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The Aces’ forfeit helped them land the No. 1 pick in the 2019 WNBA draft

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Las Vegas earned the No. 1 pick the 2019 draft, and that should be enough to put them in the playoff mix next season. Here’s how they got here and who they might draft.

Seattle Storm v Las Vegas Aces Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Las Vegas Aces forfeited a road game against the Washington Mystics in early August, just two weeks before the end of the regular season with a tight playoff race unfolding. Las Vegas ended up on the wrong side of that race, which in turn earned them the 2019 WNBA Draft for the third year in the row. That’s crucial for a team on the outside looking in at the playoffs.

The Aces were stuck in more than 24 hours worth of plane delays and layovers ahead of the Aug. 3 game, and ultimately decided to not show up despite eventually arriving in D.C. The team’s forfeit was the first in the league’s 23-year history.

The Aces almost made the playoffs and they can still got the top pick?

Yes! The WNBA restructured its lottery system in 2015 to prevent teams from tanking. Instead of solely ordering lottery chances by record for the current season, the new system accounts for cumulative records of the current season and the one before. So if you want to commit to the tank, you have to commit for TWO seasons.

The four teams that don’t qualify for the playoffs in the current year automatically make up the lottery, and they’re awarded the following odds:

  • Worst cumulative record: 44.2 percent chance at the No. 1 pick
  • Second-worst record : 27.6 percent chance at the No. 1 pick
  • Third-worst record: 17.8 percent chance at the No. 1 pick
  • Best record: 10.4 percent chance at the No. 1 pick

Should a team have a worse cumulative record but still make the playoffs in the current year, they won’t qualify for the lottery.

For the lottery, only the top two picks are randomly selected with those percentage odds. The No. 3 and No. 4 picks go in reverse order of cumulative record, and the rest of the first round is filled in by team record from just the current season.

What does that mean for this season?

The Fever had the best odds for the top pick followed by the Aces, Sky and Liberty.

Here’s a table to show why:

WNBA Draft Lottery 2019 Odds

Fever 15 53 0.2205882353 44.2 % odds
Fever 15 53 0.2205882353 44.2 % odds
Aces 22 46 0.3235294118 27.6 % odds
Sky 25 43 0.3676470588 17.8 % odds
Liberty 29 39 0.4264705882 10.4 % odds
Wings 31 37 0.4558823529
Dream 35 33 0.5147058824
Mercury 38 30 0.5588235294
Mystics 40 28 0.5882352941
Storm 41 27 0.6029411765
Sun 42 26 0.6176470588
Lynx 45 23 0.6617647059
Sparks 45 23 0.6617647059

Had the Aces finished with a better record than the Wings and earned a postseason spot, they’d have no chance at the No. 1 pick, guaranteeing themselves the No. 5 pick. Now, they have a chance at No. 1, and won’t draft lower than No. 4.

Why is this so important for the Aces and WNBA fans?

The Aces may have missed the postseason without the forfeit, but it’s fair to say it boosted their lottery chances. Now they’ll get the best talent available and that should be enough to push the team into serious playoff contention. That’s great for a brand new franchise in one of the country’s most popular cities.

The team boasts the Rookie of the Year and already All-Star A’ja Wilson at forward, and has a backcourt of Kayla McBride (All-Star) and Kelsey Plum (2017 No. 1 pick). Another top prospect could ignite this team among the powerhouses in a year or two and open the floodgates for fans of a new region.

Who could the Aces’ forfeit help them land in the draft?

There’s no favorite yet for the No. 1 pick in the 2019 Draft, but there’s no shortage of All-Star-quality talent.

Teaira McCowan is a 6’7 center for Mississippi State who’s known for her defensive abilities. Her offensive game isn’t there yet, but pairing her with Wilson down low would be tough.

Katie Lou Samuelson is UConn’s ace, and could be the sharpshooter Vegas needs on the wing.

Notre Dame guard Arike Ogunbowale hit the game-winner in the Final Four AND Championship game to earn a National Title. She’s ready for any stage to shine.

Kalani Brown, Baylor’s 6’7 big, might be the most polished offensive center in the draft. Pairing her with Wilson would be a nightmare defensive matchup.

Louisville’s Asia Durr was one of the best guards in the nation last year. If she can add to her game in her senior season, her name could be called No. 1 as well.

Whoever Las Vegas lands should be an immediate-impact player, and will make four lottery picks in a row. There’s no team with a brighter future than the Aces with the talent they’ve accumulated.

Buy stock in this team now!