Lottery teams look forward to draft day
With the order of the first round now in place, teams can begin to analyze who they think will be available at their position. For the New York Liberty, that happens to be everyone.
The Liberty will not be solely focused on the draft as free agency is only a month away. It is not typical for top free agents to join rebuilding franchises, but in the words of New York GM Jonathan Kolb, this will be an atypical “hybrid rebuild“.
Kolb is making the bold presumption that the 2-20 Liberty can both contend and build for the future at the same time. It is possible? Well, maybe. Sabrina Ionescu will get an essential redo of her rookie season, and New York has a plethora of young players who gained valuable experience in the bubble. Could a few free agent veterans and the best player in the draft make the team dangerous? Either way, the Liberty will have far too many players on their roster to start the season and will need to make some tough cuts.
As for the first overall pick, there are many options depending on which players declare. Juniors Charli Collier and Rhyne Howard might be the more intriguing prospects, but they could take advantage of the NCAA’s extra year of eligibility due to COVID. Kolb also stressed character when evaluating what attributes need to mesh well to build a contending team.
While the Liberty do not need any more guards, Arizona’s Aari McDonald and Louisville’s Dana Evans will be at the top of many draft boards. With all of this uncertainty, don’t be surprised if the Liberty’s top pick in April surprises you.
The Dallas Wings will be picking at number two, where they will build around the stars of their recent draft classes in Arike Ogunbowale and Satou Sabally. The Wings are in a similar position to the Liberty where getting younger may not be the only option, as their roster is already littered with inexperienced players.
This could mean President Greg Bibb focuses on adding talent in free agency, or possibly even trading the second overall selection. The 2021 class is not top heavy, and this could allow Dallas to bring in established talent that other teams might need to get rid of to stay under the salary cap.
The Indiana Fever round out the lottery at number four, and unlike the other lottery teams they could use a savvy scoring guard to fill out their rotation. Arella Guirantes out of Rutgers comes to mind as does the aforementioned McDonald and Evans.
Fever head coach Marianne Stanley has not had a regular offseason of scouting under her belt since coming to the franchise after a decade in Washington, but combined with General Manager and Hall of Famer Tamika Catchings, Indiana is in good hands as they prepare for April.