The WNBA Draft takes place this Wednesday, April 10th at 4:00pm PST. After winning the championship in 2018, the Storm will have the last pick in every round of the draft (12th, 24th, and 36th overall). While it will be difficult for the second and third round picks to make the roster — WNBA limits teams to just 12 roster spots — the first round pick should be able to make an impact this year in what appears to be a deep draft.
I’ve targeted a handful of players that could be drafted by Seattle and how they could make an impact in their rookie season.
Gustafson is an elite scorer in the low-post leading the NCAA at nearly 28 PPG. She dominated not only the regular season but also the NCAA Tournament, leading the Iowa Hawkeyes to the Elite 8. Gustafson was often double or even triple teamed in the tournament and she still managed to put up huge numbers. She is nearly automatic when she gets the ball down on the block scoring on 70% of her shots. The reason she could fall to Seattle at 12 is she needs to improve on the defensive side of the ball.
Gustafson would be able to immediately help the Storm with bench scoring and another low-post option. Her strong rebounding ability would also be an asset to the team. Gustafson would likely compete for minutes with Crystal Langhorne and Courtney Paris. If her game translates well to the WNBA, she could definitely get solid minutes off the bench over those two.
The 19-year-old Australian phenom, who possesses huge upside, would be an investment for the future. At 6’4″, lengthy and athletic, Magbegor has the potential to be a strong two-way player. She has three-point range and gets a lot of her points in the paint and from offensive rebounds. She backed up Liz Cambage for Team Australia in the FIBA games, having her best game against Argentina where she scored 14 points and had eight rebounds.
Magbegor would be able to learn from some of the best post players in the WNBA playing alongside Breanna Stewart and Natasha Howard. She would compete for bench minutes, but could potentially find herself in the starting rotation in 2-3 years. In time, she has the potential to become one of the top players off the bench, even if she doesn’t crack the starting lineup right away.
Turner is an extremely athletic post player who excels on the defensive end. She had 15 points, 15 rebounds, and five blocked shots in Notre Dame’s Final Four win against the Connecticut Huskies, including a block in the final minute that secured the victory for the Fighting Irish. Turner has limited range offensively, but is an effective scorer in short range and on the fast-break.
If the Storm were to draft Turner, they would use her as a player who could come in and help immediately on the defensive side of the ball and in the transition game. She would need to continue to work on her offensive skill set to become a true two-way player. Turner reminds me a lot of Natasha Howard, especially if she can continue to improve her jump shot from mid-range.
If the Storm don’t opt to draft a post player in this year’s draft, it is likely because their top choices have already been taken off the board. They might look to add some depth at the guard or wing positions. Sophie Cunningham checks a lot of those boxes. Cunningham projects as a shooting guard or small forward at the next level, but may also be able to play point guard in limited minutes. She is an excellent three point shooter, shooting over 40% her senior season and 45% her junior year of college.
At 6’1″, Cunningham is also long and lengthy for the guard position, which allowed her to rebound well in college. She would likely backup Alysha Clark or Jewell Loyd in the rotation and compete for minutes with Sami Whitcomb and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis. She appears to be likely upgrade defensively over Mosqueda-Lewis and may be able to offer just as much scoring off the bench.
Shepard has proven to be a consistent double-double machine in college this year. Her senior season she averaged 16.7 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. She is a huge reason why Notre Dame won the national title in 2018 and went back to the title game in 2019. Shepard is an excellent passer for a post-player and has a knack for finding her teammates at the right time. While a better scorer than Turner, she is not automatic down in the low-post like Gustafson has been.
Shepard definitely has shown hard work and dedication on and off the court; none more obvious than the fact that she lost 30 lbs in the off-season after talking to Minnesota Lynx head coach Cherly Reeve about how to make it in the WNBA.
Shepard may still struggle defensively and needs to improve her foot speed at the next level to become a complete player. She would likely be competing to take minutes away from Crystal Langhorne and Courtney Paris off the bench. The Storm could utilize her scoring, rebounding, and passing ability in a reserve role.
The 6’9″ Center from China is expected to go late in the 1st round or at the beginning of the 2nd round. Similar to Magbegor, the other international star player, Xu is only 19 years old and has tremendous potential. She played extremely well against WNBA competition in the FIBA games where she scored 20 points, collected five rebounds and had two blocked shots. She has the potential to become a dominant center in the WNBA.
However, there are some concerns if the Storm were to draft her. Xu, native of China, would likely sit out multiple seasons throughout her career to focus on playing for the Chinese national team. One report suggested she would not play in the 2019 season. She may also not be the best fit as she may not be fast enough to play in a high uptempo offense that Seattle likes to run.
Xu would definitely compete with Courtney Paris and Mercedes Russell at the backup center position. She could also find herself starting select games when Seattle has to face much larger players like 6’9″ Brittney Griner or 6’5″ Sylvia Fowles.
2019 WNBA Mock Draft
- Las Vegas Aces: Teaira McCowan (Mississippi State)
- New York Liberty: Asia Durr (Louisville)
- Indiana Fever: Kalani Brown (Baylor)
- Chicago Sky: Kristine Anigwe (California)
- Dallas Wings: Jackie Young (Notre Dame)
- Minnesota Lynx: Napheesa Collier (UConn)
- Los Angeles Sparks: Arike Ogunbowale (Notre Dame)
- Phoenix Mercury: Alanna Smith (Stanford)
- Connecticut Sun: Han Xu (China)
- Washington Mystics: Katie Lou Samuelson (UConn)
- Atlanta Dream: Megan Gustafson (Iowa)
- Seattle Storm: Eziyoda Magbegor (Australia)