Not every WNBA draft pick will make her team's roster. Here's why: JS

By the Associated Press

The WNBA draft is over, and superstars like No. 1 pick Caitlin Clark are on their way to a surefire professional career.

Not all 36 selections from his annual draft will have such guarantees. The competition has 144 coveted roster spots under twelve teams, and other options for professional careers in women's basketball, both in the U.S. and abroad, are few and far between.

It's a stark contrast to the men's prospects who aren't on the NBA rosters. They have more opportunities, including more overseas opportunities and playing in the G League.

The NBA also has 30 teams with up to 15 players on the regular season roster, so there are more spots available.

Why don't all WNBA draft picks make team rosters?

There's a simple reason why being one of the 36 draft picks doesn't guarantee a roster spot: most spots are filled by returning players.

Only 19 of the 2023 picks played at least one game in the WNBA last season. Since 2018, 142 of 216 draft picks (65.7%) have played in a WNBA game at some point in their career.

The high figure was 28 out of 36 conscripts in 2019.

Players have tried to land a WNBA opportunity by playing professionally overseas, but those jobs are also expensive. Brittney Griner's nine-month detention in Moscow and the war in Ukraine have led to the disappearance of dozens of potential jobs in Russia.

Will the top college stars make it in the WNBA?

Clark, the former Iowa player and NCAA leading scorer, was the first overall pick by the Indiana Fever and she will certainly get a chance. The same likely goes for Stanford's Cameron Brink (No. 2, Los Angeles) and national champion South Carolina star Kamilla Cardoso (No. 3, Chicago).

Last year, only seven of the 12 second-round picks and three of the 12 third-round picks saw any regular-season action. That suggests nothing is guaranteed for NCAA Tournament standouts like UConn's Nika Mühl (drafted No. 14, Seattle Storm) and Iowa's Kate Martin (No. 18, Las Vegas Aces).

Why does it matter?

Of course, it's disappointing for players who come so close to fulfilling their WNBA dreams only to be pushed out because of the numbers. It could also be a big deal for fans who no longer see their favorite college player on the field.

“You can be a great college player without making a WNBA roster,” ESPN WNBA analyst LaChina Robinson said last year. “You're not only competing with players currently on the roster, but also with a lot of female basketball players abroad who have honed their skills and are waiting for an opportunity to break into the WNBA.”

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AP WNBA: https://apnews.com/hub/wnba-basketball

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