Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The WNBA season is nearly underway. Training camps begin in a matter of weeks, and the preseason follows shortly after. 

But before that can officially happen, first must come the WNBA Draft.

The draft takes place on Thursday night at the Nike Headquarters in New York. The first round of the draft will air on ESPN2 starting at 6 p.m., with the second and third rounds to follow at 7 p.m. on ESPNU. The draft will also stream live on the ESPN App.

The Minnesota Lynx enter the draft in a similar position that they’ve been in for the last several years, as a team that isn’t in need for the player they draft to step into the rotation immediately.

“We’ve positioned our roster in such that, when the draft is the last piece, we’re not counting on it making or breaking us,” Lynx head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve told Zone Coverage. “Where do we see the best player available with a chance to make the team, because that’s not going to be easy.”

Reeve and the Lynx will have three picks in Thursday’s draft. Although Minnesota won’t have a first-round pick after trading it to Phoenix with the acquisition of Danielle Robinson this offseason, the Lynx will have two second-round picks (Nos. 17 and 24) and one third-round pick (No. 36).

Reeve admitted that, with the position of their current draft picks, the Lynx will be taking the best-player-available approach during the draft.

“Best player available would be the mindset, that’s really the only way to go into the draft. I think we have all of the positions covered and it’s just a matter of, with the draft picks that we have remaining, where can we put some pressure,” Reeve said. “It’s one of those things where you have your board and your priorities, so you go here’s our ranking and who’s left ranking-wise and you take the best player available.”

The entertaining finish to the women’s NCAA Tournament earlier this month proved yet again that this year’s draft class is a talented one. When evaluating the talent atop the draft class, Reeve said she sees a few players that could come in and contribute right away in the WNBA this season.

“It’s probably a better draft than last year and for sure better than two years ago. I think the question always is what is the depth, just like in the NBA. You could potentially do well if you are in the top four or five and you could get yourself a quality player,” Reeve said. “I just don’t know how many franchise players there are, I don’t believe there are five franchise players. This draft is widely viewed as a solid draft.

A few players that are considered around the WNBA as top prospects and potential league-altering players are A’ja Wilson out of South Carolina and Kelsey Mitchell out of Ohio State. Wilson and Mitchell are expected to be drafted within the first three picks, if not back-to-back to start Thursday’s draft. 

“There are enough players through nine or 10 picks that you could see those players making a team and being serviceable, but I don’t know how many players other than maybe at the top of the draft that will be able to start and be an immediate impact,” Reeve said. “There’s a couple of other players that have the talent to potentially impact our league, but there might be some question marks around their situations.”

When it comes to adding players through the draft, Reeve likes to take a deeper dive into who each player is and if they would be a good fit for the Lynx, both on the court and off, before making the decision to have them come on board.  

“It’s so much more than just one thing. I think we all can see that the good players are good players, but there’s just so much more to it. A passion for the game I think is really important and a thirst to improve,” Reeve said. “What is their track record of who they are? Who have they been on a college campus? What are they about? Are they a good teammate? What do the college administrators think of this person? There’s just so much more that kind of goes into the selection process. When you’re picking at the top of the draft, it’s much easier, but those players are hard to come by, that’s why they are coveted in our league.

“Overall, I think this is a good draft class. Of course, time will tell just how things shake out.”

WNBA DRAFT ORDER OF SELECTION

First Round

  1. Las Vegas Aces
  2. Indiana Fever
  3. Chicago Sky (from Atlanta)
  4. Chicago Sky
  5. Seattle Storm
  6. Dallas Wings
  7. Washington Mystics
  8. Indiana Fever (from Phoenix)
  9. Connecticut Sun
  10. New York Liberty
  11. Los Angeles Sparks
  12. Phoenix Mercury (from Minnesota)

Second Round

  1. Las Vegas Aces
  2. Indiana Fever
  3. Connecticut Sun (from Atlanta)
  4. Atlanta Dream (from Chicago)
  5. Minnesota Lynx (from Seattle)
  6. Dallas Wings
  7. Washington Mystics
  8. Phoenix Mercury
  9. Phoenix Mercury (from Connecticut)
  10. New York Liberty
  11. Los Angeles Sparks
  12. Minnesota Lynx

Third Round

  1. Las Vegas Aces
  2. Phoenix Mercury (from Indiana)
  3. Atlanta Dream
  4. Chicago Sky
  5. Seattle Storm
  6. Dallas Wings
  7. Washington Mystics
  8. Las Vegas Aces (from Phoenix)
  9. Connecticut Sun
  10. New York Liberty
  11. Los Angeles Sparks
  12. Minnesota Lynx

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Mitchell is a contributing writer at Zone Coverage, covering the Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Lynx. Growing up watching Kevin Garnett bang his head against the basket stanchion in his No. 21 Wolves jersey and yell like a crazy person, Mitchell quickly became a basketball junkie. He comes to Zone Coverage with over five years of experience in journalism, communications and digital fields, including four years at a newspaper covering various sports teams and a year-plus stint covering the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx as the organization's Web Editorial Associate. Follow him on Twitter @M_Hansen13.

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