The No. 1 pick of the 2021 WNBA draft has changed hands, but Texas Longhorns junior Charli Collier remains the top selection in ESPN’s second 2021 WNBA mock draft after plenty of activity since the free-agency period opened.
In some respects, the league’s many signings and trades made the draft a little clearer, while in others, it’s just as uncertain. What will the Wings — who have Nos. 1, 2, 5, 7 and 13 — do with all those picks? Is at least one more big WNBA trade on the way?
Since the NCAA has given athletes a blanket eligibility waiver on the 2020-21 women’s college basketball season, how many seniors might decide they want one more year in school? Which draft-eligible juniors will opt to go early? For this mock draft, we are including all seniors and those draft-eligible juniors we think might be selected. (Note: * Signifies draft-eligible junior)
On a busy Feb. 10, the top pick was traded twice: from New York to Seattle, then from the Storm to the Wings. Dallas needs more post play, and 6-foot-5 Collier — a draft-eligible junior — fits the bill if she opts to leave Texas early. She is averaging 21.3 points and 12.4 rebounds. She’s strong inside and has face-up skills. She has had a couple of dud games this season, most recently with two points against Baylor on Feb. 14, when she showed frustration with the defense she was facing and with not getting the ball. Considering her skill set, though, those bumps in the road are not really worrisome.
2. Dallas Wings: Awak Kuier, PF, Finland
Would the Wings really take two 6-5 players with the first two picks? It’s possible because both have the ability to play the center and power forward spots. Kuier doesn’t turn 20 until August. At least early on, she likely would be more comfortable as a forward in the WNBA as she looks to get stronger. She has terrific athleticism and a high ceiling. Kuier, who plays for Ragusa, is averaging 9.6 points and 7.2 rebounds in Italian league play, shooting 50.5 percent from the field and 36.1 from 3-point range (13 of 36).
The Dream took Chennedy Carter at No. 4 in 2020, and she had a strong rookie season in which only injury slowed her down. Atlanta could add another quick perimeter player in Evans, who is able to run the point, score (21.2 PPG) and defend. She is small at 5-6, but she’s a fearless, confident offensive player who never hesitates to take — and usually make — clutch shots. Louisville has been a strong defensive program, and she will bring that mindset to the WNBA.
Other than Jantel Lavender and Jessica Breland, the Fever are pretty young. Davis could be part of the team the Fever hope to become. At 6-2, she is a multipurpose scorer, although you’d like to see her 3-point percentage improve (23.1). She’s a good rebounder, leading Tennessee at 8.8 per game, and should have the physical ability to guard inside and on the perimeter. Her 24-point second half in Thursday’s victory over No. 2 South Carolina showed Davis at her most effective.
A former junior college standout, Mack has quickly made a Division I impact. She’s already Oklahoma State’s career leader in blocked shots and is tops in Division I in that category (4.2 BPG). At 6-4, Mack has a 6-11 wingspan she uses to her advantage defensively beyond just blocking shots. Mack is averaging 19.9 PPG and 12.1 RPG, and perhaps she can add even more strength to the Wings’ inside game.
The fifth-year senior who started her career at Texas Tech could have gone to the WNBA draft last year but opted to spend another season at Rutgers — and has become a better player. With Rutgers on a COVID-19 pause for more than a month, Guirantes has been limited to 13 games. But she has made the most of those, averaging career highs in points (22.2 PPG) and assists (5.5) while cutting down on turnovers. She has shown herself to be a solid 3-point shooter, which would help her fit in with the Liberty.
Considering the talent they already have, it’s uncertain the Wings can fit all their first-round picks on the 2021 roster. But if Onyenwere is still available, it would be hard to bypass her athleticism and potential. The questions are whether she’s going to be able to make the transition to being more guard-oriented in the WNBA and whether her 3-point shot can get better. So-called “tweeners” sometimes take longer to find the right path in the league, and some never do find it. Onyenwere is averaging 17.4 points and 8.1 rebounds for the Bruins.
McDonald is another player who was draft-eligible last year but opted to return. She and coach Adia Barnes think that has made her a better leader. If she got a chance to play with Courtney Vandersloot in Chicago, it could be a great learning experience with one of the WNBA’s best-ever point guards. McDonald is averaging 18.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.6 assists while also being one of the best defenders in the Pac-12.
Austin is a draft-eligible junior who left Maryland after two very good seasons to transfer to Ole Miss. This season, she’s averaging 17.5 points and 8.5 rebounds. If she decides to leave early for the WNBA, she could be seen as a young post to work alongside Lynx veteran Sylvia Fowles. The relative lack of star players in this draft, compared with next year, might influence that decision. Or Austin might think she can improve her stock with another season in college.
Walker has blossomed as a senior and is averaging 20.9 points and 9.9 rebounds. Her 3-point shooting stands out for a 6-3 player: She has made 64 of 154 (41.6%) from long range. With ranked teams still to play and the chance to lead Alabama to its first NCAA tournament appearance since 1999, Walker could be moving up the draft board. If she’s available, she could be a good addition for the Sparks.
11. Seattle Storm: Shyla Heal, PG, Australia
The Storm have a legend in Sue Bird, and another talented point guard in Jordin Canada. But with Bird at 40, might the Storm opt for point guard potential? Heal turns 20 in September; she was born in 2001, when another Australian, Lauren Jackson, was a rookie with the Storm. Heal first played in the Australian pro league, the WNBL, when she was 14, so she already has a lot of pro experience. Her father, Shane Heal, was a longtime pro point guard, including brief stints in the NBA.
Westbrook spent her first two years at Tennessee, then had to sit out a year during her transfer and is in her first season playing for UConn. At 6-0, she has good size for a point guard and is averaging 9.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.7 assists. Freshman Paige Bueckers is dominating the UConn storyline, but Westbrook has been a good addition for the Huskies. The Aces might see her as adding depth to their guard corps, if Westbrook opts to leave early.
13. Dallas Wings: Chelsea Dungee, SG, Arkansas
14. Indiana Fever: Iliana Rupert, C, France
15. Atlanta Dream: Unique Thompson, PF, Auburn
16. Chicago Sky: Lindsey Pulliam, SG, Northwestern
17. New York Liberty: Destiny Slocum, PG, Arkansas
18. Seattle Storm: N’dea Jones, PF, Texas A&M
19. Indiana Fever: Mya Hollingshed, PF, Colorado
20. Connecticut Sun: DiJonai Carrington, SG, Baylor
21. Connecticut Sun: Kayla Jones, SF, NC State
22. Los Angeles Sparks: Kiana Williams, PG, Stanford
23. Seattle Storm: Aisha Sheppard, SG, Virginia Tech
24. Las Vegas Aces: Chelsey Perry, PF, UT Martin
25. New York Liberty: Janelle Bailey, C, North Carolina
26. Indiana Fever: Ivana Raca, SF, Wake Forest
27. Atlanta Dream: Erin Boley, SF, Oregon
28. Los Angeles Sparks: Vivian Gray, SF, Texas Tech
29. New York Liberty: Tiana Mangakahia, PG, Syracuse
30. Connecticut Sun: Nancy Mulkey, C, Rice
31. Indiana Fever: DiDi Richards, PG, Baylor
32. Phoenix Mercury: Ciera Johnson, C, Texas A&M
33. Indiana Fever: Anastasia Hayes*, PG, Middle Tennessee
34. Los Angeles Sparks: Kysre Gondrezick, PG, West Virginia
35. Seattle Storm: Jenn Wirth, PF, Gonzaga
36. Las Vegas Aces: Cece Hooks, SG, Ohio