February 13, 2021
What the Dallas Wings could do with four first-round picks in the 2021 WNBA Draft
The Wings added the number one overall pick to their haul in a trade with Seattle this week
Welcome to The Next: A basketball newsroom brought to you by The IX. 24/7/365 women’s basketball coverage, written, edited, and photographed by our young, diverse staff, dedicated to breaking news, analysis, historical deep dives, and projections about the game we love.
Subscribe to make sure this vital work, creating a pipeline of young, diverse media professionals to write, edit and photograph the great game, continues, and grows. Paid subscriptions include some exclusive content, but the reason for subscriptions is a simple one: making sure our writers and editors creating 24/7/365 women’s basketball coverage get paid to do it.
The Dallas Wings made history Wednesday afternoon on a day that featured trades from nearly half the league’s teams. The team acquired the number one overall pick in the 2021 WNBA Draft from Seattle (which had acquired it from New York) in exchange for forward Katie Lou Samuelson and Dallas’ second-round pick in 2022.
“The decision to trade a young and talented player in Katie Lou Samuelson was a difficult one,” Wings president and CEO Greg Bibb stated. “Katie Lou is the consummate professional and her best professional basketball is in front of her. That said, the opportunity to acquire the top pick in a draft does not present itself very often. By securing this pick, we will ensure our ability to draft the player at the top of our draft list while having additional draft assets at our disposal to further improve our team.”
It is the first time in league history any team has had both the number one and two picks in the same draft.
The other trades that happened around Dallas’ trade included:
It’s worth noting that the Wings have had more than four rookies on their roster before, most recently in 2017. Bibb is showing us that he can always get more assets if he wants to. Dallas now has the first, second, fifth, and seventh picks in this year’s WNBA draft lottery. It’s a lot to process and a lot to think about.
What could happen next? Here are some possibilities:
Draft all of the lottery picks
Yes, that’s right. Draft them all! Again. The youngest team in the league in 2020 could get even younger, and Charli Collier of the Texas Longhorns is likely to be a Dallas Wing. She has been atop draft boards for months in the number one spot. She is playing great basketball for the 14-5 Longhorns, averaging 22.3 points and 12.8 rebounds per game this season and constantly drawing double and sometimes triple teams. Unless something changes, expect Collier to be in Dallas.
The other top-two selection would likely be a best player available situation instead of necessarily fitting a need. A name that comes to mind is Aari McDonald from Arizona. She is one of the best players in the Pac-12, averaging 18.1 points, 4.6 assists, and 5.3 rebounds per game. Collier at one and McDonald at two is the likely scenario if Dallas keeps the top two picks.
At picks five and seven, it would likely be another best player available situation.
“We are set at the three in my mind right now with the talent that we have there and the talent that we’re going to have there for the foreseeable future,” Bibb told The Next. “And then it’s about value and having the number one pick in the draft. I don’t care if it’s the best draft class in history [or] the worst draft class in history, if you have the first pick in the draft, you’re going to get a darn good basketball player. And if you decide not to use that pick, you’re going to be able to go get a darn good basketball player another way.”
With Allisha Gray’s ability to play the three, along with Thornton and Sabally soaking up minutes there, the Wings could have room at guard. But Arike Ogunbowale will log the boatload of the minutes at the two and Marina Mabrey proved last season not only that she can shoot, but also that she works well starting alongside Ogunbowale. So you’d expect Mabrey to remain in that role and play decent minutes. Then there are fellow guards Tyasha Harris and Moriah Jefferson. So training camp will be a battlefield at every position if the Wings utilize all of their draft picks.
Trade for a star
If the Wings are truly in win-now mode, they must trade for a star. Period. They had the assets prior and now they have even more. Given the value of the top pick, it should be possible to trade for a star and still retain two lottery picks.
“We’re now on offense, rather than defense like we’ve been for the last couple of years,” Bibb said. However, small forwards as well as shooting guards are likely off the table for Dallas.
This was the first time since January 2010 that the top pick was traded, and it could become the first time the pick is traded twice. There is still a lot of time to make deals ahead of the draft, but if a deal happens, it may well be sooner rather than later.