Apr 15, 2024; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Nika Muhl poses with WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert after she is selected with the number fourteen overall pick to the Seattle Storm in the 2024 WNBA Draft at Brooklyn Academy of Music. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Over 2.5 million viewers tuned in to watch the 2024 WNBA Draft. It’s the most-watched draft in league history and with good reason. Caitlin Clark’s stellar and record-breaking college career was the prelude. Her selection as the No. 1 overall pick by the Indiana Fever served as the interlude. Now, we get to see her put on a show at the pro level. 

Clark isn’t the only draftee that has built up anticipation for the 2024 WNBA Season. Cameron Brink (Stanford) went No. 2 overall to the Los Angeles Sparks, Kamilla Cardoso (South Carolina) landed with the Chicago Sky at No. 3, and Rickea Jackson (Tennessee) joined Brink on the Sparks at No. 4. LSU standout Angel Reese was scooped up by the Sky at No. 7. 

There’s plenty of talented rookies headed into the league. But here’s the thing. Not everyone is going to make a roster. Those new to the WNBA who plan on following their college fav to the pros might want to temper their expectations just a smidge. Outside of players taken in the Top 10, it’s incredibly difficult to make a WNBA roster. 

Clark, Brink, Cardoso, Jackson, Jacy Sheldon (drafted by the Dallas Wings at No. 5), Aaliyah Edwards (drafted by the Washington Mystics at No. 6) and Reese are all locks. So is Alissa Pili (Utah), who was taken by the Minnesota Lynx at No. 8. But players taken in the second and third rounds are not guaranteed a spot. 

“People don’t look closely enough at salary cap,” longtime analyst and former WNBA player Rebecca Lobo said in a text when asked about late round picks’ chances. “I’d rather be drafted by Phoenix in the third round than in New York or Connecticut in the second.”

WNBA training camp began on April 28th. The competition across every roster is going to be fierce. Before the inevitable cuts start coming, here’s who has the best shot of making a roster based on team needs, cap space and potential.

Brynna Maxwell, Chicago Sky, Pick No. 13

The first pick of the second round belonged to Chicago. And after getting a talented frontcourt tandem in Cardoso and Reese, they decided to round out their draft with some solid shooting. Maxwell shot 42.7 percent from three in her college career, and hitting threes is coveted at the next level. With all the changes in the Sky’s organization over the past year, a revamped roster with some fresh faces is the beginning of a new era. With open roster spots for three or four players, Maxwell has a decent shot of being one of those new faces.

Nika Mühl, Seattle Storm, Pick No. 14

Mühl’s defensive performance on Clark in the Final Four was a thing of beauty. Although Clark notched 21 points, she wasn’t ever able to really settle into a shooting rhythm. Mühl’s draft stock rose as a result. Seattle’s big moves in free agency gave them a new Big 3, featuring Skylar Diggins-Smith, Nneka Ogwumike and Jewell Loyd. They have a solid frontcourt in place. There are a handful of young and veteran guards in training camp and two or three available spots. But Mühl’s defensive prowess and passing ability could give her the edge.

Celeste Taylor, Indiana Fever, Pick No. 15

Taylor would be a lock on another roster with more available spots. But with Indiana, the numbers come into play. Realistically, one or two spots are available and Clark is already a lock. Taylor’s five years of experience in college, across multiple teams, and her defensive ability gives her a solid shot.  Fever head coach Christie Sides is big on defense. That alone could work in Taylor’s favor.

Dyaisha Fair, Las Vegas Aces, Pick No. 16

Las Vegas currently have 18 players on their roster. Based on salary cap, the Aces have room for two or three more players, depending on who they decide to keep. Lobo said during the live broadcast of the draft that Becky Hammon loved Fair’s game and ability, and was going to draft her if Fair was still available. She was. That’s the first key. The second key is the Aces lack of point guard depth. Fair would have an opportunity to learn and grow, while getting advantageous minutes right away behind Chelsea Gray. The fit couldn’t be better. 

Charisma Osborne, Phoenix Mercury, Pick No. 25

Osborne stayed at UCLA for an additional year to hone focus on developing her game for the next level. The extra time and season may have worked out well in her favor. With Diana Taurasi at the (very) tail end of her career, Phoenix has a win-now mentality. But they also need to plan for the future. Bringing in some young and talented guards is part of that plan. With four rookie guards invited to training camp (and a handful of vets) the competition is stiff. The upside? Phoenix has ample cap space and five or six roster spots to fill comfortably. 

With only 12 teams and (roughly) 144 spots, most of which are already occupied by veterans, superstars and previous recent draft picks, some potential rookies are going to see their WNBA dreams end before they even begin. It’s an unfortunate consequence of a small league with limited roster space and a tight salary cap. 

Thankfully, expansion is on the horizon.

About Lyndsey D'Arcangelo

Lyndsey D’Arcangelo is a seasoned sports writer, author and women’s sports advocate. She previously wrote about women’s basketball for The Athletic and is the co-author of Hail Mary: The Rise and Fall of the National Women’s Football League.