WNBA: What’s the ceiling for the Curt Miller-led Los Angeles Sparks?
It’s a brand new day in Los Angeles with Curt Miller because the Sparks’ new head coach and Karen Bryant as normal supervisor. The imaginative and prescient and supreme objective have been established since their opening press convention.
“Clearly we wanna win. This can be a championship franchise,” Bryant stated. “There’s a legacy right here. Curt and I and everyone related to this group acknowledges the expectations and aspirations for the L.A. Sparks, that’s crystal clear.”
In each interview, press convention and media availability, Miller has made it clear the objective is to construct one thing that’s sustainable; it’s not nearly going for a title this yr.
“We’re not placing a timeline on how briskly and the way good we could be, however we received’t reduce corners to do it,” Curt stated throughout his first presser because the Sparks head coach. “We’re gonna do it with nice folks and we’re gonna do it the fitting manner.”
However what’s going to the group truly appear like this season?
Effectively, with the roster nonetheless not solidified, the again half of the lineup remains to be very a lot in query. However the high of the roster isn’t. We all know Chiney Ogwumike, Nneka Ogwumike, Lexie Brown, Dearica Hamby, Azurá Stevens and Jasmine Thomas will all be integral to the Sparks’ success.
On the subject of the beginning lineup, my guess is each Ogwumike sisters will begin, as will Brown, Jordin Canada and Hamby, if she is prepared for that form of workload coming off her being pregnant. This lineup is an effective mixture of the very best elements of final yr’s group and a few new additions.
The swing gamers
Sure gamers on the depth chart would be the deciding issue on how far this group will go. You already know the play you’ll get from Chiney and Nneka, but when a number of rotation gamers take a leap, that may increase the ceiling of this group from preventing for a playoff spot to probably changing into a High 4 group. Listed here are the gamers I feel can have the largest influence on this season’s success.
If a number of gamers have a stand-out season, the Sparks ought to see themselves within the playoffs in 2023. Lexie Brown is one participant I’m to make a bounce. She had a profession yr averaging 7.1 factors and a pair of.3 rebounds in her 25 minutes of play, and for the second time in her WNBA profession, she is on the identical group for consecutive seasons. That stability, alongside along with her 3-point taking pictures and a coach she has expertise with from her days in Connecticut, may create an ideal state of affairs for Brown to blossom in 2023.
It’s arduous to not like Stevens. Her exuberant character is infectious and her smile is so vivid and contagious solely Magic Johnson can rival it. On the courtroom, Stevens has at all times been a great rotation participant. She’s averaged 9 factors and 4.4 rebounds in her 5 seasons within the W, discovering essentially the most success along with her earlier group, the Chicago Sky, with whom she averaged double-digit factors and received a championship in 2021.
I’m optimistic that Miller can unlock the very best model of Stevens, making her a flexible participant who can play inside and stretch the ground a bit, growing her 3-point makes an attempt and mid-range photographs. If she will have a profession yr, it may make the Sparks’ frontcourt among the best within the league.
Dearica Hamby has gone by way of rather a lot, from allegations that she was bullied throughout her being pregnant when she was a member of the Las Vegas Aces to being traded to Los Angeles to now having to get her physique into basketball form only a few months after giving start.
When she’s going to play and the way near the Hamby we’ve all seen in Vegas she’ll be stays to be seen, however when Crystal Bradford was requested at follow who stunned her essentially the most throughout coaching camp her reply was speedy.
“Dearica. Eight weeks later … That child is eight weeks, that child’s eyes are simply open and he or she is out right here working. She’s working sensible. She’s working arduous, however she’s working sensible. She’s not overdoing something; she’s trusting her physique. You’ll be able to inform she’s a sensible participant.”
Regardless of Miller’s insistence that it is a long-term plan, folks wish to know the way good the Sparks can be this yr.
I feel it’s truthful to count on this historic franchise to at the very least make the playoffs. They stored the very best elements from final yr’s group, added higher gamers to the roster and introduced in an outstanding coach. Even with the tempered expectations, that is the very best group on paper the Sparks have had since 2019. We’ll begin to perceive how good they are going to be in 2023 subsequent Friday once they begin the season at residence in opposition to the Phoenix Mercury.