The 2023 WNBA draft lottery will be broadcast next month ahead of a matchup of college basketball title contenders featuring the likely No. 1 draft pick, the league announced on Monday.
A 30-minute special will air on ESPN2 on Nov. 11 at 5:30 p.m. ET during which WNBA Head of League Operations Bethany Donaphin will reveal the results of the lottery drawing. The Indiana Fever have the best chances and are joined in the lottery by the Atlanta Dream, Washington Mystics (via trade) and Minnesota Lynx.
Aliyah Boston, the likely No. 1 pick, and her reigning champion South Carolina Gamecocks will tip off against Maryland afterward at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN2. The game will also feature potential lottery pick Diamond Miller, a shooting guard for the Terrapins.
It is the second game of the Gamecocks' season after the season opens on Nov. 7. The WNBA and commissioner Cathy Engelbert have been focused on brining college fans into the WNBA fandom and have paired up the lottery with high-profile college games bound to draw large viewership numbers.
2023 WNBA lottery odds
The four teams with the worst record the prior season are entered into the lottery and the odds are based on the cumulative records of their past two seasons (2021 and '22).
The Fever — a franchise still finding its footing after Hall of Famer Tamika Catchings retired in 2016 — are at the best odds, having gone 11-57 the past two years. They have a 44.2% chance at No. 1, the same chances they had in last year's drawing. The franchise has never had a No. 1 pick, but did complete a historic draft by 2022 by making four top-10 picks and adding a franchise-tying seven players in the draft.
The Fever selected NaLyssa Smith (No. 2 overall, Baylor), Emily Engstler (No. 4, Louisville), Lexie Hull (No. 6, Stanford) and Queen Egbo (No. 10, Baylor). They also drafted Destanni Henderson fresh off her 2022 national title with South Carolina.
But Indiana couldn't put it all together and fired coach Marianne Stanley after a 2-7 start. They lost their last 18 games under interim coach Carlos Knox en route to a 5-31 record that was eight games back of the 11th-place Sparks. The Fever were last or second-to-last in most categories. They have opted not to bring back Knox and are currently looking for a head coach.
The Dream, who traded up to draft Rookie of the Year Rhyne Howard at No. 1, have the second best odds at 27.6%. They are 22-46 over the past two years.
The Mystics acquired the rights to the pick from the Los Angeles Sparks in the three-team trade with the Dream that sent Chennedy Carter to LA. They have 17.8% odds thanks to the Sparks' combined 25-43 record. Washington last held the No. 1 pick in 1999 when they drafted Chamique Holdsclaw.
The Lynx have 10.4% odds (36-32). The last time they picked at No. 1 was in 2011 when they drafted Maya Moore.
2023 WNBA mock draft: Aliyah Boston at No. 1
Boston is the top prospect in the 2023 WNBA after being named the unanimous national player of the year by winning the Naismith, Wooden, Associated Press and Women's Basketball Coaches Association honors. The 6-foot-5 center averaged 16.8 points, 12.5 rebounds, 2.4 blocks and 1.2 steals per game as a junior while shooting 54.2 percent overall.
She led South Carolina back to the Final Four and earned Most Outstanding Player honors. She was also the Defensive Player of the Year. Boston was a freshman in 2019-20 when South Carolina was ranked No. 1 and a favorite for their second title before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancelation of the NCAA tournament. She does still have the extra year of eligibility granted to players because of the pandemic.
Miller, a 6-3 guard who averaged 3.1 ppg, is coming off a knee injury. Stanford's Haley Jones, Virginia Tech's Elizabeth Kitley and Iowa State's Ashley Joens are also lottery picks in some mock drafts.
UConn standout Paige Bueckers, a former national player of the year, will miss the entire season with a torn ACL in her left knee. She is eligible to enter the draft because she turns because 22 in the calendar year of the draft, per the WNBA's collective bargaining agreement clause. She said after her injury she intends to return to Connecticut for the 2023-24 season.
Iowa's highlight-dazzling shooter Caitlin Clark does not turn 22 next calendar year, but could be eligible if she graduates from a four-year institution within three months of the draft.
2023 WNBA Draft order
The rest of the draft order is determined by the inverse order of the team's regular season finishes in 2022.
5. Chicago (from Phoenix)
6. New York
7. Indiana (from Dallas)
8. Atlanta (from Washington)
11. Dallas (from Chicago, via Indiana)
12. Minnesota (from Las Vegas)