April 11, 2023 

Locked on Women’s Basketball: Live from New York, it’s 2023 WNBA Draft night for Aliyah Boston

Howard, Jackie and Isabel discuss the 2023 WNBA Draft, the best point guard in the draft, Aliyah Boston and more

It’s time for another episode of the Locked on Women’s Basketball podcast. The crew of Howard Megdal, Isabel Rodrigues and Jackie Powell gathered following a 2023 WNBA Draft, which had plenty of smiles, tears and key players acquired by WNBA teams to make sense of it all. Who won? Who lost? Who is most impressive among the new class? What will Aliyah Boston and Diamond Miller do for the Indiana Fever and Minnesota Lynx?

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Jackie talks about Grace Berger and elevating her game during the extra COVID year. And Isabel talks about the WNBA Draft being the most exciting event of the year:

[Jackie] “When we were talking to Grace Berger afterward, I asked her I said, so what did you value the most and taking your extra COVID year? And she said she learned to play point guard much better.”

[Isabel] “Yeah, I think the draft is one of the most exciting events of the year; people look forward to it all throughout the college season. There’s plenty of media raucous about it, I guess, is the best way to put it. And I think people are excited and they deserve a product that delivers on that excitement. For me having been here the past two years, I’m not sure about the way that it’s set up right now, where not every player is invited in person, where names aren’t called unless the player is at the draft. I’m just not sure that’s in service of that mission, really serving the players’ excitement and celebrating your careers in college as well.”

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Jackie and Isabel reflect on what they would like to see the most in the WNBA next year:

[Jackie] “Well, I mean, we had quite a long and interesting press conference with Cathy Engelbert; we covered a lot of topics. And I asked a question about what we are about to witness not only in 2024 but in 2025. If you listen to an episode of this podcast from a week and a half ago, I talked about something called super drafts. And so I asked Cathy Engelbert, with these super drafts that are coming, how are you going to be able to house the talent that is going to bring a lot of viewers to this league? And her answer was, “We’re like where roster spots are right now we’re going to the roster expansion is going to come through team expansion.” But if we’re not going to get team expansion by the time these super drafts come to be, do we live in a universe where Hailey Van Lith doesn’t make a WNBA team?”

[Isabel] “Yeah, I think for me, the biggest thing is taking care of the players that are already here. I think you can see that through what I’ve worked on in the past year; it’s clear that the further down the roster you go, the more precarious things get. And this is the point; the WNBA Draft is where you induct the next class of people that are potentially going to have to be in that position.

And as with rosters not expanding with the pay, kind of stagnating where it is that hard salary cap doesn’t make things any easier. The number of players who are going to be in that position steadily increases every year. I mean, the number of regular full-season contracts that we had from 2019 to this year completely plummeted; it was like 25% decrease over those three years, which is crazy to think about.

I just want all of those players who, even if they are going to end up in that position, will have to learn to find income in different ways. The draft is the time where they are the WNBA. They’re in the community. And they should have the ability to feel that. And I don’t think that the way that things are currently set up achieves that goal. And so that I think should become the core of what the draft is about.”

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