April 12, 2021
2021 WNBA Draft Preview: Dallas Wings
With four first-round picks, Dallas controls the board
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Here’s one thing we know: Thursday, April 15 — WNBA Draft day — will be a busy one for the Dallas Wings.
Dallas has four picks in the first round; including the top two. They also make selections at the 5th and 7th spot. Under the direction of a new head coach, Vickie Johnson, and the return of a young core, the franchise has the opportunity to fill all holes needed to make them a playoff contender once again.
Dallas finished the 2020 season 8-14 and missed the playoffs for the second consecutive season. President and Chief Executive Officer Greg Bibb said in a pre-draft conference call that the team is couple of years into their multi-year strategy in terms of resetting the roster.
“Last year we worked to aggregate picks, and it’s an early sample size, but I feel good about that draft class; we’ll try to replicate that success this year,” Bibb said.
Last season, the Wings allowed the third-most points to their opponents, while finishing 11th in field goal percentage and rebounding. So there’s room to improve on both sides of the ball. But while the Wings have plenty of draft picks with which to make those improvements, they only have two roster spots available.
Many expect Dallas to select center Charli Collier from Texas with the top pick to add some size to the roster and help with rebounding. And multiple WNBA talent evaluators have told The Next the No. 2 pick will be Awak Kuier, a 19-year old talent out of Finland who Bibb says needs time to develop, but her potential is off the charts.
“Obviously anyone can look at her and watch her play and can imagine what her potential could lead her to in our league or any league in the world,” Bibb said.
Kuier is a top international talent who needs time to develop. Dallas can own her rights and she can continue to improve overseas and join the organization later without taking up a 2021 roster spot.
The Wings will not be able to keep all of their picks without moving on from some current players, so balancing current and future Wings gets harder as more players come off the board ahead of Dallas picking at 5 and 7. Bibb gave no hints to whether a trade would take place, but stating that there is no exact science to the draft process.
“Whether we keep all the picks or not, who knows,” Bibb said. “But it’s always good to have options, so the more swings of the bat you get, the more base hits you probably hit.”
Players like guard 5’6 Aari McDonald out of Arizona and 5’8 guard Kiana Williams out of Stanford could help strengthen backcourt, though the current roster already features a trio of point guards in Moriah Jefferson, Marina Mabrey and 2020 first round pick Ty Harris. McDonald’s draft stock improved dramatically after her performance in the NCCA tournament. Her size has been one thing that has kept her being projected a higher pick; but she finished her senior season 20.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.0 assists.
Williams averaged 13.4 points, while becoming Stanford’s career-best three-point shooter. And she has a championship pedigree as well. Both of these players could also learn the position amid Dallas’ other floor generals.
The Wings have the league’s top scorer in Arike Ogunbowale and she has had to carry a large load in her first two seasons. More options at point guard and an additional scoring option to help stretch the floor will help lighten that load.
Dallas has started to build a foundation with the multi-year signings of five-year veteran Kayla Thornton and the 2017 rookie of the year Allisha Gray, but the team has struggled to find its identity. The Wings are still a young team that will have to learn a new system under a new head coach. Maybe after filling the holes necessary via the draft and the roster is set for 2021, the Wings will begin to recognize themselves in the mirror.