The History of the WNBA Draft Lottery

PALMETTO, FLORIDA - JULY 29: Sabrina Ionescu #20 of the New York Liberty dribbles up the court during the second half of a game against the Dallas Wings at Feld Entertainment Center on July 29, 2020 in Palmetto, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
(Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

For the second-consecutive year, the New York Liberty earned the No. 1 draft pick in this year’s 2021 WNBA Draft. In 2020, the Liberty used their coveted pick to draft top-guard and online betting favorite, Sabrina Ionescu.

The WNBA Draft Lottery has been held annually since 2002. The four teams who did not make the previous year’s playoffs participate in the lottery to determine the first four picks of the up-and-coming draft. Lottery odds are based on combined records for the previous two regular seasons. The remaining draft order is determined by inverse order of the teams’ regular-season record of the previous year. 

This year’s Draft Lottery was held on December 4, 2020, with the New York Liberty, Atlanta Dream, Dallas Wings, and Indiana Fever all participating. The New York Liberty look to reload and work their way to the top of the league standings and basketball odds behind a pair of top picks.

Below is a recap of all of the No. 1 picks since the Draft Lottery has been in place.

2002Sue BirdSeattle Storm
2003LaToya ThomasCleveland Rockers
2004Diana TaurasiPhoenix Mercury
2005Janel McCarvilleCharlotte Sting
2006Seimone AugustusMinnesota Lynx
2007Lindsey HardingPhoenix Mercury
2008Candace ParkerLos Angeles Sparks
2009Angel McCoughtryAtlanta Dream
2010Tina CharlesConnecticut Sun
2011Maya MooreMinnesota Lynx
2012Nneka OgwumikeLos Angeles Sparks
2013Brittney GrinerPhoenix Mercury
2014Chiney OgwumikeConnecticut Sun
2015Jewell LoydSeattle Storm
2016Breanna StewartSeattle Storm
2017Kelsey PlumSan Antonio Stars
2018A’ja WilsonLas Vegas Aces
2019Jackie YoungLas Vegas Aces
2020Sabrina IonescuNew York Liberty
2021???New York Liberty

This year’s WNBA Draft is currently scheduled for April 16, 2021.

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Rachel Galligan is a basketball analyst at BetMGM, HERO Sports, and Winsidr, focusing on college hoops and the WNBA. She’s a former D1 standout at Eastern Illinois University, a three-time Hall of Famer, professional basketball player, and collegiate coach. Rachel also has served as a color analyst for ESPN, OVC Sports Network, and Mountain West Network.