The Indiana Fever have a lot of cash and a trove of draft picks in 2021. With just four open roster spots, how are the Fever going to build their team?
The Indiana Fever suffered a fourth-straight season without a trip to the playoffs in their first season with Marianne Stanley at the helm. The Fever are the second-youngest team in the league with an average age of 24 years.
The Fever have some bright, young talent in the form of Kelsey Mitchell, Victoria Vivians, Julie Allemand, and Teaira McCowan. Allemand was a 2016 third round draft pick of the Fever and joined the team in 2020 after playing overseas since 2014.
Indiana has a lot of flexibility heading into free agency. But with four free agents and six draft picks, it has some decisions to make as well.
By the numbers*
2021 Free Agents (type) (salary)
- Candice Dupree (Unrestricted) ($117,500)
- Jantel Lavender (Unrestricted) ($114,000)
- Natalie Achonwa (Unrestricted) ($106,000)
- Erica Wheeler (Unrestricted) ($80,000)
- Total salary of free agents: $417,500
- Total team salary (not including above players): $592,555
- Cap space: $746,445
Candice Dupree is entering her 16th season and has started 153 games in four years with the Fever. As an unrestricted free agent, Dupree may look to join a team that is eyeing a championship run. From Indiana’s perspective, Dupree has been a fan favorite and a solid, albeit diminishing, contributor throughout her time with the club.
Jantel Lavender was traded from Chicago to Indiana near the end of the 2020 season, a season that Lavender missed as she recovered from foot surgery. Lavender has been used as a bench player for most of her career but started 22 games in 2019 with the Sky, averaging 10 points and 4.9 rebounds. If the Fever let Lavender walk, they will still have the second and third round picks that they received as a part of the trade.
Natalie Achonwa has spent her entire six year career with the Fever. Achonwa started every game in 2018 but has been a second team player over the last two seasons, playing around 20 minutes per game and starting when needed. Achonwa has been a solid contributor so expect her to be back with the club.
Erica Wheeler, the 2019 WNBA All-Star Game MVP, missed all of 2020 due to a positive COVID-19 test that kept her out of the bubble. Wheeler has been a solid point guard for the Fever and it would be surprising to not see her in a Fever uniform in 2021.
Money is not the problem for the Fever. However, eight of their 12 roster spots are occupied with four free agents and six draft picks in the 2021 WNBA Draft, including the No. 4 overall pick. There are a few scenarios that could play out, but it is likely that the Fever re-sign two of their free agents, draft a player for today in the first round, draft a few internationals for the future, and maybe make a trade or two with their current roster and some of their draft picks.