Five things to know ahead of the 2021 WNBA Draft

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1. When is the 2021 WNBA Draft?

The 2021 WNBA Draft will take place tonight, Thursday, April 15 (ESPN 7pm ET). All draft prospects will take part virtually.

2. Which WNBA team has the top draft pick?

The Dallas Wings own the top two picks in the 2021 WNBA Draft, as well as two additional picks in the first round (5, 7). Here’s the full list:

First Round
1. Dallas (from New York via Seattle)
2. Dallas
3. Atlanta
4. Indiana
5. Dallas (from Washington via New York)
6. New York (from Connecticut via Phoenix)
7. Los Angeles (from Chicago via Dallas)
8. Chicago (from Phoenix via Dallas)
9. Minnesota
10. Los Angeles
11. Seattle
12. Las Vegas
Second Round
1. Dallas (from New York)
2. Las Vegas (from Indiana)
3. Atlanta
4. Chicago (from Dallas via Los Angeles)
5. New York (from Washington)
6. Seattle (from Connecticut)
7. Indiana (from Chicago)
8. Connecticut (from Phoenix)
9. Connecticut (from Minnesota)
10. Los Angeles
11. Seattle
12. Indiana (from Las Vegas)
Third Round
1. New York
2. Indiana
3. Atlanta
4. Los Angeles (from Dallas)
5. New York (from Washington)
6. Connecticut
7. Indiana (from Chicago)
8. Phoenix
9. Indiana (from Minnesota)
10. Los Angeles
11. Seattle
12. Las Vegas

3. Who are the prospects?

Over fifty players have opted in for the 2021 WNBA Draft. Top prospects include:

  • Charli Collier – Texas
  • Rennia Davis – Tennessee
  • Chelsea Dungee – Arkansas
  • Dana Evans – Louisville
  • Arella Guirantes – Rutgers
  • N’dea Jones – Texas A&M
  • Awak Kuier – Finland
  • Kasiyahna Kushkituah – Tennessee
  • Aari McDonald – Arizona
  • Lindsey Pulliam – Northwestern
  • Unique Thompson – Auburn
  • Jasmine Walker – Alabama
  • Kiana Williams – Stanford

Collier, a 6-5 center, is predicted to be the top pick in this year’s draft.

LIST: All-time WNBA draft picks

4. Wait, what about Paige Bueckers and Aliyah Boston?

Many of the biggest stars at this year’s NCAA tournament – including Paige Bueckers, Aliyah Boston, Caitlin Clark, and Hayley Jones – are ineligible for this year’s draft.

In order to be eligible, players must turn 22 in the year the draft takes place. (There are some exceptions, like if a player is graduating from a four-year school within three months of the draft.)

While draft eligibility rules were discussed by the WNBA and players’ association during last year’s collective bargaining agreement (CBA) negotiations, the policy ultimately wasn’t changed. That said, performances from young stars like Bueckers have reignited the conversation.

“Sometimes in CBA talks, when there is so much that needs to be addressed – or fixed – you don’t get to everything,” four-time WNBA champion Sue Bird explained in a USA Basketball press conference earlier this month.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if, moving forward, that conversation continues… Draft picks – to me – are investments… and there’s no doubt in my mind that people would want to invest in a player like Paige [Bueckers] right now.”

Diana Taurasi – who has won three WNBA titles – echoed that sentiment: “[Players] should have that option. It is a career path you’re taking. If you’re the best at your profession, you should be able to keep getting better…”

RELATED: In college basketball, men can be ‘one-and-done.’ Why not the women?

5. How many draftees will ultimately make WNBA teams?

The WNBA, which is celebrating its 25th season this year, is still a relatively small league. There are currently only 144 players in the league, spread across 12 teams.

Of the 36 players drafted tonight, less than 12 are ultimately expected to be named to WNBA rosters when the season begins on May 14.

The reality is that many of tonight’s draftees will never play a WNBA game. If they want to play professionally, their only option – at least in the near future – will be to go abroad (something many WNBA players also do during the “offseason”).

As Minnesota Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve said on media call on Wednesday: “Our G-League is international play.”

For a deeper dive on this topic, check out this column from Howard Megdal, founder of The IX.

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