Indiana Fever earn No. 1 pick in 2023 WNBA draft for first time

Indiana Fever’s interim general manager, Lin Dunn, said earlier Friday that she’ll be watching the 2023 WNBA Draft Lottery later that evening with bunny feet, toes crossed and “some other spells I can’t publicly mention.”

Whatever Dunn does to bring good luck to her side: For the first time in franchise history, Fever has claimed the number one spot in the upcoming 2023 WNBA Draft, as announced in the lottery Friday night before a number kicks off. 1 South Carolina – No. 17 game Maryland.

National Player of the Year, Alia Boston of South Carolina, is the presumptive No. 1 pick overall, considered by many to be a character that could change the franchise.

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The Fever had the best chance of any team (44.2%) to get first pick. Lottery odds are based on the cumulative record of teams over the past two regular seasons.

The Minnesota Links — a four-time WNBA champion who missed the playoffs in 2022 for the first time since 2010 — finished second despite only having a 14.5% chance.

“We are excited to receive a second overall pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft,” said Lynx coach and chief basketball operations officer Cheryl Reeve. “This selection will undoubtedly be an important part of our future as we shape the next era of Lynx basketball.”

The Atlanta Dream will pick third place in the overall standings, followed by the Washington Mystics in fourth. The rest of the first round will be Chicago, New York, Indiana, Atlanta, Seattle, Connecticut, Dallas and Minnesota.

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The Mystics did post-season work but by trade they earned the right to switch their first-round pick at Los Angeles 2023 into the first-round one that Dream had in an earlier deal.

“Last year, we overcame the odds in the lottery, and unfortunately, that didn’t happen this year,” said Washington general manager and coach Mike Thibault. “However, as a result of the trade, we advanced four places in a draft. We will get an excellent player with the fourth selection, and I look forward to continuing Improve our off-season ‘roster’.

Indiana franchisor Kelsey Mitchell — a former runner-up — was live at ESPN’s studios in Bristol, Connecticut, for the draft sweepstakes representing Fever.

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Earlier in the day, the franchise introduced its new head coach, Christy Sides, to usher in a new era for the storied organization after a long underperformance. The Fever made the postseason every season from 2005 to 2016, and took the WNBA title in 2012, but failed to make the playoffs since legend Tamika Catchings retired.

“This is a very robust draft,” Dunn said in a statement. “We will choose a great player in first place.”

The Fever has five players enlisted last year who are still on their roster, including second seed Nalissa Smith and Destany Henderson, the Boston guard in South Carolina. The duo led the Gamecocks to the 2022 National Championship.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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