March 31, 2023 

Locked on Women’s Basketball: Super drafts are coming

Can the league support a handful of super drafts as a number of factors lead to elite talent piling into the 2024 and 2025 WNBA Drafts?

It’s time for another episode of the Locked on Women’s Basketball podcast. In this episode, host and The Next’s New York Liberty beat reporter Jackie Powell is joined by The Next‘s Em Adler and Alex Simon of Bay Area News Group. Jackie, Em and Alex discuss the impending “super drafts” that the WNBA will face in the next few years.

Continue reading with a subscription to The Next

Get unlimited access to women’s basketball coverage and help support our hardworking staff of writers, editors, and photographers by subscribing today.

Join today

The trio breaks down the forces behind this development – including NIL money, extra seasons of eligibility, and fallout from the 2024 class getting crowded – are driving players to be more comfortable delaying the start of their professional careers. Whether the WNBA can even support this influx of talent that would likely be arriving before expansion is able to dramatically increase roster sizes in the league.

Alex on what led women’s basketball to the brink of super drafts looming in 2024 and 2025:

In the [past] three years, not just a pandemic has happened, but both the WNBA and college sports have seen levels of upheaval that are really kind of startling to see. On the college side, the COVID pandemic [resulted in] an extra year of eligibility applied to anybody who played in the 2020-21 season.

So the current group of juniors [like] Caitlin Clark and Cameron Brink, and the current group of seniors that has been led by Aliyah Boston and Haley Jones … have an extra year of eligibility. On top of that … the NCAA has ended its rules banning [NIL] and allowed athletes to seek out financial [opportunities].

On top of that, you had a new WNBA CBA [in January 2020] … and it’s [signed through 2027]. We don’t know if somebody’s going to opt out, which would end the CBA in 2025, or take it through to 2027. But a lot has changed on both ends that has created kind of a delayed impact that we’re now seeing.

Em on how this condensing and deferring of draft talent plays into the league-wide roster crunch, and how this is even more reason for urgent expansion:

The WNBA … doesn’t have a path. It doesn’t know where it’s going at the moment besides … expansion at quote-unquote ‘some point in the future.’ So when we think about fringe prospects … they don’t have a place in a 12-team league in the way that they might have a 14 or 16-team league. Or a 12 or 14 team lead, where the rosters are expanded.

This not only means that they sort of delay their decisions and don’t come into the [league]. What it also means is that it actually would help the W[NBA]’s expansion efforts in that it sets up a large influx of talent at a very specific time, if you were to expand at that exact same point in time, teams would be starting their rosters anew and suddenly have a lot of room open for high upside plays. Whether they actually plan to do that… I’m not holding my breath.

To stay up to date on every episode of the Locked on Women’s Basketball podcast, subscribe on YouTube or wherever you listen to podcasts. For any coverage related to the WNBA draft, click here. For our WNBA coverage, click here. And for the rest of our NCAA coverage, click here.

Written by The Next

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.