June 4, 2021
How do the Sparks navigate a world without Ogwumikes?
Injuries to Chiney, Nneka alter the plans in L.A.
Welcome to The Next: A basketball newsroom brought to you by The IX. 24/7/365 women’s basketball coverage, written, edited and photographed by our young, diverse staff, dedicated to breaking news, analysis, historical deep dives and projections about the game we love.
Subscribe to make sure this vital work, creating a pipeline of young, diverse media professionals to write, edit and photograph the great game, continues and grows. Paid subscriptions include some exclusive content, but the reason for subscriptions is a simple one: making sure our writers and editors creating 24/7/365 women’s basketball coverage get paid to do it.
The Los Angeles Sparks returned home from a 2-2 road trip in which they had begun to show some promise after a tough start to the season, only to be hit with some bad news.
They will be without the services of both Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike at least for one week, and in Nneka’s case, longer than that.
Chiney had already been out for the past couple of games with knee soreness and she will miss all of the team’s games through the weekend. She’s scheduled to be re-evaluated next week before the Sparks embark on a two-game road swing against the Washington Mystics and the Minnesota Lynx.
After missing last season in the bubble, Chiney had been working her into fitting in with this new Sparks roster. She was putting up 9.0 points per game and 5.7 rebounds.
The loss of Nneka came a little more abruptly. She was injured in the Sparks’ recent loss to the Dallas Wings. She went down in the fourth quarter grabbing her knee and did not return to the game.
Her injury has been classified as a Grade 2 knee sprain and she will be out for the next four-to-six weeks. To this point, Nneka had been putting up 16.1 points per game and 7.5 rebounds.
With the loss of both Ogwumike sisters, the Sparks will need even more of an emphasis on rebounding. Nneka and Chiney were top-two on the team in rebounds per game and that was with the team being outrebounded by a decent margin by their opponents to begin the season.
It will also put even more pressure on the team’s frontcourt that was already down rookie Jasmine Walker who was ruled out for the season with an ACL tear.
Fortunately for the Sparks, they welcomed the return of Amanda Zahui B. on the road trip and she was able to make an immediate impact defensively on the inside as well as stretching the floor with her three-point shooting.
They also have seen an emergence from Nia Coffey who has been playing well in the role Seimone Augustus played last season as a small-ball power forward who can also stretch the defense out to the perimeter.
The injuries leave the Sparks with only eight available players.
Written by David Yapkowitz
David has been with The Next team since the High Post Hoops days when he joined the staff in 2018. He is based in Los Angeles and covers the LA Sparks, Pac-12 Conference, Big West Conference and some high school as well.