April 12, 2021
2021 WNBA Draft Preview: Indiana Fever
Head Coach Marianne Stanley offers her perspective on draft process, and certain prospects
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The Indiana Fever are preparing for what promises to be a busy 2021 WNBA Draft for the franchise on April 15, with six selections to come. They’ll begin the night with the fourth overall pick in the draft, followed by the 19th, 24th, 26th, 31st and 33rd.*
The Fever have already made several key changes to their roster this offseason, such as letting veteran post players Natalie Achonwa and Candice Dupree depart in free agency. Indiana has filled the void by adding new faces such as Jantel Lavender, Jessica Breland, and Danielle Robinson, but is still looking towards the draft as an opportunity to infuse more youth into the lineup.
The Fever are also looking to draft a player with the ability to mesh with General Manager Tamika Catchings’ “championship culture,” a philosophy that has extended to Head Coach Marianne Stanley.
“We want somebody who’s extremely competitive and has a winning mindset, a championship mindset,” said Stanley. “Someone that is willing to go head-to-head on a daily basis to compete for minutes, to compete for what they’re able to add to the team. There’s a number of good players.”
Stanley also emphasized that while she’s seeking a “well-rounded” player, it’s rare that the draft prospects are immediately pro-ready, and everyone has certain aspects of their game that they can improve. She described her and Catchings’ evaluation process as more holistic, rather than honing in on a player’s specific attributes.
“We look at the complete body of work of a player, you don’t base your decisions or your evaluations off of one game or one season or one set of circumstances,” Stanley said. “You work with everything in its totality.”
The Fever were linked to Tennesse’s Rennia Davis as a possible first-round selection in ESPN’s latest Mock Draft. At a lengthy 6’2, Davis would provide a scoring and rebounding threat off the bench for Indiana, as she averaged 17.3 points per game during her senior season.
Davis also withstood a tumultuous time for the program, which fired former Head Coach Hollie Warlick in 2019, replacing Pat Summitt’s successor with former NC State Head Coach Kellie Harper.
“I think thats Rennia handled her college career really well with the coaching change,” Stanley said. “She stayed with the University of Tennessee and showed her ability to adapt which is a real plus in any situation… she’s someone that’s really good at a lot of things, so she’s someone that can add value in different places on the court.”
Despite having several power forwards on the roster — such as Lavender and Breland — the Fever lack depth at the small forward position behind Kelsey Mitchell. Davis could effectively fulfill this backup role, as she finds consistently finds different ways to score on all areas of the court.
Stanley was also asked about Louisville’s Dana Evans, the two-time ACC Player of the Year, at her pre-draft media availability.
“Dana had a very good career at Louisville… she’s had a lot on her shoulders,” Stanley said. “She’s someone that has demonstrated that she’s not afraid of the big shot or moment, and that’s something that all the very good players have in their arsenal, they rise to the occasion.”
At 5’6, Evans is a smaller point guard despite finishing as one of the more prolific scorers in the country during her college career (she averaged 20.1 points per game this season). She does, however, compensate for her height with her efficient long-range shooting, connecting on 38% for her career three-point attempts.
It remains to be seen whether Evans can make the guard-packed Fever roster, as she’d have to compete for minutes with veterans such as Tiffany Mitchell and Danielle Robinson, as well as the 2020 wubble phenom, Julie Allemand.
It will be interesting to watch whether the Fever opt to select another post player — it’s not necessarily a need for this team, especially given their prior draft choices of Lauren Cox in 2020, and Teaira McCowan in 2019.
Come Thursday, April 15, Stanley, Catchings, and the Fever will have five crucial decisions to make. With 57 currently available players on draft night, the Fever have ample opportunities to retool their roster in hopes to reach the postseason for the first time since 2016.
*An earlier version of this story misstated the number of draft picks, overlooking pick 33. The Next regrets the error.
Other team-by-team WNBA Draft previews:
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