WNBA draft 2022 grades: Indiana Fever, Atlanta Dream, Washington Mystics score highest marks

The 2022 WNBA draft will be judged a lot on how much the Indiana Fever did to improve after dominating the first round with four picks. The Fever had seven selections overall, and the players who get a roster spot will have the opportunity to be change-makers for a franchise that hasn't been in the playoffs since 2016.

With so many picks Monday, it's no surprise the Fever lead ESPN's WNBA draft grades. Indiana threw one curveball to most prognosticators in taking Stanford Cardinal guard Lexie Hull in the first round. But the Fever want players who are going to come in hungry to make a difference, and Hull has that kind of on-court personality.

While it was a busy night for some teams, the Chicago Sky were just a draft observer as the defending WNBA champions had no picks. The Minnesota Lynx and Phoenix Mercury had four selections between them, three of those in the third round, so those picks might not make much of a difference.

How did teams such as the Atlanta Dream and Las Vegas Aces, who made trades to obtain certain draft-day targets, fair Monday? Did the Washington Mystics make the right move in dealing the No. 1 pick?

General manager Lin Dunn said she wanted energetic, young players who could bring defense, and she appears to have gotten it. Hull was a surprise as the third of the Fever's four first-round picks, but Dunn clearly believes in her motor. Hull led the Cardinals in steals (78) this season.

Smith and Egbo have been teammates at Baylor for four seasons, so they bring chemistry. The always-moving Engstler is a defensive force and plays like she was made to compete for Dunn.

Even after a superb Final Four performance, Henderson went in the second round. But if she can make the roster, Henderson also plays the kind of defense the Fever are looking for. It will be hard for Williams-Holliday to nab a roster spot, but her selection is a boost to HBCUs everywhere.

The Dream are under new management and a new coaching staff, and they knew who they wanted in Howard and were willing to trade up to get her. It should energize Howard to know how much the Dream believed in her to do that.

It's a big legacy to carry to be the No. 1 selection, and Howard has the ability to fill that role. New Dream coach Tanisha Wright was very respected for her leadership and defense as a WNBA player, and she should be a great mentor for Howard.

As terrific a player as Hillmon was in college, her selection in the second round confirms WNBA teams have concerns about her size and shooting range. What they can't fully measure is her heart and maturity -- and both are off the charts. Those qualities should help her get a roster spot and prove she can keep adding to her game.