With the calendar flipping to April, the first of many key dates in the WNBA is about to begin in advance of the start of the regular season in May. The 2022 WNBA Draft will take place on April 11 at 6 p.m. CT at Spring Studios in New York. The draft returns to an in-person event for the first time since 2019, with WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert announcing draft picks live on ESPN.
The Washington Mystics will hold the first pick in the draft, followed by the Indiana Fever with the second and fourth selections. The Atlanta Dream with the third pick, and the New York Liberty with the fifth selection to round out the top five.
The Minnesota Lynx’s first pick is slated for eighth overall while holding a total of four picks (Nos. 8, 13, 22, 28) in the annual three-round draft. Minnesota often leans towards trying to make moves on draft night, especially when they aren’t holding one of the top selections. But this year might warrant more moves than a typical year given the packed roster and the team’s salary cap situation heading into the draft.
Before the draft begins on April 11, let’s look at how the Lynx might attack the 2022 draft. If they do pick a player or two, who might they target? And which positions would they try to address?
Trades Are Likely
Over the years, Lynx head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve and her team have been aggressive in scoping the trade market on draft night. Minnesota has often looked to make a move that might position the team better. They usually prioritize winning now rather than developing a prospect from the draft.
In 2022, a trade might be even more likely, mainly due to the lack of roster spots and salary available to offer any players drafted.
Minnesota already holds 15 players on the training camp roster, meaning some tough decisions will already have to be made before camp concludes and the regular season approaches. WNBA teams can carry a maximum of 12 players during the year, but the Lynx are one of the multiple teams that have leaned towards having 11 players during the season. It allows them to not only stay under the salary cap but to also allow flexibility to add players if injuries occur throughout the summer. That means, even before the draft, that the Lynx will have to cut three or four players before the season opener in May.
The Lynx also have a limited salary remaining under the cap of roughly $1.37 million each team is allowed in 2022. As the roster stands going into the draft, the Lynx are $12,198 below the salary cap, meaning they wouldn’t be able to pay any incoming draft picks without having to make a subsequent move with a player already on the roster.
This season perhaps more than ever, Minnesota could be busy on draft night, either moving some players on the roster and draft picks or maybe even packaging some draft picks together to trade them away for future draft compensation in the coming years.
Positions of Need Entering the Draft
When looking at the current breakdown and depth chart of the Lynx roster, there are a few positions that could use some additional depth. If a trade takes place centered around a player or two currently on the roster, that could open up a slot for a prospect in the draft to slide into.
The first position that Minnesota could look to address comes in the paint at the post position. It could be more of a forward/center hybrid or someone who strictly plays at the center spot like Sylvia Fowles currently does. Along with that, the Lynx could maybe even look to add to the guard group if there is a prospect who falls to them.
When it comes to players Minnesota could look at that fits those molds, there are a few different prospects who could end up being available in the latter half of the first round and perhaps even in the second and third rounds.
For the first-round selection, if the Lynx indeed hold onto that pick and select a player at eighth overall, players such as forward Sika Kone (Mali), center Queen Egbo (Baylor), center Elissa Cunane (North Carolina State), and forward Lorela Cubaj (Georgia Tech) might be worth keeping an eye on at that position. Kone could be the more likely choice, given the fact that she’s an international player who is just 19 years old and could be more of a pick-and-stash type prospect for the future.
At the guard spot, prospects like South Carolina’s Destanni Henderson, who impressed for the Gamecocks in the National Championship Game, Florida Golf Coast’s Kierstan Bell, Tennessee’s Rae Burrell, and UConn’s Evina Westbrook are some intriguing prospects that could be available.
In the last few seasons, the Lynx have looked to take the best player available in the draft to help build the roster depth back up while going through a transition period. In 2022, Minnesota might look to actually trade away the assets it holds in the draft, with not much room left to add to the team this summer.
There is one thing for certain — you can’t count out Reeve and Co. continuously looking to find creative ways to improve the roster and this year that might be the case more than in recent years.