Last night in the WNBA draft, Megan Walker was drafted ninth overall to the New York Liberty while Crystal Dangerfield checked in at 16th overall, the fourth pick in the second round, and is headed to the Minnesota Lynx.
After draft night, so much of a player’s initial success at the next level depends not on how quickly they were selected, but how they fit into the rosters they are joining. So how do Walker and Dangerfield fit in on their new teams?
Megan Walker - New York Liberty
Even with some more time to digest last night’s results, this pick is still a puzzling one. Heading into the draft, the Liberty had a need in the frontcourt where they lack both star power and depth after the Tina Charles trade. Given her size and skill set, Walker is expected to play the three professionally, which does not help solve New York’s front court problem.
Immediately following the pick on the ESPN broadcast, Rebecca Lobo alluded to a potential trade. If we are waiting for the other shoe to drop still, Walker’s situation might change in the coming days (and make a lot more sense). If not, minutes could be hard to come by in her rookie season.
It is worth noting that on the Liberty’s pre-draft Facebook live event, they talked at length about how players from UConn come “pro-ready” and transition well to the league. Perhaps this implies that Walker may fit into their puzzle more quickly than expected.
New York’s backcourt, while extremely talented, is also very young which could lead to more opportunities in a changing rotation. However, former Husky Kia Nurse often plays as a stretch three and already claimed her first All-Star appearance last year.
If Walker stays in New York, they’ll likely use her as a piece off the bench and a reliable source of perimeter shooting. She won’t have an All-Rookie team type of season, but it will give her an opportunity to develop her game and to earn a more defined role in the future.
Crystal Dangerfield - Minnesota Lynx
Dangerfield falling to 16th was one of the big surprises of the night, and also gives the Minnesota Lynx the steal of the draft. While some mock drafts had her ending up in Minnesota with the sixth pick, at sixth or 16th the Lynx are still the best possible fit for her.
In a year where it may be hard for second-rounders to make a roster, Dangerfield is in an excellent spot to do just that. Minnesota has depth at the guard position, but lacks depth at the point, which creates an excellent opportunity.
Minnesota does have an All-Star point guard in Odyssey Sims, but Sims is sitting out the upcoming 2020 season. That leaves Dangerfield as the only true point guard on the roster. While it is likely that Lexie Brown will start at the point for the Lynx this season, Dangerfield gives Minnesota options as a backup point guard. She can also play alongside Brown, who is also an excellent three-point shooter, to help them spread the floor more.
The Lynx also fell in the bottom third of the league last year for three-point shooting. Dangerfield, who shot over 40 percent from deep this year and in her sophomore season, helps to improve that gap in the Lynx’s repertoire. Ultimately, Dangerfield has landed in a spot where there is a big opportunity for a successful rookie season.