WNBA: Ogunbowale, Sabally hoping to lead Dallas Wings to improvement

For years, the Dallas Wings were a reconstructing franchise, obtaining a healthy quantity of draft capital and instilling their lineup with young gamers who the group hoped would ultimately end up being a cohesive group and lead the franchise to postseason success it had actually not seen because transferring to Dallas in 2016.

Viewed through that lens, the majority of would think about the Wings’ 2021 season an action in the ideal instructions. In its very first season under head coach Vickie Johnson, Dallas went 14-18 and made the playoffs for the very first time because 2018, dropping its opening-round match to the ultimate champ Chicago Sky. The group’s seasonal leading scorer, Arike Ogunbowale, was then provided a significant agreement extension, while the acquisition of 6-foot-7 center Teaira McCowan summarized a short-but-sweet Wings offseason.

In extending Ogunbowale and making simply one modification to their lineup to this point (Bella Alarie will not dress for Dallas in 2022 for individual factors, so McCowan is basically taking her area), the Wings are making it clear that they think in the gamers they have and they anticipate 2022 to be a year of development.

It’s certainly not an unreasonable expectation. Ogunbowale and college colleague Marina Mabrey have actually reunited to form a sweet-shooting duo in Dallas that’s amongst the very best WNBA backcourts at scoring the basketball. Multi-talented forward Satou Sabally continues to exude with prospective on both ends of the court, looking every bit the future star the Wings expected her to be when they prepared her in 2020. Veterans Isabelle Harrison, Allisha Gray and Kayla Thornton all fill important functions, too, with Harrison in specific playing the very best basketball of her WNBA profession last season. It’s a strong core of gamers, and it needs to in theory have the Wings back in the hunt for a playoff look in 2022.

There’s a plain distinction in between a playoff group and a champion competitor, however, and while the young Wings ought to continue to enhance, they still have a long method to precede they’re going to complete for a WNBA title. Dallas might have doubled down on its lineup heading into 2022, however the theoretical internal enhancement anticipated of young gamers doesn’t constantly go precisely as prepared, and the Wings still have some concerns to respond to about those gamers if they’re going to take another advance.

Rotation unpredictability

One thing that the Wings have opting for them is great depth, especially in their frontcourt. As the majority of their gamers will still be on their rookie-scale agreements in 2022 (Her Hoop Stats), Dallas has actually briefly prevented the wage cap crunch that has actually impacted most other WNBA groups, making the Wings among simply a couple of groups in the league that can presently bring a complete 12-player lineup.

That doesn’t suggest all 12 of those gamers require to be full-time factors, however. In 2021, Johnson fielded a plethora of lineups, offering each of her unskilled centers a handful of minutes occasionally however apparently losing persistence with each of them. Last year’s No. 1 total draft choice Charli Collier’s novice season was identified by extremely fluctuant playing time; both she and Alarie, no matter who began video games, frequently got a fast hook from Johnson, and neither balanced more than 14 minutes played per video game. No. 2 total choice Awak Kuier, while visibly raw at 19 years of ages, didn’t fare any much better, playing simply 8.9 minutes per contest.

With McCowan now on board, the future of the Wings’ 2021 draftees looks even murkier. The previous Fever hasn’t been excessive of a workhorse herself, however she definitely brings a type of specified skillset yet to be displayed by either Collier or Kuier. Harrison, on the other hand, has actually made herself a constant area in Johnson’s rotation; she played 23.8 minutes per video game off the bench in 2021 and, if Dallas is attempting to reach its competitive window as quickly as possible, she’d most likely be a much better prospect to support McCowan than any other Wings child.

The Wings revealed fantastic faith in Charli Collier when they prepared her at No. 1 in general, however that trust didn’t appear to equate to video games.
Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images

Further making complex things is one indisputable truth: Sabally requires to play as much as she can. A 6-foot-4 forward who slides throughout the court with simple and easy athleticism, Sabally has possibly the greatest ceiling of any Wing, and if she’s going to reach it, Dallas need to use her in manner ins which finest make the most of her positional adaptability — even if it comes at the expenditure of gamers who the Wings invested substantial draft capital in simply one year earlier. While she’s plenty knowledgeable adequate to play little forward, Sabally’s skills are best utilized in the frontcourt, which would bump her ahead of any other Wings huge depending upon the scenario.

There’s a comparable logjam in the Wings’ backcourt, too. Dallas chosen point player Veronica Burton with the No. 7 choice in the 2022 WNBA Draft, and on the surface area, she fits right in: The group did not have a point-of-attack protector last season, which is a function the three-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year will have no issue playing.

But whose area will Burton take? In 2021, the Wings’ point player minutes were divided practically equally in between Moriah Jefferson (17.2) and Tyasha Harris (16.3), with combination guard Mabrey taking in the rest. One would presume that in preparing Burton, the Wings intend on ultimately letting among Jefferson or Harris go, however we have no sign of which one they’ll pick.

To be clear, there are even worse issues for a WNBA group to have than requiring to reduce its rotation. It’s something the Wings will require to determine, however, on their method to turning into one of the league’s leading groups. While young stars like Ogunbowale and Sabally are currently developed and will be the faces of the Dallas franchise for many years to come, the Wings still require to identify which gamers finest enhance them. The Wings’ rotation for 2022 is something to keep a close eye on, and how it cleans might identify the group’s hierarchy in the near and long run.

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