The New York Liberty leapfrogged Indiana and Chicago to earn the second overall pick in next spring’s WNBA Draft.
The Las Vegas Aces defeated the New York Liberty for the fourth time this WNBA season, but New York earned a win of their own in the 2018 WNBA Draft Lottery.
Held on Tuesday night in Secaucus, NJ, the Liberty learned they will select second in the 2019 draft, the highest college draft selection in team history. They entered the lottery with 10.4 percent odds to earn the first overall pick, but leapfrogged the Indiana Fever and Chicago Sky to move-up to the runner-up spot.
The results were unveiled during halftime of the WNBA semifinals matchup between the Atlanta Dream and Washington Mystics.
Each team was represented by their respective head coach, including Katie Smith attending for the Liberty.
We did just fine!!! Now time to watch these young bucks!!! 🏀😊 https://t.co/UW870fL3Sm
— Katie Smith (@katiesmith30) August 29, 2018
“This is an exciting day for us,” Smith said in a team statement. “You go in and we’re expecting fourth pick and ready to draft and go after it. You want to do your homework and add to the crew we already have. Then Chicago gets the fourth pick and then you get greedy! Now, why not continue to shake this up? I was definitely getting anxious getting ready to explode with moving up already that far.”
Since 2015, the WNBA Draft Lottery odds have been determined by a cumulative two-season record, the team with the lowest win percentage getting the highest odds. Indiana (15-53, .221) had the best chance to score the top pick at 44.2 percent. Though the Liberty had the league’s second-worst record this past WNBA season (7-27, worst in franchise history), but a 22-12 mark in 2017 pushed their odds back, creating a 29-39 (.426) qualification.
The remainder of the first round, consisting of the 2018 WNBA playoff squads, will be sorted via 2018 records alone, as will the complete order of rounds two and three.
The Liberty’s previous highest selection in the traditional draft was fourth overall, when they took Tiffany Jackson from Texas fourth overall in 2007. New York did choose first overall in a 2009 dispersal draft, in which they chose Nicole Powell from the defunct Sacramento Monarchs.
They last partook in the draft lottery prior to the 2014 selections, eventually using the fourth overall pick to choose Maryland’s Alyssa Thomas, who was eventually traded to the Connecticut Sun in exchange for current superstar Tina Charles. Four current players on the Liberty roster were added through the first round of the draft, including 2011 pair Brittany Boyd and Kiah Stokes, as well as Kia Vaughn from 2009, and last draft’s ninth overall selection, Kia Nurse.
The victorious Aces will choose first overall for the third consecutive year, including their 2016 lottery win under the San Antonio Star moniker. Coached by former Liberty boss Bill Laimbeer, the Aces chose Rookie of the Year favorite A’ja Wilson from South Carolina with last season’s top overall. Washington’s Kelsey Plum was their pick the year before.
Among the top prospects in the 2019 WNBA Draft include Louisville’s Asia Durr, Baylor’s Kalani Brown, Iowa’s Megan Gustafson, and University of Connecticut pair Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson. Eziyoda Magbegor of Australia is expected to be the top international prospect, while Oregon junior Sabrina Ionescu may also be available.
The 2019 WNBA Draft will be held next spring, at a date to be determined.
2019 WNBA Draft First Round Order
|1||Las Vegas Aces||14-20|
|2||New York Liberty||7-27|
|7||Los Angeles Sparks||19-15|