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From Charli Collier to Awak Kuier: Four Names to Watch in the WNBA Draft |  NBA News

After the WNBA released three new jersey designs for each team last week, all that’s left is to fill them with players.

The WNBA Draft is days away and over 50 people have opted for a chance to make their dream come true, making it one of the greatest fields of all time. But with just 12 teams in the league, it will be difficult for three rounds of rookies to build a roster, as The Athletic’s Chantel Jennings pointed out.

So what are the prospects that present the most excitement and intrigue in this year’s draft?

Awak Kuier

International prospect who is the youngest player on the pitch without any college experience, you’d expect Finland’s Awak Kuier – affectionately nicknamed ‘K’ by her teammates – to go under the radar of teams with the best picks in the draft. of the WNBA.

After an exciting national women’s invitational tournament, the top players who led their teams in March are usually the ones that generate the most buzz – but Kuier is still a hot topic.

She is nearing the end of her first year as a professional in the EuroLeague, and has averaged 24 minutes per game alongside Isabelle Harrison for Passalacqua Ragusa. At 6’5, Kuier can play three positions – small center forward – and averages 8.9 points and 6.8 rebounds in Serie A1 Italia while playing alongside Harrison, who is currently signed with the Dallas Wings in the WNBA.

Kuier is playing big for her country, and as a more crucial cog in Finland’s EuroBasket bid, she is averaging 17 points with 7.8 rebounds.

Awak Kuier was voted European Under-18 Division B MVP in 2019. Image: FIBA

She’s not afraid to take three-point shots but her efficiency could improve. Part of this is because she overly complicates shooting – jabbing or stepping back rather than taking open punches or using her natural height and length to shoot over defenders in rotation.

Such a young person is difficult to assess, but they still have a chance to be one of the first names cited by Commissioner Cathy Engelbert.

Wings president Greg Bibb – who has five of the 13 top picks this year, and could use one of them to maintain the Harrison-Kuier combination – told Sky Sports: “Not every draft is a exact science. The younger the payer, the more important this bet. Awak is 19 years old and is playing his first professional season. Anyone can watch her play and see her potential. Size is a given. His ability to handle basketball is excellent for his age, his shooting ability is above average for his size and age. She has to get stronger. Its potential is out of the ordinary. “

There may be a WNBA team investing in Kuier for the future rather than winning a championship with them at heart this season, but Harrison believes his teammate can make an impact. She said: “I think K is the perfect package for what the league is developing into. She can shoot, dribble and defend. The way she plays the game is where I see the future of the WNBA becoming – imagine Bol Bol in the NBA and you have K. ”

Kiana williams

From Charli Collier to Awak Kuier: Four Names to Watch in the WNBA Draft |  NBA News
Kiana Williams of the Stanford Cardinal

The Stanford Cardinal guard isn’t the biggest stat junkie, but has averaged 13.4 points per game in four years at college. Her three assists and two rebounds suggest she hasn’t done much, but she’s a type of player with heart and soul who can lead a team to victory, just like she does. did this year when Stanford won the women’s tournament. National tournament by invitation.

She’s a solid defender with good hands and can get into the passing lane, to the point where she was picking up opponents’ pockets 1.3 times per game. But the real statistic that highlights Williams’ underrated ability is 8.2 Win Shares (WS) – the number of wins she is responsible for in her squad – which was fifth on the list of players who opted for the draft.

Williams also has a propensity to hit big shots. She’s quite comfortable from the age of three and would sometimes stop in transition to shoot from a distance rather than fight at the rim, but her 38% efficiency beyond the arc last season suggests that this is a good option. And given the chance to probe the pitch to find space, she has an average sidestep / step back that frustrates defenders at university level, although she might find that the biggest and most pros. WNBA’s physics are able to make these more difficult. .

Charli Collier

As a potential first pick in the draft, Charli Collier isn’t a real big one who will match the height of Liz Cambage, Brittney Griner and Sylvia Fowles, but she’ll likely have to fight them. At 6’5, she’ll be counting on a slight speed advantage, which she rarely had in college, so her game will have to adjust to the long, dominant, bouncy, inside presence it was for the Texas Longhorns. .

Luckily, Collier has more to offer than being taller than most in her late teens. Her boxout-jump-rebound technique is flawless and has helped her get over 11 rebounds per game in her third season in college – four of them being on the offensive glass.

From Charli Collier to Awak Kuier: Four Names to Watch in the WNBA Draft |  NBA News
Charli Collier of the Texas Longhorns

She moves well without the ball – sealing her defender and cutting inside for quick inside passes and easy finishes. When there is a defender on her back she has a terrific feel and footwork to turn or slide in an open layup.

While Collier isn’t a ranged stun assassin, her three-point shot will have to be respected by big opponents – 31% from range last season isn’t much to tell, but she shot more and with it. greater efficiency in his second season with Texas.

Her length is useful in defense, but on the perimeter she seemed shaky at times, so improved speed will be needed if she intends to keep the Candace Parkers and Elena Delle Donnes out of the world. Still, Collier’s potential means she should be a high selection in this year’s draft and depending on which team picks her, she will likely have plenty of leash to learn on the job.

Aari McDonald

Arizona has seen a number of big names in basketball wear the Wildcats jerseys in college history: Steve Kerr, Andre Iguodala, Sean Elliott, Aaron Gordon and first draft pick Deandre Ayton, as well as players from WNBA Courtney Clements, Ify Ibekwe, Davellyn. Whyte, and champion – and current coach – Adia Barnes.

But after Aari McDonald dragged college to the finals of the women’s national invitational tournament last week and increased her stock to the point that she could be selected for No. 1 in the WNBA Draft of this year, many call her the greatest player of all time to represent the college.

From Charli Collier to Awak Kuier: Four Names to Watch in the WNBA Draft |  NBA News
Arizona Wildcats Aari McDonald

She was a scary terror, averaging 20 points per game, five rebounds and four assists this season. She also recorded an efficiency rating (which balances field goals, free throws, three points, assists, rebounds, blocks and steals, and negative outcomes, such as missed shots, turnovers and personal fouls) of 30.4, according to Her Hoop Stats – for context, 11 of 17 WNBA players who had PERs greater than 30 were the most valuable player.

His height might deter some teams, at 5’6, but we’ve seen scoring guards with a similar build perform recently – like Rookie Of The Year Crystal Dangerfield last season.

The Dallas Wings have the top two picks in the draft, and team president Greg Bibb told Kim Doss at SB Nation at a pre-draft press conference, “Aari McDonald is an exceptional player who s ‘is improved every year and who has the talent to perform at his best in big games. It’s hard to transition to the WNBA no matter what your college education is… height doesn’t necessarily have to be a negative factor and Cheryl Reeve has proven that with Crystal.

McDonald’s relies on the explosion and ability to finish that make her one of the most exciting players to watch, and throughout the tournament her three-point shot has taken a leap forward in terms of efficiency, this which should excite teams who worry about its size.

The WNBA draft takes place on April 15.

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