April 29, 2023 

Locked on Women’s Basketball: Drafting WNBA players ages 25 and under

Which young WNBA player would be best to build a team around long-term?

In today’s episode of Locked on Women’s Basketball, co-hosts Hunter Cruse, Em Adler and Lincoln Shafer conducted a hypothetical draft of the best WNBA players ages 25 and under. The goal wasn’t to build the best team to win a game today; instead, it was to build the best young core for the present and future.

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With the No. 1 overall pick, Em selected 21-year-old Aliyah Boston, who was also the No. 1 overall pick in April’s (real) WNBA Draft by the Indiana Fever. Here is Em’s reasoning:

“This is easily the best player on the board with a chance to be both an MVP for their offense and defensive contributions. … We gave her a 70-plus future value grade [on our WNBA Draft board], and we gave that to her because she is probably going to be a Defensive Player of the Year-caliber player within a couple years. And her offense could be one of the best among centers in the league … Easy pick for me.”

(For more on Boston and Indiana, don’t miss our Fever beat reporter Tony East’s latest story, which he reported from Boston’s introductory press conference this week.)

At No. 2 overall, Hunter took 25-year-old New York Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft. Last season, Ionescu was an All-Star and was named to the All-WNBA Second Team. This season, she’ll play alongside Breanna Stewart, Jonquel Jones and Courtney Vandersloot on what looks to be a superteam in New York. Here are Hunter’s thoughts on selecting Ionescu:

“[I chose her] from a standpoint of just being a generational guard prospect when she entered the draft, just how her game has developed over her WNBA career so far … [and] being able to just lead this New York team into this next era where they’re going to be stacked this upcoming season.”

(For more on New York, don’t miss last Wednesday’s episode of Locked on Women’s Basketball, featuring Liberty guard Betnijah Laney.)

Make sure to subscribe to the Locked on Women’s Basketball podcast to keep learning about the 2023 WNBA season, women’s college basketball, basketball history and much more!

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Here at The Next, in addition to the 24/7/365 written content our staff provides, we also host the daily Locked On Women’s Basketball podcast. Join us Monday through Saturday each week as we discuss all things WNBA, collegiate basketball, basketball history and much more. Listen wherever you find podcasts or watch on YouTube.

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