During the WNBA Offseason, so far, we’ve seen Elena Delle Donne moved in a blockbuster trade, a lot of key veterans signed to new teams, and one of the more exciting NCAA March Madness Tournaments with UConn going down before the championship game. Now, it’s on to the Draft. The 2017 WNBA Draft is going to feature a lot of guards, and a number of the first round talent has the ability to be franchise changers. So, lets get down to business with a mock draft of the first round:
1. Kelsey Plum – San Antonio Stars
Kelsey Plum is, by far, the most dominant guard in this draft class. Plum entered a game against Utah on February 25th only needing 54 points to break the NCAA all-time scoring record. What did she do? Went out and dropped 57, and wrote her name in the history books. Add Plum to an already electric backcourt of Kayla McBride and Moriah Jefferson, and now your main guard rotation is set for years to come. Not to mention it adds a little insurance if the foot fracture keeps nagging McBride as she makes her comeback.
2. Shatori Walker-Kimbrough – Chicago Sky
Chicago lost their marquee player in Elena Delle Donne, but they did get a big in return when they landed Stefanie Dolson in the trade. So, with a more veteran-based backcourt, bringing in a younger guard for the eventual passing of the torch would be the best way to go. That guard would be Shatori Walker-Kimbrough. A do-it-all playmaker that averaged 18.8 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.9 steals per game while shooting a scorching 45% from three. Walker-Kimbrough is the kind of electric guard that the Sky could use as they try to build a team that’s not centered around Delle Donne.
3. Allisha Gray – Dallas Wings
The Dallas Wings shipped away their number one guard in Odyssey Sims this offseason. Sims was the team’s leading scorer and distributor, so even though Skylar Diggins is still around, that’s a big hole to fill. Enter Allisha Gray. Last season with South Carolina, Gray was the second leader in assists and scoring while shooting 51% from the floor and 32% from three. On top of that, she was also the third leading rebounder, only behind Alaina Coates and A’ja Wilson. So, with the third pick overall, it would be smart of Dallas to get the guard who can do a little of everything at a high level.
4. Alaina Coates – Dallas Wings
Dallas acquired the fourth pick overall from the trade mentioned above that sent Odyssey Sims to Los Angeles. So, after getting a guard to fill the hole in the backcourt, it’s time to fill the void at center as well. Why not get Allisha Gray’s teammate, Alaina Coates. Alongside Gray at South Carolina, Coates went on to average 12.9 points and 10.7 rebounds in her senior season. She can give the Wings a much needed inside presence.
5. Brionna Jones – San Antonio Stars
The Stars acquired their second pick in the first round through the deal that sent Danielle Robinson to Phoenix. After stacking up in the backcourt with the Kelsey Plum selection, the Stars will need to cover a void of their own in the frontcourt. There are currently three centers listed on the roster with a combined four years of experience. Jones will add to the youth, but at least she gives the Stars another option if the others don’t pan out as expected. Plus, even though Jones is a little undersized, she comes in boasting averages of 19.9 points, 10.9 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.6 blocks, and 1.9 steals per game.
6. Kaela Davis – Washington Mystics
The Mystics swapped first round picks with the Sky while acquiring Elena Delle Donne. So, for a team who already has a lot of height, that added 6’5″ Delle Donne, it would seem that the better pick would be for a guard that could knock it down from deep. Look no further than another South Carolina Gamecock, Kaela Davis. She averaged 12.7 points per game while shooting 34.9% from three and a team best 81.2% from the free throw line. Davis would give the Mystics a much needed outlet shooter when Delle Donne needs a kick out from the post.
7. Chantel Osahor – Atlanta Dream
Atlanta has a plethora of youth on their roster right now. Angel McCoughtry, the team’s star guard/forward, will be out this coming season because she plans to take some time off to make sure she can stay healthy. This will be leaving a lot of scoring on the table, and the Dream already had a rebounding issue. That’s where Chantel Osahor comes in and contributes. This year at the University of Washington, Osahor averaged 15.8 points, 15.2 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game. She has the potential to make an immediate impact, especially with the team looking to cover for McCoughtry.
8. Alexis Peterson – Connecticut Sun
The Connecticut Sun are stacked with Forwards/Centers and a lot of youth. Their guard depth is something that lacks, and that can easily be addressed in this draft. Alexis Peterson, from Syracuse, dropped 23.4 points and 7.0 assists per game this year while shooting 37% from three and 42% overall from the floor. She has a knack at getting to the line as she shot 80% from the free throw line on almost 200 attempts. Her assist-to-turnover ratio is a little over two, but with Alex Bentley and Chiney Ogwumike on her side, that number could rise.
9. Nia Coffey – Chicago Sky
Obviously, there are some big shoes to fill at the forward spot in Chicago. Nia Coffey, from Northwestern, would be a great addition for the Sky on top of the Walker-Kimbrough pick at number two. Coffey put up 20 points and 10.4 rebounds per game with the Wildcats and was named to the All-Big Ten first team for the fourth-straight year. At number nine, Coffey would be an absolute steal, and she could make an immediate impact as the Sky will be searching for someone to take Delle Donne’s starting position.
10. Sydney Wiese – Dallas Wings
Nia Coffey would have been someone that the Wings would have loved to pick. However, at this spot with Coffey already selected, Sydney Wiese would be the best player available. This selection would further develop the guard depth in Dallas, and allow them to build around a good core of playmakers. Wiese, while at Oregon State, was the leading scorer and distributor with 15.2 points and 4.5 assists per game. She also shot 44% from the floor and 43% from three. A trio of Allisha Gray, Alaina Coates, and Sydney Wiese would be a great haul on draft day.
11. Alexis Jones – Los Angeles Sparks
Kristi Toliver was a big part of the Sparks championship team. Now that she’s headed out of town, it would be good to get a young replacement in there. Alexis Jones was one of four players to average double-digit points per game, and one of only two players on her team with over 100 assists this season for Baylor. The best skill that Jones will bring to the table, however, is her three-point shooting. She took the most threes on the team, with 151 attempts, and she shot at a 41% clip. Not too bad of a replacement shooter for Toliver.
12. Alexis Prince – Minnesota Lynx
Alexis Prince, just like her teammate Alexis Jones, brings a three-point ability that should translate well to the WNBA. Prince only attempted two less three-pointers than Jones, but made the same amount. Prince also was the better rebounder at 5.8 per game, and ended up with the better overall field goal percentage at 46.9%. However, Prince is not the passer that Jones is, and that won’t be a problem for a team that already has Maya Moore and Lindsay Whalen.