January 21, 2023 

Los Angeles Sparks trade for Dearica Hamby

Sparks send Amanda Zahui B. and a draft pick to Aces for Hamby and a 2024 first-round pick

WNBA free agency is officially underway, and the Los Angeles Sparks wasted no time continuing to reshape their roster.

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With new general manager Karen Bryant and new head coach Curt Miller in the fold, the Sparks have already made one trade to reunite Miller with his starting point guard from the Connecticut Sun, Jasmine Thomas. The new Sparks brain trust pulled off another trade Saturday morning by acquiring forward Dearica Hamby from the Las Vegas Aces in exchange for the rights to center Amanda Zahui B. The Sparks also received a 2024 first-round draft pick, and the Aces received a 2024 second-round draft pick.

The move helps address one of the Sparks’ biggest needs: more size and talent in the frontcourt. Hamby had been with the Aces since their days as the San Antonio Stars, when she was drafted sixth overall in 2015. Over the past couple of seasons, she has developed into one of the WNBA’s best players off the bench, and she is a two-time Sixth Woman of the Year Award winner. She was also a WNBA All-Star in each of the past two seasons.

Hamby is currently pregnant with her second child and is due in March, which calls into question her availability this season. However, she has said that, if everything goes well, she plans to be ready to play “pretty close to the start of the season.”

Even before the departure of forward Olivia Nelson-Ododa in the Thomas trade, the Sparks were in need of additional size in the frontcourt. (The 6’5 Zahui B. did not play for the Sparks last season.) Hamby’s arrival gives the Sparks a presence on the glass as well as one of the best frontcourt defenders in the WNBA. She can guard multiple positions. She does all the dirty work that doesn’t necessarily show up in a box score but contributes to winning basketball. She doesn’t need the ball in her hands to be effective offensively.

That’s not to say that she can’t score, though. Hamby is capable of putting up points, but with the right pieces around her, she can pick and choose her spots while providing everything else. Last season, she averaged 9.3 points and 7.1 rebounds per game while shooting 46.6% from the field.

The Sparks can use Hamby in different ways. Assuming that 2016 WNBA MVP Nneka Ogwumike re-signs with the team, an Ogwumike/Hamby starting frontcourt is a possibility. Although both are probably better suited to playing power forward, it’s not too much of a stretch to envision them playing together. Both are capable defenders, both can hit the boards well, and both can score the ball.

If the Sparks decide that they don’t want either player having to battle bigger centers every game, they can use Hamby in a similar fashion as the Aces did: as their top player off the bench. The Sparks often lacked consistency with their second unit, and Hamby can provide that stability and production on a game-to-game basis.

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The Sparks still have several open spots on their roster and key free agents of their own to make decisions on. Even with Hamby, just five Sparks players are currently under contract for a total of $643,335, which is less than half of the salary cap for 2023. But for a team that needed a shake-up and some big moves to get the ball rolling, the Sparks’ offseason is off to a good start.

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.

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