Washington Mystics secure No. 1 pick in WNBA draft for second time, ‘a huge moment for us’

The Washington Mystics landed the No. 1 pick of the WNBA draft in Sunday’s lottery. It’s the second time the Mystics will choose first; the other was in 1999 when they took Tennessee forward Chamique Holdsclaw.

“This is a huge moment for us,” Mystics coach and general manager Mike Thibault said. “I think you have to take who you think is going to be a great player in the league for a long time. This actually gives us a lot of clarity now. I don’t know who we’ll pick, but you have to pick the best player.”

That might be Kentucky guard Rhyne Howard or Baylor forward NaLyssa Smith, who seem to be the consensus top two prospects. But by April’s draft, that perhaps could change.

Indiana, which had the best odds, ended up second in the lottery. The Fever have never had the No. 1 selection. Atlanta will pick third and Dallas fourth.

The lottery odds were based on the cumulative records of the two most recent regular seasons (2020 and 2021). With a cumulative record of 12-42, they had the most chances to land the top pick (442 out of 1,000).

Atlanta, 15-39, had 276 chances out of 1,000 to win the top pick. Washington, 21-33, had the third-most chances (178). Dallas had 104 chances after obtaining the 2022 first-round selection from Los Angeles (27-27) in a trade last April.

The order of selection for the remainder of the first round, as well as the second and third rounds, is determined by inverse order of the teams’ respective regular-season records solely from 2021.

The Mystics won the 2019 WNBA title, but star Elena Delle Donne has played just three games since then — all last season — because of back issues. Thibault said she is making progress physically in the offseason.

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