With the 2022 WNBA Draft less than a week away, it’s officially time to start projecting where basketball’s brightest young stars will be competing this summer.
The Indiana Fever, with WNBA pioneer and championship-winning head coach Lin Dunn now serving as the team’s general manager, will have four picks in the first round, making them the team with the most opportunity to build through the draft. The Atlanta Dream will also have a chance to add building blocks to their rebuild, while the Washington Mystics have the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.
Without further ado, here is Swish Appeal’s official 2022 WNBA Mock Draft, complete with predictions and analysis for all three rounds and all 36 picks.
1. Atlanta Dream: Rhyne Howard, G/F (Kentucky)
Howard has been surrounded by an aura of stardom since early in her collegiate career, and three first-team All-American selections would suggest that she’s more than ready to make an impact in the pros. At 6’2, Howard has great size as a perimeter player, and while it’s easy to focus on her scoring (20-plus points per game in three-straight seasons), she can also make plays out of the pick-and-roll and has a high ceiling as a help defender. Simply put, Howard is the type of elite talent a team — the Dream, in this case — can build around for years to come.
2. Indiana Fever: NaLyssa Smith, F (Baylor)
Listed at 6’4, Smith is a highly physical power forward who has an athletic advantage over the vast majority of her individual matchups. A strong face-up game and a relentless motor make Smith quite a handful on the boards and at the rim; her senior averages of 22.1 points and 11.5 points per game amounted to one of the best individual seasons in Baylor history, and if the Fever take her at No. 2 overall, they’ll be getting a quality play finisher whose game has even more room to grow as a professional.
3. Washington Mystics: Shakira Austin, C (Ole Miss)
A two-time All-SEC first-teamer, Austin dragged a rebuilding Ole Miss program into relevance upon her transfer from Maryland. With a massive wingspan and good lateral movement for her size, Austin can protect the paint as well as comfortably switch onto perimeter players, and at 6’5, she’s going to grab her fair share of rebounds (28.2 percent defensive rebounding rate as a senior). Perhaps the most intriguing facet of her game is how smoothly she handles the basketball as a center; Washington doesn’t have much in terms of two-way bigs, so Austin would make a good building block for future Mystics teams.
4. Indiana Fever: Kierstan Bell, F (FGCU)
Bell scored nearly 1,100 points in just two seasons at FGCU, quickly proving to be a perfect fit in the Eagles’ 3-point-heavy offense. She operated mainly as a small-ball forward there, feasting on Atlantic Sun competition en route to a pair of conference player of the year awards. Although Bell’s role will likely be different on whichever WNBA team she lands on, there’s no question she has both the skill and the body to be a successful pro, and the Fever’s recent commitment to overhauling their roster suggest that they wouldn’t mind taking a flier on a player with Bell’s athletic ceiling.
5. New York Liberty: Emily Engstler, F (Louisville)
Engstler enjoyed a career renaissance at Louisville, thriving as a roaming defender in the Cardinals’ ultra-aggressive man-to-man scheme. According to Her Hoop Stats, she was the only rotation player in Division I to record a steal rate of at least five percent and a block rate of at least seven percent; no other player, going all the way back to the 2009-10 season, has ever met both of those thresholds. The Liberty ranked 10th in the WNBA in forcing turnovers last season, and while Engstler may not be big enough to defend the taller centers in the league, her defensive instincts and activity would nevertheless be highly valued in New York.
6. Indiana Fever: Nyara Sabally, C (Oregon)
Sabally’s career at Oregon was limited to just two seasons due to multiple ACL injuries, but when healthy, she showed several of the same skills that made her older sister Satou a can’t-miss WNBA prospect — handling the ball and finishing plays in transition, in particular. Although Sabally is more limited to the low post, she’s plenty skilled around the basket, shooting 62.2 percent there (Synergy Sports), and she’s regarded highly in international basketball circles, having competed for the German national team since 2015. The Fever have enough first-round picks to take a chance here and hope Sabally pans out.
7. Dallas Wings: Destanni Henderson, G (South Carolina)
The Wings don’t seem to need much on paper, but it’s conceivable that they move on from one of Moriah Jefferson or Ty Harris sooner rather than later, in which case Henderson would be an ideal replacement. A steady outside shooter (40.5 percent on 3-pointers as an upperclassman) with a penchant for making big plays, Henderson could slot in next to any other Wings guard and contribute either as a point guard or an off-ball threat.
8. Minnesota Lynx: Elissa Cunane, C (NC State)
Cunane has been the focal point of an NC State program that has consistently been one of the country’s best in recent seasons. The fulcrum of the Wolfpack’s four-out, one-in offense, Cunane has excellent footwork in the post and can finish at the rim with either hand, though the prospect of her developing a reliable 3-point shot (42-of-100 on 3-pointers over the past three seasons) may be more appealing to pro coaches; Sylvia Fowles will be calling it a career after the 2022 WNBA season, so the Lynx may be looking to add frontcourt depth here.
9. Los Angeles Sparks: Christyn Williams, G (UConn)
Williams is a 5’11 guard with a powerful base and is one of the better two-way perimeter players in the class. The winner of the 2022 Ann Meyers Drysdale Award given to the nation’s best shooting guard, Williams excels at slashing to the hoop and shot well above 50 percent on 2-pointers in each of her four seasons at UConn. The Sparks have plenty of dynamic ball handlers on their roster, and Williams would make a good complement to that star power.
10. Indiana Fever: Veronica Burton, G (Northwestern)
A three-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year who amassed 394 steals in four collegiate seasons, Burton was often tasked with carrying the lion’s share of the playmaking for an offensively limited Northwestern team; although she plays with the push needed from WNBA point guards, she wouldn’t be overtaxed in Indiana, and her ability to set the tone of a game on defense would be a welcome addition to a backcourt that lacks a point-of-attack defender.
11. Las Vegas Aces: Rae Burrell, G/F (Tennessee)
Burrell’s highly-anticipated senior season got off to a rocky start when she sustained a leg injury, one that kept her out for a good chunk of the season and limited her athletically after she returned to the court. Although this undoubtedly hurt Burrell’s draft stock, she’s still worthy of a gamble in the late first round; as a 6’1 wing who shot 40.2 percent on 3-pointers as a junior, Burrell would fit nicely on an Aces roster that’s currently short on perimeter players.
12. Connecticut Sun: Sika Kone, C (Mali)
Widely regarded as one of the top international prospects in the class, Kone averaged an impressive 19.7 points and 14.8 rebounds per game for Mali in the 2021 U19 Women’s Basketball World Cup. Kone is just 19 years old and her game is still raw, but her international status makes her a prime candidate to be drafted and “stashed,” especially if the recent knee injury she suffered while playing in Spain keeps her out for the beginning of the 2022 WNBA season. In Connecticut’s case, she’d be a low-risk pick for a team that isn’t otherwise in a position to add much through this year’s draft.
13. Minnesota Lynx: Jade Melbourne, G (Australia)
An up-and-coming young guard who will be a key cog in Australia’s national program for years to come, Melbourne has pick-and-roll chops as both a scorer and a playmaker, as evidenced by her recent play in the U19 World Cup (12.6 points and 3.4 assists per game as the Aussies won a bronze medal). Still just 19 years old, she makes sense for the Lynx to draft and stash, as Minnesota won’t have much room on its 2022 training camp roster.
14. Washington Mystics: Nia Clouden, G (Michigan State)
A score-first point guard who is effective at both finishing at the rim (61.3 percent shooting) and shooting the long ball (39.6 percent on five 3-point attempts per game as a senior), Clouden could very well go higher than this, but if she’s still available at No. 13, the Mystics should take a look. Washington has plenty of strong perimeter defenders to pair with Clouden, such as Natasha Cloud and Ariel Atkins, and her off-the-bounce scoring ability would add a valuable dimension to Washington’s offense.
15. Atlanta Dream: Naz Hillmon, C (Michigan)
One of the most efficient scorers in Big Ten history, Hillmon terrorized the conference as an upperclassman, averaging more than 22 points and 10 rebounds per game in her last two seasons as a Wolverine while shooting nearly 60 percent from the floor. As a center who made the vast majority of her field goals out of post-ups and putbacks, Hillmon’s height (6’2) and lack of defensive stats may cause her to slide a bit in the draft, but she’s also more athletic than she’s given credit for, so we’ll see how much of her game translates and which WNBA team is a believer.
16. Los Angeles Sparks: Hannah Sjerven, C (South Dakota)
Sjerven turned heads in the 2022 NCAA Tournament, leading South Dakota to its first-ever tournament win and Sweet 16 appearance while more than holding her own against some of the bigger names in the class, such as Austin, Smith, and Hillmon. The three-time Summit League Defensive Player of the Year has a steady low-post game and a developing 3-point shot, and though she’ll already be turning 24 years old this summer, her appeal as a fundamentally sound big who can contribute to a team right away would make her a safe pick in the mid-second round.
17. Seattle Storm: Khayla Pointer, G (LSU)
Pointer put up massive all-around numbers as a fifth-year player, averaging 19.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.8 steals per game, though her main strength remains her ability to get to the rim off the dribble. Given Sue Bird’s impending retirement and the Storm’s current lack of a long-term replacement, it’s reasonable to think they’ll draft at least one point guard in 2022; Pointer would be a good choice if she’s still on the board at No. 17.
18. Seattle Storm: Kianna Smith, G (Louisville)
Smith quickly became an integral part of Louisville’s success after transferring from California. A steady play finisher, Smith can attack closeouts with balance and poise, and she ranked in the 92nd percentile in midrange shooting efficiency (Synergy Sports) as a redshirt senior. At 6’0, she’d be a solid choice if Seattle wants another perimeter shooter with some height.
19. Los Angeles Sparks: Mya Hollingshed, F (Colorado)
Hollingshed is perhaps the purest “stretch big” in the 2022 draft class. A lean 6’3 forward with a smooth long-range jumpshot, Hollingshed moves like a guard and shoots like one, too, knocking down 39.6 percent of her 3-point shots as a senior. She’ll need to get stronger to have much of an impact inside the perimeter at the WNBA level, but the Sparks already have plenty of that with Nneka Ogwumike and Liz Cambage, and Hollingshed’s shooting ability would complement those players well.
20. Indiana Fever: Lorela Cubaj, F (Georgia Tech)
A two-time ACC Defensive Player of the Year, Cubaj anchored an elite Yellow Jackets defense while also leading the team in assists (4.3 per game) as its starting power forward. Cubaj regularly pursues rebounds outside of her area and has recorded a defensive rebounding rate of 30 percent or better in each of her last two seasons. She’s not an efficient scorer via either spot-up or post-up, which ultimately limits her draft stock, but her potential as a “glue” frontcourt player could put her on the rebuilding Fever’s radar.
21. Seattle Storm: Jasmine Dickey, G/F (Delaware)
A two-time CAA Player of the Year and a 2022 AP All-American Honorable Mention, Dickey ranked third in Division I in scoring (25.3) as a senior. To say she plays taller than her 5’10 frame wouldn’t be inaccurate; Dickey also pulled down 10.2 rebounds per game and attempted 223 total free throws. She won’t be contributing on that kind of volume in the WNBA, but her athleticism alone would make her a worthy addition to the Storm’s training camp roster.
22. Minnesota Lynx: Jordan Lewis, G (Baylor)
Lewis has played a whopping six seasons of college basketball, and she’s excelled at getting to the foul line in each of them, ranking no lower than in the 92nd percentile in free throw rate (Her Hoop Stats). She’s also steady-handed, recording a career-best 2.34 assist/turnover ratio in her lone season at Baylor. It’s no secret that Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve was dissatisfied with Crystal Dangerfield’s play at point guard last season, so Minnesota could be looking to draft another ball handler such as Lewis in 2022.
23. Las Vegas Aces: Olivia Nelson-Ododa, C (UConn)
Nelson-Ododa is one of the more interesting prospects in this class; she profiles as a shot-blocking low-post scorer (66.7 percent shooting on post-ups, per Synergy Sports), but passing is perhaps her greatest strength as a 6’5 center, while her scoring as UConn was largely opportunistic. Playing alongside scorers like A’ja Wilson and Kelsey Plum in Las Vegas would maximize Nelson-Ododa’s passing ability, and she’d fit right into the team’s defensive identity of paint protection.
24. Connecticut Sun: Aisha Sheppard, G (Virginia Tech)
One of the country’s top jumpshooting guards, Sheppard can hit from just about anywhere, and her jumper is more versatile than most, effective while both spotting up and coming off screens. Few players got up more 3-pointers than Sheppard, and she knocked down 96 of them in her fifth season as a Hokie. Connecticut seems committed to adding more shooting to its backcourt this season, so Sheppard would be a good choice if she’s still around at pick No. 24.
25. Indiana Fever: Lexie Hull, G/F (Stanford)
Hull’s main appeal as a WNBA prospect will almost certainly be her outside shooting ability, as she shot 39.3 percent on 4.3 3-pointers per game as a senior. She’s also a stout pick-and-roll defender who navigates screens well; she averaged 2.2 steals per game as a senior and was selected to the Pac-12 All-Defensive Team twice in her collegiate career. There aren’t many WNBA teams that Hull wouldn’t fit well on.
26. Phoenix Mercury: Queen Egbo, C (Baylor)
Egbo has all the makings of a big who brings energy on the boards but needs to be drafted to a team with a patient coaching staff while her offensive game catches up to her hustle — or a team that’s in clear need of another center. Egbo is listed at 6’3, though her wingspan and motor add a couple of theoretical inches to that figure; she recorded a total rebounding rate of at least 18 percent in each of her four seasons at Baylor and blocked a total of 183 shots.
27. Los Angeles Sparks: Kayla Wells, G/F (Texas A&M)
The Aggies crashed back down to Earth in 2021-22, but Wells had a career season, averaging 16 points per game while connecting on 46.1 percent of her 3-pointers, albeit on low volume. At 6’0, Wells brings some size to the perimeter, and is capable of making plays out of the pick-and roll-when asked. She’d be an intriguing late-draft pick for Los Angeles.
28. Minnesota Lynx: Que Morrison, G (Georgia)
Morrison made a name for herself as one of the most tenacious guards in the SEC thanks to aggressive on- and off-ball defense and a motor that never seemed to falter. She was a large part of Georgia’s transition game — 29.2 percent of her offensive possessions came in transition as a graduate student — and was named to the SEC All-Defensive Team three times. She’d be an ideal candidate to push Minnesota’s other guards in training camp.
29. New York Liberty: Jenna Staiti, C (Georgia)
At 6’6, Staiti is one of the most physically imposing players in the class, and she does much of what you’d expect of a center of her height. Staiti shot 65.7 percent around the basket in her final season at Georgia (Synergy Sports), while opponents scored just 0.537 points per possession on post-ups with her as the primary defender. She’ll need to display enough mobility outside of the paint to stick on a WNBA roster, though her height alone might be of interest to the Liberty, who could use another big body on their training camp roster.
30. Dallas Wings: Vivian Gray, F (Texas Tech)
Gray scored more than 2,000 total points in two seasons at Oklahoma State and two at Texas Tech, earning All-Big 12 honors in each of them. At 6’1, she’s larger than most players defending her on the wing, and she leverages that size advantage into numerous trips to the free-throw line. Gray may not be the quickest player on the court, though she did record two steals per game in her final season at Texas Tech, and her size as a perimeter scorer could lessen the typical learning curve when it comes to WNBA physicality.
31. Dallas Wings: Kamila Borkowska, C (Poland)
Borkowska is 19 years old and, unlike some of the other international players in this class, doesn’t have very much experience in a professional league, only playing sparingly for Arka Gdynia in Poland. For this reason, she’s far from a guarantee to be drafted. Borkowska does, though, have massive shot-blocking and rebounding potential at 6’7, and at this stage in the draft, the Wings could afford to use a pick on a player they wouldn’t have to bring over to the WNBA immediately.
32. Phoenix Mercury: Kayla Jones, F (NC State)
On an NC State team full of talent, Jones’ complementary role was crucial, defending multiple positions at 6’1 and finishing plays on high efficiency. She shot 41.6 percent on 3-pointers over her final two seasons with the Wolfpack, and her nose for the basketball earned NC State extra possessions on numerous occasions. Any WNBA team would love to have her in training camp.
33. Seattle Storm: Evina Westbrook, G (UConn)
Westbrook may not have made the impact the Huskies had hoped for when she transferred from Tennessee, but she still has the tools to hang around near the bottom of the draft board. 6’0 ballhandlers are rare, and Westbrook has plus athleticism for her position, so she should be able to compete on most WNBA training camp rosters. Seattle would be a good destination for her.
34. Indiana Fever: Pauline Astier, G (France)
The Fever will have picked six times before this, so unless something wild happens, they probably won’t even be able to roster pick No. 34 in training camp, meaning an international selection will be the way to go. Astier played some terrific basketball for France in last year’s U19 World Cup, averaging 15 points per game on 60.7 percent shooting from the field, and she’s currently a rotation player for Tango Bourges, which recently advanced to the EuroCup Women Final. There’s a chance she turns into a WNBA-level player down the road.
35. Las Vegas Aces: Delicia Washington, G (Clemson)
A shifty guard who is adept at making plays out of the pick-and-roll, Washington earned first-team All-ACC honors in her graduate season at Clemson, showcasing an improved outside jumpshot and a stronger commitment to defense (3.2 percent steal rate; Her Hoop Stats). Washington’s skill with the basketball has never been in question, and with her game becoming more well-rounded as of late, she’s definitely worth a late-round look.
36. Connecticut Sun: Katie Benzan, G (Maryland)
Maryland’s all-time leader in 3-point shooting percentage (47.4 percent), Benzan made 166 3-pointers in just two seasons as a Terrapin. She also took good care of the basketball, recording an assist/turnover ratio of 3.2 in those two seasons. Benzan’s strengths are clearly-defined, making her a safe pick towards the end of the draft.
2022 WNBA Draft: Date, Time, and TV
When: Monday, April 11, 2022 at 7 p.m. ET
Where: Spring Studios, New York, NY