2023 WNBA Draft: Grading all 12 teams’ draft performances

Apr 10, 2023; New York, NY, USA; Aliyah Boston poses for a photo with WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert after being drafted first overall by the Indiana Fever during WNBA Draft 2023 at Spring Studio. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 10, 2023; New York, NY, USA; Aliyah Boston poses for a photo with WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert after being drafted first overall by the Indiana Fever during WNBA Draft 2023 at Spring Studio. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports /

The 2023 WNBA Draft didn’t feature the usual fireworks and chaos that fans have become accustomed to in recent years. Which teams had the best draft?

The 2023 WNBA Draft has come and gone, and players are making their way to their new homes to get acquainted with their teams. This draft didn’t feature some of the names it was originally projected to, but the class is still promising and multiple players should be impactful pros.

The draft did feature the Fever’s first-ever number-one pick, an early trade, and the start of two former dynasties’ rebuilds. After the dust had settled, which teams came out best?

WNBA Draft Grades: the bottom tier

Dallas Wings: F

Picks: Maddy Siegrist (3), trade for Stephanie Soares (4), Lou Lopez Sénéchal (5), Abby Meyers (11), Ashley Joens (19), Paige Robinson (31)

The Wings are known for confusing roster decisions, and they may have one-upped themselves on draft night. Maddy Siegrist at No. 3 was a no-brainer and adds versatility to their offense at all three levels. After that is when things got weird.

Dallas immediately traded a 2025 first-round pick (via Atlanta) and their own 2024 second-round pick for Stephanie Soares after Washington picked her at No. 4. Both drafts are expected to be great, and 2025 could feature talents such as Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese, depending on how long they remain in school.

The Wings’ other picks were spent on specialists, despite more versatile players being available, such as choosing Sénéchal over Jordan Horston and Haley Jones. Considering Dallas already has 11 players rostered, creating further logjam just didn’t make sense.

Phoenix Mercury: F

Picks: Destiny Harden (27), Kadi Sissoko (29)

Do not be mistaken, the Mercury drafted two talented players with their late picks. Harden and Sissoko have some nice scoring chops and could play their way onto a roster.

It might not be the Mercury roster, though.

The Mercury have long been a team that needed players on cheap deals to play solid minutes. Their salary has often been tied up between their top stars, even more so than other teams. Harden and Sissoko can provide value to a team, but their fit with the Mercury roster and system is questionable at best. Phoenix thrived last year in Brittney Griner’s absence by upping the tempo and spacing the floor.  With Griner back, spacing will be even more important in Phoenix. Neither of these players has a precedent of being great at that.

Connecticut Sun: F

Picks: Alexis Morris (22), Ashten Prechtel (34)

The Sun picked late, but that’s no excuse to avoid drafting for fit.

Alexis Morris is a solid player who could find a way onto a roster. She is a bit undersized but is a dogged defender and crafty driver who can get to her spots. That said, similar to Harden and Sissoko in Phoenix, her spot might be on another team. Connecticut has a crowded guard rotation, and it’s hard to imagine Morris breaking into it.

Prechtel is a true head-scratcher of a pick. She projects as a stretch big, but played just 11.2 minutes per game for her career at Stanford, largely due to being an incredibly poor defender. Perhaps the Sun see something the masses don’t, but until it is on display, this draft looks abysmal for them.

WNBA Draft grades: The superteams

Las Vegas Aces: C

Pick: Brittany Davis (36)

The Aces had the final pick in the draft and secured a strong offensive player in Brittany Davis. Davis averaged 18 points per game last season, added seven rebounds, and shot 36 percent from 3. However, she was a defensive liability, which hurts her WNBA prospects.

The Aces are also in full superteam mode, which makes them tough to grade. Their opportunities for young players are limited during this window. Even if Davis makes the roster, Vegas runs a short bench which will limit her opportunities further.

New York Liberty: C

Pick: Okako Adika (30)

Like the Aces, the Liberty are in their superteam phase, meaning their draft pick was already unlikely to make the roster. Adika was a good shooter at her various stops in college and could receive a chance from another team.

WNBA Draft grades: The middle tier

Chicago Sky: B

Picks: Kayana Traylor (23), Kseniya Malashka (35)

James Wade moved a lot of the Sky’s picks this off-season, but these two remained. They did pretty well with them.

Traylor played an important role for Virginia Tech during their Final Four run. She can do a little bit of everything, although she may not excel at one particular skill. She is a quality shooter and defender, though, and brings value to the court.

Malashka tied for the leading scorer title at Middle Tennessee this year and was a key leader for them during their C-USA Championship season. She is not the shooter Traylor is, but scores efficiently inside the arc and rebounds well for her size.

Both players could reasonably make Chicago’s roster and play solid roles on the new-look Sky, which is why Chicago ranks well on the report card.

Seattle Storm: B

Picks: Jordan Horston (9), Madi Williams (18), Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu (21), Jade Loville (33)

Jordan Horston’s inexplicable slip even shocked the Storm, who didn’t even have a pre-draft meeting with her. Seattle did not hesitate to pick her up, and rightfully so. Horston was widely viewed as a top-four prospect in this class. An athletic wing who makes plays on both ends, the Storm got a great piece as they enter their rebuilding phase.

The rest of their class has a few more question marks, but overall it wasn’t bad. Williams is a big wing with an enticing inside game but will need to improve her perimeter shot to maximize her impact. Fankam Mendjiadeu is a strong rebounder and decent deterrent inside but will have to carve out a role behind Mercedes Russell and Ezi Magbegor in order to stick around.

Loville projects as a good shooter, but had a bad funk down the stretch of last season, going 1-of-23 over her last nine games at Arizona. She will have ample opportunity in Seattle’s camp with so many other unproven players around but will need to get back on track to display her true value.

Los Angeles Sparks: B+

Picks: Zia Cooke (10), Shaneice Swain (14), Monika Czinano (26)

The Sparks drafted well under new GM Karen Bryant.

Zia Cooke is a great fit on the roster, adding levels of shot-making and finishing their guard rotation was missing beforehand. She has superstar potential which aligns perfectly with one of the WNBA’s marquee franchises.

Swain won’t be in the WNBA for a few years but is viewed as an advanced shooter and playmaker already at just 19 years old. She recently displayed her game at the Nike Hoop Summit, enamoring multiple teams that were in attendance.

Czinano is a more traditional big who likely won’t make the cut at the next level, but she will be a big body to compete against the Sparks’ forwards in camp — while limiting their minutes as well.

WNBA Draft grades: The top tier

Atlanta Dream: A

Picks: Haley Jones (6), Laeticia Amihere (8), Leigha Brown (15)

The Dream may have gotten the steal of the draft when Haley Jones slid to No. 6. Jones’ advanced playmaking, finishing, and defense will be a great addition to a budding Dream squad. Jones is smart and versatile enough to fit alongside stars Rhyne Howard and Allisha Gray, and the trio will be terrifyingly good defensively. Jones’ outside shot caused her to slip, but Atlanta provides a great staff to help correct whatever issues she’s dealing with.

In Amihere, the Dream got arguably the most intriguing prospect in the draft. At 6-foot-4 with a 6-foot-10 wingspan, Amihere has a pro-ready body and uses it well. She is an exceptional defender who can defend anywhere on the court and generates plenty of transition opportunities. Amihere’s outside shot is also a major question mark at this point, but there’s a path to success for her even without it — any development in that area is simply icing on the cake.

Brown likely doesn’t make the final roster but is competitive and good enough to provide value in camp.

Washington Mystics: A

Picks: Elena Tsineke (20), Txell Alarcon (32)

The Mystics pulled off the fleece of the night, trading Stephanie Soares to Dallas for two future picks in loaded drafts. They followed up by drafting two sleeper picks at great value points.

Tsineke was a highly-rated prospect but slipped to 20. She is a crafty guard who excels in the pick-and-roll and is plenty capable of running the Mystics’ second unit. The Mystics are a great fit as they need the offensive boost she brings and have a roster built to negate her defensive deficiencies.

Alarcon is a draft-and-stash prospect from Spain who could turn into a solid WNBA guard. She projects to be a capable shooter and defender at the off-guard spot. Mike Thibault said the team will be following her development closely.

Indiana Fever: A+

Picks: Aliyah Boston (1), Grace Berger (7), Taylor Mikesell (13), LaDazhia Williams (17), Victaria Saxton (25)

The Fever finally got their cornerstone in Aliyah Boston. While their rebuild isn’t officially over, it is as close to done as it has been in a few years. The Fever followed up the Boston pick with a string of great picks that solidified this as one of their better classes ever.

Berger has a lot of value on this roster. She is a versatile, sound guard who is a good defender and a smart playmaker. Plus, she is a hometown product who brings fans with her. Mikesell was the best catch-and-shoot threat in the class, which will provide the Fever with the spacing they will need to be a competitive team.

Williams and Saxton both have value but will have uphill battles to a roster spot. Williams is a solid rebounder and inside finisher, but will have to take minutes from Queen Egbo, who proved herself last year. Saxton has defensive value at multiple positions, but next to no offensive value. She will have to display a semblance of a scoring threat for a chance at a spot.

Minnesota Lynx: A++

Picks: Diamond Miller (2), Maïa Hirsch (12), Dorka Juhász (16), Brea Beal (24), Taylor Soule (28)

Minnesota nailed their draft.

Miller was an easy choice at No. 2. Where the Lynx truly shone was in their other four picks.

Hirsch is a fascinating draft-and-stash option with tremendous potential. At just 19 years old, she likely won’t be stateside for another couple of years. In the meantime, Juhász is a great filler. Juhász is a proven high-low big who can space the floor, keeping things open for the Lynx’s other stars to work inside.

Snagging Beal at the end of the second round was a great value play. Beal is an exceptional defender who showcased an improved outside shot in her final year at South Carolina. Beal is also a very smart player who fits well with Cheryl Reeve.

Soule slipped much later than many projections predicted, and has a great opportunity in Minnesota, as well. Soule is an athletic wing who can defend and finish inside with ease. Her perimeter shot can be inconsistent, but like Beal, she is a smart player who should work well with Cheryl Reeve. There’s a legitimate possibility that each player (aside from Hirsch) makes the Lynx roster. No other team can say that.

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