Caitlin(For Red)? What Indiana Fever’s winning of draft lottery means for WNBA

Between 4:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. eastern time, the results of the 2024 WNBA draft lottery were unveiled by WNBA Director of League Operations Bethany Donaphin. The results were that the franchise that calls Indianapolis home is once again in pole position. 

For the second consecutive draft, the Indiana Fever will indeed select first in the WNBA draft. It appears to be worst kept secret in W circles that a certain superstar shooting guard from Iowa will be the first overall selection. 

What does this mean for the four lottery teams as well as for the WNBA at large? Without further adieu, here is our analysis in the aftermath of the ping pong balls once again going the Fever’s way. 

Indiana Fever

Ever since the retirement of Tamika Catchings, the Fever have been in a seemingly constant state of rebuild. It appeared that Indiana was going to get out of said rebuild in 2019 by nearly making the playoffs before the franchise inexplicably let go of coach Pokey Chatman. 

Then came the Marianne Stanley error. Then came last season where the Fever were competitive in a number of games even if their record did not entirely reflect it. 

Drafting Aliyah Boston was the first major step by Lin Dunn and company to bring the Fever back to its former glory. Her All-Star selection and Rookie of the Year award were reflections of Indiana making the right move to draft her. 

With the Fever selecting first, the consensus No. 1 is Caitlin Clark out of Iowa. That is two generational talents going to the Hoosier State in back-to-back drafts. Even if she encounters some early pro-career growing pains, the same was true for Sabrina Ionescu when she was drafted by the New York Liberty. The rest, as they say, is history. 

Los Angeles Sparks

There was a bit of intrigue as the draft results were unveiled with the Fever and Sparks being the last two teams standing for the No. 1 overall selection. One had to think – could Los Angeles really steal the No. 1 overall from the Fever? 

Cue the think pieces that would have ensued about the W “rigging” the draft lottery to get Clark to media market No. 2 if the Sparks were revealed as the No. 1 overall, but the ping pong balls did not break in the favor of Los Angeles. 

Lately, many a mock draft sees the Sparks selecting UConn’s Paige Bueckers as the No. 2 pick. Talk about travel. Under that scenario, Bueckers’ career would see her go from Minnesota to the east coast at UConn to the west coast to Tinseltown. 

Bueckers in Los Angeles would be a sight to see – but it was not that long ago when these same mocks had a certain LSU standout as a lottery pick even though she has dropped out the lottery in many mock drafts. Perhaps a resurgent 2023-24 and deep tournament run for LSU will get Angel Reese back up the board in these mocks. 

Phoenix Mercury

New Mercury boss Mat Ishbia had his daughter with him in Bristol when the results were unveiled at ESPN’s headquarters. Presenting himself as a “girl dad” did not yield the fortunes Ishbia was hoping for at the Worldwide Leader. 

Ishbia and his daughter departed from the mothership knowing that the Mercury would be selecting third in the 2024 draft. A big reason why Phoenix would have hoped the ping pong balls would have gone their way was because Clark would have been the perfect heir apparent to Diana Taurasi – who all but certainly will call it a career following next season. 

Instead, the Mercury are projected to – in many mocks – select Stanford’s Cameron Brink with the third overall pick. Again – this is a spot that in many mock drafts conducted after the 2023 NCAA tournament that would have had Reese selected. 

What will make or break Phoenix going into 2024 is what happens with free agency. Skylar Diggins-Smith is all but gone and Brittney Griner is an unrestricted free agent. Drafts are about to become really important to the Mercury since it appears the franchise is about to undergo a deep rebuild. 

Seattle Storm

Speaking of rebuilds – the Storm’s rebuild began the nanosecond after Breanna Stewart declared she would be taking her talents east to the Liberty. 

Thankfully for Seattle, they had a superstar they could build around in Jewell Loyd who had a banner 2023 from an individual standpoint. Not only did she set the single-season WNBA scoring record, but she had a 31-point performance at the All-Star Game that earned her MVP honors. 

Re-upping with the Gold Mamba for two more seasons was a massive victory for Storm general manager Talisa Rhea. What does Seattle do with the No. 4 overall selection?

Kamilla Cardoso, last year’s SEC Sixth Woman of the Year, was projected to be a second round selection in mocks put together last season. Now, the South Carolina star is projected to be a lottery selection – possibly to the Storm. 

Interestingly enough, Winsdr’s latest mock still does have Reese as a lottery pick to the Storm – and does not even have Cardoso in the first round, meaning its mock is a throwback to the mocks that were conducted last year that still had Cardoso in the second round. 

The Storm need to build around their offensive anchor in Loyd and their defensive anchor in Ezi Magbegor. Based on this mock, the Reese or Cardoso question is sure to be an interesting one among Storm brass – and may hinge on who looks better among team scouts.

The Field

Then there’s Aaliyah Edwards, Rickea Jackson, Alissa Pili, Deja Kelly, Hailey Van Lith, Georgia Amoore, Elizabeth Kitley, Mackenzie Holmes and a host of others. 

The bottom line is this draft has been projected for a while to be one of the deepest drafts in WNBA history with multiple generational talents at the top of the board. It is living up to that billing and we likely will see even more names rise up the ranks when March Madness arrives. 

And why this draft is certainly worthy of being moved to a larger venue, but we understand the WNBA-Nike connection…