It’s a brand new day in Los Angeles with Curt Miller because the Sparks’ new head coach and Karen Bryant as basic supervisor. The imaginative and prescient and supreme purpose have been established since their opening press convention.
“Clearly we wanna win. It is a championship franchise,” Bryant mentioned. “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 purpose 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 will be, however we received’t minimize corners to do it,” Curt mentioned throughout his first presser because the Sparks head coach. “We’re gonna do it with nice folks and we’re gonna do it the correct means.”
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.
In relation to the beginning lineup, my guess is each Ogwumike sisters will begin, as will Brown, Jordin Canada and Hamby, if she is prepared for that sort of workload coming off her being pregnant. This lineup is an effective mixture of one of the best components 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 just a few rotation gamers take a leap, that can elevate the ceiling of this group from preventing for a playoff spot to probably changing into a Prime 4 group. Listed below are the gamers I feel can have the largest affect on this season’s success.
If just a few 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 leap. She had a profession yr averaging 7.1 factors and a couple 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 capturing and a coach she has expertise with from her days in Connecticut, might create an ideal scenario 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 an excellent 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 one of the 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 pictures. If she will have a profession yr, it might make the Sparks’ frontcourt among the finest within the league.
Dearica Hamby has gone by loads, 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 delivery.
When she is 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 observe who shocked her essentially the most throughout coaching camp her reply was fast.
“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 good. She’s working arduous, however she’s working good. She’s not overdoing something; she’s trusting her physique. You possibly can inform she’s a wise participant.”
Regardless of Miller’s insistence that it is a long-term plan, folks wish to know the way good the Sparks will probably be this yr.
I feel it’s honest to anticipate this historic franchise to at the least make the playoffs. They saved one of the best components from final yr’s group, added higher gamers to the roster and introduced in an outstanding coach. Even with the tempered expectations, that is one of the 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 after they begin the season at dwelling towards the Phoenix Mercury.