How to Follow the WNBA Draft If You’re Newly Obsessed With Women’s Basketball

If all the excitement of NCAA March Madness has you newly invested in women’s basketball, you’re not alone. Literally millions of other Americans have jumped on board too, thanks in no small part to the fervor surrounding the tournament—and the spotlight shining on amazing athletes like Caitlin Clark, Paige Bueckers, Angel Reese, and others.

The 2024 women’s national championship game—a showdown between the Iowa Hawkeyes and South Carolina Gamecocks—drew a record-breaking 18.7 million viewers, making it the most watched women’s college basketball game on record and the most-watched basketball game overall (yep, including men’s or women’s, college or pro) since 2019, according to ESPN.

There’s no denying we’re entering a pretty thrilling era for women’s basketball. And the best part is, even though March Madness is over, there’s plenty more excitement coming up: The WNBA draft, which features some of the most-hyped college stars and sets the stage for epic pro games ahead, is happening on April 15.

Fair warning: The draft process is a bit, um, nuanced, and if you’re befuddled by how it all works, well, that’s totally understandable. To demystify things, we compiled the below Q&A that addresses all your burning b-ball questions in an-easy-to-digest format. Right this way for the must-know intel!

First off, when and where is this all going down?

Mark your calendar for Monday, April 15 at 7:30 pm ET. That’s when the draft festivities—held this year at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in Brooklyn—will kick off. For the first time since 2016, fans will be allowed to attend the draft in person, making for a super exciting vibe that we’re betting TV viewers will feel as well.

What’s the point of the draft?

Glad you asked! Basically, the WNBA holds its draft so teams can select new players from the latest pool of eligible athletes, including many soon-to-be college grads. Through a lottery and ranking process that favors teams with less-than-stellar records (more on that in a minute), the draft aims to bring parity to the league so that struggling teams have a chance to bolster their rosters with the best new players. The benefit for us viewers? More exciting games!

How many teams are included?

All 12 teams that form the WNBA participate in the draft. This includes: the Indiana Fever, Phoenix Mercury, Seattle Storm, Indiana Fever, Los Angeles Sparks, Washington Mystics, Minnesota Lynx, Atlanta Dream, Dallas Wings, Connecticut Sun, New York Liberty, Las Vegas Aces, and Chicago Sky.

So, how are picks chosen?

There are three rounds in the draft, with 12 picks per round. The order that teams get to make their picks is based on performance from last season, with the worst teams going first and the best going last.

One vital exception: The first four picks in the first round are determined by the Draft Lottery (a weighted drawing among the four teams that didn’t make the 2023 WNBA playoffs: the Indiana Fever, Los Angeles Sparks, Phoenix Mercury, and Seattle Storm)—plus any traded picks (basically, teams can decide to swap pick numbers with each other).

What makes athletes eligible for the draft?

There are three main groups that can participate in the draft: All college seniors who are no longer eligible to play in the NCAA; any NCAA player who turns 22 this year and gives up (or “renounces”) their remaining NCAA eligibility; or any international player who turns 20 this year.

How many rounds are there?

Three! And each round features 12 picks.

How many athletes are in the pool, and how many will get picked?

The WNBA hasn’t announced how big the athlete pool is this year, but an April 4 press release from the organization named 89 players who renounced their college eligibility to become draft candidates. A week later, the WNBA issued another press release spotlighting some draft headliners who weren’t named in that original list, including Caitlin Clark, Aaliyah Edwards, and Kamilla Cardoso. So, it’s not clear exactly how big the final pool will be, but we do know that in the end, just 36 athletes will be selected.

Which teams have first picks this year?

The Indiana Fever, Los Angeles Sparks, and Chicago Sky—in that order‚ will get first dibs this year. Notably, the Fever got to pick first last year, too. Lucky them!

Which athletes are draft favorites?

Not surprisingly, Caitlin Clark is widely predicted to be the top pick. As the NCAA’s all-time leading scorer and highest-earning NCAA women’s basketball player in history (thanks to NIL allowances), the 22-year old guard just wrapped a collegiate career with some seriously impressive stats, scoring 3,951 total points, 1,144 assists and 990 rebounds during her four years with the Iowa Hawkeyes, per ESPN.

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