WNBA 2021 Simulation Project – Texas Longhorns Charli Collier Set To Become New York Liberty No.1


New York Liberty will have the No.1 pick for the second year in a row, but the 2021 WNBA Draft has many more questions than answers right now. Will there be a full season of college basketball to assess talent? Will the top seniors choose to return for another season like the NCAA allows athletes to do due to the impact of COVID-19? How many draft-eligible juniors will come out?

Will the Dallas Wings, the youngest team in the WNBA last season (average age 24.20), use their three first-round picks like they did last April? Or will the Wings try to trade picks for one or two veterans? How will free agency – which was more active than ever last season – affect the draft?

Nothing seems clear, including the No.1 pick. Kentucky junior guard Rhyne Howard tops ESPN’s list of best college basketball players for 2020-2021, and many believe she is. could go first if she was eligible. She is ageless – she won’t be 22 in 2021 – and the only other way she would be eligible is if she graduates early. A Kentucky spokesperson said on Friday Howard did not plan to do so and hoped to complete his college career in 2022.

We are including two juniors in this simulation project who are age eligible with this caveat: neither has said yet if she plans to leave early. Three draft-eligible juniors were first-round picks in 2020 – Satou Sabally of Oregon, Chennedy Carter of Texas A&M and Megan Walker of UConn – which took the senior class of this year.

Expect this simulation to – and likely will change – drastically during the season towards the April draft.

First round

1. New York Liberty: Charli Collier, C, Texas

Just a junior, she is eligible as she will be 22 in September. The Collier train has gained a lot of speed in recent weeks. She averages 13.1 points and 10.5 rebounds per game in sophomore, but at 6.55, she’s gotten stronger in the offseason and looks good so far for new Longhorns coach Vic Schaefer. . That includes a 44-point performance against North Texas and an average of 30.3 PPG and 12.0 RPG across three games. It will be interesting to see how she fares against Texas A&M on Sunday (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). With so much uncertainty on No.1, for now, Collier at least seems like a decent guess. She could help a Liberty team who, finishing last in 2020, struggled with a lot compared to the top teams in the league.

2. Dallas Wings: Aari McDonald, SG, Arizona

She was eligible for the draft last season, but chose to return to Arizona and is one of the best players in the Pac-12 and the country. At 5ft 6in, she is rather short, but is incredibly fast, skillful and fearless. After spending her first season in Washington, she averaged 22.5 PPG, 6.1 RPG, and 4.2 assists per game over her two seasons with Arizona. She also has a former WNBA player as a mentor to Wildcats coach Adia Barnes. The Wings, as mentioned, might decide to deal with this choice or others. And given that they already have Arike Ogunbowale, Dallas might not see McDonald’s as a need. But she could be the best player available so soon.

Atlanta Dream: Awak Kuier, C, Finlande

A promising 6-foot-4 position, Kuier turns 20 until next August, so we’ll have to see how ready she could be for the WNBA for 2021. But her potential is such, offensively and defensively, that it could be a lottery choice. Especially with a draft that doesn’t have a lot of certainty. The dream could use more depth in the post. If they don’t get that in free agency, they might see an still developing prospect with a high cap like Kuier as an interesting possibility.

4. Indiana Fever: Rennia Davis, SF, Tennessee

A starter since his first season, the 6-foot-2 guard / striker averages 14.8 PPG, 7.8 RPG and 1.8 APG. You could compare Davis to former Lady Vol Shekinna Stricklen, a nine-year WNBA veteran who is also a 6-2 all-rounder. Indiana CEO Tamika Catchings’ Tennessee experience might lead her in that direction, and Davis might fill a need as well.

5. Dallas Wings: Arella Guirantes, SG, Rutgers

After spending her freshman year at Texas Tech, Guirantes returned closer to her home in New York City and blossomed for the Scarlet Knights. Last season, she averaged 20.6 PPG, 6.0 RPG, and 3.1 APG, in addition to playing a team-high 37.1 minutes per game. His display of 36 points in a February win over Ohio State was one of the most exciting individual performances of last season. Perhaps the 2020 success of Rutgers alumni Betnijah Laney and Kahleah Copper could help Guirantes’ profile as well.

6. Phoenix Mercury: Evina Westbrook, PG, UConn

She’s one of the two juniors we’re including because they’re age-eligible, although they haven’t indicated they will leave early. Westbrook has a good height at 6 feet and is very skillful. She started in her two seasons in Tennessee, averaging 14.9 PPG, 3.6 RPG, and 5.3 APG in sophomore in 2018-19. She sat last season following her transfer to UConn and is expected to play a lot this season for the Huskies. The Mercury could see her as a rear axle to the future.

7. Dallas Wings: Michaela Onyenwere, SF, UCLA

His physical capacities are abundant; she averaged 18.9 PPG and 8.9 RPG last season and 18.3 and 8.5 in sophomore. His ability to defend against multiple types of players should also help. The problem, however, is that as an undersized forward – she’s listed at 6-0 – she probably needs more guarding skills for the next level. She can hit the 3 point – she’s made 41 in her career – and that will help if she can improve there. The key for the team taking her, however, might be to focus on what they do well and not what they don’t.

8. Chicago Sky: Dana Evans, SG, Louisville

Sure, she’s small at 5-6, but look at last year’s WNBA rookie: Crystal Dangerfield 5-5 from Minnesota. Wives Courtney Vandersloot and Allie Quigley have anchored Sky’s backcourt for a long time, but Evans could be a good addition for his scoring ability and defense. She averaged 18.0 PPG and 4.2 APG last season.

9. Minnesota Lynx: Natasha Mack, PF, Oklahoma State

After a solid career in college, Mack only played one season at Stillwater. So fans outside of the Big 12 probably haven’t seen much of her. But at 6-4, she averaged 17.6 PPG and 12.5 RPG last season, plus 96 blocked shots and was named Big 12 Newcomer of the Year. She doesn’t shoot the 3 point, but she does everything else pretty well.

10. Los Angeles Sparks: N’dea Jones, PF, Texas A&M

In today’s more “positionless” basketball, the 6-2 Jones might not be considered versatile enough; she also doesn’t shoot the 3-ball. But she’s a solid defender and tireless worker on the boards, averaging double-digits (11.3, 11.7) over the past two seasons. And with Chennedy Carter gone from the Aggies, we might see Jones’ offensive numbers increase this season as well. That was the case in the first three games, as she averaged 19.3 PPG compared to 11.0 last season.

11. Tempest of Seattle: Tiana Mangakahia, PG, Syracuse

One of the best stories in college sport, Mangakahia is back after sitting down last season with breast cancer. Sure, she’s only 5-6 years old, but you can’t deny her productivity; she averaged 17.1 PPG and 9.1 APG over her two seasons with Syracuse. The Australian guard could end up being the oldest player in this draft – she will be 25 in April – but the positive is her maturity. If she’s still available at this point, Storm might see her as another pending point guard behind Sue Bird.

12. Las Vegas Aces: Erin Boley, SF, Oregon

Like everything else with this draft, it’s very hard to guess what the Aces are going to do. They were the WNBA’s worst 3-point shooting team last season with Kelsey Plum having an Achilles tendon injury. Boley is another type of 3-point shooter at 6-2. Following her debut season at Notre Dame, she transferred to Oregon and shot 43% (108 of 251) in 2018-19 and 44.1% (78 of 177) last season behind the arc. The combination of his size and shooting range could be appealing to Las Vegas, if his defense is considered good enough.

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