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2022 WNBA Draft: Grading each team’s first round pick

We update the results from the first round of the 2022 WNBA Draft, along with grades for each pick.

WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert announces the first pick of the WNBA Draft at ESPN Seaport District Studios on April 15, 2021 in New York, New York. Photo by Jennifer Pottheiser /NBAE via Getty Images

The 2022 WNBA Draft presented by State Farm is set to begin at 7 p.m. on ESPN. The draft has three rounds, where 36 draft prospects will see their professional hoops dreams come to reality.

The Atlanta Dream have the first overall pick, which they acquired last week in a trade from the Washington Mystics. The Dream will be deciding between Rhyne Howard and NaLyssa Smith, who are the top two players in this class. The Indiana Fever follow with the second pick of the draft and have four total in the first round.

Below we’ll be grading each team’s pick through the first round of Monday’s 2022 WNBA Draft.

No. 1: Atlanta Dream — Rhyne Howard, SG, Kentucky

Atlanta Dream traded up for Rhyne Howard. Coming off a great senior season averaging 20.5 PPG and 7.4 RPG. Atlanta has many holes to fill this year, but this is a great start for them as they can start the rebuild around Howard. One of the most pro-ready rookies in the draft!

Grade: A+

No. 2: Indiana Fever — NaLyssa Smith, PF, Baylor

Another team in rebuild mode, NaLyssa Smith will be a great addition for the Fever. Smith averaged 22.1 PPG and 11.5 RPG this past season and will be an immediate impact player for the Fever, who will look to turn things around in 2022.

Grade: A+

No. 3: Washington Mystics — Shakira Austin, C, Ole Miss

Barring any injuries, the Mystics should be in a good spot for 2022 after a disappointing season last year. This put them in a great position to trade back from the first pick with the Atlanta Dream this year. Austin should benefit from playing with Elena Della Donne. I hate to be an easy grader, but I love this fit for Austin and the Mystics!

Grade: A+

No. 4: Indiana Fever — Emily Engstler, PF, Louisville

The hometown kid is drafted in New York! A little higher than I expected Engstler to go, but the Fever have many needs to fill. Engstler will bring the defensive energy that this team desperately needs. She is coming off a season in which she averaged 11.9 PPG and 9.4 RPG. Overall, this should be good fit.

Grade: A-

No. 5: New York Liberty — Nyara Sabally, F/C, Oregon

Nyara Sabally will bring some much-needed size to the Liberty this upcoming season. Sabally has the potential to be one of the best picks in this year's draft but is a bit risky here with the fifth overall pick due to her injury history. Sabally averaged 14.2 PPG and 7.4 RPG in 2021.

Grade: B+

No. 6: Indiana Fever — Lexie Hull, SG, Stanford

Wow! The Fever are getting a great player in Lexie Hull, but with all these picks, we’re not sure why they went with her at No. 6. Hall averaged 12.5 PPG and was 39.3% from the 3-point line last season for the Cardinal. Hull should be a good leader for this squad, but the Fever reached too high for her.

Grade: C

No. 7: Dallas Wings — Veronica Burton, PG, Northwestern

Veronica Burton’s biggest strength will be her defensive energy she will carry into WNBA. She is an elite ball defender, averaging four steals per game. It’s surprising Dallas didn’t go for a better front-court addition at pick No. 7 but Burton has the potential to become one of the best point guards in the league.

Grade: B-

No. 8: Las Vegas Aces — Mya Hollingshed, SF, Colorado

New coach Becky Hammon is looking to add more offensive juice to this Las Vegas team. A bit of a surprise here in the first round but Mya Hollingshed shot 39.6% from the three-point line last season. This will be a huge addition to the Aces as they have taken the fewest three-pointers per game for five straight seasons.

Grade: B

No. 9: Los Angeles Sparks — Rae Burrell, SF, Tennessee

Rae Burrell fell later in this draft then I thought, likely due to her injury. She averaged 16.8 PPG, 4.6 RPG, and shot 40.2% from the three-point line her junior season before her injury. Burrell could be the steal of this draft as she joins the Sparks, who should be contenders this year.

Grade: A

No. 10: Indiana Fever — Queen Egbo, C, Baylor

It’s a surprise to see Queen Egbo go in the first, but she will be a great addition to this team due to her pure size. Egbo averaged 8.4 RPG and 11 PPG in her last season at Baylor. The Fever can take time to develop these players during this rebuild and get Egbo more pro-ready. Egbo joins Hull and Engstler as first-round picks by Indiana on Monday.

Grade: C+

No. 11: Las Vegas Aces — Kierstan Bell, SG, Florida Gulf Coast

I LOVE this fit. Kierstan Bell averaged 23.6 PPG and 9.4 RPG last season at Flordia Gulf Coast. Head Coach Becky Hammon will love having Bell on her squad. Another great offensive addition to this 2022 contender.

Grade: A+

No. 12: Connecticut Sun — Nia Clouden, SG, Michigan State

Nia Clouden is one of the best pure shooters in this year's class. Clouden shot 42.7% from the field and averaged 20 PPG. This is a steal for the Sun at pick No. 12. Clouden is headed to one of the best rosters in the league and will hopefully give this team what they need to finally find some postseason success.

Grade: A+