• Kyle Heywood

Kyle's Final 2022 WNBA Mock Draft

Updated: Apr 10

It's finally happening. The 2022 WNBA Draft is right around the corner and I'm here to give you my final mock draft of the year. There have been some trades that have moved picks around to different teams so there have been additional shifts to how I have the players going. Let's dive right in:

1- Atlanta Dream:

Rhyne Howard - 6'2" Guard - Kentucky

Rhyne Howard has been tabbed a top draft prospect from the time she started at Kentucky. With the departures of Chennedy Carter and Courtney Williams, there is a lot to be desired in the Atlanta backcourt. Howard could provide exactly what the Dream are looking for in that regard. She's a phenomenal on and off-ball defender with a quick and efficient shot. In 2021-22 she averaged 20.5 ppg and 7.4 rpg while shooting 44% from the floor. Howard is an outside threat as well, shooting 38% from behind the arc her senior year despite defenses keying on her heavily every single game.

At 6'2", Howard provides rare size for a guard and could easily have a long career in the WNBA.

2- Indiana Fever:

NaLyssa Smith - 6'4" Forward - Baylor

The Fever desperately need a big who can rebound and score efficiently and Smith is exactly that. The Converse, Texas native averaged 22.1 ppg and 11.5 rpg this last season while leading the Bears to a #2 seed in the March Madness tournament. Smith easily moves into space without the ball making her an easy target for a guard to find on offense. Her biggest weakness has been her shooting from outside of the key. Time will tell, but Smith could easily end up being the best player taken in this draft.

3 - Washington Mystics:

Shakira Austin - 6'5" Center - Ole Miss

Dropping from the 1st to 3rd pick somewhat changes what I see the Mystics doing with their 2022 first round pick. Washington is in need of depth in their backcourt but after Howard, there is a significant drop in who I see as a viable guard in the WNBA. So for the 3rd overall pick, we're going with the "best available" and that is Shakira Austin.

Austin has great size and athleticism. Her defense is probably the reason why she'll go high in this year's draft. She pulled down 9 rpb this season and she snags 3+ blocks/steals more often than not. Her shooting efficiency is lacking but Austin still produced 15.2 ppg in 2021-22.

4 - Indiana Fever:

Emily Engstler - 6'1" Guard/Forward - Louisville

The month of March was good for Engstler. While South Carolina seemed to be able to shut down whoever they wanted, Engstler was the lone Cardinal who could find an effective way to score in the Final Four matchup with South Carolina. Engstler is often referred to as a "swiss-army knife" type of player, and that's very fitting. She rebounds, plays defense, shoots efficiently, and can even handle the ball. While her scoring output hasn't been anything to write home about (11.9 ppg this season), Engstler has enough tools to find her way onto a roster spot in the WNBA. Her shooting percentages have seen a steady increase each year going back to her freshman season at Syracuse.

5 - New York Liberty:

Nyara Sabally - 6'5" Center - Oregon

Another Sabally out of Oregon going first round? You bet! Although Nyara has a different game than Satou, she is definitely a WNBA talent. The junior scored 15.4 ppg and brought in 7.8 rpb this last season. Her skills are still pretty raw but the progress she's made in her short stint in Oregon has shown that she can develop quickly. Her height and wingspan alone make her an interesting pick but her defensive instincts need work.

6 - Indiana Fever:

Destanni Henderson - 5'7" Guard -South Carolina

I might be higher on Henderson than most, but it's a great fit for Indiana. Henderson provides speed and suffocating defense but that's not all. She also shoots 40% from the floor and from behind the arc. Henderson is a great distributer who can also be an outside threat. Size has been brought up as a concern but if players like Jordin Canada and Leilani Mitchell can find a spot in the league, Henderson definitely can. Indiana has depth at the guard spot but finding a young true point guard like Henderson would bode very well for the Fever.

7 - Dallas Wings:

Kierstan Bell - 6'1" Guard - Florida Gulf Coast

Some will elevate Bell because of her amazing stats. Some will hold back on her because she played at a "small program" in FGCU. I think her sweet spot is right about 7 in this draft. The junior guard from Alliance, Ohio has definitely caught the eye of a lot of WBB media. Bell averaged 22.8 ppg last season and while a lot of it was against lesser competition, she showed she can do it against the big programs as well. Bell had 22 against Virginia Tech in the first round of the NCAA tournament advancing #12 FGCU over the #5 Hokies. She has a lot of the skills that WNBA GMs are looking for, particularly on offense. Can her defense work out as she will definitely guard the wing position in the WNBA? That's the big question. She's been guarding more in the post at FGCU than on the perimeter. Will she be the next Allie Quigley or Alysha Clark and be a WNBA starter out of a smaller school? I'm not ready to make that call yet.

8 - Las Vegas Aces:

Elissa Cunane - 6'5" Center - NC State

Projecting where Cunane will go has probably been the most difficult part of this year's mock draft. I've had her as high as #3 overall while other times dropping her out of the first round completely. Her production dropped off a bit her senior season compared to where she was as a junior and sophomore, but she still brought in 13.7 ppg and 7.9 rpg. Her scoring efficiency however, has pretty much stayed consistent across her entire tenure at NC State. While not an incredible 3-point shooter, teams will have to account for her range because you don't want to leave her open on the perimeter. If she can improve her perimeter defense, Cunane could be the steal of the draft at #8.

9 - Los Angeles Sparks:

Veronica Burton - 5'9" Guard - Northwestern

Burton may have ended up higher up on my list had she had an opportunity to play in this year's tournament. That being said, if I had to predict someone on this list to have a triple-double in the WNBA, it might be Burton. Averaging 17.8 ppg and 5.5 rbg, Burton is an all-around player that could easily turn some heads if she is provided the right opportunity. Her defense and nose for the ball make her one of the best two-way players in this year's draft. Burton tallied 13 points, 14 assists, and 9 steals earlier this year at Illinois. That's right, she nearly had a triple double without the rebounds. Los Angeles could be a great fit for Burton if they take her here.

10 - Indiana Fever:

Naz Hillmon - 6'2" Forward - Michigan

Hillmon is one of the best college players in the country, but we've seen time and time again that some players don't translate well when they reach the pros. Hillmon has phenomenal footwork and post moves but at only 6'2", it's hard to imagine she'll be able to be as productive in the WNBA. However, Hillmon is a fantastic decision-maker, positions herself well for rebounds, and is able to pass out of the post well. Indiana might just take a shot with Hillmon with their fourth and final pick of the first round.

11 - Las Vegas Aces:

Sika Kone - 6'3" Forward - Mali National Team (Spar Gran Canaria- Spain)

Kone would be a long-term investment similar to what we have anticipated with Awak Kuier. At only 19 years old, Kone is a double-double machine in her club and international games. Las Vegas is putting together a fantastic coaching staff that may want to try their luck in developing Kone into a big time WNBA player.

12 - Connecticut Sun:

Lexie Hull - 6'1" Guard - Stanford

I may be the only mock draft to have Hull going in the first round but hear me out: Connecticut has one of the most complete rosters in the entire league and should compete for a championship this year. One of the missing pieces for this Sun squad is someone who can come off the bench and light it up from behind the arc. Hull may not be the best pure shooter in this draft but when she gets going, it's terrifying for opposing defenses. Hull is far from only a scorer, she also has fantastic court vision and is generally not prone to turnovers. Defensively, Hull leaves a lot to be desired but if Connecticut wants someone who can heat up quickly and provide a spark off the bench, Hull just may be that answer.

Other names to watch for in the first round in no particular order:

- Rae Burrell

- Lorela Cubaj

- Evina Westbrook

- Khayla Pointer

- Nia Clouden

- Christyn Williams

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