WNBA draft

WNBA Draft Preview: Aliyah Boston’s time is now

Boston

With the chaos and commotion of the NCAA Women’s March Madness over, all eyes in the world of women’s basketball now turn to the 2023 WNBA Draft as it is taking place just over a week after LSU lifted their first ever trophy.

Temps de lecture : 5 mn 🕗

With the chaos and commotion of the NCAA Women's March Madness over, all eyes in the world of women's basketball now turn to the 2023 WNBA Draft as it's taking place just over a week after LSU lifted their first ever trophy.

Some players had less than 48 hours after playing their final game in school colours to make a decision to enter the draft, while others like Aliyah Boston have been the face of the 2023 draft for the better part of two years.

Here's what you need to know before the 2023 WNBA Draft happening at 7 p.m. on April 10.

Boston overwhelming favourite for top spot

It's no secret that pretty much every mock draft anyone will read has Aliyah Boston at the top of their list, and one of the South Carolina “Freshies” has earned her spot, though it's been speculated she would take it since even before she won a national championship with the Gamecocks.

Boston averaged 13 points, 9.8 rebounds and two blocks per game this season, doing it all while shooting 54.8 percent from the field. She will have a stronger ability to thrive offensively in the WNBA where she won't be triple-teamed like she was most of her college career.

On top of that, Boston is a dominant two-way player, not only as a post presence but also on the defensive end as she took home the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award for a second consecutive season. Boston is a great defender at the basket and on the perimeter, an elite rebounder and has a high ceiling to continue to get better.

As for the team she is likely to be drafted to, the Fever, they have not made the playoffs since 2016, but they did finally have the No. 1 pick this year for the first time in franchise history.

The Fever have had trouble with retaining their top draft picks in recent years including waiving Lauren Cox, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2020 draft, after just two seasons, and waiving their 2021 No. 4 pick Kysre Gondrezick, a selection that shocked many women's basketball fans when she was taken early.

One key difference between Indiana's previous picks and Boston is that Boston is not only the best available player, but also one that wants to win and has the ability to change any team that she is on, something that the Fever definitely could use.

Siegrist is making upward moves

Maddy Siegrist made a case for why she should be a top-three pick in this year's draft with her scoring ability, recording 37 consecutive 20-point games this season for Villanova which is the longest streak by any women's or men's DI player this century.

Siegrist was the nation's leading scorer averaging 29.2 points per game this past year and could fill scoring holes for the Wings at the No. 3 pick after losing players like Allisha Gray and Marina Mabrey.

Leading the Wildcats to the Sweet 16, Siegrist finished with a school-record 2,896 points, also adding 1,102 rebounds and her offensive skillset gives her the ability to either take a smaller defender low or shoot over someone bigger with little to no difficulty.

One main concern is her defence, while she can play decently in a good defensive system, guarding the athletic, speedy guards in the WNBA is a different story than guarding some of the players in the Big East. But if Siegrist is able to find her defensive flow, her offensive game has no asterisks to it.

Are Miller, Horston locks for top-five picks?

Minnesota head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve knows Maryland's Diamond Miller has the most upside of any player on the draft board and is likely to take her with the No. 2 pick. Miller lead Maryland in scoring with 19.7 points per game, has size and athleticism and does it all.

Miller is dominant when it comes to grabbing a rebound, moving the ball and making plays, and is a threat when driving and consistent in her production. Her three-point shot may need some work, but the Lynx have some already decent players from beyond the arc and if Miller can work on that area, she will have no problem fitting in with an athletic, talented group in Minnesota.

As for Jordan Horston, who once looked like a top-three pick, she is rumoured to be drafted anywhere from three to five with Iowa State's Stephanie Soares coming into the mix as a potential pick at No. 4. Soares is a two-time NAIA Player of the Year but tore her ACL in January and was denied an extra year of eligibility, and enters the draft with size, skills, rim-protecting and three-point shooting abilities as a big. Soares won't play in the WNBA in 2023 which leaves it up to if they take the risk at No. 4, or let Dallas have her at No. 5 which eases their pick and cap-crunch situation.

Horston, at six-foot-two, can guard multiple positions and defensively has no concern in her game. While she played well in the postseason, averaging 19 points per game for Tennessee during the SEC tournament en route to the championship game and 16 points per game in the NCAA Tournament. Horston's concerns come with her offence and shooting, but her overall athleticism and defence may be enough for the Mystics to overlook.

She can rebound, pass and will get on both sides of the ball, and did shoot 43.8 per cent from the field in her most efficient scoring season yet for the Lady Vols, but the difference in contesting shots from the SEC to the WNBA will be a concern for a shooter that has already seen some issues.

See you next year!

Due to the COVID-19 waiver from 2020-21, seniors from this season and next can opt to play a fifth year in college. With the lack of WNBA spots available and now money being able to be earned through NIL deals, the prospects of the 2023 draft have changed, and potentially will in 2024 too.

Two of the biggest names people would have looked for in this draft are Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese, who were both featured in the NCAA Women's March Madness title game and made waves for Clark leading the tournament in scoring and Reese leading Division I in double-doubles.

But the WNBA requires players to be 22 years old the year of the draft, and both players are born in 2002, meaning that they are both just 21 this year and will have to wait until 2024. While Boston is also currently 21, she will turn 22 in December.

Players like Hailey Van Lith and Paige Bueckers are not in the 2023 draft like originally thought, as Van Lith has entered the transfer portal with a “do not contact” option after three years at Louisville, while Bueckers has been dealing with injury on and off for the last two years and is looking to have a full, healthy season at UConn in 2023-24.

One of the more shocking announcements was UCLA's Charisma Osborne staying for a super-senior season after averaging 15.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game this season. Osborne had the potential to be a top-10 pick, and even apologized after her decision for causing WNBA mock drafts to be messed up after her announcement.

The 2023 draft has a lot of talent, but the 2024 draft looks to be one of the most loaded WNBA drafts the league has seen in a while.

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