2022 WNBA Draft: Complete results, grades as Rhyne Howard goes No. 1 to Atlanta Dream

Tea 2022 WNBA Draft is in the books, and as expected the Atlanta Dream got the night started by selecting Rhyne Howard out of Kentucky with the No. 1 overall pick. A big, athletic two-way wing, Howard is the best player in this class, and will help jumpstart the Dream’s rebuild.

Rounding out the lottery, the Indiana Fever selected NaLyssa Smith out of Baylor at No. 2, the Washington Mystics went with Shakira Austin from Ole Miss at No. 3, and the Fever picked Emily Engstler of Louisville at No. 4. Those picks largely went as expected, but there were plenty of surprises later on.

Now that the action is all wrapped up, here are the full results along with breakdowns and grades for every first-round pick.

1. Atlanta Dream: Rhyne Howard, G, Kentucky

As expected, the Dream select Rhyne Howard with the No. 1 overall pick. Howard is a big, athletic wing out of Kentucky who can impact the game on both sides of the ball. She is an elite scorer who can shoot from the outside and get to the basket, and will be able to defend multiple positions. Best player in the draft and a great get for the Dream as they start their rebuild.

Grade: HAS

2. Indiana Fever: NaLyssa Smith, F, Baylor

The rebuilding Fever have four first-round picks and use the first one to take NaLyssa Smith out of Baylor. No surprise here either, as Smith is the best big prospect in this draft. She is extremely athletic and excels on the glass and on the defensive end. If she continues to refine her offensive game she has a real chance to be a star in this league.

Grade: HAS

3. Washington Mystics: Shakira Austin, F/C, Ole Miss

The Mystics moved back in the draft, trading the No. 1 overall pick to the Dream in large part because they believed this was a three-player draft, not a one-or-two player draft. That third player they had done in was Shakira Austin, the 6-foot-5 big out of Ole Miss. Austin is a terrific defender, moves fluidly and has some interesting potential on the offensive end.

Grade: HAS-

4. Indiana Fever: Emily Engstler, F, Louisville

Indiana’s interim GM Lin Dunn has spoke endlessly about getting better on the defensive end, so it was little surprise to see them target Emily Engstler with their second lottery pick. Engstler surged up draft boards after a terrific season at Louisville, where she made a major impact on the defensive end. She works extremely hard and has the size and athleticism to guard multiple positions at the next level.

Grade: HAS

5. New York Liberty: Nyara Sabally, F/C, Oregon

The New York Liberty’s biggest weakness last season was in the frontcourt, and they’ve tried to address it in the draft with Nyara Sabally. There’s some potential risk with this pick given Sabally’s brutal injury history (two torn ACLs), but she is a clear first-round talent if she can stay healthy. She is big enough to bang in the paint, but mobile enough to move around the perimeter.

Grade: HAS-

6. Indiana Fever: Lexie Hull, G, Stanford

This is the first major shocker of the night. With their third first-round pick, the Fever decided to take Lexie Hull out of Stanford. She is a strong 3-point shooter and plays very hard on the defensive end, but there are questions about whether she has the athleticism to adapt to the WNBA. Feels like the Fever could have gotten her later on.

Grade: VS

7. Dallas Wings: Veronica Burton, G, Northwestern

The Dallas Wings were one of the worst defensive teams in the league last season, and tried to address that issue by taking Veronica Burton out of Northwestern. She was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year three times in her college career, and will instantly improve their perimeter defense. There is a bit of a logjam in their backcourt now, however, so it will be interesting to see how their roster shakes out.

Grade: B+

8. Las Vegas Aces: Mya Hollingshed, F, Colorado

The Aces traded their first and second-round picks in 2023 to get the Nos. 8 and 13 picks this year, and were apparently targeting Mya Hollingshed out of Colorado. She is versatile big who can step out and shoot the ball, and should be a good fit for new head coach Becky Hammon’s more modern offensive system. No one was projecting her as a first-round pick, though, and it does feel like she would have been around later.

Grade: C+

9. Los Angeles Sparks: Rae Burrell, G, Tennessee

The Los Angeles Sparks desperately needed some help on the wing, and it was a major win for them that Rae Burrell was still on the board. She struggled this season at Tennessee, though that was in large part due to a knee injury. If she stays healthy there’s a very clear pathway to WNBA success with her size and offensive skills.

Grade: HAS

10. Indiana Fever: Queen Egbo, C. Baylor

Another big surprise from the Fever. With their fourth and final first-round pick, they take Queen Egbo, who will reunite with her Baylor teammate NaLyssa Smith. The Fever were clearly looking for frontcourt players who work hard and can defend, but there are some real questions about how Egbo projects offensively. In addition, she had trouble staying out of foul trouble in college. Another pick where it feels like the Fever reached for a player who would have been available later.

Grade: VS-

11. Las Vegas Aces: Kierstan Bell, Florida Gulf Coast

After taking a big with their first first-round pick, the Aces looked to the perimeter at No. 11, taking Kierstan Bell out of Florida Gulf Coast. Bell still being on the board at this point was a bit of a surprise, so this is a great get for the Aces. Bell can really score the ball and is the type of big, athletic wing you need to have success in this league.

Grade: HAS

12. Connecticut Sun: Nia Clouden, Michigan State

The Sun have fallen short in the playoffs in the past few years because they struggle to create good looks and score when the game slows down. They’ve clearly moved to address that issue, first by signing Courtney Williams in free agency, and now by taking Nia Clouden out of Michigan State with the No. 12 pick. She’s a bit undersized but is super shifty and can score from all over the court.

Grade: B+

Second round results

13. Las Vegas Aces: Khayla Pointer, LSU

14. Washington Mystics: Christyn Williams, UConn

15. Atlanta Dream: Naz Hillmon, Michigan

16. Los Angeles Sparks: Kianna Smith, Louisville

17. Seattle Storm: Elissa Cunane, NC State

18. New York Liberty: Lorela Cubaj, Georgia Tech

19. Los Angeles Sparks: Olivia Nelson-Ododa, UConn

20. Indiana Fever: Destanni Henderson, South Carolina

21. Seattle Storm: Evina Westbrook, UConn

22. Minnesota Lynx: Kayla Jones, NC State

23. Las Vegas Aces: Aisha Sheppard, Virginia Tech

24. Connecticut Sun: Jordan Lewis, Baylor

Third round results

25. Indiana Fever: Ameshya Williams-Holliday, Jackson State

26. Phoenix Mercury: Maya Dodson, Notre Dame

27. Los Angeles Sparks: Amy Atwell, Hawaii

28. Minnesota Lynx: Hannah Sjerven, South Dakota

29. New York Liberty: Sika Kone, Mali

30. Dallas Wings: Jasmine Dickey, Delaware

31. Dallas Wings: Jazz Bond, North Florida

32. Phoenix Mercury: Macee Williams, IUPUI

33. Seattle Storm: Jade Melbourne, Australia

34. Indiana Fever: Ali Patberg, Indiana

35. Las Vegas Aces: Faustine Aifuwa, LSU

36. Connecticut Sun: Kiara Smith, Florida

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