Like the New York Liberty, the Dallas Wings are an exciting, up-and-coming team in the midst of a rebuild. The Wings parted ways with four-time WNBA All-Star Skylar Diggins-Smith in the trade with the Phoenix Mercury. The franchise didn’t qualify for the postseason last year by finishing tied for the second worse record in the league at 10–24. Dallas also had the slowest pace (74.0) and worst offensive rating (96.7) in the WNBA last season.
The Wings drafted three first-round picks in the 2020 WNBA draft that may help the team instantly. Satou Sabally from the Oregon Ducks was selected as the No. 2 overall pick behind former teammate Sabrina Ionescu; Bella Alarie out of Princeton was the No. 5 pick; and out of South Carolina, Tyasha Harris was picked at seventh overall.
KEY PLAYERS TO WATCH
Arike Ogunbowale: The second-year guard was her team’s best offensive weapon in her rookie campaign. She led the team in both points (19.1) and assists (3.2) during the season. Ogunbowale finished third in scoring in the entire league as a rookie, was the Rookie of the Year runner-up, and made the All-Rookie team.
While Diggins-Smith sat out the 2019 season while on maternity leave, a lot of pressure was put on Ogunbowale. She had to learn on the fly and was put in the role of team leader. Now, as the face of the franchise, the Notre Dame alum can thrive off-ball and not have to be relied upon as the primary ball-handler.
Satou Sabally: The 6’4 forward averaged 16.2 points and 6.9 rebounds this past season for the Oregon Ducks while shooting 46.4 percent from the field and 33.8 percent from three.
The second overall pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft has the height, skill-set, and speed that will make her formidable for years to come. With her quickness, she has the ability to take advantage of slower defenders. Last season, Isabelle Harrison posted the team’s best rebounding numbers at 5.8 per game, and Sabally will help the Wings in that area significantly.
Dallas still is a growing team that made improvements ahead of the upcoming season. The Wings added depth and length that was lacking last year. Conventional wisdom would assume youth and inexperience will prevent them from a playoff push; however, this team may be a dark horse. Ogunbowale should have a great season since she will have fewer responsibilities as the primary ball-handler and will be able to get back to her natural position as the two-guard.
Harris, the Dawn Staley Award winner (awarded yearly to the nation’s top guard), is a true point guard with excellent play-making abilities that would be excellent while sharing the floor with Ogunbowale. Last season, Ogunbowale lead the team in assists, and Harris should help bring that number up significantly.
Harris ranked 12th in the nation and first in the SEC with 5.7 assists per game to go along with her 12 points per game. In addition to being a great facilitator, the rookie guard is also a solid shooter with 42.6 percent field goal shooting, including 38.4 percent from three-point range.
BIGGEST ON-COURT QUESTION
Will this team live up to its potential? The team is guard-heavy and has viable three-point shooters who can space the floor. Will inexperience hurt them when it matters most? Will Ogunbowale and Sabally be a great one-two punch? Time will tell if Agler can bring out the best in his young squad.