The 2016 WNBA Draft was historic and that’s before any of the players hit the floor for their respective teams. It’s the 20th year of the league and it was the first time in history that the first three picks in the draft came out of the same school. After making history on the collegiate level, becoming the first school to win four consecutive championships and the first class to do so. From freshman to senior year, the trio of Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson, and Morgan Tuck won four championships. Cementing it by being selected 1-3 in the 2016 WNBA Draft.
It was well known that Seattle was the winner of the Stewie sweepstakes, Jefferson had been attached to San Antonio by many. What was in question was where Tuck would go in the top five, there was always this possibility.
While it was a great story or maybe even one of the biggest, it wasn’t the only story. The professional team in Connecticut had a big night as well, the Sun hauled in a trio of their own. The Sparks selected 6’6 Jonquel Jones from George Washington University. She was extremely excited about the prospect of learning from Ogumwike and Parker in LA, later in the draft the trade was made. Connecticut sent Chelsea Gray, a 2017 first round pick, and the 15th and 23rd picks to the Sparks in exchange for the rights to Jones and the 17th overall pick in this year’s draft. Gray was selected 11th in the 2014 draft, but sat out that season due to an injury making last season her rookie campaign.
The Suns took Tuck and the electric Rachel Banham from Minnesota with the third and fourth picks. Banham most famously known for her 60-point performance during her last collegiate season, she has no issue with pulling the trigger and has extended range. The Sun then added guards Jamie Weisner and Aliyah Hanford.
The former Tulsa Shock, now Dallas Wings added a piece that should mesh well with their young and talented backcourt. Odyssey Sims and Skylar Diggins (who’s returning from an ACL injury) now have a bit more help on the perimeter with the addition of Michigan State’s Aerial Powers. She gives Dallas a great option at small forward that can both score and rebound the basketball.
The Los Angeles Sparks did more than just wheel and deal, they addressed a need by drafting two shooters and then may have gotten a steal in the third round. Whitney Knight and Briana Butler should be able to help with LA’s woeful shooting touch from beyond the arc. They have several quality bigs in Parker, Ogumwike, and Lavender. If Knight and Butler can hit from deep as they did on the college level, it should only help with the spacing, making the Sparks bigs even more dangerous. Their last pick, the fifth selection in the third round was Talia Walton, coming fresh off a Final Four run for Washington, the first in school history, no one expected her to be available this late in the draft.
It was tough watching her wait to be selected, she’s a versatile player that should be ready to contribute immediately. Talking with Walton after being selected, there was a noticeable determination in her voice. That chip on her shoulder should only continue to grow and give her great motivation to start her WNBA career, it may even stick with her for the duration of her career.
The season starts May 14th, training camp and preseason are on the horizon. It’ll be when fans get their first look at this year’s crop of rookies, only time will tell regarding which players will be ready to make an immediate contribution this season.