May 13, 2023 

Locked on Women’s Basketball: Ranking the WNBA’s young cores

Do the Indiana Fever and Aliyah Boston take the top spot? Or perhaps the Atlanta Dream, led by Rhyne Howard?

In today’s episode of Locked on Women’s Basketball, co-hosts Hunter Cruse, Em Adler and Lincoln Shafer rank WNBA teams based on the strength of their young cores. For this episode, “young cores” refers to players on rookie contracts, which for drafted players are for three years with a fourth-year option.

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Em leads off the episode by explaining why she believes the Indiana Fever have the best young core in the WNBA:

“They have the best young player in the league in Aliyah Boston. She is one of the very youngest players in the league and is also one of the game’s premier, elite upside talents. … Beyond her, you have NaLyssa Smith, who maybe we’re lower on her right now after sort of a very up-and-down, but in many ways promising, rookie season. [But] still a lot of upside there … Queen Egbo and Destanni Henderson I think have already proven themselves to be rotation-caliber backup players in the league, very solid role players in this league. And then [in] Taylor Mikesell, Grace Berger [and] Lexie Hull, you have some young players with a real genuine shot at becoming core contributors and upside players.”

Hunter then explains why he thinks the Atlanta Dream, led by second-year guard Rhyne Howard, have the second-best young core:

“Indiana has more depth with the young players. They also have the best player. … Atlanta has arguably the second-best player. It’s up for contention between [New York’s] Sabrina Ionescu and Rhyne Howard. …

“[The Dream] also have Haley Jones, the No. 6 [draft] pick this year. We also have Aari McDonald, their third-year guard … We also have on this list for Atlanta Laeticia Amihere; they also have Leigha Brown … [and] Iliana Rupert.”

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