammon begins her head coaching tenure in the WNBA. Two of the picks were late in the first round, two were in the second and one was in the third. From the bunch, No. 8 overall pick Mya Hollingshed and No. 13 overall pick Khayla Pointer are early reaches.
Hollingshed, a 6-foot-3 forward, can shoot the lights out at 39.6% on 4.3 attempts. However, the Aces could’ve snagged her at No. 11 or even No. 13. Pointer, a 5-foot-7 guard, developed into a strong do-it-all player in her fifth season at LSU. However, she could’ve also been available later in the round. Las Vegas will need Pointer to reduce her turnovers (4.2 assist to 2.9 turnover ratio throughout college) to succeed.
Kierstan Bell was a great selection at No. 11, but the jury is out on how Hollingshed and Pointer measure for their draft value. Aisha Sheppard (No. 23 overall) and Faustine Aifuwa (No. 35 overall) were the other two picks for Vegas.
Winner: Destanni Henderson, Indiana Fever
Indiana developed a pattern of drafting standouts from the 2022 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament, which made Destanni Henderson an excellent choice at No. 20 overall. The 5-foot-7 guard made waves with South Carolina last season en route to winning the championship, where she dropped a career-high 26 points on a 45-50-83 shooting split. Now joining forces with Kelsey Mitchell, opponents might come down with a fever trying to keep up with these two.
And a major shoutout to Ameshya Williams-Holliday, who became the first player from an HBCU to get drafted to the WNBA in 20 years. Her stock was a late third-round pick or undrafted, but Indiana selected her at No. 25 overall. She averaged a double-double during her three years at Jackson State.
Winner: Sika Kone, New York Liberty
The theme of New York’s draft was upgrading its size. Nyara Sabally at No. 5 and Lorela Cubaj at No. 18 spotlighted that, but the underrated move could turn out to be Sika Kone of Mali at No. 29 overall.
Kone, 19, made rounds as a potential top-10 pick on several draft boards but fell all the way to the third round. Kone has been playing overseas with no college basketball experience, which hurt her stock. However, the 6-foot-3 power forward has experience in big games. In the 2021 U19 FIBA Women’s World Cup, she posted averages of 19.7 points and 14.8 rebounds on 55.1% shooting as Mali made it to the semifinals. It’s a low-risk, high-reward move for New York – and one other teams may regret not making.
Honorable Winner Mentions
Naz Hillmon, PF - No. 15 overall, Atlanta Dream
Olivia Nelson-Ododa, PF - No. 19 overall, Los Angeles Sparks
Hannah Sjerven, PF - No. 28 overall, Minnesota Lynx