Minnesota Lynx 2020 WNBA draft primer

Despite the 2020 WNBA season being postponed due to the coronavirus, a virtual edition of the draft will be held Friday evening.

After making several trades throughout the offseason, general manager Cheryl Reeve and the Minnesota Lynx will have two picks to work with — No. 6 overall (first round) and No. 16 (second round).

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Last year, the Lynx struck gold by selecting Napheesa Collier out of the University of Connecticut with the sixth overall pick. Collier averaged 13.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.6 steals per contest in her first season and was named an All-Star and the 2019 WNBA Rookie of the Year.

Based on mock drafts around the internet, the consensus initial four picks will be Sabrina Ionescu (Oregon), Satou Sabally (Oregon), Lauren Cox (Baylor) and Chennedy Carter (Texas A&M). That leaves plenty of options for Minnesota at No. 6 overall.

Let’s dive in!

 

Bella Alarie, SF, Princeton

The first Ivy League player to be named an AP All-American twice, Alarie played four years at Princeton and averaged 17.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game as a senior. She had an even better campaign in 2018-19: 22.8 points, 10.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists per contest. Alarie is a solid passer and also brings a respectable 3-point shot (35.6% last year). Fun fact: Her father, Mark Alarie, played five seasons in the NBA with Denver and Washington from 1986-91.

 

Crystal Dangerfield, PG, Connecticut

Even with Minnesota native Rachel Banham now on the Lynx roster, the team could use more depth at guard. Dangerfield could be the answer. The 5-foot-5 guard posted 14.9 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.9 assists per contest while shooting 41% from 3-point range in 2019-20. If Minnesota passes on Dangerfield with the sixth overall pick, it can hope she drops to the second round in a draft that’s expected to be top-heavy with forwards.

 

Kiah Gillespie, PF, Florida State
Despite playing just two years at Florida State (she began her collegiate career at Maryland), Gillespie ranks fourth in program history with 25 double-doubles and went down as the second-fastest Seminole to rack up 1,000 career points. In 2019-20, Gillespie logged 15.6 points, 8.7 boards and 1.8 assists per game. The 6-2 forward is effective in the paint but also drained multiple 3-pointers in 12 of 32 games last year.

 

Tyasha Harris, PG, South Carolina

The top point guard in the draft not named Ionescu, Harris is a facilitator who could distribute the ball to the Lynx’s top playmakers in Collier and Syliva Fowles. As a senior in 2019-20, Harris averaged 12.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and 5.7 assists per contest. With passing and defense as her greatest strengths, the only question surrounding Harris is if she can score consistently at the WNBA level. But Harris did improve as a scorer every season in college and shot a career-best 38.4% from deep last year.

 

Ruthy Hebard, PF, Oregon

Hebard will be the third Ducks player selected in the draft behind Ionescu and Sabally, but she brings first-round talent as well. Hebard wrapped up her career as the Pac-12’s all-time leader in career field-goal percentage (65.1%). She earned the Katrina McClain award (given to the nation’s top power forward) after averaging 17.3 points and 9.6 rebounds per contest and racking up 35 blocks and 42 steals in 33 games. Hebard was at her best in college running the pick-and-roll with Ionescu, so pairing her with an experienced guard like Banham would benefit the 6-4 forward.

 

Joyner Holmes, PF, Texas

Named the Big 12 Freshman of the Year in 2016-17, Holmes’ collegiate career was derailed by a team suspension as a sophomore and an ankle injury the next year. But Holmes got back on track during her senior campaign, averaging 13.1 points and 8.7 rebounds per contest across 30 games for the Longhorns. Her passing skills and footwork are considered advanced compared to other WNBA prospective power forwards.

 

Megan Walker, SF, Connecticut

Minnesota struck gold by drafting UConn products Maya Moore (2011) and Collier (2019). Why not dip back into the Huskies ranks for Walker? The 6-1 forward led UConn with 19.7 points and ranked second with 8.4 rebounds per game as a junior in 2019-20. She scored 20+ points in 18 of 32 contests and was named the AAC Player of the Year. But the best part? Walker nailed 45.1% of her attempts from 3-point range. The Lynx could certainly use her shooting after finishing 11th out of 12 teams in 3-point makes per game (5.8) last year.