With a majority of the 2022 roster already set in place entering the annual WNBA Draft, the Minnesota Lynx weren’t expected to make much of a splash on Monday when the 26th annual draft took place in New York.
By the end of the three-round draft, that’s exactly how things unfolded for Lynx head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve and Co. Minnesota ended up drafting two players who will likely be no more than training camp bodies following a trade before the draft that cut the pick total in half for the Lynx.
Minnesota originally came into the draft with four picks (Nos. 8, 13, 22, and 28), but started making moves before the draft even began, completing a trade with the Las Vegas Aces on Sunday. The trade between the Lynx and Aces brought in a few future draft picks to Minnesota in exchange for a pair of 2022 selections heading to Las Vegas.
The full details of that trade between the Lynx and Aces included Las Vegas trading a 2023 first-round pick and 2023 second-round pick to Minnesota, with the Lynx trading away their 2022 first-round selection (No. 8 overall) and 2022 second-round pick (No. 13 overall) to the Aces.
“We had a good handle on what would be happening (in the draft),” Reeve said. “Our estimation was that it was best, not because of the players per se, but because of decisions in free agency and the players under contract and the limited roster space, we didn’t want to put prospects in a position in order to make the team that we would have to jump through these major hoops to make that happen. We felt, from a draft perspective, to turn our attention to our future possibilities.”
The trade wasn’t surprising, considering Minnesota’s lack of space both on the roster and within the salary cap to bring in multiple draft picks. As a result of that trade, the Lynx weren’t on the clock in Monday’s draft until pick No. 22 which was the 10th selection in the second round. They then rounded out draft night with the second and final pick at No. 28 overall, the fourth pick in the third round.
LYNX DRAFT JONES, SJERVEN
Minnesota’s two lone picks took place in the tail end of the second round and the first half of the third round, with the Lynx coming away with a forward from the ACC and a local product out of the Summit League.
With the first pick of the night, Minnesota selected Kayla Jones out of NC State with the 22nd overall pick (10th pick of the second round). Jones, a 6’1″ forward, averaged 8.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 2.1 assists. She shot 53.8 percent from the field and 41 percent from three during her senior season with the Wolfpack.
“I’ve watched a lot of NC State. … I enjoyed Kayla Jones a lot last year,” Reeve said. “It’s hard to find power forwards with the skillset that she has. … It was something, from a skillset standpoint, that we do really well with and that’s exactly what we told her. She gets to come here and be herself and give some competition with what we already have.”
To finish the night, the Lynx went with a homegrown player with the 28th overall selection (fourth pick in the third round) when they drafted Hannah Sjerven out of South Dakota. A Rogers, Minn. native, Sjerven put together a strong senior season for the Coyotes while averaging 15.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, one assist and shooting 52.1 percent from the field and 35.4 percent from three.
“(Being a Minnesota native) had nothing to do with our pick, those are just add-ons. It had everything to do with Hannah’s efficiency, her analytics, personal fit, all of those things,” Reeve said. “It just makes it fun to have that connection. I hope it’s fun for her. We have some people around this organization who are pretty darn excited. … It wasn’t the reason, but it was just icing on the cake for sure.”
The duo of draft picks will come into training camp with Minnesota having the opportunity to try and fight for one of the 11 roster spots the Lynx will carry into the regular season. Reeve noted that “the road is tough” for either player to make the final roster, but they will get an opportunity in a “competitive camp.”
“We worked really hard with our 22nd and 28th pick to ensure that we would have players in camp that we could give a really strong look to,” Reeve said. “We accomplished that at 22 and 28 with Kayla Jones and Hannah Sjerven.
“At a minimum, we feel like we got two really good basketball players who come highly recommended and who are really good people. That’s what we were aiming for in this draft.”
Minnesota will begin training camp on April 17 in Minneapolis, leading up to the start of preseason play on April 27 and the regular season on May 6.
FULL WNBA DRAFT RESULTS
- Atlanta Dream – Rhyne Howard, Kentucky
- Indiana Fever – NaLyssa Smith, Baylor
- Washington Mystics – Shakira Austin, Ole Miss
- Indiana Fever – Emily Engstler, Louisville
- New York Liberty – Nyara Sabally, Oregon
- Indiana Fever – Lexie Hull, Stanford
- Dallas Wings – Veronica Burton, Northwestern
- Las Vegas Aces – Mya Hollingshed, Colorado
- Los Angeles Sparks – Rae Burrell, Tennessee
- Indiana Fever – Queen Egbo, Baylor
- Las Vegas Aces – Kierstan Bell, FGCU
- Connecticut Sun – Nia Clouden, Michigan State
- Las Vegas Aces – Khayla Pointer, LSU
- Washington Mystics – Christyn Williams, UConn
- Atlanta Dream – Naz Hillmon, Michigan
- Los Angeles Sparks – Kianna Smith, Louisville
- Seattle Storm – Elissa Cunane, NC State
- New York Liberty – Lorela Cubaj, Georgia Tech
- Los Angeles Sparks – Olivia Nelson-Ododa, UConn
- Indiana Fever – Destanni Henderson, South Carolina
- Seattle Storm – Evina Westbrook, UConn
- Minnesota Lynx – Kayla Jones, NC State
- Las Vegas Aces – Aisha Sheppard, Virginia Tech
- Connecticut Sun – Jordan Lewis, BaylorThird Round
- Indiana Fever – Ameshya Williams-Holliday, Jackson State
- Phoenix Mercury – Maya Dodson, Notre Dame
- Los Angeles Sparks – Amy Atwell, Hawaii
- Minnesota Lynx – Hannah Sjerven, South Dakota
- New York Liberty – Sika Kone, Mali
- Dallas Wings – Jasmine Dickey, Delaware
- Dallas Wings – Jazz Bond, North Florida
- Phoenix Mercury – Macee Williams, IUPUI
- Seattle Storm – Jade Melbourne, Australia
- Indiana Fever – Ali Patberg, Indiana
- Las Vegas Aces – Faustine Aifuwa, LSU
- Connecticut Sun – Kiara Smith, Florida