WNBA: Paige Bueckers and Caitlin Clark prove draft rules must change

Paige Bueckers

Last night saw the annual WNBA draft take place.

Charli Collier was the number one pick, after being drafted to the Dallas Wings, in a process that saw 36 players sign for new teams in total.

Some other emerging stars weren’t so lucky, though. While in the NBA, the minimum eligible age to play is 19 years old, in the WNBA it’s 22. This means great college players stay in their teams for longer, even if they’re already talented enough to turn pro and play in the WNBA.

As the WNBA enters its 25th anniversary this month, however, the eligibility age is still a contested conversation, with many fans pushing for it to be overlooked moving forward.

So, for a bit of fun, GiveMeSport Women decided to take a look at the top two U22 players who could benefit from such a rule change.

Paige Bueckers

Paige Bueckers

The highly-rated star would’ve been the number 1 selection if she had been available for selection for the draft on Thursday, according to Sue Bird.

Last season, the UConn guard scored 20.0 points, 5.8 assists, and 4.9 rebounds per game while shooting 46.4 percent from beyond the arc and 52.4 percent from the field.

She was the first rookie to receive the Association press Player of the Year award, and led the Huskies to the NCAA Tournament Final Four in 2021, where they fell short to Arizona Wildcats.

Bueckers plays the game like an experienced guard, making clutch shots and rallying her squad when needed. The Big East Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year has not only shined offensively, but has improved dramatically defensively, too.

At only 19 years of age, Bueckers won't be eligible to be drafted under the current rules until at least 2023. Based on her stunning numbers, it’s easy to argue that such rules only serve to stagnate the growth of these players. Ultimately, athletes develop more rapidly when playing at the highest levels.

It’s not all negative, though: Bueckers staying in college basketball for two more seasons will at least help increase her market worth, something that will benefit her massively as soon as she turns pro.

Caitlin Clark

Caitlin Clack

This season, Clark has been the most outstanding basketball player in Iowa City. The Big Ten Freshman of the Year leads the country in points scored (26.7 points per game) and assists (7.2 per game).

Along with many fans and critics, she believes that the women players should be allowed to turn pro after their freshman year. According to ESPN's 2020 recruiting rankings, the 6-foot guard was the No. 4 prospect in the 2020 recruiting class and the No. 2 guard in the nation behind Bueckers.

Her stature, pace, and power makes her a difficult opponent for any team and will undoubtedly be a force to reckon with when she eventually does enter the WNBA.

Clark earned an All-American honor as she became the first female McDonald's All American to come from the state of Iowa since Kiah Stokes in 2011. She’s racked up other awards, too — a two-time USA basketball gold medalist, a MaxPreps high school All-American, a Naismith All-American, and a USA Today All-USA selection.

During the regular season, Clark averaged an incredible 48.7 field goal percentage and a 42 percent three-point percentage on 9.5 three-point attempts per game.

Both Bueckers and Clark have arguably had better seasons in 2020-21 than any player eligible for the draft. However, because of one rule that’s been in place since the start of the WNBA in 1997, they will have to wait patiently to show their quality on the grand stage.

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