The 2022 WNBA Draft wasn't super eventful for fans of Texas teams. Just three players from Texas universities were drafted, with all three coming from Baylor. Players like Joanne Allen-Taylor, Vivian Gray and Kayla Wells were projected to be in play in the second or third round, but none of them heard their names called.
Of the three who did, two — NaLyssa Smith and Queen Egbo — were drafted by the Indiana Fever, while Jordan Lewis was drafted by the Connecticut Sun.
Let's take a look at how these former Bears fit with their new teams.
NaLyssa Smith and Queen Egbo - Indiana Fever
The former Baylor teammates are now current Fever teammates.
Smith was the No. 2 overall pick, a move that wasn't remotely surprising, as Smith has been the consensus No. 2 prospect behind Rhyne Howard all season.
Looking at the Fever roster, there's a ton of playing time available in the frontcourt. Betti Hatar will start at center, but the entire 4/5 rotation beyond that is a question mark. Emma Cannon and Alanna Smith could see minutes at the four, but both could also be cut before the season. Alaina Coates could play the backup five, but could also be cut before the season. No WNBA roster is more in flux than this one.
Which should make it easy for Smith to slide in and start at the four. We'll have to see what this final roster looks like to know how the team will play, but I imagine the team will be higher than the eighth they were last year in pace based on who should make the roster. Smith and Kelsey Mitchell running the floor in transition should be fun.
And Smith brings a lot of defensive versatility. Hatar is a great talent, but the biggest thing about her is that she's tall. Hatar can anchor the paint defensively because she's the W's tallest player, which means the rest of the defenders can focus more on their individual assignments. Smith has the speed to defend out to the perimeter, and can be aggressive with Hatar in the middle to make up for any mistakes.
As for Queen Egbo, her going in the first round was a surprise, but should it have been? ESPN had her as a first round pick in their mocks at various points this year and Egbo has a lot of talent. She just has to figure out how to refine that talent.
Egbo projects to the backup five for this team, provided she can outperform Alaina Coates in training camp. That role should include some decent minutes behind Hatar. Egbo's biggest issue last season was that she would play her way off of the floor with foul trouble, leading to the Bears having to go small with a Smith and Caitlin Bickle frontcourt.
The Bears had a 28.1 net rating in the 608 minutes that Smith and Egbo shared the floor, but it was just 20.2 in the minutes where Smith played without Egbo. The two fit together well, as both have the ability to switch defensively and defend where needed. Offensively, Egbo could plant herself inside.
My concern with her in the W is about offense. I trust she can cut it defensively, but can she expand her game beyond the paint? She was 18-for-58 from the midrange this year, a number that was below average but suggests some upside. She won't be a 3-point threat like Smith could be — Smith specifically mentioned shooting more during a draft interview — but if she can make teams guard her when she steps out of the paint, that will open things up for Indiana.
In terms of chances to make the final roster, Smith is a lock. Egbo isn't a lock, but I'd be surprised if she didn't make the final team based on how the team needs frontcourt help and all of its protected contracts are in the backcourt.
Jordan Lewis - Connecticut Sun
While the path to minutes (and the roster itself) is easy to see for the two Fever picks, it's a lot more complicated for Lewis.
Lewis is a solid guard who can run an offense and shot 38.7 percent from three. She turns the ball over a little more than you want, but she was a really good collegiate lead guard.
But making the Sun roster is going to be tough, if not impossible.
Per Her Hoop Stats, it looks like the Sun will have room to carry 11 players this year because of how much money is allocated to DeWanna Bonner, Alyssa Thomas, Jonquel Jones and Jasmine Thomas.
Those four plus Brionna Jones and Courtney Williams all have protected deals and thus should be considered locks to make the team. That's six. That means the team has room for five more players. Including draftees and training camp deals,12 players are fighting for those five spots. Natisha Hiedeman, Kaila Charles, Dijonai Carrington and Beatrice Mompremier all feel like players who'll make the team, leaving one spot left. The Sun took Nia Clouden in the first round, so Lewis has to beat her out to make the roster, or hope someone like Hiedeman or Charles just shows up in camp and isn't prepared for the season.
So, Lewis probably isn't making this team. But an impressive training camp could land her a chance to play somewhere else after she's waived, as there are teams that could use a steady hand as a fourth or fifth guard.