Basketball-Atlanta Selects Howard With First Pick In WNBA Draft
Atlanta selected Kentucky’s Rhyne Howard with the No. 1 pick in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) draft on Monday as the Dream looks to rebuild around the versatile guard. Atlanta was a dismal 8-24 last season and acquired the first pick from the Washington Mystics last week in a bid to add Howard.
“For starters, I have no words,” an emotional Howard said after her name was called at the New York event. “I’m still shaking. I’m grateful to everyone who helped me get here.”
The 6-foot-2 Howard finished last season averaging 20.5 points per game, producing 102 assists and 39 blocks. The Indiana Fever, which had the worst record in the league last season, used the second pick to add Baylor forward NaLyssa Smith.
The dynamic Smith averaged 22.1 points and 11.5 rebounds per game last season. “I come in hungry,” Smith said.
“I look forward to participating in this program and making a big difference.” The Mystics selected 6-foot-5 forward Shakira Austin with the third pick and she joins a team that should be fighting for a championship right away.
“I’m going to add that youthful vibe, that competitive energy,” Austin said. “I’m just ready to work.”
The Fever selected defensive specialist Emily Engstler with the fourth pick. “I think defense is about passion and I bring that a lot into my game,” Engstler said.
“You’re good at the things you love to do and I love playing defense.” The New York Liberty selected Nyara Sabally to round out the top five in the draft, which was held in person for the first time since 2019 due to COVID-19 restrictions.
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