Indiana Fever earn No. 1 pick in 2023 WNBA draft for first time

Indiana Fever interim general manager Lynn Dunn said earlier Friday that she will watch the 2023 WNBA draft lottery later that evening with a rabbit’s foot, fingers crossed and “some other charms that I can’t mention in public.”

Whatever Dunn did to get luck on her side, it worked: For the first time in franchise history, the Fever landed the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming 2023 WNBA Draft, as announced in the Friday night lottery before the No. 1 South Carolina-No. 17 Maryland game.

The reigning National Player of the Year, South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston, is the projected No. 1 overall pick, considered by many to be a potential franchise-changing figure.

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The Fever had the highest chance of any team (44.2%) to get the No. 1 pick. Lottery odds are based on the teams’ cumulative record over the past two regular seasons.

The Minnesota Lynx — a four-time WNBA champion who missed the 2022 playoffs for the first time since 2010 — earned the No. 2 seed, despite having just a 14.5% chance.

“We are excited to acquire the second overall pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft,” said Lynx coach and president of basketball operations Cheryl Reeve. “This selection will no doubt be an important part of our future as we shape the next era of Lynx basketball.”

The Atlanta Dream will pick third overall, followed by the Washington Mystics at No. 4. The rest of the first round will be Chicago, New York, Indiana, Atlanta, Seattle, Connecticut, Dallas and Minnesota.

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The Mystics made the postseason, but gained the right to trade their first-round pick for Los Angeles’ 2023 first-round pick acquired by the Dream in an earlier trade.

“Last year we beat the lottery odds and unfortunately we didn’t this year,” Washington general manager and coach Mike Thibault said. “However, as a result of the trade, we moved up four spots in the draft. We will get a great player with the fourth pick and I look forward to continuing to improve our roster this offseason.”

Indiana franchise stalwart Kelsey Mitchell — a former No. 2 pick herself — was live at the ESPN studios in Bristol, Connecticut, for the draft lottery show fever.

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Earlier in the day, the franchise unveiled its new coach, Christie Sides, ushering in a new era for the storied organization after a long period of underperformance. The Fever made the postseason every season from 2005 to 2016, winning the WNBA title in 2012, but haven’t made the playoffs since the retirement of legend Tamika Catchings.

“This is a very strong draft,” Dunn said in a statement. “We’re going to get a great player to pick No. 1.”

The Fever have five players drafted last year still on their roster, including No. 2 overall pick NaLyssa Smith and Destanni Henderson, a point guard from Boston, South Carolina. The pair led the Gamecocks to the 2022 national championship.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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