Fever wins first pick in WNBA Draft for the first time

Fever wins first pick in WNBA Draft for the first time

Indiana Fever interim general manager Lin Dunn said earlier Friday that she would watch the 2023 WNBA Draft lottery later tonight with a rabbit’s foot, fingers crossed and “a few other charms that I can’t mention in public”.

Everything Dunn did to get lucky on his side worked: For the first time in franchise history, the Fever earned the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming 2023 WNBA Draft, as reported in the Friday night lottery before the start of No. 1 South Carolina-No. 17 Maryland game.

Defending National Player of the Year Aliyah Boston of South Carolina is the No. 1 overall pick, seen by many as a franchise-changing figure.

The Fever had the best chance of any team (44.2%) of getting the No. 1 pick. Lottery odds are based on the teams’ cumulative record over the past two regular seasons.

The Minnesota Lynx — the four-time WNBA champions who missed the playoffs in 2022 for the first time since 2010 — won the No. 2 pick despite just a 14.5 percent chance.

“We are thrilled to land the second overall pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft,” Lynx coach and president of basketball operations Cheryl Reeve said. “This selection will undoubtedly be an important part of our future as we shape the next era of Lynx basketball.”

The Atlanta Dream will select third overall, followed by the Washington Mystics at No. 4. The remainder of the first round will be Chicago, New York, Indiana, Atlanta, Seattle, Connecticut, Dallas and Minnesota.

The Mystics made the playoffs but via trade secured the right to trade their first-round pick for Los Angeles’ 2023 first-round pick acquired by the Dream in an earlier trade.

“Last year we beat the odds in the lottery, and unfortunately we didn’t this year,” Washington general manager and coach Mike Thibault said. “However, as a result of the trade, we’ve moved up four draft spots. We’ll have a great player with the fourth pick, and I look forward to continuing to improve our roster in the offseason.”

Indiana franchise stalwart Kelsey Mitchell — herself a former No. 2 — was live at ESPN Studios in Bristol, Conn., for the fever-representing draft lottery.

Earlier today, the franchise introduced its new coach, Christie Sides, launching a new era for the storied organization after a long period of underperformance. The Fever made the playoffs every season from 2005 to 2016, winning the WNBA title in 2012, but have failed to qualify for the playoffs since the retirement of legend Tamika Catchings.

“It’s a very solid draft,” Dunn said in a statement. “We will have a great player to pick at No.1.”

The Fever have five players drafted last year still on their roster, including No. 2 overall pick NaLyssa Smith and Boston’s South Carolina point guard Destanni Henderson. The pair led the Gamecocks to the 2022 National Championship.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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