WNBA Offseason: Indiana Fever should hope to get Aliyah Boston in draft

With the WNBA Finals and World Cup over, it’s time to have a look back at what each WNBA group did this season and forward at what their offseason objectives must be. Going from worst to best, we start with the Indiana Fever:


Fever analytical rankings (per video game)

  • 12th net score (-13.7)
  • 12th scoring (78)
  • 12th offending score (96.6)
  • 12th scoring defense (89.1)
  • 12th protective score (110.3)
  • 12th basket portion (40.9)
  • 12th basket portion defense (47.4)
  • 10th 3-pointers made (6.8)
  • 9th 3-point portion (33.8)
  • fourth 3-pointers permitted (7.1)
  • fifth 3-point portion defense (33.9)
  • fifth totally free toss efforts per video game (19.4)
  • fifth individual fouls drawn (18)
  • 12th totally free toss portion (74.6)
  • 12th individual fouls (20)
  • 12th challengers totally free toss efforts (21.2)
  • second offending rebounds (9.8)
  • 10th offending rebounds permitted (8.8)
  • 11th protective rebounds (23.5)
  • 9th protective rebounds permitted (27)
  • 10th overall rebounds (33.3)
  • 9th overall rebounds permitted (35.8)
  • 11th TOVs (15.1)
  • 12th challengers takes (8.6)
  • fourth TOVs required (14.3)
  • 9th takes (7.2)
  • 9th blocks (3.6)
  • 10th challengers blocks (4.2)
  • 11th helps (18)
  • 12th helps permitted (21.7)

Analysis of analytical rankings/offseason objectives

The woeful Fever were dead last in what are most likely the 3 essential classifications: net score, basket portion and basket portion defense. That isn’t too unexpected considering they were 8 video games behind the next-worst group in the standings and those classifications are straight associated with winning and losing along with the offending and protective skills of your gamers.

But they shouldn’t always have actually been last in totally free toss portion and individual fouls dedicated. Less gifted offending playmakers doesn’t mean worse free throw shooters. The Fever being last in that was just piling on the woefulness. And not committing fouls is about defensive discipline. Like with free throws, you should be able to clean that up even if you don’t have the most talented players in the league.

NaLyssa Smith attempted the most free throws on the team and for some reason shot just 61.8 percent despite shooting 79.5 percent her senior year at Baylor. So that really dragged the team’s percentage down and probably won’t happen again.

Meanwhile, the Fever were actually really good in a few categories. Their best category was offensive rebounding, in which they were second with 9.8 o-boards per game. Smith redeemed herself for the free throw shooting with 2.2 of those. Emily Engstler added 2.1 and Queen Egbo added 1.8.

Indiana was also fifth in the league in 3-point percentage defense, which is an important category even if the team’s success there highlights just how far behind it was in 2-point percentage defense.

The other two areas of strength for the Fever could be related. They were fourth in turnovers forced and fifth in both personal fouls drawn and free throws attempted. That sounds like a team that is aggressive on both ends of the floor.

Smith attempted 123 free throws; Indiana’s best player in Kelsey Mitchell — a shooting guard who likes to drive and absorb contact — attempted 122. Egbo, an All-Rookie Team honoree, was third with 76 attempts. The Fever have to like their starting frontcourt in Smith and Egbo being difficult to handle and K. Mitchell continuing to be aggressive is something they want too. So their goal should be to keep that stuff up and maintain success in all the categories they’re already good at.

As far as shooting better, putting more points on the board and playing better all-around defense, it’s going to take the addition of some special players. Personnel is what we’ll look at next.

The Fever’s team stats may not have been great, but Kelsey Mitchell averaged 18.4 points and 4.2 assists.

Under contract for 2023*

  • Kelsey Mitchell (protected)
  • Danielle Robinson (protected)
  • NaLyssa Smith
  • Emily Engstler
  • Lexie Hull
  • Queen Egbo
  • Destanni Henderson
  • Florencia Chagas

Unrestricted free agents*

Restricted free agents*

  • Victoria Vivians
  • Emma Cannon

Reserved*

  • Khayla Pointer
  • Rennia Davis

Suspended-Contract expired*

  • Bernadett Határ
  • Chelsey Perry

Draft picks

Either 1, 2, 3 or 4 from lottery; 7; 13; 17; 25

Analysis of players/offseason goals

The Fever really only have two major-impact players: K. Mitchell and Smith. K. Mitchell has given her heart and soul to the organization in spite of the lack of success it has had and it would be wise to keep her around. She’s 26 years old and just had the best season of her career. Keeping her and Smith won’t be an issue this upcoming season as both are under contract.

As has been talked about ad nauseam, Indiana could really benefit from getting the No. 1 pick in the draft and taking Aliyah Boston out of South Carolina. Boston is probably stronger at defending than anything else, but is also a phenomenal inside scorer. She also has more of a college 3-point shot than A’ja Wilson had and we saw how that turned out positively with Wilson and how it turns out positively with so many bigs as their careers develop. Many feel she could be a generational talent.

The Fever can’t control the lottery though, so they should also look to free agency, where they have been woeful in recent years. Last offseason, I said they should shoot for the stars, but it’s hard to blame them when they’re a few pieces away from anyone wanting to come.

It was odd to see Tiffany Mitchell’s usage plummet this past season. She’s a good player, but the Fever might not see her, an unrestricted free agent, as part of the future and of course some things have to change when you’re as bad as they are.

Victoria Vivians, a restricted free agent, averaged a career-best 9.8 points per game, but shot 28 percent from three as opposed to her 39.9 percent clip in her rookie campaign of 2018. She’s another player on the Fever who is solid but does not get you too excited when it comes to turning things around.

Emma Cannon was on three different teams in 2021, but seems to have done pretty well in Indiana versus other places. But at the end of the day she’s less likely to be an impact player than T. Mitchell and Vivians.

Long story short, the Fever’s two stars are under contract and free agents aren’t likely going to want to come. So the goal is really Aliyah Boston. While looking for other players in free agency or the draft, the Fever should look for another explosive scorer like K. Mitchell, maybe out of the 3 spot because K. Mitchell is a 2. Egbo was a pleasant surprise as a rookie and Danielle Robinson is solid, but you could upgrade at center or point guard too, with Boston being the ideal center.

Before they do anything, though, the Fever need to find a new head coach. They didn’t give Marianne Stanley (2-7 in 2022) much of a chance and Carlos Knox only fared even worse (3-24).

NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament - National Championship

Aliyah Boston
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images


*Per Her Hoop Stats

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