In the WNBA draft, Mystics focuses on three players

Mike Thibault was on the sidelines in Minneapolis last week when he saw the players jump up and down the field as the American women’s national team conducted its final training camp ahead of this fall World Cup.

Among the beautiful facilities known as the courts in Mayo Clinic Square, Breena Stewart and A’ja Wilson were chosen as the No. 1 draft. When Thibault leads the WNBA team in his 20th season, the winning coach in league history knows how to be the No. 1 pick. Thibault, who is twice the general manager of Washington Mystics, wanted to trade the first choice of the 2022 draft last week.

Thibault’s results help to sort out the top of this draft. There is no undeniable No. 1 pick like Wilson in 2018, Stewart in 2016 or Sabrina Ionescu in 2020. Kentucky Guard Rhine Howard and Baylor Forward Nalisa Smith are widely regarded as the Cream of Cream as they draft at 7 p.m. Monday, but Thibo and his staff believe the three players should be in conversation.

“The vote we took around the table was,‘ If we don’t know who we’re getting, are we all still good? [picking at] Three? ‘ ”Said Thibo. “Whatever ends there, we’re fine. That’s the vote.”

On Wednesday, the Mystics No. 1 pix was number one for the Atlanta Dream. 3 and No. 14 picks and traded the ability to replace the 2023 first-rounders coming from the Los Angeles Sparks. Many familiar with the situation pointed out that the terrorists did not come to a consensus between the three possibilities in the draft, including Howard and Smith.

Trade the No. 1 pick of the Mystics WNBA Draw to Atlanta and move back to No. 3

As a senior, the 6-foot-2 Howard averaged 20.5 points and 7.4 rebounds. A dynamic scorer in all three levels, Howard is a great watchdog, quiet, unruly in nature, and some feel inactive.

According to researcher Debbie Antonelli, Howard has all the qualities needed to thrive in the next phase.

“His attacking game is 100 percent transferred to the WNBA,” Antonelli said. “People are questioning her motor. In Kentucky, she had to do everything. She’s going to take every shot, make some mistakes, handle the ball – everything. So she can rest in self-defense or not do anything like go to the corner of an attack set and cheat. Her effort and her productivity and her desire and all of this will make her very talented at WNBA. I have no questions about her.

Howard asked for criticism. He showed a pre-draft meeting with Mystics in business attire to send a message: My Court product should not be hidden.

“I think I would be a better professional player than a college player,” he said. “I know I’ve taken two plays, but there’s going to be better than me, and every day is going to be a dog fight, even in practice. I’m always going to have to go hard, or I’m not going to play.

Smith, a 6-4 rebounding machine, brings a different set of capabilities. There is no question about her motor; She averaged 22.1 points and 11.5 rebounds as a senior and hit the inadvertently dropped glass. His offensive game is not as widespread as Howard’s, but he is healthier and less valued.

“Every position can be defended, return, flow, very physical, the body is ready,” Antonelli said. “Then comes her skill set – around the edge, the pull-up jump shot. Now she’s a screen and a roll or a screen and a short pop, but she still does not pop a screen with three point line and a three shoot. She can get it. But I think you drew her because you need help in the mirror, many defensive skills and a growing offensive game.

When discussing his future, Smith noted that he was changing the course of his rights. Those aspirations came from the same place where she created her “Energy Bunny” on-floor persona.

It comes from the idea of ​​having to win, ” he said. “I hate defeat and want to win every game. So my team is doing what it takes to win the game of basketball. I feel my goal on the team is to help this team win the championship.

At No. 3 things are tricky. Thibaut’s Mystics is not a regular lottery team, it’s trying to recreate; They missed last season’s playoffs due to injury to a tiebreaker. The list is full of players, and the team has more legitimate aspirations – while healthy – from 2019 to Elena Delle Done, Alisha Clark, Natasha Cloud, Ariel Atkins, Misha Hines-Allen, Elizabeth Williams and Diana Hawkins. No. Whoever Mystics picks at 3 is not likely to start heavy minutes or is expected to record.

WNBA star, NBA researcher Chiney Ogwumike, is on a relentless quest to get it all

Mystics can use another scorer on the wing or another post player after saying goodbye to Tina Charles and Emma Meesman at the free agency. As most fake drafts did, ESPN analysts LaChina Robinson and Rebecca Lobo, 6-5 Mississippi-based Shakira Austin, a former Riverdale Baptist and Maryland standout, averaged 15.2 points last season and a third-best chance after 9.0 rebounds. But Thibault is known to jig when others expect him to do the joke.

The Oregon Center / Forward Nyara may be in the mix after gaining an average of 15.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks. She only played with ducks for two years; A couple of ACL surgeries ruined his first two seasons.

“Nayara is full of talent – the biggest question is her health,” Lobo said. “I think it’s a big factor as to where she was taken, but she’s definitely talented.”

Robinson added: “I remember being in Oregon and everyone was talking about ‘Nyara, Nyara’. [WNBA all-star sister Satou Sabally] That was still the case, and [the talk was] How good she was and was more talented than her sister as a pro. So, very talented. ”

The consensus is that this draft is deeper than last season, in terms of the extra opportunities available to college players after being offered an extra year of qualification due to an epidemic. That’s why Thibault tried to add another choice. He has dug up some second-round gems, including Cloud, who was ranked 15th in 2015 and Hines-Allen, ranked 19th in 2018. And if Sparks fights this season, he could get another top pick who is expected to be talented. The upper half of the 2023 draft.

The two names dominated the conversation as the draft number. Thibaut took the risk by moving to 3, but the 20-year-old leading WNBA owners made that decision comfortable for him.

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