For the second straight year, the ping pong balls bounced the right way for the Indiana Fever. Prior to last season, the franchise had never had the first overall pick in the WNBA Draft. Now, they have the opportunity to pick first two years in a row.
The Fever hit a home run last season when they selected Aliyah Boston with the first pick. Boston, a 6-5 center out of South Carolina, made an immediate impact on and off the court. She was an All-Star starter as a rookie, the unanimous pick for Rookie of the Year, and brought considerable attention back to a Fever franchise that had largely flown under the radar since the retirement of Hall of Famer Tamika Catchings in 2016.
After winning Sunday’s lottery, the Fever will once again pick first in the 2024 WNBA Draft. The 2024 draft has the potential to be one of the deepest drafts in WNBA history and the Fever could end up with another player with similar star power to Boston.
“I think it’s an extremely talented draft class,” Fever general manager Lin Dunn said after the lottery. “I think it’s deep. I think it’s got a lot of quality talent. Talent at all positions – point, wing, post.”
Dunn knows well the impact that drafting number one in consecutive years can have on a franchise. She was the head coach and general manager of the Seattle Storm when they selected Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird with the top picks in 2001 and 2002, respectively. Jackson won three MVPs while leading the Storm to two titles, while Bird was a 13-time All-Star who captained Seattle to four championships.
“It’s an amazing moment,” Dunn said of the Fever winning the lottery once again. “Last year was a significant moment because we knew if Aliyah Boston came out the impact that she could have on our franchise. And then to be able to add another significant moment tonight makes me feel like we can do what I said we were going to do…We’re going to get the Fever back on track to being who we’re supposed to be.”
The unique wrinkle to the WNBA Draft in recent years is the NCAA’s decision to award student-athletes an extra year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That casts a little more uncertainty as to which players might declare for the draft and which might opt to return to school.
“I hope they all come out,” Dunn said. “I hope they’ve all had four years – some of them five years – of quality play in college and they’re ready to move on to the next level.
“Our approach will be just like it’s been in the past and just like it was with Aliyah Boston. You have to do what you need to do. You have to do what’s best for you. We’re not going to beg anybody to come out. We’re not going to coerce anybody to come out.”