Part two of the five-part series breaks down whether or not this WNBA draft class panned out. How deep was the 2017 draft? Or should it be rephrased as how thin was it?
The 2017 draft, now seven years old, isn’t looking like it produced much talent. Two of the lottery picks are no longer in the league, with the third overall pick playing just one season. In addition, only ten players from the draft appeared in the league in the 2022 season. Entering the 2023 season, the top pick signed an extension with her team that drafted her. Per her request, the fourth overall pick was traded to the Atlanta Dream. While the Sun just traded away their 2021 MVP in favor of coring their eighth overall pick. Essentially, after the top four picks in this redraft, this ended up as a fairly weak draft.
#1. San Antonio Stars: Kelsey Plum, SG, Washington
new pick: no change
Plum had a rough beginning in the league. Her rookie year would see her shoot only 34.6 percent from the field. Furthermore, her numbers would improve in 2018 but, unfortunately, would take a dip in 2019. In 2020, Plum suffered an Achilles injury that would sideline her for the entire 2020 season. Would Plum become a bust as the top overall pick? Nope, 2021 would be a breakout season for Plum and earn her the league’s Sixth Woman of the Year Award. In 2022, new head coach Becky Hammon would insert Plum into the starting line-up and earn her first All-star nod and championship with the Las Vegas Aces. Nevertheless, Plum remains the first overall pick.
#2. Chicago Sky: Alaina Coates, C, South Carolina
new pick: Brionna Jones, C, Maryland
Coates was known prior to the draft that, due to an ankle injury, she would be sidelined for the entire 2017 season. Alaina’s stats were unmatched by any other post prospect entering the draft. The Sky took a risk and unfortunately, it did not pay off. Coates would return to play in 2018 and average 3.4 points per game and 3.2 rebounds per game. Coates would be waived prior to the 2019 season and go on to play for the Lynx, Dream, Mystics and Fever. Insert Maryland’s, Brionna Jones. Jones would see limited playing time in her first three seasons with the Sun. However, when Jonquel Jones opted out of the 2020 season, this thrust Bri into the starting line-up, and she has excelled since. A gamble the Sky should have taken in 2017.
#3. Dallas Wings: Evelyn Akhator, PF/C, Kentucky
new pick: Allisha Gray, SF, South Carolina
Akhator might be considered a bust from every angle possible. The Nigerian-born player would play in only 15 games her rookie season and then be waived prior to the start of the 2018 season. In 2019, she would participate in the Sky’s training camp but would be waived during the preseason. In addition, Allisha Gray remains with the Wings and slides up one pick from fourth to third overall. Akhator has had a successful overseas career playing in Russia, Spain, France, Turkey, and her home country of Nigeria. In the 2018 World Cup, Akhator averaged 12.6 ppg, 9 RPG and 1.4 assists per game for her national team.
#4. Dallas Wings: Allisha Gray, SF, South Carolina
new pick: Brittney Sykes, SG, Syracuse
With Allisha Gray going third overall, this now opens up the door to draft Syracuse’s, Brittney Sykes. An elite defender, Sykes would be named to the league’s All-Defensive First Team in 2021. Paired up next to Gray would be an elite combo for the Wings. Sykes has played for the Atlanta Dream (2017-2019) and the Los Angeles Sparks (2020-2022) and is currently an unrestricted free agent.
#5. San Antonio Stars: Nia Coffey, SF, Northwestern
new pick: no change
Coffey remains the Stars’ pick here despite a lackluster rookie year. 2018 would see improvements; however, Las Vegas would move on and trade her to Atlanta in a three-team trade that would add in point guard Sugar Rodgers. After that, Coffey would bounce around to Phoenix in 2020 and Los Angeles in 2021 before landing back in Atlanta in 2022. Coffey is an unrestricted free agent for 2023.
#6. Washington Mystics: Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, SG, Maryland
new pick: no change
Walker-Kimbrough remains the Mystics’ pick here. A solid addition to Mike Thibault‘s bench. Shatori would see 12.4 minutes per game and add 4.4 points per game in her rookie season. She would also be key to the Mystics’ championship run in 2019. In 2020, she would be involved in a trade that would send Tina Charles to the Mystics and Walker-Kimbrough to the Phoenix Mercury. After signing with the Dream in 2021, she would be waived in training camp. After playing just one game with the Sun, the Mystics would bring her back on a series of 7-day contracts and, eventually, signed for the rest of the season. Shatori would remain in Washington for the 2022 season and is now an unrestricted free agent.
#7. Atlanta Dream: Brittney Sykes, SG, Syracuse
new pick: Lindsay Allen, PG, Notre Dame
The seventh pick is where the talent depth of this draft begins to drop off. The fourteenth pick, Lindsay Allen, has served her time in the league as a serviceable backup point guard. Starting with New York in her rookie season, then playing in Las Vegas in 2018 and 2020, Indiana in 2021 and Minnesota in 2022. In her nine games with the Lynx, she averaged career highs of 6.7 ppg, 3.4 assists per game and 1.6 rebounds per game. Allen is an unrestricted free agent for 2023.
#8. Connecticut Sun: Brionna Jones, C, Maryland
new pick: Erica McCall, PF, Stanford
The Sun would need some post depth and McCall would be the best available here. Taken 17th overall by Indiana, McCall would play three seasons in Indianapolis before being waived prior to the 2020 season. The Dream would sign her to a 7-day contract and play one game. Immediately after her contract was finished, the Lynx would sign McCall, and she’d remain with them until the end of the season. In 2021, McCall would sign a one-year contract with the Mystics and start in six of their games. She was not signed by anyone in 2022 and remains an unrestricted free agent.
#9. Chicago Sky: Tori Jankoska, SG, Michigan State (cut in training camp)
new pick: Kaela Davis, SG, South Carolina
Jankoska never saw a regular season game in the WNBA. Michigan State’s all-time leading scorer would be cut in training camp and never suited up again in the league. The Sky drafting Kaela Davis would give them the added scoring needed off the bench. Davis would have three solid seasons with the Wings before being cut by Dallas prior to the 2020 season. Davis then signed two 7-day contracts with the Dream in 2020 and was waived by Atlanta prior to the start of the 2021 season. In 2022, Kaela would see time with Seattle and Phoenix and is now an unrestricted free agent.
#10. Dallas Wings: Kaela Davis, SG, South Carolina
new pick: Alaina Coates, C, South Carolina
Coates drops to the tenth overall pick with Dallas. With their uncertainty with Liz Cambage, drafting Coates would give them some insurance in the post for the future.
#11. Los Angeles Sparks: Sydney Wiese, SG, Oregon State
new pick: no change
Wiese remains the Sparks pick here. Sydney would play four seasons for Los Angeles and would have a breakout year in 2020. Prior to the 2021 season, Wiese would be traded to the Mystics in exchange for Washington’s second pick. Wiese would be waived by the Mystics prior to the start of the 2022 season and remains an unrestricted free agent.
#12. Minnesota Lynx: Alexis Jones, SG, Baylor
new pick: no change
Lynx will likely still draft Jones with the 12th pick. In two seasons with Minnesota, she would play 55 games and average just under 3 points per game. The depth that the Lynx had at guard would limit her playing time and would go on to be traded in 2019 to Los Angeles as part of the deal to acquire Odyssey Sims. In 2020, Jones would be waived by the Sparks and then claimed by Atlanta. She would play in only six games for the Dream before being waived in August. Jones has not returned to the WNBA but went on to play in Russia in 2021 and 2022.
Note: Only ten remaining players from this draft went on to play in the WNBA. Unfortunately, just six of the ten played only one season. This redraft will cut off with the 22nd pick.
#13. Connecticut: Shayla Cooper, F, Ohio State (cut in training camp)
new pick: Alexis Prince, PG, Baylor (29th pick by Phoenix, three seasons/22 games, 2017, 2018 and 2020)
#14. New York: Lindsay Allen, PG, Notre Dame
new pick: Jennie Simms, SG, Old Dominion
#15. Seattle: Alexis Peterson, PG, Syracuse (1 season/17 games in 2017)
new pick: Saniya Chong, PG, UCONN (26th pick by Dallas, two seasons/38 games, 2017-18)
#16. Connecticut: Leticia Romero, PG, Florida State (1 season/21 games in 2017)
new pick: Breanna Lewis, C, Kansas State (23rd pick by Dallas, two seasons/19 games, 2017-18)
#17. Indiana: Erica McCall, PF, Stanford
new pick: Evelyn Akhator, PF/C, Kentucky
#18. Washington: Jennie Simms, SG, Old Dominion (2 seasons/33 games in 2017 and 2022 total)
new pick: Alexis Peterson, PG, Syracuse
#19. Atlanta: Jordan Reynolds, G, Tennessee (cut in training camp)
new pick: Leticia Romero, PG, Florida State
#20. Indiana: Feyonda Fitzgerald, PG, Temple (1 season/2 games with Connecticut in 2017)
new pick: Makayla Epps, G, Kentucky (33rd pick by Chicago, 1 season/17 games in 2017)
#21. Chicago: Chantel Osahor, C, Washington (traded to Minnesota and then cut in training camp)
new pick: Lanay Montgomery, C, West Virginia (30th pick by Seattle, 1 season/7 games in 2017)
#22. Indiana: Ronni Williams, SF, Florida (cut in training camp)
new pick: Feyonda Fitzgerald, PG, Temple
To revisit part one in the series, a redraft of the 2016 draft, check out the article here.
Check out Beyond Women’s Sports for more women’s sports coverage. Todd Roman is on Twitter too. Follow Todd @TBRBWAY.