Following the conclusion of Season One for Major League Pickleball (MLP) with the recent Super Finals, the world of pickleball is hyped to jump right back in for more. This Wednesday, Season Two of MLP kicks off with its player draft, where the league’s 24 Premier and Challenger Level teams will be setting their 4-player rosters.
There’s still a lot to process from Season One, and pro pickleball fans are still getting acclimated to the exciting new team-play format. Plus, this is a big year for the MLP, as the total results from both seasons will be instrumental in setting up the league for 2024.
For Season Two, Premier Level teams will now be shifted down to the Challenger Level, and vice versa. This gives last season’s Challenger Level team owners a chance to work with the MLP’s top pro players for Season Two, allowing them to experience leading a team at the sport’s highest level of play.
The top 12 teams, based on total event points earned in 2023, will be permanently set in the Premier Level for 2024, which will position them for the best sponsorship and partnership opportunities in pro pickleball. These organizations have a lot on the line in Season Two, making this the most important MLP draft to date.
Hosted by CityPickle at the famous NYC Wollman Rink pickleball courts, the live draft event will start with the Premier Level Draft, running from 9 am – 11 am ET, and will then be followed by the Challenger Level Draft from 12:30 pm ET – 2:30 pm ET. The MLP will be live tweeting the results and updating their website’s blog in real time with player picks and team analysis.
So, who’s going to be drafted first? Let’s take a look at who we think will be drafted in Round One of the MLP Season Two Draft.
- Chicago Slice – Ben Johns
- Utah Black Diamonds – Anna Leigh Waters
- Orlando Squeeze – Riley Newman
- Brooklyn Aces – Catherine Parenteau
- D.C. Pickleball Team – JW Johnson
- Columbus Pickleball Club – Dylan Frazier
- AZ Drive – Anna Bright
- Texas Ranchers – Tyson McGuffin
- Dallas Pickleball Club – Andrei Daescu
- Atlanta Bouncers – Parris Todd
- Bay Area Breakers – Julian Arnold
- Miami Pickleball Club – Etta Wright
We chose our top 12 players based on how the athletes have been performing in not just the MLP but also on how they’ve been performing in other pro-level tournaments. In between each of the three regular-season MLP events, players are also touring full-time with the PPA and APP.
Until we see the MLP reach a point where it can support a full season-long schedule with tournaments nearly every week (we think this will 100% be the case in the next few years), pro players are also reliant on other pro events. DUPR ratings and tour rankings are a good rule of thumb for analyzing how the pros compare, and it’s good to consider all current factors within their career when analyzing a player’s value to the MLP.
Our Mock Draft Breakdown
Leading the pack, to no one’s surprise, are Ben Johns and Anna Leigh Waters. They have consistently been the top two pro players in the world, dominating the PPA and leading two of the most successful MLP Premier Level teams in Season One this year. It’s hard to imagine them not going at the first and second picks, but they will undoubtedly be selected in round one, no matter what.
The third and fourth picks are neck-and-neck for us: Riley Newman and Catherine Parenteau. Both of these players are top-tier doubles players in their own right. Parenteau helped lead the Bay Area Breakers to win it all in the Season One Super Finals, and Newman has been locked in with men’s doubles with his recent new partner announcements.
At five and six, we’ve got the dynamic duo of JW Johnson and Dylan Frazier. These two are fan favorites in men’s doubles in the PPA this year and have also proven their strengths as team leaders in the MLP. As much as we love to see them be on the same side of the court, it’ll be equally fun to see them face off in the Premier Level.
We’ve got Season One New York Hustlers alumni Tyson McGuffin and Anna Bright for the seventh and eighth picks. Both are household names in the pro pickleball world, earning multiple podium finishes on the PPA Tour this year, and there’s no doubt that team owners have them at the top of their lists.
The APP superstars Andrei Daescu and Parris Todd are our ninth and tenth picks. Both players have been unstoppable this year: Daescu with ten gold medals and Todd with twelve. We are excited to see how their continued success in the APP translates to MLP Season Two.
The final two picks, Julian Arnold and Etta Wright, exemplify precisely what it means to save the best for last. Not only did both of these players prove their leadership to their teams in Season One, but both of them managed to make it all the way to the Season One Super Finals. There isn’t a doubt in our minds that they will be instrumental to their new teams in Season Two.
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