On Sunday, the ping pong balls determined the draft order for the first four picks in this coming April’s WNBA draft. The Dallas Wings finished with the fourth pick, the Atlanta Dream got the third pick, the No. 2 selection went to the Indiana Fever, and the basketball gods favored the Washington Mystics enough to give them the No. 1 overall selection.
History tells us that landing the top pick can have a huge impact on a franchise for years to come, but was it enough to shift the odds for that player’s rookie year? Many U.S. regulated books haven’t changed their lines, but the Washington odds shifted at a couple of books.
Let’s take a look at what that looked like and what the outlook could be for the Mystics’ championship hopes moving forward.
Odds shifting at some US sportsbooks
The Mystics opened the day with odds ranging from +1800 at Caesars Sportsbook to +3000 at BetRivers Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook. Those odds were either the seventh-shortest or tied for the seventh-shortest at all books.
Within hours of landing the top pick in the 2022 draft, FanDuel moved its line to +2500. DraftKings, previously at +2800, followed suit and updated its odds to +2500 later in the day
These moves aren’t monumental, but they do reflect the fact that Mike Thibault’s squad will be in the rare position of being in “win now” mode while making the No. 1 pick.
Outlook for Washington going forward
Much of the core from the 2019 championship remains, but each of the last two seasons has seen health factors limit an otherwise loaded squad.
Most notably, 2019 MVP Elena Delle Donne has played just three games over the last two years. Alysha Clark has dealt with injury as well after signing with the team last off-season, but Thibault says that both are progressing nicely in their returns.
Of course, the Mystics do have several pieces that might not be around next season. Myisha Hines-Allen is a restricted free agent, while Tina Charles and Leilani Mitchell, among others, are unrestricted free agents.
We’ll find out in the next couple of months whether any of them will be back, but if not then Washington will have the cap space to bring in other impactful players to join an already talented group that still includes Natasha Cloud and Ariel Atkins.
If the Mystics can bring back one of those players or add a big free agent and get immediate contributions from that No. 1 pick, the current odds may be a good value regardless of Delle Donne’s health.