With the cancelation of large events amid the COVID-19 crisis, the 2020 WNBA draft will turn virtual this year. It’ll be one of the first major live sporting events since the crisis broke out, so fans will be particularly excited to see how one of the WNBA’s most exciting nights plays out. The players will be also participating virtually, joining in via teleconference. Here’s what to look out for in tonight’s draft.
Could Sabrina Ionescu and Ruthy Hebard reunite?
It’s no surprise that superstar Sabrina Ionescu will be going #1 tonight to the New York Liberty. However, the Liberty also have the ninth pick of the first round, and many experts believe Hebard could be the selection. The two teammates were basically Batman and Robin at Oregon, and it goes without saying that the Liberty are well aware of their on-court chemistry. Both players are bound for WNBA success, but it sure would be fun to see them play alongside each other again.
The rest of the top 10 picks
With Ionescu a lock for the #1 pick, it will be exciting to see how the rest of the top 10 shakes out. Most mock drafts have Ionescu’s Oregon teammate Satou Sabally at #2 and Baylor’s Lauren Cox at #3, but the remainder of the picks could play out in a number of ways. In case you were counting, there are three likely top ten picks from Oregon. UConn also has the potential to have two of its players in the top ten, with small forward Megan Walker and point guard Crystal Dangerfield in the mix.
What will the Liberty do with all those picks?
The Liberty are looking to re-build, and they have the golden opportunity to do so tonight. They have the #1, #9, #12, #13, and #15 selections. That’s FIVE picks in the top 15. And they’re undoubtedly looking for young, fresh energy, or they wouldn’t have traded their all-time leading scorer Tina Charles in a three-team trade that landed them the #9, #12, and #15 selections. We’ll all be watching to see how they capitalize tonight.
More Exposure to the League
We’ve all seen the impact COVID-19 has had on sports. With all major sporting events canceled, people are hungry for competitive action. This could mean increased exposure for the WNBA, Princeton standout Bella Alaire told USA today, adding that tonight will set a precedent for the upcoming virtual drafts, like next Thursday’s NFL draft. There might be people who have never tuned in to women’s basketball before, and they have the chance to convert some fans tonight. Given the caliber of talent in this year’s draft, we certainly hope so.
Watch the WNBA Draft tonight on ESPN at 7pm. Learn how you can watch ESPN on Sling here.