May 5, 2022 

2022 WNBA season preview: Dallas Wings

‘We are building something special here for years to come’, coach Johnson said

The Dallas Wings are entering their seventh season at the College Park Center in Arlington, TX. This upcoming season the Wings will have more of an identity. There have been several moving pieces between the coaching staff and the players since 2016. In 2022 the players understand more about each other’s game and the team could raise the bar and establish themselves as a playoff-caliber team. In addition, they will be playing with more confidence in their second year under head coach Vickie Johnson.

2021

Dallas finished last season 14-18 and entered the playoffs as the No. 7 seed. They had an early first-round exit in a single-elimination game against the eventual champion, the Chicago Sky. The playoff format has now changed to a best-of-three first round. The Wings were the youngest team in the WNBA, which will no longer be the case in 2022.

Potential Wings starting five

G- Moriah Jefferson – The veteran point guard averaged 5.4 points in 17.2 minutes a game. She started in 28 of the 29 games she played in. It was the second most games she had played since 2016.

G- Arike Ogunbowale – She has led the team in scoring since entering the league in 2019. She finished 5th in scoring last season, averaging 18.7 points per game. She was also named the 2021 All-Star MVP. Entering her fourth season, she will continue to lead the team on the court.

F- Allisha Gray – She won an Olympic gold medal with the USAB 3×3 Women’s National Team. She averaged 11.9 points in the 25 games she played with the Wings last season. She will have even more of an impact in 2022 as another leader on this team.

F- Satou Sabally – She was only available for 17 games last season but was third in scoring, tied with Gray at 11.9 points per game. She has played just 33 games in her first two seasons. Once she arrives from her overseas commitments, 2022 could be the most she will be available to play.

C- Teaira McCowan – The 6’7 center played with the Indiana Fever last season. Dallas acquired her via trade this off-season. Last season she logged career highs averaging 11.3 games and 9.6 rebounds per game.

The second unit

G- Marina Mabrey – was second in scoring last season, averaging 13.3 points per game coming off the bench. 2021 was a career year for her and she will continue to improve in her fourth season.

G- Tyasha Harris – She has averaged 5.4 points in 17.6 points per game. She plays like a true point guard that can be a sufficient backup to Jefferson. Her third season could be a career year for her.

F- Kayla Thornton – In her sixth season with the Wings, she will continue to be a defensive presence for the team. She averaged 7.5 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.

F- Isabelle Harrison – She had a busy offseason and entering her fourth season with Dallas, she will continue to ascend. She will be a strong presence that will stretch defenses. Harrison played in the inaugural Athletes Unlimited basketball season, where players had the chance to draft and coach their own team. She finished third in scoring in that league. In 2021 with Dallas, she averaged 10.9 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.

C- Charli Collier – The 2021 No. 1 draft pick will look to improve in her second season with the team. She will have the opportunity to learn from and be a sufficient backup for McCowan. Last season she averaged 3.4 points and 3.6 rebounds per game.

Last season the rotation was heavy as they used 11 different players in their starting lineup. 2022 could be much of the same. Sabally and McCowan will be arriving in Dallas a little later due to overseas commitments. The team has more experience with one another, which will rely on as they will have to gel on the fly with a busy May schedule.

Dallas will have a deep enough roster for a heavy rotation not to have much of an effect on the team. Johnson told reporters on media day that she thinks too many people get caught up in starting. It is not about starting; it is about finishing the game.

“It’s what’s best for the team to be productive at the beginning of the game, the middle of the game and at the end of the game. “We have people coming off the bench that are playing starter minutes; they’re playing more minutes than most starters throughout the league,” Johnson said.

What to expect in 2022 for the Wings

Better defense. Dallas allowed their opponents to shoot nearly 45 percent against them, which was the fourth-highest percentage allowed in 2021. Acquisitions of players like McCowan and first-round draft pick guard Veronica Burton could help tighten things up as the roster learns to be two-way players. Instead of a team living and dying by shooting more, they will rely more on their defense and create more opportunities. In 2022 they will solidify their team culture and they will have a legitimate shot at avoiding an early exit from the playoffs.

Dallas will begin its season on May 7, when it hosts the Atlanta Dream.

Written by Arie Graham

Arie Graham joined 'The Next' in May 2021 as the beat writer for the Dallas Wings.

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