Fantasy women’s basketball: Can Aliyah Boston lead the Fever as a rookie?
The Fever had a challenging season in 2022, only managing to win five games, but that led them to the top pick in the 2023 WNBA draft. Impressively, the team has accumulated a total of six first-round picks during the past three years.
While Indiana faced difficulties across the board last season, finishing last in both offensive and defensive ratings, there were indeed bright spots for the Fever.
Kelsey Mitchell played a significant role for the Fever, and as she enters her sixth season with Indiana, she is surrounded by a promising young team. Among them is NaLyssa Smith, who proved herself in her rookie season, starting 32 games. The roster also boasts several rookies, including the No. 1 overall pick Aliyah Boston. Interestingly, the team only has two players with more than five years of WNBA experience — Mitchell and the offseason addition, Erica Wheeler.
As one of the youngest teams in the league, the Fever are focused on building through the draft and aiming to reclaim their relevance after a six-season absence from the WNBA playoffs. Indiana’s general manager Lin Dunn, who has been involved in women’s basketball since 1970 and even secured a WNBA championship in 2012 as the head coach of the Fever, hired Christie Sides as their new coach last November.
Now, let’s turn our attention to the roster and explore three fantasy-relevant players worth considering in drafts.
What to watch
Leading the team both in experience and accolades, 27-year-old Mitchell stands out as the longest-tenured member of the Fever. Fresh off a remarkable season where she averaged a career-high of 18.4 points per game, Mitchell also finished as a top-25 fantasy player overall and a top-20 option on a per game basis. If you’re seeking a guard in Round 3 of your fantasy drafts, Mitchell is an excellent target worth considering.
Smith proved herself as a force to be reckoned with among rookies, trailing only Rhyne Howard in scoring with an impressive 13.5 points per game. Not stopping there, she also dominated the boards, leading all rookies with 7.9 rebounds per game. It’s worth noting that A’ja Wilson, Breanna Stewart and Candace Parker were among those who averaged at least 13 points and seven rebounds last season. It’s safe to say that Smith is in excellent company, indicating the bright future that lies ahead for her in the WNBA.
Boston is a truly WNBA-ready player, poised to make a significant impact by playing substantial minutes this season. Teaming up with Smith, they form a dynamic frontcourt duo that is set to thrive. Boston’s abilities shine on both ends of the floor, demonstrating exceptional hands and footwork. Her scoring prowess allows her to finish effectively near the basket and create her own shots.
Moreover, Boston’s defensive skills have made her the nation’s standout talent over the last two consecutive seasons. Just as Rhyne Howard made an immediate fantasy impact as the No. 1 pick in the 2022 WNBA Draft, Boston is primed to have a similar impact. For those seeking a forward/center with upside, Boston is a talented player to strongly consider in Round 5 or Round 6 of your drafts.
Fever team profile
2022 record: 5-31
Coach: Christie Sides
Additions: Aliyah Boston, Erica Wheeler
Losses: Danielle Robinson, Tiffany Mitchell
2022 Offensive efficiency: 96.6 (12th)
2022 Defensive efficiency: 110.3 (12th)
2022 Pace: 80.2 (2nd)
What to expect in 2023: While the Fever may not be labeled a playoff team just yet, Indiana should be competitive in most games. Keep a keen eye on the electrifying duo of Smith and Mitchell, as they have the potential to attain All-Star status this season. And with the addition of Boston, the Fever could actually have a formidable big three. When a team showcases three legitimate stars, they become a force to be reckoned with against any opponent.