The Liberty will pick No. 1 for a second consecutive year in the W.N.B.A. draft, the league announced on Friday night. This time, the leading candidate to be the first pick is not nearly as clear as the last time, when the Liberty chose Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu.
“We don’t know who will be at the top,” Liberty General Manager Jonathan Kolb said of the draft, which will be held in April. “Which players will rise through their play? For us, it’s wide open.”
Dallas will pick second, with Atlanta third and Indiana fourth. The W.N.B.A. determines the chances of winning the lottery based on the cumulative two-year records of the four participants. The Liberty, who struggled last season after losing Ionescu to an ankle injury, had an aggregate record of 12-44 and the best chance to win the lottery at 44.2 percent. Atlanta (15-41) was second at 27 percent, Dallas (18-38) third at 17 percent and Indiana (19-37) fourth at 10 percent.
There are several talented seniors in the college game, including Louisville’s Dana Evans, U.C.L.A.’s Michaela Onyenwere, Arizona’s Aari McDonald and Tennessee’s Rennia Davis, but the decisions could be complicated by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on college sports. Because of the uncertainty surrounding winter sports seasons, the N.C.A.A. has granted all basketball players an extra year of eligibility, which means several elite prospects may wait to enter the draft.
“The N.C.A.A. rules will allow people to have a lot more flexibility in their decisions,” Indiana Fever Coach Marianne Stanley said. “I think at some point, players have to make a decision. It does expand the pool a little bit. There’s a lot of territory to cover between now and the draft.”
Kolb said the Liberty would be looking for a certain type of player.
“We want really good people that are really good at basketball,” he said. “I think this class has exactly that. It’s only going to bolster what we’re doing. I think you see a lot of versatility in this class, and I think that’s the way we play basketball. A lot of it is positionless. Walt Hopkins has a system, and he believes in that system, and I think the players that are going to be available for us are going to fit like a T.”
The Dallas franchise has been in the draft lottery 10 times now and has never received the first pick. The Wings also will have a new coach next spring, replacing Brian Agler, who was fired in October.
Dallas will have three of the first seven choices; the Wings also hold the fifth pick and the seventh because of trades made over the last few years.
Greg Bibb, president of the Wings, said the team might trade some of the picks.
Phoenix has the sixth pick. Chicago, Minnesota, Los Angeles, Seattle and Las Vegas close out the first round.