August 25, 2020 

How the Wings will manage without Moriah Jefferson and Isabelle Harrison

Dallas will miss leadership even more than production

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PALMETTO, FL- AUGUST 16: Kia Vaughn #1 of the Phoenix Mercury plays defense against the Dallas Wings on August 16, 2020 at Feld Entertainment Center in Palmetto, Florida.

In a season in which the Dallas Wings were without many veterans, they just lost two more — Moriah Jefferson and Isabelle Harrison — and must grow up quicker than they have already anticipated.

The Wings announced Monday that Jefferson sustained an injury to her left knee, similar to the injury she had surgically repaired in her right knee, and the team is working to schedule surgery for early September. She will miss the remainder of the 2020 WNBA Season. Harrison has multiple injuries to her left ankle. She continues to be evaluated, with a treatment plan being developed, but Harrison will also miss the rest of this season.

Dallas will likely look to fill these last two spots on the roster, though with the litany of injuries already happening within the wubble, their options are few. The Wings could look to some of the players they had to waive prior to the season, Morgan Bertsch and Karlie Samuelson, but do not have the option of Kaela Davis, who just recently signed with the Dream.

Regardless of who they end up signing, they’ll likely look to just extend minutes for players who have been here through the duration of the season so far. For Harrison, who played mostly at the center spot, that means more on-court time for Bella Alarie. For Jefferson, expect more Marina Mabrey and Ty Harris at her point guard spot.

The production itself, mostly due to the injuries that ultimately doomed their seasons, hasn’t been enormous in 2020. Neither Jefferson nor Harrison are in the top five in scoring on the team, and Jefferson posted the lowest offensive rating on the team in her nine games played with just an 88 offensive rating.

Where Dallas will miss them most is off the court. Leadership was one of the main things that was a focus for Harrison this season and now she must lead from afar. And Jefferson was the most experienced of the team’s point guards.

Arike Ogunbowale will need to be a big part of filling this leadership void, an already- stated goal of hers, prior to these injuries to her teammates. She even posted on her Instagram story as a pledge commitment to the late Kobe Bryant in response to his quote: “A constant quest to try to be better today than you were yesterday.” The Mamba Mentality pledge commitment asks, “how will you be better today than yesterday?”

Her post in response on her IG story:

Regardless of the injuries, the Wings still very much have a chance to make the playoffs, standing just a 1/2 game out of the eighth and final spot entering Tuesday’s games.

The key will be finishing off games in which the Wings are competitive. Five of Dallas’ nine losses are by single digits. When the margin between making and missing the playoffs is that fine, those losses are amplified.

Mabrey knows that to reach their goals, they have to be able to finish these tight games.

“Close is not enough,” Mabrey said. “We want to win…That is some positive, that we can stay with the best of the best so keep staying in plays and staying in the game. When it comes down to the wire we can try and pull out what we can do. Just trying to stay focused and move on to the next one and know that we can hang with everyone.”

Dallas has eight regular season games left, so the games become more and more meaningful by the day. Their next chance to rewrite the 2020 script comes Tuesday night at 9 PM ET against the Las Vegas Aces.

They’ll be a little younger when they take the floor.

Written by Drew Ivery

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