2021 WNBA Draft: Start time, order and projected No. 1 pick originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
The WNBA will welcome some new faces to the league when the 2021 WNBA Draft kicks off on Thursday night. The WNBA’s 25th season will begin next month, and tonight’s draft -- full of talent from college and international play -- is expected to set the tone for the league’s historic year.
Commissioner Cathy Engelbert will announce each pick of the virtual draft live, while top prospects will join the fun remotely. The three-round draft will feature 36 opportunities for the league’s 12 teams (well, not the Washington Mystics, who traded away their draft picks) to add to their talented rosters. This year’s event will be controlled by the Dallas Wings, who traded for the No. 1 overall pick after being awarded the No. 2 selection in the draft lottery.
Over 50 players opted in for this year’s draft. Due to the league’s draft eligibility rules, many of the biggest stars at the 2021 NCAA tournament -- like Paige Bueckers, Aliyah Boston, Caitlin Clark and Haley Jones -- could not throw their names in the mix for this year’s selections.
While Texas’ Charli Collier is projected to be first off the board, when can top players like Finland’s Awak Kuier, Louisville’s Dana Evans or Tennessee’s Rennia Davis expect to hear their names called?
Here is everything you need to know as the clock ticks down to this year’s event.
What time does the 2021 WNBA Draft start?
The 2021 WNBA Draft starts at 7 p.m. ET on April 15.
How can I watch the 2021 WNBA Draft?
You can tune in to the 2021 WNBA Draft on ESPN or stream it on the ESPN app.
What is the 2021 WNBA Draft order?
All eyes will be on the Dallas Wings as the draft kicks off Thursday night. The Wings hold four of the first 13 picks, including the top two overall.
Here is a breakdown of how the draft’s three rounds will go:
No. 1: Dallas Wings
No. 2: Dallas Wings
No. 3: Atlanta Dream
No. 4: Indiana Fever
No. 5: Dallas Wings
No. 6: New York Liberty
No. 7: Los Angeles Sparks
No. 8: Chicago Sky
No. 9: Minnesota Lynx
No. 10: Los Angeles Sparks
No. 11: Seattle Storm
No. 12: Las Vegas Aces
No. 13: Dallas Wings
No. 14: Las Vegas Aces
No. 15: Atlanta Dream
No. 16: Chicago Sky
No. 17: New York Liberty
No. 18: Seattle Storm
No. 19: Indiana Fever
No. 20: Connecticut Sun
No. 21: Connecticut Sun
No. 22: Los Angeles Sparks
No. 23: Seattle Storm
No. 24: Indiana Fever
No. 25: New York Liberty
No. 26: Indiana Fever
No. 27: Atlanta Dream
No. 28: Los Angeles Sparks
No. 29: New York Liberty
No. 30: Connecticut Sun
No. 31: Indiana Fever
No. 32: Phoenix Mercury
No. 33: Indiana Fever
No. 34: Los Angeles Sparks
No. 35: Seattle Storm
No. 36: Las Vegas Aces
Who is the projected No. 1 pick in the 2021 WNBA Draft?
Charli Collier, Texas
The 6-foot-5 forward/center would add some much-needed size and rim protection to the Dallas Wings' frontcourt. As a junior, Collier averaged 19.0 points, 11.3 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game to be named to the All-Big 12 First Team.
Versatile in the post and with improving range that stretches into 3-point territory, Collier shot 51.1 percent from the field last season, highlighted by a 44-point performance in which she went 14-for-17 from the field. In the Sweet 16 of the 2021 NCAA Tournament, she had 16 points and 11 rebounds (her 19th double-double of the season, second most in the NCAA this season) to help the Longhorns upset No. 2 Maryland and advance to the Elite 8.
Collier, if selected with the No. 1 pick, would be the first player from Texas to be taken first overall in the WNBA draft. She'd also be the headliner of a youth movement in Dallas, with the Wings owning the first two picks, and three of the first five, in this year's draft.
Who are the top players available in the 2021 WNBA Draft?
Awak Kuier, Finland: The 19-year-old, who played professionally in Italy last season, is set to become the first Finnish player in league history. The 6-foot-5 center, with great mobility for her size, has drawn comparisons to Candace Parker. Kuier has the ability to score off the dribble and shoot from deep, and also has been able to dunk since the age of 14.
Rennia Davis, Tennessee: The 6-foot-2 small forward is a two-way wing who uses her length and athleticism to defend multiple positions and crash the boards. Davis averaged 17.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game (including a 20-rebound game against Kentucky) in her final season at Tennessee. Davis is an efficient scorer in the paint and can finish in traffic at the rim, but shoots just 26 percent from 3.
Arella Guirantes, Rutgers: One of the top scorers available in the draft, the 5-foot-11 shooting guard can put it in the basket at all three levels. As a junior, she led the Big 10 in scoring at 20.6 points per game. As a senior, Guirantes proved she's more than just a scorer, becoming the only player in the Big Ten to rank in the top five in points (21.3), assists (5.2), steals (2.2) and blocks (1.8) and making the All-Big 10 Team for the second straight year.
Aari McDonald, Arizona: The 5-foot-6 point guard provides playmaking and lockdown perimeter defense. In addition to her ability to play strong on-the-ball defense, quickly close passing lanes and force turnovers, she averaged 20.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.0 assists as a senior. Her draft stock soared as she showed a scorer's mentality while guiding Arizona to the national championship game for the first time in program history. She was named Pac-12 Player of the Year, as well as co-Defensive Player of the Year after leading the league in steals for the second straight year.
Dana Evans, Louisville: If teams are seeking a speedy, score-first point guard who can push the tempo, look no further. Evans led the ACC in scoring this season, averaging 20.1 points and 3.9 assists to be named ACC Player of the Year for the second straight season. Evans makes for a difficult matchup with her combination of range (career 37.7 percent shooter from deep) and the ability to beat defenders off the dribble with her quick first step.
Mike Gavin and Kelley Ekert contributed to this story.