August 15, 2020
How Arike Ogunbowale can be more effective and still be herself
How Arike Ogunbowale can affect the game with her scoring and beyond
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Arike Ogunbowale #24 of the Dallas Wings drives to the basket against the Phoenix Mercury on August 10, 2020 at Feld Entertainment Center in Palmetto, Florida.
Make no mistake about it, Arike Ogunbowale can score the basketball at will. This skill, if done efficiently and more effectively, can open up the rest of her game if she lets the game come to her and moves more without the ball.
One of her biggest advantages and how the game can come to her more easily, is just that, moving without the basketball. All she needs is a sliver of space to go to work. Whether that be coming off of a screen to get an open shot or a simple v cut to get the defenders on their heels so she can operate. Ogunbowale thrives in those situations when the defense has to scramble or has to chase her and she gets the ball before they can get set.
At that point, they’re at her mercy. If Ogunbowale wants to elevate her team into the playoffs, she needs to affect the game beyond scoring. She’s already shown her ability to move well without the ball and get open looks through this 2020 season.
Throughout her rookie campaign, her scoring was picked apart due to her lack of efficient shooting through the duration of the season, and rightly so. Though, it picked up after the All-Star break in 2019 and has improved in year two. Players around the league like Sami Whitcomb and veteran Sue Bird have taken notice, comparing her game to that of WNBA legend, Cappie Pondexter.
Nine games into the 2020 season, Ogunbowale is shooting 40 percent from the field, which is just under two percentage points above what she shot for the season last year on three more shots per game. She’s starting this season off better than last, but there’s still room for improvement and harness her true potential.
Ogunbowale’s favorite players to watch, were Kobe Bryant when he played and presently, Russell Westbrook. Which, if you’ve seen these two players play, you can see bits and pieces of each of their game within hers.
“I think more implementing their mindset,” Ogunbowale said. “Anytime anybody is in front of them they think they can score and that’s my mentality. Whether it’s the best defender on the team, or whatever, I feel like I can score. So, definitely just being in attack mode all the time, keep people on their feet and just that mentality. That dog mentality. I think Russ and Kobe both have it. Anytime they step on the floor they think they’re the best player, so that’s what I try to do.”
That let’s you know what you’re getting in Ogunbowale, both good and bad. Both Bryant and Westbrook were MVP’s in the NBA and Arike has the ability to one day become that in the WNBA. Though, being like these two can also have it’s downsides as well.
Both of those players had a tendency to take ill advised shots. When Ogunbowale isn’t letting the game come to her, she tends to do the same, whether they are unnecessary challenging fadeaway shots or shooting over multiple defenders with a great degree of difficulty and ignoring the open teammate. It’s a blessing and a curse at times. Primarily because you know that she can make those shots, but it hurts her when she doesn’t.
Ogunbowale’s game exemplifies the saying “tough shot maker, tough shot taker” in the WNBA so far and throughout her college career. Especially during her 2018 NCAA championship run, hitting the two biggest shots of her collegiate career on the biggest stage in college basketball, one in the Final Four against the University of Connecticut and in the title game against Mississippi State.
It’s all about letting the game come to you. She doesn’t necessarily have to change who she is to accomplish these things, she can still be herself, but her decision-making has to be better. When she does that, she erases all doubt in what she is capable of. She is lethal and often can’t be stopped when she gets it going. When you see your star player filled with confidence, it becomes infectious throughout the team, which is especially helpful to a young team like Dallas.