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 cross her fingers with a rabbit’s foot that evening and watch the 2023 WNBA draft lottery for “some other charms that I can’t publicly mention.”

Whatever Dunn did to get luck on her side paid off: For the first time in franchise history, the Fever earned the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming 2023 WNBA draft, as announced in the Friday evening lottery before the No. 1 opener. 1 South Carolina-No. 17 Maryland game.

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The reigning National Player of the Year, South Carolina’s Aaliyah Boston, the presumptive No. 1 overall pick, is considered by many to be a franchise turnaround figure.

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

The Minnesota Lynx — the four-time WNBA champions who missed the playoffs in 2022 for the first time since 2010 — earned the No. 2 pick despite a 14.5% chance.

“We are excited to have the second overall pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft,” Lynx coach and president of basketball operations Cheryl Reeve said. “This selection will undoubtedly be an important part of our future as we shape the next era of Lynx basketball.”

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

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

“Last year, we beat the odds in the lottery, unfortunately, that’s not the case this year,” Washington general manager and coach Mike Thibault said. “However, as a result of the trade, we have moved up four spots in the draft. With the fourth pick, we will get a great player, and I hope to improve our roster this season.

Indiana franchise stalwart Kelsey Mitchell — the former No. 2 pick — was live in the ESPN studios in Bristol, Connecticut for the Draft Lottery Show representing the Fever.

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Earlier in the day, the franchise introduced its new coach Christy 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, and won the WNBA championship in 2012, but have failed to make the playoffs since the retirement of legendary Tamika Catchings.

“This is a very strong draft,” Dunn said in a statement. “We’re getting a great player at No. 1.”

The Fever still have five players drafted last year on their roster, including No. 2 overall pick NaLyssa Smith and point guard Destanni Henderson 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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