Liberty win top pick in WNBA draft for first time

The New York Liberty will have the top pick in the 2020 WNBA draft after the odds went their way in Tuesday night’s lottery.

It marks the first time in franchise history that the Liberty will get to pick first. New York is one of the original eight teams that formed the league in 1997. The Liberty had the No. 2 pick in 2019 and selected Louisville guar Asia Durr.

“This is an exciting time for our organization and our fans,” Liberty general manger Jonathan Kolb said. “Once again, we have the opportunity to bring in some of the best basketball talent available as we continue working to build toward a WNBA championship.”

Lottery odds are based on the cumulative records of the two most recent WNBA regular seasons. The Liberty’s cumulative record was 17-51, giving them the most chances to land the top pick (442 out of 1,000).

Oregon guard Sabrina Ionescu is expected to be the top selection in next April’s draft.

“It’s awesome to be able to have that pick,” Liberty coach Katie Smith said. “We’re going to be able to add a really elite piece to what we already have. It’s a silver lining to a year where we battled and came up short. It’s something we can look towards the future and add a piece that will help us compete for a championship.”

Dallas will pick second, Indiana third and Atlanta fourth.

The Fever had the second best odds of getting the No.1 pick with a 27.6% chance.

“We’re excited about the outcome of tonight’s draft lottery and are confident that we will continue to build a championship franchise,” said Tamika Catchings, vice president of basketball operations for the Fever.. “We look forward to adding a top talent to an already promising core group of players.”

Dallas had a 17.8% chance of picking first and Atlanta 10.4%.

“We’re open to helping our team in a variety of ways,” Dallas coach Brian Agler said. “There’s some depth we’re looking at and it will be also be interesting to see who will come into the draft as an underclassmen. We’re open to helping our team in a variety of ways by selecting a player in the lottery or trading the pick.”

The Wings have had the No. 2, 3 and 4 picks a few times when the franchise was in Detroit, Tulsa as well as Dallas, but still have never won the draft lottery.

Of the four lottery teams, only Atlanta has ever had the No. 1 pick; the Dream drafted high-scoring forward Angel McCoughtry first overall in 2009.

The rest of the draft will be in reverse order of the standings for this season with Phoenix picking fifth. Minnesota, Seattle and Chicago following the Mercury. Las Vegas traded the No. 9 pick to Dallas as part of the Liz Cambage deal in the preseason. Los Angeles sent its first-round pick to Connecticut as part of the Chiney Ogwumike trade. The Sun will also pick 11th with Washington gets the final selection of the first round.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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