'Another significant moment:' Fever win WNBA Draft Lottery, will select No. 1 once again
They drafted Aliyah Boston at No. 1 last year and would love nothing more than to add Caitlin Clark out of Iowa, assuming she does not return for a fifth season.
The Indiana Fever have been looking forward to this day for months.
On Sunday, the WNBA held its annual draft lottery and the Fever, having won a combined 18 games over the last two seasons, had the best odds (44.2%) to land the top overall pick. The team held a watch party inside the entry pavilion at Gainbridge Fieldhouse to recognize the moment and help build interest toward next season.
When the results were announced at 4:51 p.m. ET on ESPN’s draft lottery special, the team and its fans erupted in cheers knowing brighter days are ahead.
The Fever, who haven’t reached the postseason since legend Tamika Catchings retired in 2016, had done it again.
They are on the clock with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 WNBA Draft.
“I’m extremely optimistic about where we are,” Fever general manager Lin Dunn said afterward.
And for good reason.
There's an incredibly talented group of three players at the top that figure to be available: Iowa's Caitlin Clark, Stanford's Cameron Brink and UConn's Paige Bueckers.
No one is more appealing than Clark, whose high scoring and sharpshooting helped drive monster TV ratings on ESPN for the 2023 women's Final Four as Iowa lost in the championship game to South Carolina by just four points.
”Historically, we haven’t had these players that have had a fifth year so it leaves a little bit of question marks with who we might be able to get,” Dunn said. “In the past, you already knew.
“I encourage the players that have had four years to come on to the next level and get better, challenge your skills and be a pro — if that’s what you want to be.”
Dunn didn’t know Aliyah Boston, the 2023 WNBA Rookie of the Year, was declaring for the draft last spring until 48 hours after her last college game.
Boston, meanwhile, was Dunn’s lucky charm at ESPN headquarters on Sunday for the official announcement.
Now, Fever fans are eager about the possibility of Boston and Clark pairing up to lead the Fever into brighter days. Just read the replies to my tweet announcing the news — it’s all excitement for keeping Clark in the midwest and bringing her to Indy.
Caitlin saw that tweet for herself and liked it.
Basketball fans would be spoiled getting to watch Tyrese Haliburton during the NBA season and then Clark over the summer. I’m already thinking about those two in a shooting contest, talking hoops at a high level, and the endless Iowa State v Iowa trash talk that’s inevitable.
All while elevating Indiana basketball.
If this goes right, it will have a seismic impact on this franchise — everything from fan interest to ticket sales, corporate partnerships, television, merchandise, etc.
“It’s an amazing moment,” Dunn acknowledged. “Last year was a significant moment because we knew if Aliyah Boston came out, the impact that she could have on the franchise. And then to be able to add another significant moment like tonight makes me feel like we can do what we said we were going to do when I took this job over 20 months ago.
“We’re going to get the Fever back on track to being who we’re supposed to be. We’re a playoff team, we’re a team that challenges for championships. But you have to get high draft picks, you have to get a couple of free agents, you have to get players that want to be here and you have to have a great coaching staff.
“We’ve got tremendous support from above. Pacers Sports & Entertainment is all-in for the Fever being successful.”
Dunn knows the type of impact having back-to-back No. 1 picks can have on a franchise because she saw it firsthand in Seattle when the Storm selected Lauren Jackson in 2001 and then Sue Bird the following year. The Storm have four WNBA championships since those two selections.
“Yessss!! Another franchise changer is on the way! #1 pick again!” tweeted former Fever president Kelly Krauskopf, who is currently the Pacers assistant GM.
Christie Sides is entering her second season as Fever head coach.
This is just the injection the Fever have desperately needed for years. They have the facilities, the coaching staff and the support system. Now it’s about continuing to add elite talent.
And Indiana basketball fans can’t stop drooling about Clark in a No. 22 Fever uniform.