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  • Writer's pictureKyle Flannery

3 Things We Learned from Last Weekend's Full WNBA Slate


Los Angeles Sparks guard Lexie Brown blows by Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi

(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)


 

Los Angeles Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike gives her sister Chiney Ogwumike a high five

(Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)


The LA Sparks are in No Man's Land


Between Las Vegas, New York, and Connecticut, it seems as though the W will be a three dog race for the near future. The Sparks currently sit at 4-4, including losses at the hands of the struggling Lynx and Storm. They're competitive enough to take care of the league's bottom-feeders, yet not talented enough to consistently beat the title contenders. Nneka Ogwumike is 32, and most of LA's impactful rotation players are in the latter half of their careers. The Sparks should do one of two things: trade for a star to pair with Ogwumike or blow it all up and rebuild for the future. Let's evaluate these options.


- Seattle is continuing to show us they're the worst team in the league, and Jewell Loyd doesn't fit the franchise's timeline. If the Storm want to solidify their chances at a drafting a generational talent like Caitlin Clark next year, they should look to move Loyd to Los Angeles. The Sparks could also looking at acquiring Indiana guard Kelsey Mitchell, another scoring threat who may benefit from a change of scenery. Either option will help to shoulder the offensive load from Ogwumike and hopefully compete with Las Vegas' elite offense in the West.


- Maybe the smarter option, LA could blow up their roster and go all in on the future. They only have one solid young piece in Zia Cooke, but their older rotation players could be worth significant draft capital to a team who wants to give the Aces, Liberty, and Sun a run for their money. It may be unlikely that they land Clark or Bueckers in next year's draft, but in a potential class that's one of the most talented in recent memory, they could lay the groundwork for a bright future with Cameron Brink, Rickea Jackson, or Hailey Van Lith. However, this all depends on which prospects choose to use their extra year of eligibility due to COVID-19. Given the emergence of NIL deals and women collegiate athletes, it may be wise for the Sparks to stock up on 2025 draft picks.




Sun forward Alyssa Thomas directs her teammates on a play

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)


The Sun Continue to be Title Contenders


When former WNBA MVP Jonquel Jones requested a trade from Connecticut to the New York Liberty, the Sun's viability as a title threat immediately seemed nonexistent. As the W ushers in an era of super teams, the Connecticut Sun have remained competitive by sticking with their core and riding out the chemistry they've built over the years. With incredible frontcourt depth led by DeWanna Bonner, Brionna Jones, and Alyssa Thomas, Connecticut has constructed a roster with no glaring holes on either side of the ball. More impressively, they're exceeding all expectations in head coach Stephanie White's first year with the team. Coming off a loss in the championship last year, all signs point to the Sun making an aggressive push to make it back there in 2023.



New York Liberty star guard Sabrina Ionescu talks with coach Sandy Brondello on the sideline

(Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports)


The Liberty aren't as Good as you Think (yet)


With the addition of the 2018 and 2021 MVPs in Breanna Stewart and Jonquel Jones, respectively, the New York Liberty seemed like the only viable competition for the Las Vegas Aces for a championship before the season started. Paired with the ascension of star third-year guard Sabrina Ionescu and veteran floor general Courtney Vandersloot joining the Liberty, New York is assembling what may shape out to be one of the most talented teams the W has ever produced. Legitimate questions were raised about their depth, but solid bench pieces like Marine Johannes and Kayla Thornton have produced high quality minutes for the star-heavy team. However, the Liberty are yet to find their stride. They split a home and home with a mediocre Chicago team, squeaking by with a one point win on the road and losing by four at home. Even with their recent woes, it's far from time for New York to sound the alarm. As the season progresses, they will build chemistry and eventually hit their stride. With most players having international commitments and the WNBA season being so short, the Liberty will be forced to expedite this process if they want to compete with Las Vegas. New York may have the most talented roster in the league from top to bottom, but their success will be dependent on how quickly they can figure out how to mesh together.






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