By way of disclosure, I should mention that the Dallas Wings hired my company to produce some halftime features for their television broadcasts on Fox Sports Southwest this season. That has given me a chance to watch a lot of their games and also comb through the highlights looking for clips to go with the voiceovers.
I haven’t been able to write anything about long winning streaks and I won’t get to profile top playoff performers. 2019 turned into a rebuilding year for the team pretty early. That doesn’t mean the campaign wasn’t an interesting one, though.
Wings’ President and CEO Greg Bibb, the subject of this post’s featured video interview, believes not all non-winning seasons are created equal. He feels this one trended in the right direction. They started off 0-5 under new coach Brian Agler. The players kept playing hard, however, and began to collect a few wins. Some individuals posted noteworthy seasons. Rookie of the Year front-runner Arike Ogunbowale found her WNBA legs and her confidence and put up sparkling scoring numbers. Many consider Kayla Thornton the league’s best overall defensive player. And 2017 Rookie of the Year Allisha Gray improved her outside shot to the point that teams must now consider her a threat anywhere on the floor. In the video, Bibb talks about the team‘s strategy in acquiring key pieces Ogunbowale and Thornton.
We also talked about the injury problems Wings endured this year. Their best player coming into the year, Skylar Diggins-Smith, did not play after giving birth, although she was around the team a lot. Guard Tayler Hill and mobile post Azurá Stevens missed most of the year. Moriah Jefferson did not play a game after Dallas acquired her in an offseason trade with Las Vegas. Their return plus the development of the young players who played a lot this year means the team could vault into a competitive posture as soon as next season.
What intrigues me the most about next year’s Wings is the way they might play. Diggins-Smith and Jefferson can play fast. So can Ogunbowale. Thornton, Gray, and Kaela Davis can really run the floor. Stevens and fellow post players Isabelle Harrison and Imani McGee-Stafford will often outrun their opposite numbers. Kristine Anigwe was a rebounding machine in college, and Coach Agler’s emphasis on defense means they’ll force their share of turnovers. They’ll also have the second overall pick in the WNBA draft (and the ninth if they choose to keep the pick) to add to the mix. Agler is happy to use a lot of players in his rotation, which keeps legs fresh. This deep, young, and athletic team could turn defensive rebounds and steals into a lot of points. They might well run some people out of the College Park Center and that would be fun to watch.